Why do we develop eyelid dark circles?

Dark circles are a common complaint and appear for a variety of reasons; eyelid skin is the thinnest on our bodies and therefore has a degree of translucency. The fat layer directly under the skin is lost much earlier in life than fat elsewhere in the face; losing the optical barrier it provides between skin and underlying muscle contributes significantly to dark circles. Hollowing of the lower eyelid area as a result of fat resorbtion can leave the lower eyelids with a concave contour with a tendency to absorb rather than reflect light, effectively creating a shadowed appearance. Because smoking contributes to premature ageing of the skin and subcutaneous tissues, these changes are often accelerated in smokers.

In addition, whilst eyelids protect our eyes from some of the effects of damaging UV light they are themselves susceptible to sun-damage, leading to skin pigmentation. This can especially be seen in people with darker skin types. Post inflammatory pigmentation of eyelid skin can also occur in patients with conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

Reversible influences on eyelid dark circles include sleep deprivation, dehydration, ill health and poor diet and lack of exercise.


Modification of the lifestyle factors listed above are helpful in all aspects of skincare, including the management of eyelid dark circles. A daily sunscreen and cosmeceutical products including retinol and vitamin C are also helpful in improving the health of eyelid skin.

  • Rejuvenative interventions
  • Skin boosters
  • Chemical peels
  • Microneedling
  • Laser resurfacing
  • Revolumisation of the lid/cheek junction using dermal fillers may also sometimes be indicated.

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