When it comes to skin woes, there are perhaps few more maddening than dark circles. Make no mistake, if you're struggling with them, you're certainly not alone in your plight. Unsightly dark rings acting as a visual megaphone for your fatigue – we could do without the reminder, thanks.
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But sleep deprivation aside, frustratingly there are actually plenty of other factors that could be responsible for your dark circles – hyperpigmentation, collagen loss or simply genetics to name a few. The silver lining? Improving them and looking more refreshed is utterly doable, and our beauty experts are on hand to give you the lowdown.
What are the different possible causes of dark circles?
According to Doctor Amiee Vyas, aesthetic skin specialist and founder of Mayfair clinic Doctor Amiee Facial Aesthetics & Skin, one of the potential causes is that as we age, the skin surrounding our eyes thins and becomes more translucent depending on our skin tone.
"The skin around our eyes is far more delicate compared to the rest of our face, and as we age our collagen and elastin production decrease," Doctor Amiee explains. "The underlying blood vessels and muscle beneath the skin’s surface can therefore appear more visible."
"Hyperpigmentation can also add to dark circles, this is a natural part of ageing in people with darker skin tones, although it can affect all skin tones depending on sun exposure and skin quality."
"The under eye hollows (known as tear troughs) develop, creating dark shadows due to loss of volume in our mid-face with age. This happens because of weight loss and because the cheek fat descends due to loss of support as the cheek bones flatten."
Other factors such as "medical conditions, allergies, genetics, sleep, energy levels, lifestyle choices, nutrition, environmental factors and sun exposure" can all play a part too – hence dark circles being a skin issue that affects so many.
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What are the best ways to combat dark circles?
"Sleeping well is essential to minimise the appearance of dark circles," Doctor Amiee advises. "Reducing alcohol consumption before bed will also improve the quality of your sleep and minimise inflammation and thereby the appearance of dark circles."
"One of the key ways to prevent dark circles is to ensure you use sun protection around the eye – the eye area is often avoided and this contributes to faster ageing in this delicate region."
"Also avoid harsh products that irritate as well as tugging and rubbing which can cause irritation and further darken our under eyes. If you have allergies take regular antihistamines, and if you have dry eyes use lubricating eye drops - you want to avoid anything that makes you rub the eyes too much."
Is it possible for a topical skincare product to improve dark circles?
"It is rare that a topical skincare product can totally eliminate dark circles," Doctor Amiee says. "But medical grade options in my experience are usually the most effective as they can work deeper within the skin."
Shop Doctor Amiee's skincare recommendations:
"This uses polyhydroxy acids, antioxidants and a peptide blend to improve skin quality and minimise darkness and puffiness."
NeoStrata Enlighten Brightening Eye Cream, £37, Skin City
"This contains gentle botanicals that hydrate and brighten the under eye area with effective barrier repair technologies."
Epionce Luminous Eye Serum, £62, Skin City
"My personal favourite uses injectable-grade hyaluronic acid, peptides, antioxidants, caffeine and highly-specialised yeast derivatives, to smooth and brighten."
Skin Better Science Interfuse Eye Cream, £99, Skin Cariad
Are there any beauty treatments that can improve the appearance of dark circles?
Doctor Ana Mansouri, aesthetic skin specialist and founder of Dr Ana The Skin Clinic finds that while topical skincare is unlikely to improve the appearance of dark circles caused by volume deficiency or hollowness, it can be treated effectively with tear trough fillers. Naturally, choose your medical practitioner wisely and do get well-acquainted with the risks before undergoing such a procedure.
If hyperpigmentation is the primary cause on the other hand, it can be treated with "prescription-strength skincare, gentle chemical peels, resurfacing lasers and microneedling", according to Doctor Ana. "These treatments are often combined to suppress the excess pigment activity while resurfacing the skin to remove the darkened layers."
"Dark circles caused by thinning of the skin can be treated with prescription-strength skincare such as retinoids to thicken the skin and stimulate collagen. Treatments that cause controlled micro-trauma to the skin (forcing the healing process to stimulate collagen and elastin) are my go-to in these cases. In particular, resurfacing lasers such as CO2 laser or microneedling with or without radio frequency (such as the Cutera Secret RF or Secret Pro treatment)," says Doctor Ana.
Alternatively, you may decide to skip the skin treatments and minimise the appearance of your dark circles via the power of makeup. Hello! Fashion caught up with expert makeup artist Sophie Tilley to find out the most effective way to conceal dark circles.
Do you have any major pre-correcting beauty tips?
"If your eyes are very puffy, especially in the morning, it’s a nice idea to drain and calm them," Sophie advises. "This can be done with a little facial massage, lightly ‘pushing’ the fluids out, away and down from the eyes with lymphatic drainage, it’s really relaxing too. Cold spoons held under the eyes are a time-honoured trick or invest in Rose Inc’s very pretty and practical Cooling Facial Spheres. Keep them in the fridge and roll away any inflammation prior to makeup application."
"I don’t think eye cream is always necessary, I don’t mind a bit of primer though. My favourite to take under the eyes is Tatcha’s Liquid Silk Canvas. It’s a lightweight liquid, infused with silk extracts so the skin is smoothed, hydrated and prepped perfectly (allow a couple of minutes before going in with makeup on top)."
What is the job of a colour corrector?
"A colour corrector is a trusty makeup trick where the opposite colour to the 'problem' is applied to then counteract it and in this case, conceal it. You can use it to cover spots, dark circles, pigmentation, redness and generally brighten the complexion," Sophie explains.
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Which shade of colour corrector is best suited to you?
"For every colour you want to correct, there is an opposing colour that once applied, will effectively cancel it out," Sophie explains. "For example, yellow cancels out purple which is often found under the eyes. Darker skin tones are bluer in undertone, so an orange is ideal to tone and brighten there. If you suffer from pigmentation, that is considered yellow or brown, so a purple tone will knock that back."
"The colours I mention are the main options, from the universal colour wheel. The actual products and tones you apply to your skin will be much more subtle, depending on what you’re dealing with and want to cover. So, a yellow could be more of an apricot tone, orange more of a peach, and purple a lavender."
How can you apply a colour corrector like a pro?
"After your skincare and primer, apply the correctors where you need and don’t be shy, press in a good amount but be strategic in your application," Sophie advises. "See where the main issue is and focus on that small area."
"MAC's Studio Fix Conceal & Correct Palette is great for all skin tones, NYX offers an affordable option, its Professional Makeup Colour Correcting Palette, and then there are some excellent single options too, like Charlotte Tilbury's Magic Vanish."
"It may look a bit scary at first, but you’ll then go in with your foundations and regular concealers on top, at which point everything will blend together. Set with a little translucent powder and you’re good to go. For under the eyes, I love Laura Mercier’s Secret Brightening Powder which sets concealer but also has light reflectors for extra radiance."
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