Lab notes
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

Why are Eyes Prone to 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. 

What Causes Dark Circles?

Dark circles (also called periorbital dark circles - orbital meaning around the eye) are a common concern affecting all age groups.

There are two common reasons why you may develop dark circles. The first is hyperpigmentation, which is the colouration of the skin due to sun exposure and genetic factors. The second possible cause of dark circles is vasodilation, which is the expansion of the blood vessels in the under eye area due to environmental factors such as allergies, irritation, or lack of sleep.

Dark Circles Pinch Test

In order to treat dark circles under the eyes, you first need to figure out what is causing them.

There is a simple at home test you can do to see if your dark circles are caused by hyperpigmentation or vasodilation.

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 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 vasodilation. When these veins are dilated, they are more visible through the thin skin of the under eye area. 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.

What Causes 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. 

Tips for Reducing Under Eye Puffiness

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 Chronically 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. 

Which Eye Products Are Best For Your Skincare Routine?

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.