There are 3 main types of dark circles. Here's how to treat each one.

Dark circles. Everyone has 'em. And approximately no one asked for 'em. As a beauty writer, one of the questions I'm asked a lot is, "Why are you eating Smarties for lunch?" and also, "How do I get rid of my dark circles?"

For the sake of relevance, let's talk about the dark circles one (I've already addressed the Smarties one before).

Look, dark circles are tricky. And you can be doing all the right things (enough sleep! Eating well! No eye rubbing!) and still end up with a coupla good looking dark circles.

Why? Because there are MANY things that could be causing them - and they all need to be treated differently.

Regardless of what eye cream you use, you need to know the underlying cause.

Watch: Does haemorrhoid cream really work for dark circles? Post continues below.

Video via mollie_makeup

So, I decided to ask skin expert Dr Imaan Joshi from Skin Essentials, to tell us all about the different types of dark circles, as well as the best way to treat them.

But before we get started, I just wanted to clear one thing up. As an FYI, it's worth noting that dark circles and eye bags are two very different things. Mmmkay? 

If you're dealing with eye bags, Dr Joshi said you're generally dealing with "loose, overhanging skin under the eyes due to ageing, volume loss and sometimes fluid issues."

What we're referring to here are dark circles - not eye bags.

And we know it goes without saying, but just a reminder that dark circles aren't a thing that need to be 'fixed'. They're totally normal/natural and almost all of us have them. Only seek out treatment if they're something that's really bothering you.

Alrighty! We good? Good.


If have you dark circles, you might be dealing with...

1. Dark circles caused by hyperpigmentation.

What it is: Under eyes darker than the rest of your skin? You could be dealing with dark circles caused by pigmentation.

"Dark circles caused by pigmentation are usually due to the fact that the skin around the eyes is very thin, and therefore tends to fold in on itself slightly in animation such as smiling, squinting, etc. accentuating pigmentation," explains Dr Joshi.

"Furthermore, the tear trough is a slope, and pigmented areas under the eye reflects light more poorly than more lifted areas such as cheeks. This provides a contrast in appearance, making pigmentation appear more prominent."

According to Dr Joshi, volume loss and pigment in this area compounds this problem further, causing a tired, hollow look, even in young people. 

How to treat it: When it comes to the best form of treatment for dark circles caused by hyperpigmentation, Dr Joshi recommends wearing a broad-spectrum SPF every. single. day.

"Daily SPF (preferably tinted) is non-negotiable and the cheapest fix, even if you do nothing else. This also includes wearing sunglasses, sun protection and reapplication."

Dr Joshi said another option is to see a doctor for a personalised skincare plan, "This will help with overall skin health and lighten pigmentation around the eyes."

"There are multiple products on the market (kojic acid, arbutin, vitamin C and hydroquinone, among others) some of which may be irritating, others that are prescription and only some that are safe to use during pregnancy."

Meaning? Sometimes it's best to see a professional to suss out what's right for your skin type.

If you've tried all the above, in clinic treatments might be your next option to help with pigmentation. 

"A thorough consultation can also help to determine the cause and treatment options - for example, poorly controlled allergies may contribute to dark circles!"

2. Dark circles caused by sunken tear troughs.

What it is: Another common cause of dark circles is the actual shape of your eye socket - really!

"Some people are born with tear troughs that are deficient. This, combined with the thin skin overlying this area, and the way light reflects off the skin, gives the appearance of dark circles," explains Dr Joshi.


Sneaky shadows.

How to treat it: FYI: This is a notoriously hard type to treat. While topical treatments might help temporarily, if your dark circles are really bothering you, injectables may be an option.

Dr Joshi said the best way to 'fill' the area is to opt for volume replacement with dermal fillers.

"In the absence of other contributing factors, volume replacement with dermal fillers may be ideal (after a thorough consultation)," she said.

However, Dr Joshi said to be aware this kind of treatment doesn't come without risks, highlighting the importance of doing your research and seeing a qualified professional (it is a medical procedure, after all).

"It’s a hard area to treat well and there’s increasing evidence that repeated injecting of this area won’t lead to the same (beautiful) results every time, as it may change the underlying structure and anatomy," she explains.

3. Dark circles caused by blood vessels.

What it is: Another common cause? Your blood vessels. The cheeky things.

"People with very fair skin (think English rose or Celtic) have such little melanin (which gives skin its colour) that in areas with very thin skin, the blood vessels underneath are visible."

Dr Joshi said this gives a blue or purple tinge to the area, resulting in a tired appearance. Cool!

How to treat it: In terms of the best method of treatment, Dr Joshi recommends a combination approach, focusing on your lifestyle, diet, sleep and skincare routine.

"Increase the integrity of the skin by inducing collagen with personalised skincare (for example retinoids, vitamin C) and in-clinic treatments, as well as focusing on the basics - eating well, sleeping enough, staying hydrated and wearing daily SPF."

As mentioned before, dark circles are fickle, and not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal - things like genetics, skin quality and medical conditions can all contribute.

"Dark circles are among the hardest things to treat," said Dr Joshi. "It takes time to assess the underlying cause, which may not be limited to just one cause, so an in-depth consultation addressing concerns is vital to form a personalised treatment plan."

What's your go-to treatment for dark circles? Share with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: Getty; Mamamia.