While we would all like to wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed, unfortunately, that is not the case for many of us. One of the main culprits of causing a tired, haggard appearance is dark circles under the eyes.
What are these dark circles under my eyes?
The skin around the eyes is very thin and fragile. Dark circles appear when the blood in your capillaries close to the surface of your skin underneath your eyes becomes visible.
What causes them?
Here is where the experts disagree. Some recent research suggests that dark circles under the eyes occur due to a process very similar to bruising. The fine network of capillaries underneath your eyes may leak blood, which causes a reaction within your body to clean it up. The blood is oxidized, causing the dark blue/red coloring. In this way, the process is exactly like a bruise, except without the initial impact. Aside from these new studies, the standard view is that dark circles are caused by a combination of factors including:
- Genetics – yes, you are more likely to develop dark circles if other people in your family have them as well. The thinness and transparency of your skin also plays a role, which can be inherited.
- Sun – tanning makes the skin under your eye darker, which then exaggerates the dark circles.
- Allergies – anything that irritates the eye may cause rubbing, which can lead to more blood being released under your skin, darkening your circles. Some research suggests that hay fever and food allergies can cause dark circles independently.
- Medicines – certain medications may cause your blood vessels to widen, which will increase blood flow and darken the circles.
- Diet – poor nutrition has been linked to dark circles.
- Poor sleep habits – lack of sleep, poor quality sleep, or irregular sleep has been linked to the development of dark circles, perhaps by inhibiting the body’s reaction time or causing the skin to be paler.
- Pregnancy and menstruation – due to the nutritional demands placed upon the body at this time, the skin is usually paler, which heightens the appearance of dark circles.
- Age – your skin weakens as you age, making it more likely that dark circles will become visible.
What can I do?
Regardless of whether you believe your dark circles are caused by one of the factors above, or whether you agree with new research that suggests they are similar to bruises, there are a few things you can do to alleviate them. Fortunately, these suggestions will also boost your overall health and appearance.
- Healthy lifestyle – includes proper nutrition of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, legumes, nuts, and healthy fats. Quality sleep on a regular cycle. Exercise and plenty of water.
- Sleep also controls levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can contribute to eye swelling and dark circles.
- Avoid caffeine, sugar, nicotine, and alcohol.
- Dark circle eye creams – many speed up the rate at which the blood underneath your eyes is oxidized and cleared up. They can also strengthen the capillaries and your under eye skin in general.
- Especially effective are Ester-C (ascorbyl palmitate) and alpha lipoic acid (ALA). Ester-C boosts collagen production to strengthen the skin. ALA increases blood flow and lymph drainage.
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