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What Causes Dark Circles and Puffiness, and How Can Skincare Help?

What Causes Dark Circles and Puffiness, and How Can Skincare Help?

Our simple guide to understanding how to best tackle puffy eyes and dark circles

What Causes Dark Circles and Puffiness?

The skin around the eyes is 40% thinner and therefore more permeable than the skin on the rest of the face. This means the skin around the eyes is more prone to environmental assault and external damage due to being extra delicate. Dark circles, puffiness, fine lines and wrinkles are all common eye concerns and each of these concerns is thought to be rooted from genetics, as well as lifestyle factors such as diet, sleep, sun exposure and smoking. 

Dark Circles

Dark circles (also called periorbital dark circles - orbital meaning around the eye) are a common concern affecting all age groups. There is a simple at home test you can do to see if your dark circles are caused by hyperpigmentation or visible venous structures under the eye. Be sure to use freshly washed hands and be gentle when performing the test. 

Dark Circles Pinch Test

1. Wash your hands and face

2. Pat dry

3. Looking in the mirror feel for the orbital bone under the eye

4. Using your thumb and index finger gently pinch the skin under the eye

5. Observe the colour of the gently pinched skin

If the skin stays darkened when pinched the dark circles are being caused by hyperpigmentation. This form of colouration under the eye is from genetic factors and sun exposure. This darkness needs to be addressed by using exfoliating agents formulated for the eye area. AHA and retinol in eye creams are popular exfoliants used to inhibit melanin production and lighten pigmentation around the delicate eye area.

If the skin lightens when pinched the dark circles are caused by a vasodilation or dilated (expanded) veins under the skin of the eyes. When these veins are dilated, they are more visible through the thin skin of the under eye area. Vasodilation and the associated darkening can be caused by poor circulation in the blood vessels, allergies, sinus congestion, and environmental assault. To combat this common problem, topically applied caffeine in an eye cream can speed up the blood flow under the eyes resulting in a lightened appearance of dark circles. Ice is excellent for vasoconstriction or tightening of the blood vessels under the eye, reducing the appearance of dark circles.

Puffy Eyes

Puffy eyes are also known as periorbital edema. This puffiness is caused by inflammation around the eye that results in fluid retention causing the eye to look puffy. Puffy eyes can be caused by ageing, dehydration, excess salt intake, crying and even some medical reasons such as allergies. 

Puffy Eye Life Hacks

1. Sleep propped up and on your back, this position keeps fluids flowing in your body and will lessen the chance of you waking up looking extra tired

2. Get plenty of beauty sleep

3. Ice or cold compress will reduce the inflammation around the eyes

4. Drinking enough water will ensure the body is able to get rid of excess or retained fluids

5. Reducing salt intake, as excessive salt can cause your body retain excess fluids 

The Best Skincare Ingredients for Puffy Eyes

1. Hyaluronic acid this most loved ingredient keeps the eye area fresh and hydrated

2. Retinol is great for firming up the eye area by stimulating collagen and tightening the skin around the eyes 

3. Caffeine will constrict the blood vessels and help to move excess fluid away from around the eyes

When treating the eye area it’s important to be gentle. Apply your products with your ring finger using a thin application. Tap product along the orbital bone (eye socket), avoiding going too close to the eye to avoid irritation. 

If you’d like support in choosing the best eye product for your needs and budget, start your online skin consultation here, where you will be matched with a licensed skincare expert who can answer all your questions and help curate your ideal routine.