You’ve probably Googled “how to get rid of dark circles under eyes” on more than one occasion. And even after you’ve tried a million expensive treatments, they usually come back. Truth is, your dark under eye circles could be caused by a multitude of factors, including genetics. There is actually a strong genetic component to dark circles, which is out of your control.
Treatment of dark circles will depend on the cause of dark circles. Dark circles, also known as “periocular hyperpigmentation”, can be divided into 4 categories, pigmented, vascular, anatomical/structural, and mixed.
Pigmented type is caused by melanin and often appears as brown discolouration. Melasma, sun-exposure, pregnancy, exogenous hormones (like oral contraceptives) can contribute. Hyper-pigmentation from injuries and irritation can also be a cause.
Vascular type is caused by blood vessels and the underlying muscle showing through the thin skin of the lower eyelid. It often appears purplish in color.
Anatomical/structural type is caused by the shape of the skin, fat, and bone structure around the eye. As we age, the fat around our eyes will deplete and start sagging, leaving a hollow where the eye casts a shadow. Some people also have eye shapes that naturally cast shadows. This type of dark circle often appears worse under overhead and fluorescent lighting.
Mixed type dark circles are caused by a combination of the above stated factors. It’s possible to have any combination of these factors.
Wearing concealer or foundation under the eye can help with all types of dark circles by masking and reflecting light.
Using skin brighteners like hydroquinone, Vitamin C, and niacinamide can help with pigmented dark circles. Caffeine can help with vascular type dark circles by temporarily restricting blood vessels. Peptides like Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 and Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 have been shown to help reduce vascular type dark circles. Treatments that thicken the skin, like retinoids, chemical peels, laser resurfacing, and microneedling can also help with vascular type dark circles. Anatomical/structural type dark circles often need cosmetic treatments like facial fillers, radio-frequency skin tightening, and surgery (blepharoplasty).