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Dark Circles Under Eyes

Doctor's Terms

  • Nasojugal Fold: the tear trough or hollow that extends down and out from the inner corner of the eye.
  • Midface descent: sagging of cheek fat.
  • Chloasma: darkening of the skin caused by pregnancy or other hormonal surges.
  • Orbital septum: the ligament surrounding the eye, forming the fibrous layer of the eyelids.
  • Arcus marginalus: a small structure that connects the orbital septum to the bone of the eye socket (the orbital bone).

Information And Treatment

If you have dark circles under the eyes, first rule out causes like allergies and sleep loss. If you're well-rested and in generally good health, the cause of your dark circles, sad to say, is most likely cosmetic.

Blue-purple dark circles are most often caused by visible veins and capillaries under the eye. Since the fat under the eye thins with age, the blue hue of the blood vessels show through the skin as this protective layer is lost. Some people are just born with thin skin, so the veins show early in life, even during childhood.

What's the cause of dark undereye circles (aside from a few late nights)? The bluish hue itself is caused by leaky capillaries. The visibility and leakage of the undereye vessels can also be caused by allergies, eczema, nasal congestion, sun exposure and simple excess pigmentation. As you age, the fat and collagen under your eyes thins, making the bluish color even more visible.

There are other possible causes of dark circles under the eyes. For example, the fat under the eye can bulge, causing shadows and a hollow, dark appearance to the undereye area.

Brownish dark circles under the eye are normally caused by hyperpigmentation. This pigmentation is most common in Asians and people of Mediterranean descent. Brownish skin pigmentation, including that which develops under the eyes, can also be caused by sun damage, birth control pills or pregnancy (the "pregnancy mask" or melasma).

Age range: Dark circles generally appear in the 20s and 30s, but this doesn't mean that they can't show up on younger people.

Interesting Facts

In 2006, Clinique found that 53% of the 13,000 customers they surveyed cited dark circles under their eyes as their top beauty concern.