I think the most prominent signs of aging on my face are the dark shadows under my eyes. Most women over age 40 share my problem, but not all shadows come from the same source. In fact there are three major causes:
1. Excess Pigmentation– the darkened areas are actually deposits of melanin, produced from too much sun exposure. The melanin can accumulate both above and below the eyes and is often an inheritied trait. That is to say, some people tend to make more melanin in that area. This is a major cause of my dark circles. According to Dr Ellen Marmur, my dermatologist, the dark pigmentation under my eyes are actually groups of 10-12 tiny freckles. My take-away from that is that I really need a turbo powered sunscreen for my eyes. Its the #1 item on my beauty shopping list.
2. Pigmentation from blood hemoglobin– the second cause of dark shadows is the presence of tiny fragile blood vessels that leak minute amounts of blood. The hemoglobin in the blood darkens and is seen as bluish shadows under the very thin skin in the area. I have seen eye care products with caffeine and since caffeine consticts blood vessels, maybe that’s another effective tool. That might also be how cold tea bags can reduce eye swelling.
3. Structural changes age we grow older – Fat pads which give youthful contours to our cheeks and jawline, also plump up the eye area. As the fat pads naturally shrink with age, the loss of underlying volume leads to hollows under the eye, which then look dark and shaded. How do you tell if this is the cause of your under eye shadows? Gently move the skin away from the shadow. If the skin looks light and natural, then the discoloration is caused, at least in part, by age-related hollows.
There is certainly no shortage of products that promise to reduce dark circles- but do they deliever? Some have good science behind them while others seem to created in a marketing brain storming session. I’ve been trying out different ones and taking before and after pix. But I have only two eyes and there are so many options. Happily, friends have offered the use of their dark circles for science. I’m really curious to see what we discover.