The Curse of Dark Circles

I’ve had dark circles around my eyes for as long as I can remember. They started out as semi-permanent eye shadows on my upper eyelids that some of my friends even found ‘stylish’ ’cause they made me look like I had eye make-up on all the time. However, as I entered college and later on joined the work force,  the chain of sleepless nights began. My so-called eye make-up smudged all the way down to my under eye area— and no, it didn’t give me sexy smokey eyes. At 90 lbs, it made me look like a severely malnourished panda.

Last year, I started to literally panic about the situation. I became a sucker to any non-invasive product within (or a little over) my budget promising to magically erase dark circles. Throughout the year, I ended up giving or throwing away most of them. Needless to say, my dark circles became worse due to too much worrying and impulsive spending.

Causes of Dark Circles
I learned a very important lesson from this experience. I was too obsessed with looking for solutions that I missed the real problem. If I had done a little bit of research before I started going into a panic buying spree, I would have saved a lot of time, frustration and money.

Dark circles could be due to a lot of reasons. It’s not just due to a darkened part of the skin that simply needs lightening. In fact, most problems with dark eye circles are not even skin-deep.

1. It runs in the family. Blame your ancestors… there’s pretty much nothing you can do to erase dark circles caused by genes. You can just prevent them from worsening or cover them with a good concealer.

2. Even my neighbors have dark circles. If it’s due to your race then you better start accepting it as early as possible or it’ll just stress you out and cause you darker eye circles. Read #1 again.

3. Thin skin around your eyes. If you have thin skin around your eyes (which could be genetic, due to aging or excessive chemical exfoliation of the skin around your eyes), the capillaries around your eyes become more visible which gives the area a darker shade.

4. You have a perpetual cold / sinus problems or allergies. Our eyes, nose, ears and mouth are all connected. That’s the reason why whenever we have a cold, our eyes become teary/puffy, our hearing is muffled and we sometimes taste the gooey mucus in our throat when we blow our noses too hard. When you are suffering from a cold or there is an infection in your sinus area, the blood flow around around the eye area is constricted, making it puffy and darker in shade. Your constant sneezing also breaks little capillaries, resulting to little bruises around your eyes, especially near your tear ducts.

5. Sun damage. If it’s due to sun exposure, then hallelujah! Most products out there for dark eye circles MIGHT be able to solve your problem. Products that have lightening active ingredients like licorice and arbutin can help you regain the natural shade of the skin around your eyes. However, remember that sun damage doesn’t only cause darkening, it causes premature wrinkles and freckles  or age spots which are very hard, if not almost impossible, to reverse.

6. Iron deficiency. Unexplainable dark circles around the eyes is one of the symptoms of iron deficiency. It becomes even worse during ‘that time of the month’. You can address this problem simply by adding iron-rich foods in your diet and taking iron supplements.

7. Not enough water. I’ve read in many articles that dark under eye circles could be due to dehydration. There were no explanations but I’m assuming that it’s due to reduced efficiency of body functions due to lack of water.

8. Are you guilty of table salt-hogging? Too much salt intake increases fluid retention under the eyes causing eyebags and later on, dark eye rings. Fluid retention under the eyes affects the circulation of the blood and makes the capillaries more sensitive and prone to breakage.

9. Stress. Aren’t you surprised? LOL. I think stress plays a big part in causing most beauty woes, from wrinkles to falling hair.

10. Lack of sleep or too much sleep. It’s a chain reaction. If you lack sleep, your body won’t function efficiently. Blood circulation will be poor. Your capillaries will be more prone to breakage, giving you an uneven skin tone. If you lack sleep regularly, your iron levels will drop and you’ll most likely suffer from eye bags, as well. You will be stressed out easier, too. Combine all these and you have the perfect formula for tired-looking eyes and an older looking you! If you get too much sleep, on the other hand, fluid deposits under your eyes causing eyebags that cast unflattering shadows around your eye area and cause poor blood circulation.

The List Goes On…
I’ve listed the most common causes I’ve heard of but really, there are more. It could be due to unhealthy kidneys, hyperpigmentation around the eye area, too much crying,  improper diet, bad reading posture, staying in front of TV or computer for too long… the list can go on! The best way to get to the root cause of your dark eye circles problem is to list down some  possible reasons you can think of based on your lifestyle then consult a doctor based on the personal assumptions you came up with. Unless you are 100% sure that you dark circles are purely due to sun damage which can be treated with lasers/creams, I suggest you go to a GP first and run some proper tests before you consult a beautician or do some self-medication.

Setting Realistic Goals
In my case, since I’ve had dark circles for as long as I can remember and both my parents suffer from it, too, it’s mostly due to genes.  I have deep-set eyes which tend to cast shadows and the skin around my eyes is quite thin so the capillaries become visible especially when I’m tired (pale-looking). Unfortunately, since my case is genetic, it means that I may not be able to totally erase my dark circles.  But realizing all these made me set realistic goals.

I focused on learning solutions and buying products that can target the cause of my dark circles–or at least prevent them from getting worse. I also became more concerned about my diet and started taking iron supplements. Right now, I still have dark circles but with my current lifestyle and the products I’m using, at least I am able to keep my dark circles at bay. Best of all, I feel holistically great and healthy.

My wallet says “Amen” to that.

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  • Eva Sparr

    Skin Care should always be taken seriously, I have a friend who gets a facial once a month and recommended a skin care line for her skin type.

  • Lynn

    Some of the causes are just sooooo meeee!!And this is the reason why I don’t like eyeliner,I mean..why would a panda need eyeliners? I’m already cute with those eyes..:D lol..
    Lynn recently blogged..Some Awards and Tag

    • Vivi

      Hahaha! I like your perspective regarding the eyeliner. I don’t apply eyeliner, too, because I feel that it makes my eyes even darker.

      Ahh, genes… Just have to live with it and pass it on to my own kids in the future. I’m gonna have little panda babies.