Your shiners, your raccoon eyes, your blue luggage… whatever you call your dark under-eye circles, here’s what they really are: oxidising hemoglobin.
Most people think that dark under-eye circles are caused by staying up late watching monster movies, or having that last drink the night before, or sitting up with your laptop trying to finish the quarterly report. Most people think that their behavior is somehow linked to dark under-eye circles.
Well, most people are dead wrong.
If nothing else, I want you to know that dark under-eye circles are not your fault. They don’t mysteriously appear when you misbehave or are stressed out, only to vanish when you get 8 straight hours of sleep. Dark under-eye circles are a by-product of the very same mechanism that produces bruises (and you don’t blame yourself for bruising, do you?). Changing your behavior will, in almost every case, NOT get rid of your dark under-eye circles.
Dark under-eye circles begin in the capillaries, the tiny blood vessels that web the delicate skin around the eyes. Now, your capillaries are so small that red blood cells sometimes have to line up, single file, to get through. Frequently, red blood cells get lost and wander into the surrounding skin. This isn’t a problem – it happens all the time – and your body has a mechanism to mop up these escapees. Enzymes in your body break down the red blood cells, including their hemoglobin (the molecule that gives them their distinctive red color).
No problem, right? Except for one thing: when hemoglobin is broken down, its remaining components have a dark blue-black color. Just like a bruise. So your dark under-eye circles are actually caused by leaky capillaries.
It’s quite possible that capillaries all over your body are leaking small amounts of blood all the time (I don’t know if this is true or not). But the reason dark under-eye circles are so apparent is this: the skin around the eyes is some of the thinnest, most delicate skin of your entire body. The capillaries are much closer to the surface of the skin there. Many people’s skin is not only thinner around the eyes, but also more translucent. The combination of capillaries near the skin’s surface and translucent skin makes this discoloration much more apparent. And that’s why you have those dark under-eye circles staring back at you in the mirror.
The most effective remedy for dark circles is also the most cliche. Thin slices of cucumber applied to your eyes not only helps to lighten the skin, but also soothes and cools the eyes. This can be especially comforting if you’ve been up late the night before or your eyes are red and tired from allergies or staring at a laptop screen.
The caffeine in tea bags acts as a remedy for dark circles by diminishing puffiness. Caffeine in tea helps to diminish water in the tissues around the eyes (you’ll notice that many early eye circle creams contain caffeine for this very reason). In addition, tea contains antioxidants that are beneficial to the skin. Take a used tea bag (green, black or white) that’s been squeezed out. Make sure it’s cool! Leave it over your eyes for about 10 minutes. You’ll see a noticeable improvement in puffiness and under-eye circles. Be careful not to get tea in your eyes.
Lazy to raid your fridge? Look for eye creams or lotions that contain cucumber extracts or caffeine. Alternatively, you can try this aesthetic treatment – Undereye fillers, to lessen your dark eye circles: