When we meet a friend or even a stranger, we first establish eye-contact. Sometimes, even before saying hello. A common saying “eyes are the mirror of the soul”, acquires a different meaning when you notice that the other person’s eyes are enveloped in dark circles. It immediately sparks off a chain of impressions about that person’s health and lifestyle choices that may or may not be true.
Dark circles can occur due to various reasons, from aging to medical conditions, but the most common causes are lifestyle issues.
Aging issues like accumulation of fat under eyes, fat descending to cheeks, thinning of skin, loosening of skin under the lower eyelids are usually responsible for dark circles.
Dark circles are commonly caused by medical conditions like allergies, nasal congestion, eczema, thyroid issues, dry skin, hyperpigmentation due to melasma (a condition during pregnancy), mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, and congestion of the veins. Genetic predisposition can also be responsible. Some people have dark circles running in the family. Environmental causes like air pollutants, exposure to UV rays can also give a person dark circles.
Common lifestyle issues that lead to dark circles are smoking, pigmentation of skin due to sun rays, excess intake of caffeine and alcohol, dietary imbalances, excess usage of computers and smartphones or tablets, lack of sleep, overexertion and inadequate intake of water.
Dark circles are not only aesthetically displeasing, but also lead to low self-esteem and negative impression on personality. Before beginning a remedial process to reduce dark circles, it is important to first analyse the cause behind the effect. Dark circles are not just a problem by themselves, they are also a signal that something is wrong somewhere. If dark circles are caused due to aging issues and medical conditions, it is best to consult a dermatologist or general physician who will analyse the root cause and suggest appropriate solutions to the problem.
For lifestyle issues, changes are imperative, along with a regular skincare programme that will help reduce dark circles.
Lifestyle changes that help reduce dark circles
1. Sleep well – Beauty is skin deep but effects of a good night’s sleep are obvious to onlooker naked eye. Sleep revitalizes us, mentally and physically, and lack of it makes a person look weary. For those lucky ones who can grab it, a beauty nap in the afternoon is an added bonus. Follow a sleep routine – go to bed early and make sure that the sleeping environment is peaceful.
2. Eat greens – Constipation, too, can be a cause of dark circles. Fiber and foliage help in regulating bowel movements and help keep your skin blemish-free.
3. Drink adequate water – Dry skin is an irritant, and a cause of dark circles. Slathering layers of lotions and potions will only control the situation externally, and for short durations. For a glowing and health skin, drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water every day is essential.
4. Avoid skin pigmentation – Despite using good quality sun protective lotions, some of us are more prone to sun tanning and skin pigmentation than others. Wearing large sunglasses that adequately cover the eyes can help in preventing dark circles.
5. Use good quality make-up – Every person wants to dress up and look his or her best. But sometimes we tend to compromise with the quality of products we use. Inferior quality make-up is damaging for the skin, and especially dangerous when used in the eye region as the skin surrounding the eyes is extremely sensitive. Investing in good quality make-up is a sure shot way of avoiding raccoon eyes.
6. Quit smoking – It is anyway injurious to health. Why compound the problem by indulging in a habit that will cause damage, internally as well as externally?
7. Reduce intake of alcohol and caffeine – Alcohol and caffeine both dehydrate the body, which in turn causes dark circles. Caffeine also keeps us awake for longer, leading to sleep deprivation. The effect of lack of sleep on our appearance has already been discussed. So, it is a circle – two dark circles actually.
8. Cut down stress – Easier said than done, but stress does show up, in our demeanor, our choices and most evidently on our faces. It does not require any research to say that people who tend to worry too much tend to have more pronounced shadows under their eyes. Our eyes reflect what we feel, and if we do not feel okay, our eyes, too, will not sparkle or shine.
9. Reduce screen time – Obviously, you are reading this on your computer, tablet or smart phone. But have you considered that when your eyes are glued to an electronic screen most of the time, it can leave its mark behind in the form of dark circles? Whatever be the reason of our screen time, professional or recreational, it is very important to regulate the span of time we spend staring at electronic screens. Ophthalmologists suggest that one should take a break every 20 minutes and look around, outside the window, or merely focus on the wall at the farthest end or even at other people for 2 minutes. One should also remind oneself consciously, to blink frequently at regular intervals. Going on morning walks to a park is a great way to connect with nature and provide soothing relief to our eyes.