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What Causes Dark Circles Under the Eyes?

Updated on September 9, 2017

The Mystery Behind Dark Circles

Have you ever awoke from a well-rested sleep and looked in the mirror to discover that you had horrible dark circles under your eyes? At first, you may try to understand why these dark circles made their unwelcoming appearance on your face in the first place. One of your initial reactions might be to think you had left your eye make up on before you went to bed. Then you realize, this wasn't the case. What you are seeing is the swollen capillaries underneath the eyes that cause this dark discoloration.

So, what are the reasons and causes for dark circles under the eyes? Well, there are a few factors to consider when discussing dark circles and where they originate. Let's first take a look at the environmental causes.

Causes for Dark Circles Under the Eyes- Environmental Factors

If you have sensitive skin or allergies to skin products, both can cause dark circles under the eyes. You may also be allergic to some of the chemicals and ingredients found within your eye-makeup. If your eye-makeup is not hypoallergenic, it can irritate the delicate skin underneath the eyes. These ingredients can also irritate the mucus membranes in the eyes and cause an allergic reaction, which is visibly apparent through the onset of dark circles.

Environmental and Synthetic Allergens

Another type of allergy that is associated with the eyes is seasonal allergies and pollen allergies. If you are susceptible to hay-fever, this can also cause dark circles under the eyes, especially during the springtime. This usually happens when flowers are blooming and release pollen. The pollen falls onto the ground and is lifted into the air when the wind blows. These tiny pollen particles, no matter how small they may be, make their way into your eyes and cause eye irritation.

Lack of sleep or Too Much Sleep can Cause Dark Circles

Lack of sleep or too much sleep also causes dark circles underneath the eyes. By sleeping too much the face is in constant contact with your pillow. If you are the type of sleeper who sleeps on your belly this friction against the face and the eye cavities can cause darkness underneath the eyes. You may also notice an increase in puffiness around the eye area.

Stay Hydrated to Help Prevent Dark Discoloration Under the Eyes

Dehydration is another environmental cause for those unsightly dark circles under the eyes. If your body does not have a sufficient amount of fluids it can cause a decrease in circulation; poor circulation causes the blood vessels in the eyes to look much more noticeable. When you are hydrated, you are less likely to develop dark circles underneath the eyes. Water also helps flush out any toxins within the body. Drinking enough water keeps your skin and body well-hydrated.

Now that we have covered the environmental factors that contribute to dark circles, let's take a look at some of the biological factors that cause these unsightly dark circles under the eyes.

Causes for Dark Circles Under the Eyes- Biological Factors

You can thank good old mom and dad for inheriting this beauty blunder. The truth is, if one or both of your parents have dark circles, you are more susceptible to having them as well.

People with Darker Skin Tones are More Likely to Have Dark Circles

People with darker skin tones are more likely to have dark circles than people with average or fair skin tones. This is due to excess amount of melanin in the skin, which causes the hyperpigmentation associated with dark skin underneath the eyes.

Iron Deficiency May also be the Cause of Dark Circles

An iron deficiency can also be indicated by the sudden onset of dark circles. When this happens a vitamin supplement should help correct this discoloration. You can even try adding some vitamin enriched green leafy vegetables such as kale and broccoli, which are jam packed with iron. If you notice you are constantly plagued with dark circles, you might want to consult a doctor to make sure that your dark circles are not a symptom of a more serious underlying health issue.

The more you know about what causes dark circles, the easier it is to find the right treatment for dark circles underneath the eyes. By following some of these guidelines you should be able to determine why your dark circles exist. You can then figure out how to conceal them and what type of treatment is beneficial for you to help diminish the unsightly skin discoloration associated with the delicate eye area.


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    • Mom Kat profile image

      Mom Kat 

      6 years ago from USA

      Good information. I've been looking "sick" for some time now & I know I'm low on iron & don't drink enough water. Thanks for sharing this - I didn't realize that these things could be the cause of my dark circles.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      a very detailed explanation for dark circles appearing i know mine are not genetic or due to some sort of illness i will try some of your tips :-) is there something else i could do to get rid of them please ?

    • virodrig profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      I would try a cream like moisturizer and then once that dries apply a product with light reflecting properties, which will make your dark circles seem less prominent. You might also want to drink more water. You might be dehydrated. This can also be a likely cause of your dark circles. Hope this helps.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi my name is Nick, idk how i got my dark circles, i used to starve sometimes to lose weight, but i sometimes have stress too. Would a Skin Lightening cream help me? thanks.

    • virodrig profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thank you very much for the comment! I am glad I could help people understand this common beauty ailment better!

    • dinkan53 profile image


      9 years ago from India

      Informatory article and hope this will help people's, those having misbelieves about dark circles under the eyes.


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