Contrary to popular belief, the most common cause of dark eye circles is NOT pigmentation. People also often think dark eyes are solely due to lack of sleep.
Up to 80% of dark eye circles actually have a combination of contributing causes: vascular congestion, pigmentation and sunken shadowing appearance. Of these, vascular congestion is the most common, which explains why dark eye circles worsen when you have a late night or a blocked nose.
Other reasons why dark eye circles might develop:
1. Sun exposure
Directly exposing yourself to the sun causes the production of melanin. Melanin is a pigment that directly affects your skin tone and color (it’s the reason why we get tans). Due to our genetics, Asians also tend to develop pigmentation issues around the eye area, resulting in the appearance of dark eye circles around the eyes.
Skin aging reduces the amount of collagen and elastin in your skin, causing it to lose its firmness and healthy look. When this happens around our eyes, the fat and bony loss will make the area around the eyes look hollow and sunken. The already thin skin will also start to show the blood vessels underneath, giving your eyes a hollow and dark look which leads to dark eye circles.
When we sleep, our body rejuvenates itself and repairs any damage we sustained during the day. If we don’t sleep enough, the circulation of blood to the skin will be affected, causing blood vessels under the eye to dilate. This reduces oxygen flow to the skin, making the skin look tired, shadowed and dull which results in dark eye circles.