Two common misconceptions about dark circles under your eyes: First, dark circles develop naturally as a result of advancing age. Not true. Children, too, can develop “symmetrical round pigmented areas beneath the eyes”—the official medical description for “the dark circle menace.
” Second and consistent with the old-age myth, dark circles under your eyes automatically signal exhaustion, excessive indulgence of your bad habits, or signs of serious illness. Officially, not impossible, but highly unlikely!
Dark circle facts: Yes, “lifestyle factors” contribute to the dark circle menace: smoking, drinking alcohol, and tossing-back too many caffeinated sodas play their part in formation of dark circles; but so does heredity. The dark circle menace can pass from generation to generation through the genes. More likely, allergies and nasal congestion cause your dark circles to appear.
Nasal and sinus congestion dilate and darken veins that drain from eyes to nose. Those dark circles are your dilated veins. And, yes, age has some influence. As you “mature,” your skin thins, losing fat and collagen. Even without nasal and sinus congestion, the veins beneath your eyes more clearly appear beneath your skin.
Darker circle facts: Sun exposure aggravates the dark circle menace. When you go out in the sun unprotected, your skin produces more melanin—the bio-chemical term for the pigment that creates your skin tone. Beneath a sunburn or tan, the extra pigment beneath your eyes probably did not show, but its presence persists long after your tan has faded. Hello, circles. Similarly, African-Americans and Asians sometimes suffer pigmentation irregularities which appear most prominently as dark under-eye circles.
Go Right to the Source
Understanding cause and effect, you can treat the cause and diminish the dark circle menace. No need to visit the cosmetics counter or consult your favorite cosmetic surgeon. Take the all-natural route to eliminating the dark circle menace.
Manage the “lifestyle factors,” reducing or quitting smoking, drinking anti-oxidant-rich red wines, and getting your caffeine from green and black teas. Try all-natural decongestants for allergies or a cold. Saline nasal spray is a wonder drug, and steaming hot showers enhanced with mint and eucalyptus clear sinuses and restore free breathing. Do not use facial creams that contain synthetic collagens, but use coconut oil which nourishes skin and promotes the body’s natural production of collagen. Finally, regardless of your ethnic heritage, slather on sunscreen whenever you venture outdoors.. Life outdoors ravages your complexion. All those UV rays naturally take their toll, and urban air contains over a thousand toxins, pathogens, and contaminants. Your sunscreen lotion protects you against all those hazards.
Simple Self-Care Mitigates the Menace
The more you seek natural remedies for common health complaints, the more you will discover your grandmother knew best; and, true to the old adage, all things old are new again. You still can postpone your visit to the cosmetics counter and call to the board-certified surgeon, trying some of your grandmother’s favorites instead…
- Go with the cold: Every mother knows to keep a bag of frozen peas on hand, because those icy jolly greens treat a thousand health conditions. Close and lock the bedroom door and lay back comfortably with the frozen peas over your eyes and nose. The cold will reduce dilated blood vessels and other swelling in your sinuses. Chilled used tea bags work well, too, not only because of the cold but also because of the tannins.
- Pile on the pillows: Fluids pool in your lower eyelids while you sleep. Elevating your head, you promote better circulation and drainage. Your grandmother also advocated use of an aromatherapy pillow spray. Dilute essential lavender, chamomile, and your favorite citrus to promote deep, recuperative sleep and productive dreaming. Add a hint of mint to your mix to keep your nasal passages and airways clear.
- Compensate for lost sleep: Although the advice seems to confirm the eye-circle myth, it actually goes to the symptom rather than the cause. Sleep deprivation does not cause dark circles beneath your eyes, but it does make them more visible. When you fail to get all the sleep you need, your skin becomes paler and your eyes more hollow. Consequently, shadows and extra pigmentation show more prominently.
- Get those designer shades: In addition to slathering on your sunscreen, invest in and wear some really good sunglasses. RayBan Wayfarers are back in style.
Call for Reinforcements
If your dark circles do not respond to natural treatments, consult a dermatologist. In some cases, persistent dark circles beneath your eyes indicate complications of eczema. Moderate to severe eczema causes “atopic pleats”—development of extra skin-folds beneath your eyes; and it causes hyper-pigmentation in your eyelids, both upper and lower. Your dermatologist will review your treatment options, including prescription creams and lotions. If you prefer all-natural remedies, insist that your dermatologist focus on those, because most medical doctors will go straight for the prescription pad instead of looking in the herb garden.
Also keep in mind that allergies and exposure to environmental toxins cause eczema. Although skin may become infected from eczema, no bacteria or virus causes the inflammation and irritation. “Green” your house, eliminating volatile organic compounds and toxins of all kinds, reducing your exposure to eczema’s most common causes.