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This is how to treat dark under-eye circles

From genetics to lifestyle choices, there's more to dark circles than meets the eye, shares EV expert Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme

Found most typically on the skin of the lower eyelid, dark circles or periorbital hypermelanosis and periorbital hyperpigmentation as it’s known medically ­– can leave you looking like you haven’t slept in weeks, even if you’re well rested and fighting fit.  If you have them, you’ll know it presents under both eyes’ at the same time and while it’s more common in darker skin tones it’s actually a pretty normal part of skin ageing.  

This is because there are multiple reasons one can end up with dark circles. "Pigment irregularities, sun damage, eczema, a loss of fatty tissue, and thinning skin are just some of the culprits," shares Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme, Founder & Medical Director of London's Adonia Medical Clinic and EV Editorial Panel member.

And while these factors are partly controlled by your genes, other factors such as "skin damage aka premature ageing, smoking, fatigue, dehydration, allergies, thyroid disease and even menstruation can also play a part," adds Ejikeme, who recommends the following lifestyle changes, skincare buys and treatment options to brighten your peepers…

Add volume

Fat loss in the face is an inevitable part of the ageing process and as we lose volume as well as collagen the skin becomes thinner, and laxity ensues, leading to a descension of the skin. “Initially this is often most noticeable in the eye area, as skin here is thinner than anywhere else on the face,” says Ejikeme. Hyaluronic acid dermal filler can be used along the tear trough to re-plump, smooth and lift the area and this added volume will eliminate the dark shadowing that occurs when under eyes are sunken. Dermal fillers last around 12 months in this area so will need topping up, while a surgical fat transfer procedure that uses your own fat instead of dermal filler to correct hollowness lasts around three years.

Invest in skincare

When it comes to dark circles don’t underestimate the benefits of a consistent skincare regime, as topical solutions containing tried and true actives can make major inroads.

Caffeine – A vasoconstrictor (which means it tightens blood vessels), caffeine is able to reduce redness, swelling and pooling around the eyes waving bye bye to puffiness that can leave under-eyes looking dark due to shadows. “It’s also an antioxidant helping to neutralise free radical damage and quell inflammation that can further degrade natural collagen and elastin degradation and compromise the skin’s protective barrier,” explains Ejikeme.

Hyaluronic Acid – Gold standard hydrator hyaluronic acid can hold 1000 times its weight in water making it a skin plumping powerhouse. While you won’t get the same effects as when it’s injected, well hydrated skin will look far more revitalised.
L-Asorbic Acid – LAA, aka vitamin C, is a potent antioxidant that helps brighten the complexion, reduce inflammation and even out skin tone by disrupting pigment production and boosting collagen production to boot.

Kojic Acid – Derived from mushrooms, this acid doesn’t have an exfoliating effect but rather inhibits pigment production, and “for those with sensitive skin or whose skin tones range from olive to deep black it makes for a great alternative to prescription skin lightener hydroquinone,” shares Ejikeme.  

Protect against UVA and UVB

“Ultraviolet light isn’t just responsible for the premature formation of lines and wrinkles; it can also make dark circles worse. This makes using a high-factor SPF on the eyes a good idea too,” says Ejikeme. You should also wear sunglasses as much as possible, but make sure they carry a CE mark indicating that they reach EU’s standards of protection.

Make lifestyle changes 

Beauty sleep is not a marketing ploy, you not only need enough sleep to function at your best but to look your best, too. “You need at least eight hours of good quality sleep, and on top of that you should also evaluate your other lifestyle habits. Excessive alcohol and salt can cause dehydration and puffiness and exacerbate your dark circles. Toxins in cigarette smoke damage skin tissue, while smoking itself destroys collagen and elastin needed to keep skin firm and reduce hollowness that leads to dark shadowing,’ explains Ejikeme.

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