Dark Circles - what are they and why do we get them?


Dark Circles - what are they anyway?

It is commonly assumed that Dark Circles are a direct result of exhaustion. The most tired we are, the deeper and darker the circles get. In reality, it’s our genes that might have a lot to do with the appearance of dark circles than we may think!

First off - what are dark circles anyway?

Dark circles under the eyes are actually just the blood vessels and blood within them that lie beneath this thin layer of skin showing through more than anywhere else in the body. The skin under your eye is about .5mm thick, compared with 2mm thick on average everywhere else. And, if you are genetically predisposed to having thinner skin, you are going to have the appearance of darker circles.

Fun fact: Veins often look blue not because the blood is blue, but because the skin tissue only allows blue/violet wavelengths of light pass through, giving off a blue hue. Worth noting that veins often won’t appear blue if a person has darker skin. Rather, the veins tend to appear green or brown. On the other hand, people with extremely light skin, such as albinos, will typically have veins that show up as dark purple or dark red, more closely resembling the actual color of the blood running through the veins.

The second factor besides the amount of blood vessels is aging. As we age, our skin loses elasticity and the ability to regenerate, often causing thinning skin. That’s why we often see more prominent dark circles as we age.

Another thing that can cause dark circles is periorbital hyperpigmentation, which is basically when more melatonin is produced by the skin beneath the eyes, resulting in a darker appearance. This condition is most prevalent in darker-skinned people.

Aside from genetic reasons for dark circles, they can occur due to blood vessels breaking (the skin is very fragile!), fluid buildup under the eyes (due to allergies or too much salt consumption), and (surprise!) fatigue. Fatigue is thought to cause dark circles because when your body is tired, it produces more cortisol to give you the energy you need. Cortisol actually increases the blood production in your body, which causes blood vessels to engorge to accommodate the excess blood. And larger vessels filled with more blood equals more prevalent dark circles.

Do you have dark circles? Do your parents? Have you noticed them getting more prevalent as you get older? I’d love to hear from you about your observations and anything that you’ve found to reduce the appearance of the dark circles!



I have dark circles, my mom doesn’t have them and my dad didn’t have them. When I see photos of myself as a young girl, I didn’t have them, but they appeared in older photos. My mom once told me mine resulted from allergies.
What’s interesting is, my son has them, though not as dark as mine. His surfaced as a toddler, he had severe allergies.
In college someone asked a friend of mine if I was using drugs because of my eyes. So I started using a skin lightening cream with hydroquinone, I know, I know, but it helped tremendously. I actually began getting compliments on how good my complexion looked. But when I discontinued using the cream, over time the darkness returned.



Wow, thank you for sharing your story. I think you are so beautiful and really hope there isn’t more skin lightening in your future. :pray:

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No one in my family has dark circles. I never had to struggle with them until about a year-and-a-half ago. To be completely honest it was a very very rough year emotionally… I’m not sure what exactly made them come up because I do sleep a lot but I’m hoping I can get rid of them!



I had dark circles when I was younger up until my mid-twenties, but not anymore, so it’s interesting to hear that aging is a factor. I went the opposite way! My parents don’t have dark circles under their eyes, but one of my sisters does. I always thought we had them because of my Peruvian heritage.



That’s crazy! Did you do anything in your mid-twenties to treat them? Or did they go away on their own?



Nope, I didn’t put anything on them and only wore makeup some of the time. Mine went away gradually, but one of my sister’s are still very visible.



crazy! lucky you!!!

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Now that I am in my 40s the dark circle says have appeared. I have been trying different eye crepes but no such luck. I tried drama rolling recently and that seems to help but you can’t get real close to your eye which is where I have the biggest issue. Hoping for a miracle product.

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I do have dark circles under my eyes. My mother did as well. I have noticed thet are getting more noticeable as I am in my 40’s now. They seem to be getting darker and I am having trouble finding products that reduce the look of undereye circles.



I have dark circles and some im semi young always thought they were from my lack of sleep and insomnia. When i had my last child i popped a lot of blood vessels in my face and around my eyes so i wonder if that was a factor too? I do know I’d love them to go away :slight_smile:



I have terrible dark circles,have had them as long as I can remember. Sad thing is all 3 of my adult children also have them, my youngest is my 26 year old son who has very dark circles and he is extremely self conscious about how bad they make him look,( in his eyes).



Sometimes I’m actually amazed by what can be inherited. And since there’s proof that dark circles can be inherited, where is the scientific information that explains the root cause?

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Wow! Never too old to learn! I really never gave it thought! But I found the information given here so educational and very much helpful, should I find myself in this situation.

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Great question! I think the root cause is thinness of skin, which I think it just genetics.

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Thinness of skin, interesting, I never considered that.

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I don’t exactly have dark circles like others do. My dark circles look more like bruising than anything. They’re kind of blueish. Vitamin K both ingested and topically applied has worked wonders for me in making them vanish. I also love using collagen under eye masks religiously. At least twice a week and may be more if I haven’t slept well.

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Ooh, I didn’t think to try vitamin k! I’ll have to give that a try sometime. I love those undereye masks, but they only seem to give me a super temporary improvement. :sob: They’re so relaxing though so I keep using them. What brand do you use?



Thank you for sharing that! I’ve wondered if Vitamin K was effective for anything other than clotting the blood.