Struggling with dark circles under the eyes? You’re not alone. It’s currently one of the most searched beauty questions on Google, and those pesky shadows can happen to anyone at any age. Although we tend to get them for different reasons, one thing’s for sure – they can make us look worn out and stressed, even when we’re not.
While it’s true that a lack of sleep can emphasise dark under-eye circles, nine times out of 10, tiredness is not the major culprit. Some under-eye darkness is genetic and related to hyperpigmentation. The thinner the skin is under the eye, the more pigmentation shows through, especially in darker skin tones. Sun exposure and allergies can both aggravate under-eye darkness by boosting melanin production.
Our digital world is harming the appearance of our eyes too. The more screen time we rack up – whether laptop, phone or television – the more likely we are to strain our eyes. This can cause blood vessels around the eyes to enlarge and create dark shadows.
There’s also the impact of ageing, which comes with a loss of bony structure around the eye area. As a result, light cannot be reflected properly, casting a shadow under the eye.
The good news is with consistency and time you can minimise or sometimes even erase dark circles. From the latest tweakments to the new dark-circle fading eye creams, there have been some ingenious new developments to help put a sparkle back in your eyes.
The best clinic options to consider
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy
PRP Therapy is one of the hottest developments for eye rejuvenation and is particularly effective for dark circles caused through discolouration
or ageing. It involves having your own blood drawn, which is then spun in a centrifuge to separate out the growth factors and red platelets. The growth factors are then injected into the area to stimulate the regeneration of skin cells and new collagen, leaving
eyes looking naturally younger and brighter. There are no risks of reaction to it as it uses your own blood. Downtime will be 3-5 days, and any injection marks can be covered with concealer. For best results, two treatments six weeks apart are recommended.
Cost: £1500 for a course of two treatments.
If your dark circles are due to hyperpigmentation, the Dermamelan chemical peel is my tweakment of choice. It uses a variety of active ingredients such as kojic acid, arbutine and retinyl palmitate, which block overstimulation of melanin and rapidly turn over the skin. The peel can be used to reduce pigmentation under the eyes but is also an excellent treatment for the whole face to address uneven tone and ageing. After cleansing, the peel application is quick and straightforward and takes approximately 20 minutes.
You will then leave the clinic with the mask left on your face, where it must sit for around 12 hours before being washed off as directed. A skin maintenance programme is then followed. Peeling usually starts around 24-48 hours later and lasts at least seven days. If you don’t wish to be seen during this time, I recommend erring on the side of caution and booking 10 days off work. Only one treatment is required, and best results are seen around 2-8 weeks later.
Tear Trough Filler
When dark circles are caused by a loss of volume, an injectable tear trough filler can help plump up hollows. Zhoabex is a newly launched hyaluronic acid filler specifically designed to brighten under eye shadows. Results from a single treatment are immediate, and last from 6-12 months. But a word of warning – do go to a reputable clinic. Tear trough fillers are one of the most complicated injectable techniques and something that should only be performed by an experienced medical professional.
Cost: From £350-£650
Cindy, 30, a hairstylist from London, ate well and always got enough sleep, but was bothered by dark circles which never seemed to go away.
“I told Lesley I wanted a treatment that would be instant with little or no downtime, so she suggested tear trough fillers. She did warn that I could get a little bruising or swelling, which I was worried about, but I hated the look of my eyes so much that, after chatting to my mum, I decided to go ahead. Lesley introduced me to Dr Aamer Khan, who explained to me about HA fillers.
He suggested Zhoabex, and explained he would place filler into the hollows using a cannula rather than a needle to reduce the risk of bruising. The whole treatment took about 30 minutes and was painless. I was a little red after, but had no bruising and just a slight swelling for a few hours. I'm so much happier, people have stopped asking me if I'm tired which was driving me crazy. It’s lovely to be able to meet a friend for a coffee and not have to think about slapping on any make-up. I wish I'd done it earlier and I highly recommend it.”
Can eye cream help with dark circles?
Regular use of retinoids, such as vitamin A, can help rebuild collagen, boosting skin volume and firmness. But be patient, because it can take up to six months before you see the difference. Always wear an SPF during the day when using retinol as it makes skin sun sensitive. Also look for vitamin C, which helps to reduce further ageing. Lesley recommends the following.
Epionce Luminous Eye Serum, £59 here
Formulated with vitamin C-rich watermelon, astragalus, cocoa and paracress, as well as a trio of antioxidant-rich algaes, this medical-grade eye serum targets dark circles and ageing without irritating delicate skin.
No7 Pure Retinol Eye Cream, £24.95 here
No7's most potent form of retinol is drip-fed via a slow-release encapsulation system and buffered with soothing shea butter and bisabolol to stave off irritation.
StemCellutions Eye Serum, £55 here
This new formula fuses skin-firming organic oat sugars with plant-based caffeine and horse chestnut to reduce puffiness and brighten dark circles.
Can diet make your eyes brighter?
Small changes in your diet may help to reduce the appearance of dark circles and prevent them from getting worse. Stock up on tomatoes, as they contain an antioxidant called lycopene which boosts circulation and protects blood vessels.
Other foods to fill up on include blueberries, watermelon, oranges and beetroot. Iron deficiency can contribute to the appearance of dark circles so include foods like red meat, pork, poultry, seafood, beans, spinach, raisins, apricots and peas into your diet, as well as vitamin B12.
Research shows that vitamin K can help strengthen blood vessels as it helps stop the pooling that causes the darkness. Find it in green leafy vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower.
For more information on Lesley and her team of doctors visit harleystreetskinclinic.com
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