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10 Causes That Increase the Appearance of Dark Eye Circles and Bags.

10 Causes That Increase the Appearance of Dark Eye Circles and Bags.

There are many factors involved in the mechanism for the appearance of dark eye circles and puffiness. You can't control some of these causes, but you can influence others by changing some bad habits in order to reduce the dark rings under your eyes. Typology has listed 10 causes that have a negative impact on the appearance of dark eye circles and puffiness.

Published January 6, 2023, by Stéphanie, Doctorate in Life and Health Sciences, — 5 min read

1. Heredity

Genetic predisposition is a significant cause of the formation of all types of dark eye circles. In particular: 

  • Hollow or sunken eyes, if present from childhood, have a genetic component. In fact, they are attributable to a particular bone structure of the face. The features are then more pronounced. 

  • Pigmented dark circles or periorbital hyperpigmentation tend to affect darker phototypes. They are due to an abnormal production of melanin in the area, making the area around the eye darker. 


Types of dark circles concerned: Bluish/vascular dark circles, pigmented dark circles, hollow/sunken dark circles, adipose and watery bags.

2. Age

As we age, the skin of the lower eyelid loses elasticity and suppleness, and becomes slack. This phenomenon is caused by a decrease in the number of support fibers (elastin and collagen) within the dermis. As a result, the subcutaneous fat layer sags. The face becomes hollow and the effect of gravity results in the appearance of hollow or sunken dark circles. Furthermore, fluids such as blood and lymph circulate less well, contributing to the appearance of watery bags under the eyes or bluish/vascular circles. In addition, with age, fatty tissue that protects the eyeball can slide down and be the cause of fatty bags.


Types of dark circles concerned: Bluish/vascular dark circles, hollow/sunken dark circles, adipose and watery bags.

3. Lack of Sleep

A short night's sleep can have some repercussions and be one of the causes of dark eye circles. Upon awakening, blood and lymphatic microcirculation are slowed down, the complexion is paler and fluids clump in the under eye area. As a result, the under eye blood vessels show through the skin and edema appears, often associated with swelling. 


Types of dark circles concerned: Bluish/vascular dark circles and watery bags.

4. Sun Exposure

Extremely thin and fragile, the skin around the eyes is particularly vulnerable to UV rays, which are responsible for skin photo-aging and hyperpigmentation, causing also dark circles around your eyes. Indeed, exposure to the sun incites the body to produce more melanin, the pigment that gives color to the skin. Not to mention that the sun's rays, especially UVA, damage collagen and elastin fibers, promoting skin sagging and highlighting the hollow under the eyes.

Types of dark circles concerned: Pigmented dark circles and hollow/sunken dark circles.

5. Rubbing Your Eyes

For some of you, the arrival of spring is synonymous with itchy eyelids. Whether it's caused by pollen or not, rubbing promotes inflammation of the skin. Hyperpigmentation of the eye area then results from the overproduction of melanin in this area and a dark ring under the eyes as an aftereffect of the inflammation. Scientists also believe that allergic subjects are more likely to accumulate fluids under the eyes, which is called “puffy eyes”.


Types of dark circles concerned: Pigmented dark circles and watery bags.

6. Colds

When the nasal passages are congested, blood circulation in the ENT area slows down. This causes the under eye blood vessels to fill up with blood, leading to the appearance of bluish circles. Finally, the fluids contained in the capillaries can seep into nearby tissues, causing dark circles and bags under the eyes. 


Types of dark circles concerned: Bluish/vascular dark circles and watery bags.

7. Hormonal Imbalance

During menstruation, menopause or pregnancy, hormonal disorders can disrupt blood and lymphatic circulation and can cause the formation of vascular dark circles or watery bags.


Types of dark circles concerned : Bluish/vascular dark circles and watery bags.

8. Alcohol and Tobacco

These factors have an impact on the appearance or accentuation of dark circles because they alter lymphatic circulation, which is slowed down. Alcohol even tends to cause swelling under the eyes.


Types of dark circles concerned: Bluish/vascular dark circles and watery bags.

9. Salt Consumption

Too much sodium can alter the balance of your skin cells and cause water retention. Your body will try to contain the excess fluid to prevent dehydration. In the eye area, this water retention results in puffiness. 

Types of dark circles concerned: Watery bags.

10. Being Anemic

Anemia corresponds to an abnormal drop in the level of hemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the tissues. Therefore, in case of anemia, the blood and tissues are less well oxygenated and paler. The lower eyelid thus allows the purplish color of the under eye blood vessels to show through more easily. 

Types of dark circles concerned: Bluish/vascular dark circles.

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