The Real Causes of Your Under Eye Circles

Caitlin S. Miller
under eyes The Real Causes of Your Under Eye Circles

Photo: ImaxTree

Under eye circles. Nothing can ruin a perfectly good morning quite like waking up to seeing these bad boys lurking around. What’s more, try as you might, a concoction of under eye creams and concealers doesn’t always solve the problem. To learn once and for all what causes under eye circles, we tapped Dr. S. Manjula Jegasothy, aesthetic dermatologist at Miami Skin Institute. Read on for the real causes of those pesky dark circles and expert-approved remedies. 

Cause: Dehydrated skin
“When you’re dehydrated, the skin under the eyes looks hallow and full,” says Dr. Jegasothy.

Solution: Hydrate
Needless to say, the solution to dehydration is hydration. And lots of it. “Drink those eight glasses of water every day and your skin will look plump and firm and will be able to reflect light in a flattering way!” A nourishing moisturizer is also crucial. We’re loving IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream ($48,, which envelops skin in hydration.

Cause: Broken capillaries
Breakage of capillaries caused by trauma to the skin is another BIG cause of under eye circles, says Dr. Jegasothy. “Never ever rub your eyes!” she cautions. “Nothing causes under eye circles more, especially in darker skin types, than the breakage of fragile capillaries caused by trauma to the skin.”

Solution: Keep hands off
“Never rough it when removing eye makeup,” explains Dr. Jegasothy. She says instead, remove makeup with an emollient concoction. “Smear something very emollient, like Vaseline or Aquaphor, all over the eye area, let it sit for five minutes to melt the makeup, then gently wipe it off with a cotton pad or soft tissue.” If you have sensitive skin, she suggests trying Cortisone-10 as your emulsifier on the eye area for five minutes before wiping off as makeup.

Cause: Allergies/hay fever
“Allergies result in inflammation that expands the capillaries under the eyes,” she says. “Allergy eyes also are often itchy, so people subconsciously rub them quite frequently. Then this causes capillary breakage as well!”

Solution: Reach for Cortisone-10
Here again to save the day, Cortisone-10 is another doctor-recommended solution. “Substitute your normal under eye cream, which should minimize itchy eyes rubbing, once or twice a week with Cortisone-10,” she says. “Also try taking over-the-counter antihistamine (like Zyrtec) to reduce your allergy symptoms.”

Cause: Hyper pigmentation
This is common cause for many dark circle sufferers, but using a high quality eye cream containing Vitamin C and Retinol can help, explains Dr. Jegasothy.

Solution: Eye cream
Try editor find, m-61 Vitablast A & C Eye Cream ($78,, which relies on Vitamin C to dose skin with skin-firming ingredients. Another solution? Carefully administered pyruvic acid chemical peels from a board certified dermatologist might just do the trick as well, says Dr. Jegasothy.

Cause: Lack of sleep
Not too big of a surprise here, but a lack of shut eye can be a big cause of under eye circles. “Not getting your seven to eight hours of snooze also causes the blood vessels under the eyes to dilate, creating dark circles.”

Solution: Hit snooze and banish coffee
Okay so maybe it’s not that drastic of a switch but adjusting your lifestyle can make a big difference. Try foregoing caffeine, making it a point to get to sleep earlier, using sleep machines to banish noise, and trying meditation before sleep can help, says Dr. Jegasothy. Another option she suggests to help you sleep better is light therapy. “There are sleep bulb available on Amazon that block blue light and have three timed settings that go lower and lower until dark to gradually ease you into sleep with light therapy.” Of course, counting sleep is always an option!

But if the under eye area does not respond to the above products or lifestyle changes, Dr. Jegasothy says the current gold standard in-office procedure, especially for darker skin types, is a low-dose Fraxel laser done every three to six months. “With only a one-day recovery time, this is an extremely popular treatment with my patients!” she says. Noted!

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