What causes under-eye bags and dark circles?
Dr Giulia D’Anna is the founder of skincare clinic Dermal Distinction, and an expert in all things beauty and skincare. Giulia says that some dark circles and eyebags can be genetic.
“Dark under-eye circles have a big genetic component, as some people are pre-disposed to darkness around the eyes from an early age,” says Giulia. “There is a group of blood vessels that run just under the lower eye lid. These blood vessels are largely responsible for the blue-ish tinge in the under-eye area. There are a number of variables with how visible these vessels are through the skin. These factors include the thickness of the skin, the size of the vessels and also the depth of the vessel in the skin. The thinner the skin, the larger the vessel and the more superficial the vessel, the more visible they are - giving the appearance of dark circles.”
Giulia further explains that some under-eye bags and dark circles can be caused by environmental factors and ageing.
“As we get older there are a number of changes in the anatomy of the under-eye area that make the area look darker as we age,” says Giulia. “Sun damage can show up as age spots in this area, the skin under the eye gets thinner as we age, and the amount of fat we hold in our face starts to head south.”
“That means the fat that may have covered the vessels is now located lower, making the vessels more visible now. As a double whammy, as the skin stretches and sags, in some people, the fat can bulge causing the dreaded under-eye bags.”
Can under-eye bags and dark circles be caused by your diet?
There are some schools of thought that our diets can affect our appearance, such as under-eye bags and dark circles. Diets that lack all food groups or essential nutrients and vitamins can manifest in eye bags or dark circles.
While under-eye bags and dark circles can sometimes be lightened, it isn't always possible to remove them entirely or permanently.
How to remove dark circles and under-eye bags naturally
Faye James is a health and wellness coach with experience working as a health and beauty journalist, and author or The Long Life Plan. Faye has some tips for how to remove dark circles and bags under your eyes using natural methods.
1. Detox the liver
“Eye bags or circles can be a signal your liver needs flushing out. Start the day with a lemon juice shot with apple cider vinegar, followed by green tea and fresh ginger sipped throughout the day,” says Faye.
2. Use a natural eye mask
“Cold slices of cucumber, raw potato slices, or used green tea bags soaked in cold water work well to reduce puffiness.”
3. Get a good night’s rest
“Your circles could mean you’re sleep deprived. Set yourself up with a good bedtime routine. Have your last meal by 6pm, then drink chamomile tea, have a warm bath and spritz the pillow with lavender oil just before bed for a good rest,” says Faye.
4. Check in with your diet
“Look at what you’re eating. Dark circles could mean you’re vitamin deficient and consuming too much salt and processed foods. Ensure you’re eating a healthy balanced diet full of plenty of leafy green vegetables, fresh fruit and avoid sugary snacks, junk food and fizzy drinks.”
Cosmetic ways to reduce or remove under eye bags and dark circles
5. Prevention is key
“Starting in your 20’s, use nourishing under eye serums to hydrate the skin and promote collagen production. Look for serums that contain copper peptides and vitamin c. Vitamin C is the key component of collagen, and it’s also a great anti-oxidant, helping to prevent pigment from forming. Copper Peptides have been shown in clinical studies to be the key mineral enzyme that weaves collagen and elastin together. So this powerhouse of ingredients is integral. And it goes without saying that SPF is so important. Not only does UV cause pigmentation, but it also causes the breakdown of collagen in our skin,” says Dr Giulia D’Anna.
6. Try eye pads
“When the body is tired production of the chemical stress hormone Cortisol drastically increases to try and keep your body awake. Cortisol is also responsible for an increase in blood flow, volumising the vessels under your eyes too,” says Dr Giulia. “This means that your vessels under both eyes tend to look more obvious when you are tired, since the Cortisol levels are increased. There are a number of medical eye-pads that can be worn overnight that are perfect at infusing hydration while you catch some shut-eye. A product called Eyeris is a revolutionary option. EYERIS is a microstructure eye patch made using hyaluronic acid and peptides to relieve dry skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, using nano-needle patch technology.”
7. Camouflage them
“Camouflage is an option for some people. Using an under-eye concealer can help to mask or hide the darkness in the area. Getting a triple duty product is perfect too. There are a number of products that offer an inbuilt serum, SPF and makeup all in one. I personally love Colorescience Total Eye for this reason,” says Dr Giulia.
8. Try treatments
“Skin building treatments are perfect to address the underlying cause of undereye circles. Professional micro-needling is a treatment where the dermal therapist uses a skin needling device to create a controlled micro-trauma to the skin. This can sound scary, but the treatment is perfect for almost anyone, and requires very little recovery time,” says Dr Giulia. “By creating this micro-trauma, the skin goes into repair mode, and this results in the production of more collagen and elastin, making the skin thicker and the vessels less pronounced.”
“Surgery is an option for those people with advanced darkness and eyebags, and this procedure is called a Blepharoplasty,” says Dr Giulia; but not everyone wants to go under the knife. “Another option worth considering is a non-surgical eye lift. I love performing this procedure as it provides a very quick improvement in the under eye area with little downtime or discomfort. The non-surgical eyelift is a combination approach, where rejuvenating threads are placed under the skin to hold the skin and improve its quality. The threads dissolve over time, producing an immense network of collagen as they do. Think of them like weaving a 1000-count Egyptian cotton sheet under the skin. During the same procedure dermal filler is placed to hydrate and revolumise the area. The filler contains a number of active ingredients that nourish the skin too.”
What are the best ingredients for treating under-eye bags and dark circles?
“Invest in serums that reduce inflammation and preserve and protect collagen.”
Dr Cook recommended vitamin C and niacinamide (vitamin B3). “Niacinamide is one the most effective anti-inflammatory, antioxidant skin care vitamins. Not only does it reduce inflammation, but it prevents pigment and preserves collagen. Vitamin C also helps sustain collagen levels, thereby keeping the eyelid skin in GREAT shape.”