What you can do about those under-eye circles.
Source: Laura Roberts, For The Leaf-Chronicle
Cover Girl. Estee Lauder. Chanel. From Walgreens aisles to Neiman Marcus counters, makeup companies are chock-full of concealers, creams and promises of how to cover-up under-eye circles.
But what are the reasons behind a person’s under-eye circles? And instead of merely covering them up, is there a way to get to the root of the problem?
“The tissue under the skin is probably some of the most delicate under the eyes,” said Premier Medical Group internal medicine and pediatrics physician Dr. Deborah Hellums. “And so the blood vessels, particularly the veins, are pretty easily seen in most complexions.”
Much like a leaf beneath a single sheet of tissue paper, veins under the delicate skin of the eye are that much more visible. The coloring of ones’ skin in the eye area can also play a part in the appearance of dark circles.
“Dark circles under the eyes are typically caused by increased skin pigmentation and/or vascularity,” Dr. Brooke Eastham of Nashville Skin and Cancer explained.
And as it turns out, pigmentation and vascularity — the visibility of blood vessels underneath the skin — are, a lot of times, connected with genes.
Blame it on your mama
“There is often a strong genetic predisposition for dark circles,” Eastham said. “This may be due to increased pigmentation of the skin under the eyes or increased vascularity.”
However, sun exposure can play a part in coloring the skin’s pigmentation, with Eastham adding that, “Sun protection is important for dark circle treatment.”
UV ray-blocking sunglasses, sunscreen with at least 30 SPF and wide-brimmed hats are all easy and inexpensive ways to shield one’s delicate eye skin from the sun’s powerful rays.
Another possible cause of under-eye circles is simply the placement of the eyes themselves.
“Your facial structure [does] play a part,” Hellums said. “The bone structure of your face. … Some people will have more deeply-set eyes. … You’re looking at shadows, so what you’re seeing is mainly a shadow.”
Thanks to YouTube, there are plenty of tutorials available with makeup artists demonstrating ways to highlight and contour the shadows underneath the eyes. And if you are interested in going the dermatology route with aiding in eye shadows?
“Cosmetic fillers can also be used to help restore volume to the under-eye area, which reduces shadowing,” Eastham said.
Get your water on
While genetics may play a large role in the appearance of under-eye circles, there are internal, external and environmental factors that can play into the appearance of the under-eye skin. Hydration being one of them.
“Dehydration can impair circulation under the eyes as well as cause the skin to have a wrinkled appearance, leading to shadows and dull appearance,” Eastham said.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends that the average, healthy male living in a temperate climate drink 3.7 liters of water daily (roughly 125 ounces), and an average, healthy women living in a template climate drink 2.7 liters daily (roughly 91 ounces).
And it’s not just the water you drink that can impact the hydration in your body. Foods that you eat, particularly those high in salt or fat, have the potential to affect the appearance of the delicate under-eye skin as well.
“High-salt diets, fatty foods, alcohol, stress and excessive caffeine intake can all lead to dehydration, making dark circles much more prominent,” Eastham said.
Allergies play a role
Our body’s immune system can produce a chemical called histamine when it encounters a perceived intruder or allergen. An allergen can be in the form of food, pet hair, ragweed or anything else the body deems as not being native. Histamine can trigger the body to sneeze, cause the nose to run, and has the potential to have an effect on the skin, including underneath (and around) the eyes.
“(High) histamine will cause the blood vessels to dilate, so you’re seeing more of that reflection of the blood vessels (under your eyes),” Hellums said.
Hence the swelling associated with allergic reactions.
“Anything that causes swelling under the eyes is going to make the circles look worse,” Hellums added. “If your main problem is allergies … then getting proper treatment of allergies is going to help reduce (the symptoms); so an antihistamine or a nasal steroid.”
Along with the eye irritation that allergies have the potential to bring, rubbing the eyes can further irritate the skin beneath the eye sockets.
“Seasonal allergies can cause dry, itchy eyes, stimulating frequent rubbing,” Eastham said. “Which in turn can increase pigmentation under the eyes.”
As tempting as it may be, resist the urge to rub or scratch.
Eat the cucumber or put it on the eye?
Cucumbers have long been associated with cooling spa eye treatments. But is it more beneficial to focus on putting good vitamins and minerals into the body as opposed to putting them on the skin?
“I recommend targeting under-eye circles from both an internal and external perspective,” Eastham said. “Internally, we need to focus on a healthy, well-balanced diet, getting plenty of rest and staying hydrated.”
Eastham cited vitamin K as a key vitamin in potentially aiding in under-eye circle appearance.
“Vitamin K can help improve circulation,” Eastham said. “Since dark circles can be caused by poor circulation, vitamin K can be helpful in minimizing the appearance of dark circles.”
Leafy greens — everything from kale and spinach to collard and turnip greens — are an excellent source of vitamin K. Vitamin K can also be found in cucumbers, Brussels sprouts and prunes. Vitamin C is another important vitamin that has potential in helping under-eye skin.
“Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and can help prevent skin damage and improve skin texture,” Eastham said.
Foods rich in vitamin C include kiwi, oranges, strawberries and green peppers.
And recommendations for topical products to apply to the skin outside the eye?
Eastham notes that there are many eye creams — both over-the-counter and medical grade — that can aid in the appearance of under-eye circles.
“Many (eye creams) have active ingredients such as peptides, retinols, hyaluronic acids, caffeine and antioxidants,” Eastham said. “(These ingredients) help stimulate collagen and elastin production, enhance skin hydration, decrease the appearance of blood vessels, and block damage from the sun and environment.”
Source: Laura Roberts, For The Leaf-Chronicle