Are dark circles under your eyes bad? And how can you tell if they are or not? Sometimes, dark circles can represent something fairly simple: fatigue. But when your dark circles don’t go away no matter how much sleep you get, it can be natural to wonder what’s causing them and when they might go away. In other words, whether dark circles under your eyes are bad or not really depends on what you mean by “bad.”
Getting to Know Your Dark Circles
You wake up in the morning and you see them below your eyes, but are dark circles under your eyes bad? Well, that depends on what you mean by “bad.” In most cases, dark circles under your eyes do not present a significant medical problem–though we aren’t your doctor and this is not meant as medical advice. If you have some concerns, especially if they’re paired with other symptoms, it’s always a good idea to see a doctor.
But when most people talk about dark circles under the eyes being “bad,” they mean in an aesthetic sense. And there’s no denying that dark circles under the eye often carry with them a certain connotation. They present as fatigue or anger or misanthropy. Which is why a lot of people do indeed consider them to be undesirable.
There are some wildly different causes of dark circles under the eyes, so knowing how to combat them is going to mean figuring out which issue (or combination of issues) most directly affects you. That’s why we’re looking into some of those causes and their accompanying solutions–so you can decide what the best course of action to get rid of those dark circles might be. Or, you know, if those dark circles under your eyes are even bad.
Can Dark Circles Be Caused by Lack of Sleep?
The most common conception of dark circles is as something caused by lack of sleep. And, that’s true to a degree. But there are other causes as well. Essentially, when you see dark circles under your eyes, you’re seeing some of the blood vessels of your face. These particular blood vessels are associated with the orbit of the eye, for, well, obvious reasons.
What it comes down to is this: the skin around your eyes is relatively thin. So it doesn’t take much for you to start seeing those blood vessels beneath the skin.
The Magic of Cortisol
In the case of lack of sleep, the visibility of dark circles has more to do with your body’s response to fatigue than anything else. When your body is tired but can’t sleep, it releases a chemical called cortisol. The cortisol has any number of benefits, but what we’re focused on is its effect on your blood: cortisol essentially causes your blood to expand.
This expansion causes a shift in your skin-to-blood-vessel ratio, and it happens to be especially visible around the eyes. That’s also why these particular dark circles go away when you get some rest (and why most people don’t put this experience down in the bad column when talking about dark circles under the eyes).
What Can Cause Permanent Dark Circles
So that’s causes temporary dark circles under the eyes. What can cause those permanent dark circles, the kind not caused by exhaustion? Well, the same basic principle still applies: you’re still seeing the blood vessels surrounding the eyes. You’re just seeing them for a different reason.
In most cases, the reason is something like this:
- Thin skin: As you age, your skin tends to change. You lose elasticity (the rubber-band quality of your skin) and your skin becomes generally weaker. Gravity has an effect as well, constantly pulling your skin down in the direction of, well, the ground. All of that combines to create thin skin is places around the face. In many cases, the first place you notice thin skin is around the eyes.
- Leaking blood vessels or fluids: In other cases, the dark circles around your eyes might be caused by leaking blood vessels. It sounds kind of scary! But it’s actually not much to worry about (still, if you’re feeling concerned, go talk to your doctor). Additionally, all kinds of fluids can end up leaking around that area, causing puffiness and dark circles. In most cases, this tends to happen when you’re feeling under the weather, but not always.
- Melanin build up: Melanin is the chemical in your body that gives you color. The more melanin you have, the richer the color. Some people experience a significant build up of melanin around the eyes, and that can cause the eyes to look darker–as in, dark circles.
Can You Get Rid of Dark Circles?
If you do indeed think that the dark circles under your eyes are bad, you might be wondering how best to get rid of those dark circles. In some cases, you can use dermal filler injections to create a little more volume beneath the eyes. In other cases, you might want to consider blepharoplasty or an eyelid lift in order to reposition the skin around your eyes.
Sometimes, though, it could be as simple as putting in some extra beauty TLC around your eyes or changing your diet a bit. Or, in certain cases, it could just mean you need to get a little more sleep. Are dark circles under your eyes bad? Generally, it depends on what causes them–and how you feel about them. If you aren’t bothered by your dark circles, then they aren’t bad at all! But if you are bothered by dark circles, there are certainly some actions you can take to mitigate them.