POSTED: 13 Nov 2018

What’s Up With My Skin?… Dark Circles Under Eyes

Dark circles under eyes is one of the most common skin complaints and there is a multi-million dollar beauty industry built around addressing this issue. From makeup to skincare products and professional treatments, there are certainly a huge number of options. As much choice as there is however, this still remains a common complaint especially amongst people in their late 20s onwards. Worse still the huge number of potential treatments maybe confusing and so can knowing which is effective and which won’t work. To simplify things, we’re going to take you through the causes of dark circles under eyes and the different treatments available so you can decide what works best for you!

Causes of Dark Circles Under Eyes

Before we start, dark circles under eyes are extremely common and can affect almost anyone. There are a number of possible causes and its super important to figure out which one or combination are casing your dark circles. Common reasons for dark circles in the under eye area are genetic, health related or life-style. Regardless of the cause, the appearance of dark circles is usually either due to pigmentation or shadowing caused by skin or soft tissue changes in the under eye area.


Excessive pigmentation in the under eye area is an obvious cause of dark circles under the eyes. These circles tend to have a brownish or reddish tinge (depending on your skin tone) and are most often inherited. The dark circles or shadows are due to increased pigmentation in this area and on their own tend to be not very responsive to simple skin products. Hyper pigmentation of the under eyes can be found in anyone but people with darker skin tones tend to be more affected. It can also happen during pregnancy or certain medical conditions such as diabetes or those affecting the liver or kidneys. Asthma and eczema cause thickening and irritation of the skin giving the illusion of increased shadowing.

Medical Causes

There are also a number of health problems that can cause the appearance of dark circles under eye. Medical conditions which cause fluid retention and puffiness of the eye area will also cause shadowing in this area. As will any conditions or medications that cause thinning of the skin or increased visibility of the blood vessels. The dark circles caused by this will normally have a bluish or greenish discolouration depending on your skin tone.


Life-style factors such as smoking and drinking can also cause dark circles under eye by depositing toxins under the skin which cause discolouration, increasing puffiness and skin thinning. Lack of sleep is also a major culprit when it comes to causing or exacerbating dark circles in the under eye area. As can a poor diet which may lead to iron deficiency and give rise to a sallow complexion and dark under eye circles. Of course sun-damage can also cause darkening of the under eye area if they are not protected.

Anatomical Causes

The other major cause of dark circles under eyes is actually completely unrelated to pigmentation or discolouration. These under eye shadows are caused by hollows in the under eye region. The hollows are usually caused by thinning of the skin itself in this area as well as loss of volume of the fat in the cheek area. The cheeks act as a platform holding up the eyes! If the fat pad of the cheeks loses volume and starts to descend downwards then it causes a “step” or tear trough deformity. This gap allows light to pool in it and hence gives the impression of permanent dark circles in the under eye area.

How To Get Rid Of Dark Circles and Shadows Under Eyes

Just as there are plenty of causes of dark circles in the under eye region, there are thankfully lots of treatment options. First off you need to figure out what the cause of your under eye circles is and how much they bother you. This is important in that it will then help you decide which treatment, if any is best for you.

Firstly, if the cause of your dark circles is due to health or lifestyle causes then the obvious immediate solution is to make sure that these problems are addressed. This will likely solve the problem and if not completely then make it easier to treat the remaining shadowing.

Hyperpigmentation Under Eyes

Whilst, it may seem like there isn’t much you can do if your dark circles are inherited or due to hyper pigmentation, there are a number of advanced skincare and professional treatments that can help. Skincare wise look for bioactive ingredients which help reduce pigmentation such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Ferulic acid. You can also consider brightening toners containing citric or glycolic acid. Look for products specifically formulated for the under eye area. In terms of professional treatments, there are a number of options including chemical peels and laser therapies. Only a a qualified medical professional should perform these. This is because the skin under the eyes is extremely delicate.

Hollowness Under Eyes

For dark circles caused by volume loss or thin skin, aim for skincare products which stimulate collagen and elastic. Try using under eye creams and serums containing Vitamin C, Vitamin E, collagen and hyaluronic acid. Professional treatments should aim to treat the tear trough deformity and facial volume loss. Professional treatments like tear trough fillers and cheek enhancement with hyaluronic acid fillers can also help. Whilst these are temporary treatments they can be highly effective. However, they must be performed properly and in the right circumstances.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our first edition of what’s up with my skin focusing on dark circles under eye. Don’t forget, we’re all about the eyes this week. Look out for more guides to under eye bags, hooded eye lids, brow reshaping and much more!!

What next?

This way if you want to learn more about under eye circles bags and tear troughs. Here’s also our last post on how to get rid of under eye circles and shadows.

For more on tear trough fillers check out our insider’s guide to tear trough correction. You might also like our Teosyal Redensity II information page.

Authored by:

Dr Amel Ibrahim
Aesthetic Doctor & Medical Director
Founder City Skin Clinic
Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
Associate Member of British Association of Body Sculpting GMC Registered - 7049611

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