Panda eyes: a universal problem

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 December, 2008, 12:00am

Lots of people suffer from dark circles under the eyes, but there are several ways to make things a little brighter

Boys and girls alike can be affected by dark circles under the eyes that make us look older, stressed and tired. Dark circles are the second most common skin complaint after acne.

The skin under the eye area is thin and delicate and, unlike the rest of the body, contains very little fatty tissue.

Blood that passes through large veins close to the surface shows through the thinner, more translucent skin around the eyes, producing a bluish black tint, a bit like a bruise.

There may be also some leakage of blood beneath the surface. While this is a common occurrence, and harmless, it adds to that blue-black colour that makes us look so weathered.

There are several reasons why some people suffer from dark circles more than others.

Genes: Like skin, eye and hair colour, a predisposition for dark circles runs in the family. If your parents or grandparents have panda eyes, you're more likely to get them than people whose relatives have unblemished under-eye areas.

Sun: Too much sun can make dark circles look worse. Exposure to sunlight darkens the skin by raising levels of melanin in the skin - this is how we develop a tan. Unfortunately, higher melanin levels can make dark circles look even darker.

Tiredness: It's often thought that lack of sleep causes dark circles, but this isn't true. A shortage of shut-eye makes you look paler, which in turn makes dark circles appear darker.

Allergies: People who are allergic to pollen, dust and pets often have dark circles around their eyes because they rub their eyes, thickening and darkening the skin around them.

Tips for reducing dark circles

These remedies may help to temporarily make dark circles look lighter or prevent them from getting worse.

Keep hydrated. Drinking water is the best way to do this, so aim for eight glasses a day.

Slap on the sunscreen - use one with a minimum of SPF 30 under the eyes to prevent skin weakening caused by sun damage.

Get enough sleep. Teens need at least nine hours of good quality sleep a night.

Apply a cold flannel, cool teabags or cucumber slices over your eyes for a least 15 minutes. This helps constrict blood vessels, turning the skin paler so the bluish-black colour is less obvious.

Skin creams that contain vitamin C or K or alpha hydroxy acid and kinetin may help to reduce circles under the eyes.

Cover circles with a light-reflecting concealer which will help hide dark circles under the eyes. Dab carefully under the eyes and blend into your foundation.