There's More To Dark Circles And Eye Bags Than A Lack Of Sleep

It starts with your genetics.
Lifestyle choices can worsen the appearance of circles and bags.
Lifestyle choices can worsen the appearance of circles and bags.

Whether you've clocked eight hours last night or you're feeling a little sleep deprived, there's no escaping a dark circle or two.

Dark circles and eye bags are skin conditions that can leave us looking (or feeling) slightly subpar. And whilst some of us have surrendered to nature's fair course, dealing with them can be a perpetual struggle that only matures with time.

What causes them?

First things first, we are talking about two different conditions.

"Dark circles are a condition associated with darkness that you see under the eye," dermatologist Dr Elizabeth Dawes-Higgs told The Huffington Post Australia.

"They can appear due to the thinning of the skin around our eyes, to the point where you begin to see through to the dark muscles," Dr Dawes-Higgs said.

"As you get older, the bone structure can change and the skin can begin to move, becoming thinner."

Eye bags are completely different and are caused by a bulging of the fat pads that cushion our eyes.

"Everyone has little fat pockets that are there to protect the bone and the structures of the face," Dr Dawes-Higgs said.

"With age, these can become weaker and fall forward -- or they can sometimes pop out of the skin."

Eye bags can become weaker or can pop out with age.
Eye bags can become weaker or can pop out with age.

When it comes to the old-age tale that sleep -- or lack thereof -- plays a part, this is not entirely the case.

"People do notice that when they have less sleep, they feel that the dark circles become darker. This may be due to temporary fluid changes that occur when you are lying flat," Dr Dawes-Higgs said.

"If you are sleep deprived, however, the skin tissue in the under-eye area can become drier, and it may be the case that you can see through the skin more easily."

According to Dr Dawes-Higgs, genetics is a major factor.

"Under eye circles can be attributed to darker skin pigmentation. Similarly, eye bags can also be genetic, with some families having more prominent bags."

But the extent to which we are affected by circles and bags can also come down to our lifestyle choices.

"Sun and smoking are the main factors that can worse their appearance," Dr Dawes-Higgs said.

So, what can we do about it?

With all considerations of age, lifestyle and genetics on the table, there are options out there.

To treat or camouflage dark circles, Dr Dawes-Higgs recommends using an everyday moisturiser and applying sunscreen regularly. When it comes to the host of creams and products that are marketed to soften dark circles: "at the end of the day, they don't do a lot".

Managing eye bags requires different treatment options that can include cosmetic surgery.

"Once you have lost that connective cage that keeps the pillow in place, the only way to sort that is to have surgery," Dr Dawes-Higgs said.

"If it has come out to a smaller degree, you can have have soft tissue fillers inserted around the bag to make it appear more uniform."

And if genetics are the main driver, camouflage makeup is key.

Your new best friend.
Your new best friend.

For Nikki Loyson, Skin Specialist from Mecca Cosmetica, the all important cover-up begins with a dark circle 'radiance concentrate' that features a brightening formula.

"This will prep the eye area and you can also apply it to the eye lid. Continued use will help you to look more youthful, whilst the soy peptides (contained in it) work to increase blood flow and decrease swelling as well as any puffiness," Loyson said.

Look for products that contact rice bran extracts to hydrate the skin and firm the eye area.

The piece de resistance? Concealer. And Loyson recommends Ellis Faas.

"It contains anti-ageing properties that target fine lines and wrinkles as well as keeping the delicate eye hydrated," Loyson said.

"Use your ring finger to lightly pad this in and ensure a blurred effect around the eye."

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