Beauty 101

Not all dark circles are the same!

A question I’m often asked is how to reduce dark circles under the eyes.  This is such a confidence deflator for so many as dark shadows always make us look so tired and unwell, and despite having access to some fabulous products to help conceal them, they are always there, revealing themselves eventually.

It’s no surprise really that the eye area is one of the major concerns for both men and women relative to their appearance when you discover how vulnerable this area is.

The skin around the eye is very different to facial skin. It is much thinner, more vulnerable and delicate, and has fewer oil and sweat glands. The lack of glands there results in limited protection of the skin and less ability to hold moisture. It is also prone to puffiness and irritation when too many products are applied.

Deeper down in the lower layers there is no cutaneous fat which acts like a shock absorber. The collagen, elastin, and blood vessel networks are finer and fewer and the elastin fibres that you are born with are all you have to support this area for the remainder of your days.

Cue the requiem music! How depressing!

Don’t give up yet.

In order to treat your dark circles correctly you should first identify what is your primary cause…

Brownish Black Circles


This is a hereditary condition and the darkness you see is melanin, a pigment in the skin that is exacerbated by certain enzyme reactions.  Tiredness, excess sun exposure, irritation and hormonal changes can make this area darker.

To treat: use eye products with mild AHA’s to lighten and brighten the eye area, natural bleaching  ingredients such as vitamin C, azelaic and licorice extract can also help.  Use a concealer with a SPF to shield the skin from the sun as exposure will only darken the area more.

Blueish Circles


Blue circles result from oxygenated blood stagnating beneath the skin. Skin here is very thin and almost transparent, so the blood shows through. You’ll find this more noticeable in the morning when you wake after been horizontal for a while, the fluids accumulate and the veins expand to hold more blood. Blue circles may get worse with age because as get older, we lose natural fat in the area, which can mask blueness below the surface of the skin.

To treat:  Drink more water!  By increasing your water intake you will assist the lymphatic system and its ability to flush and filter the area. Get the circulation moving, plenty of exercise to assist your general circulation and gently massage around the eye area to reduce stagnation.  Use product to help filter the area, ginkgo biloba and seaweed are both great circulatory aids and also tighten the skin.

Reddish Circles


The eye area becomes red when the blood vessels enlarge and engorge and become more visible through the skin.  This can happen when you suffer allergies or nasal congestion or simply when you’ve burnt the candle at both ends and haven’t had enough sleep. Dehydration and irritation are other major causes.

To treat:  Cool the eye area to constrict the blood vessels.  Use ice, cool compresses, cucumbers, cooling gels, anything at all to cool the skin around the eyes.  This tightens the walls of the vessels and reduces the size while increasing their elasticity.  Eye gels with soothing botanicals such as chamomile, cucumber, cornflower and green tea will benefit.  Drink plenty of water and apply soothing eye drops and most important sleep!

Deep Shadows


As you age the fatty support tissue under the eye begin to decrease, kind of like an old pillow that loses its stuffing, sigh….the skin produces less proteins and therefore the texture of the delicate skin become lax and crêpey, all of this creates shadows and hollows.

To treat: Time to get out the big guns, you’ll need ingredients that plump the area and increase the protein manufacture in the dermis.  Keep it moist and get some retinols into the skin, these plump up the skin cells and make the area look tighter and dewier.  Use serums and lightweight creams loaded with moisture binding hyaluronic as these will help create an environment for collagen and elastin to organise itself.  And get out the highlighting pens such as YSL’s Touche Eclat, applied to the depressed areas these brightening radiance concealers bring forward the area reducing the appearance of depth.

No matter what your eye concerns the most important thing is to keep the area moist, get plenty of water and get adequate sleep!

Final advice:  apply your eye products to the orbital bone around the eye instead of the delicate tissue close to the eye, the product will seep into the skin gradually without overloading it and causing puffiness.