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What causes dark circles under your eyes?

Have you ever woken up and noticed dark shadows under your eyes staring back at you from the mirror?

Dark circles under the eyes are really common in both men and women, and can often be accompanied by eye bags. Dark under eyes are an issue that can make the face appear older and there are a few reasons it happens.

Dark circles under eyes - Reasons:


Sleep deprivation or even oversleeping can enhance the darkness under the eyes. Not getting enough sleep can cause the skin to go pale which allows the darkness to appear more pronounced, and can also cause a build-up of fluid under the eyes. Oversleeping can also cause eyes to appear puffy.


Skin becomes thinner as we age and loses the fat and collagen that’s needed to maintain skin elasticity. Dark blood vessels between your eyes are then enhanced, which thus create black circles under the eyes.

Eye strain

Spending too much time looking at screens (television, mobile phone, computer, tablet device) can cause strain in your eyes which can cause blood vessels around the eyes to enlarge.


An allergic reaction causes your body to release histamines as a response to harmful bacteria. Histamines cause uncomfortable symptoms such as itchiness, redness, and puffy eyes – but can also cause your blood vessels to dilate and become more visible beneath your skin.


When your body is not nourished with enough water, the skin beneath your eyes begins to look dull and your eyes can look sunken, due to their close proximity to the underlying bone. This can cause black circles under your eyes.

Sun overexposure

Too much sun can cause your body to produce an excess of melanin, the pigment that provides your skin with colour. Too much sun — particularly for your eyes — can cause pigmentation in the surrounding skin to darken and thus cause dark under eyes.


Sadly, sometimes dark eye circles and puffiness can just be genetic.

At-home treatments against black under eyes

So now that you know what causes black circles under your eyes: The good news is there are a number of treatments against dark under eyes that you can carry out at home to help the problem, including:

  • Get more sleep – the most important thing you can do to improve the appearance of your under eyes is to get enough sleep. So make sure you are going to bed early enough to avoid shadows under your eyes.
  • Elevate your head – ensure you have enough pillows in bed so that your head is adequately elevated and prevents fluid from building up around your eyes, which can prevent dark bags under your eyes.
  • Cold compress – applying a cold compress can reduce swelling and shrink the blood vessels under the eyes, helping eyes to look less puffy and dark bags under the eyes to appear less dominantly.
  • Tea bags – tea bags make excellent compresses for your eyes as the caffeine and other antioxidants found in tea help reduce swelling and puffiness around the eyes.

As you are aware of what causes dark circles around the eyes: If you have any concerns about the health of your eyes, you can book an eye test at Optical Express. An expert optometrist will thoroughly examine your eyes and provide advice. 

Book an eye test