Fighting those dreaded dark circles can sometimes feel like an uphill battle, especially as it seems that they're becoming more pronounced as you get older.
But there are ways to improve the appearance of these pesky periorbital rings. And even if you can't rid yourself of them entirely, there are useful make-up tips to help conceal them.
What causes them?
Dark circles under our eyes are caused by tiny blood vessels being visible through our skin.
If your skin is naturally thin or translucent, it's more likely that the blood vessels beneath the skin's surface will show through. The thickness and translucency of our skin is often hereditary, but it also changes with age.
Which is why you may have noticed those dark circles becoming more apparent in recent years.
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Why does our skin change when we get older?
As we get older, the structure of our skin gradually loses strength. That's because we produce less collagen – the key building block of skin.
Since the skin under our eyes is already much thinner than on the rest of our bodies, when we start producing less collagen it's one of the first places to show signs of ageing.
It's no wonder then, that as you age you may find dark circles slowly encroaching on what was previously clear skin.
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So what can we do to get rid of dark circles?
Sleep may help
It has been suggested that sleep may help to reduce the appearance of dark circles; the blood circulation to our skin reduces when we're sleep-deprived, and as a result our skin becomes more dull and translucent.
This may then mean it's easier to see the blood vessels in the tissue underneath.
It's always good to get a good night's sleep for our whole health and wellbeing, and it may even help those dreaded dark circles.
What to do when insomnia strikes
Try a cold compress
One way to target the underlying cause of dark circles is to use a cold compress. That's because our blood vessels contract in cooler temperatures. You can buy cold compress eye masks that you place in the fridge before use, online. Or simply use a pack of frozen peas.
Another tip is to place a couple of metal table spoons in the fridge and then place them over your eyes.
The tea bag trick
It has been suggested that caffeine also helps to contract blood vessels. So one useful home remedy is to place used tea bags under your eyes (easiest achieved whilst lying down!). Better yet, cool a couple of freshly used tea bags in the fridge first, for the double benefit of caffeine plus a soothingly cool compress.
Retinol eye creams
Retinol helps to restore the amount of collagen in our skin. A retinol eye cream may help to reduce the appearance of dark circles by strengthening the skin under our eyes, making it thicker and less translucent. The result may be that the blood vessels in the underlying tissue become less visible, et voila! Your dark circles have been diminished.
Try Redermic [R] Eyes by La Roche-Posay. At £24.50 for 15ml, it's mid-priced, comes highly recommended and is even suitable for sensitive skin.
Do eye creams really work?
Creams with caffeine
As mentioned, caffeine is thought to help constrict the blood vessels under our skin, which is why a number of eye creams contain the compound we'd usually encounter in a cup of coffee.
Try Darphin's Ideal Resource Anti-Dark Circle Eye Illuminator. For £39 for 15ml, the skin around your eyes will enjoy collagen-boosting ingredients, green tea extract and caffeine.
Tips for concealing
If those dull dark circles simply aren't budging, you can cleverly conceal them with these handy make-up tips:
1. Apply a concealer to the darkened area. Choose one with a yellowish hue that's a couple of shades lighter than your skin colour. This will counter the blue and purple tones of your dark circles.
2. Make sure your concealer has a nice creamy consistency and don't use too much: the skin under your eyes is very soft and fragile – the wrong concealer applied too liberally may look cakey.
3. Only conceal the darker skin, because if you extend beyond it, you may end up with a patchy look.
4. Use a foundation the same colour as your skin tone and lightly apply it with a blending brush over the top of your concealed dark circles. Be careful not to rub away the concealer underneath and make sure the foundation is softly blended with the surrounding skin.
5.You can then follow your usual makeup ritual, whether that's using foundation on the rest of your face, or using a powder. In either case, it can still be a good idea to lightly dust the area under your eyes with some translucent powder, to set the concealer and foundation.
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