If someone says you’re looking tired, chances are it’s because of some massive shopping bags swinging under your eyeballs. These are usually a tell-tale sign that you’ve not been looking after yourself or burning the candle at both ends.
But where do dark circles come from and why do we get them? According to Dr Deborah Lee of Dr Fox Online Pharmacy, the dark discolouration under the eyes is due to excess dermal deposition of the pigment melanin.
“Stress, lack of sleep, disruption of natural circadian rhythms, and raised cortisol levels can all lead to increased deposition of melanin,” she explains.
On top of this, Lee states that natural skin thinning due to ageing can be a big contributor, as this further exposes the network of blood vessels under the eye, giving a purplish appearance.
“This ‘panda effect’ makes the affected individual look stressed and tired,” she adds, and is perhaps why many people cite dark circles as one of the biggest bugbears when it comes to skincare and looking young and healthy.
So what options do we have for getting rid of them? As well as testing the best eye creams for men, we’ve talked to a host of industry experts – as well as tried a range of treatments ourselves – to find out. Here are the best ways to permanently remove dark circles…
1. Get adequate sleep
Not getting enough restorative sleep at night is one of the biggest causes of under-eye bags as it leads to the dilation of your blood vessels and an increase in blood flow. Since the skin under your eyes is thinner, the dark tint caused by the increased volume of blood is more noticeable, resulting in those dark circles.
According to guidelines set out by the National Sleep Foundation, healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. If you’re finding it hard to sleep this long, there are a few things you can try.
A good quality eye mask can really help during summer months when it’s more likely you’ll be woken up from your slumber by the sunshine seeping through the cracks in your curtains. We like the Silk Eye Mask by This is Silk, as it’s oversized to ensure total darkness but also the silk material prevents fine lines and doesn’t absorb any overnight eye creams you might use, like cotton does, so your overnight eye creams stay in place.
If you have trouble drifting off to the land of nod and staying there, we swear by Pure Sport’s Unwind CBD oil. Combined with valerian root, chamomile, lavender and Vitamin B complex, the 1500mg CBD oil assists with calming anxious thoughts while facilitating deeper sleep.
Finally, reducing your exposure to blue light from digital screens can help improve your sleep. Harvard Medical School says the short wave energy in blue light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms. The university, therefore, recommends avoiding looking at bright screens beginning 2-3 hours before bed and using a dim red light as a night light.
Of course, you also need one of the best mattresses around, along with the best pillows and best mattress toppers.
2. Try tear trough rejuvenation treatment
If you’re more serious about getting rid of the bags under your eyes, you could go down the minimally invasive, non-surgical route in the form of tear trough treatment.
Best administered by a fully qualified practitioner, tear trough treatment typically involves injecting dermal filler under the eyes with the purpose of adding volume beneath the eyelids to smooth the surface and give the face a more rejuvenated, younger appearance. This is especially beneficial for people whose under-eye area has become dark and hollow, perhaps due to a breakdown of collagen or for genetic reasons.
We were invited by one of the UK’s leading facial aesthetics doctors, Professor Bob Khanna, to his DrBK Clinic in Reading to try out his own innovative, 3-step tear trough rejuvenation treatment that he’s developed especially for dark circles. In the name of journalism, we thought we’d give it a go.
The procedure starts with Dr Khanna injecting a high viscosity hyaluronic acid into the area beneath the muscle to not only volumise it from below, but lift the tissues sufficiently to fill the trough area where the dark circles lay.
“This is facilitated by my cannula approach – a special way of introducing the product without any trauma, resulting in less bruising” explains Dr Khanna. “If done through the conventional technique of needles, this could cause swelling and pain.”
Thanks to a topical numbing cream that’s applied beforehand, this stage is slightly uncomfortable for a few minutes, but by no means painful. The second stage of the treatment involves taking your blood and extracting the plasma before mixing it with a light-viscosity hyaluronic acid formula that’s also rich in vitamin C to give a lightning effect on the tissues.
“This is directed to the sub-dermal plane, the tissue just beneath the skin, to tighten the tissue and regenerate collagen,” he explains. And in our experience, you barely feel him doing it.
The final stage of the treatment involves using a special gun applicator under a very high frequency that’s directed to the superficial layer on the skin of the eyelid, also has a lightning effect and helps to regenerate collagen. This part feels like a mini massage gun on your face, and is actually quite relaxing.
Check out the before and after images above to see how well the treatment was able to remove our dark circles. The result is instant and you’ll be left looking significantly younger immediately afterwards. You do have a few days of slightly swelling, though – just something to bear in mind.
The whole thing takes around 45 minutes, isn’t painful and if you’re scared of needles like we are – the team is on hand to put you at ease and make you a cup of tea to calm your nerves. We’re told the results will last anywhere from 6-18 months, but this depends on the person. Definitely recommended, especially if your dark circles are affecting your self-confidence.
3. Invest in a good eye cream
The aim of the game when it comes to younger-looking eyes is to firm up the skin by increasing elasticity. One way of doing this is to apply one of the best eye creams around and under the eyes. While they won’t provide a quick fix, they will help keep the eye area looking and appearing firm and smooth to promote anti-ageing over time.
We’ve found that Kiehl’s exceptionally long-named Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing & Dark Circle-Diminishing Vitamin C eye serum is one of the best when it comes to battling dark circles. On top of this, Dr Sophie Shotter at Illuminates Skin Clinic says an eye serum which contains Vitamin C can be beneficial as it helps to regulate pigment production.
EF Skin’s Alphascience Eye Matrix Eye Contour Restructuring Treatment is also a worthy investment as this serum contains L-glutamine and Genistein to boost collagen synthesis and give a lifting effect, Niosome Troxerutin to reduces dark circles and brighten the skin, a Botox-like tripeptide, which relaxes the eye muscles and smooths fine lines and firms the skin and also two types of hyaluronic acids to hydrate and smooth the skin.
And if you’re looking to brighten the under-eye area without breaking the bank, we recommend Harry’s new Brightening Eye Cream, which retails for just £8 and works to fade dark circles with continued use.
4. Drink plenty of water
Miss Elizabeth Hawkes, Consultant Oculoplastic and Ophthalmic Surgeon at the Cadogan Clinic in London, says dehydration is also another common cause of dark circles as the skin beneath the eyes looks sunken due to the close proximity to the bone.
So, to keep your skin looking voluminous and well hydrated, the general rule of thumb is to ensure you drink eight glasses of water per day, and more if you’re exercising.
5. All of the above
Finally, Amish Patel at Intrigue Cosmetic Clinic in south-east London says the best way to rid yourself of dark circles permanently is a multi-step approach in line with a generally healthy lifestyle.
“Using eye creams can certainly help with under-eye circles, however diet, lifestyle, lack of sleep and alcohol consumption can all play a part as to why you have dark circles,” he says.
“Many of my older male clients will opt for a filler in the tear trough area to replenish lost volume and give the face a refreshed look. This combined with a healthy lifestyle, a professionally tailored skincare routine and of course, a quality eye cream all go towards eliminating this surprisingly common issue.”