A telltale sign of late nights, allergies and even digital fatigue, dark circles plague us all. That's why Vogue Scandinavia has tapped the experts to explain the reason why, and detail precisely how to brighten tired under-eyes for a fully rested look
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What causes dark circles?
Given that the skin around the eyes is thinner than elsewhere on the face, prominent blood vessels and hemosiderin deposits (a protein that stores iron in your tissues) can give the area a bruised look – and that’s without accounting for seasonal allergies. “When the tissues and blood vessels in the nose become swollen with excess fluid, they congest the small veins under the eyes,” says Martin Lyne, co-founder of Woods Copenhagen. “This leads to ‘allergic shiners’ – dilated veins that become darker if you also rub the area.”
Likewise, loss of volume – fat and collagen – as we age leads to thinner skin and more pronounced tear troughs, which magnifies their appearance. And while we tend to associate hyperpigmentation with the sun damage on our cheeks, it can also have a genetic component for under-eyes. “Some ethnicities, such as Asian and southeast Asians, can have hereditary hyperpigmentation under the eyes,” Dr Maryam Zamani, one of the world’s most renowned oculoplastic surgeons, explains. “This is due to a common genetic trait of thin lower eyelid skin, which allows veins to show through, resulting in a darker appearance.”
Like many other skin issues, lifestyle choices also exacerbate dark circles. Long days spent staring at a screen – whether laptop, TV or phone – take their toll as eyes tend to blink less, causing dryness and the blood vessels in the skin to dilate. It doesn’t help that blue light can impact your sleep cycle and suppress the sleep hormone melatonin.
A lack of sleep:
While not getting enough sleep doesn’t cause dark circles, it can exaggerate their appearance by not allowing the body to detoxify. “When we lack sleep, our body’s circulatory system is compromised,” says Lyne. “This leads to stagnant blood in the vessels as our under eyes haven’t drained properly.” Lars Fredriksson, founder of Verso Skincare in Stockholm, concurs: “Lack of sleep can cause blood vessels in the lower eyelid to dilate, making dark circles appear worse.”
Related: What exactly is the skin barrier?
Four expert-led solutions for dark circles
1. Try avoiding screens after 9pm:
If the perfect night's sleep eludes you, try keeping your phone or tablet on night mode setting and avoid using digital devices after 9pm.
2. Cold-therapy may be your new best friend:
Dark circles are also no match for the cold as low temperatures constrict blood vessels and improve circulation, effectively lightening any dark rings. Store a pair of ice globes in the freezer and sweep them around your eyes at the end of the day; we like the multi-hued options by Fraicheur Paris. Pair with Augustinus Bader's refillable Eye Cream, which is laced with anti-inflammatory niacinamide, for extra slip over the skin and to dial down underlying redness.
3. If it is pigmentation you need to battle:
If dark shadows are due to pigmentation, use an eye cream that contains active sunscreen ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. SkinCeuticals Mineral Eye UV Defense SPF30 Sunscreen is a dermatologist favourite. Additionally, look for a high concentration of antioxidants – Verso Eye Cream contains Nordic oat lipids to help protect against environmental stressors.
4. Brighten, brighten, brighten:
When it comes to brightening, Ole Henrikssen's Truth Banana Bright Eye Cream, offer a brightening boost of vitamin C and additionally has an orange-yellow hue to cancel out greyness under the eyes. If you prefer an eye mask, MZ Skin Hydra-Bright Golden Eye Treatment Mask is a luxe option that leans on nano particles of gold to restore radiance.
Tapped from the inner corner of the eyes to the temples, these are the eye creams that are nothing short of transformative.
Products for Dark Circles
Mineral Eye UV Defense SPF30 Sunscreen
Truth Banana Bright Eye Cream
Hydra-Bright Golden Eye Treatment Mask
Ice Globes - Coral Glitter