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Why You Have Dark Circles, Even When You're Not Tired

April 21, 2015 2 min read

You get the right amount of sleep, you feel rested and restored but when you look in the mirror, there they are - those dark circles under your eyes. Unfortunately, there are lots of reasons why you may still look exhausted. Here's what is going on:

What Causes Dark Circles?

Dark circles can often be hereditary. "Some people, especially those who have olive or darker complexions, just genetically have dark circles under their eyes," says Rebecca Kazin, M.D., a dermatologist at the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, D.C. Women with darker complexions often have to deal with hyperpigmentation, when areas of the skin become darker due to an overabundance of melanin. Dark circles can get darker as you get older. The skin under your eye is thin and only gets thinner as you age so the blood that pools underneath becomes far more obvious. Large dark circles, also referred to as hollowness, are the result of losing volume under the eyes. Allergies may also be responsible for your dark circles. If you rub your eyes a lot from allergy symptoms, your circles may start looking darker. Poor nutrition and crash dieting may also be responsible. According to Kazin, "rapid fluctuations of weight cause you to also lose volume in your face." Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 2.39.17 PM

Can They Be Prevented?

Your best bet for preventing dark circles is to live a healthy lifestyle. Avoid things that accelerate aging, like unprotected sun exposure and smoking. Unfortunately, if your circles are caused by your genetics, you are not going to be able to prevent them.

How Can They Be Treated?

Start with a moisturizer that is formulated for the eye area. "I do recommend creams, but I tend to manage patients' expectations [about results],” says Kazin. “The problem is that they can't put strong ingredients in eye creams because the eyelid is so sensitive. So some of the ingredients we'd use for brown spots on the face are too irritating for the eye." Most formulas focus on adding intense hydration, which does have its benefits, says Kazin. Fillers (like Botox) may also help with sallowness (discolouration with a yellow tint) and dark circles. "Because there aren't any creams that really treat sallowness, I recommend patients use a tiny bit of filler to add more volume," Kazin says. Laser treatments may also be good for discolouration caused by hyperpigmentation. Intense Pulse Light can be used under the eyes so if you find you aren't getting the results you'd like with a cream, ask your dermatologist if this is an option for you.    

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