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!