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7 tips to get rid of dark eye circles, & what Chinese medicine says about them

Dark circles under the eyes are often the result of a combination of multiple factors, such as lack of sleep, chronic stress, menstrual imbalances, pregnancy, diet and medications. For some people, dark circles are a genetic trait.

man with dark eye circles

The blue tinted circles are known as a vascular type. More noticeable in the morning, these circles come from thinning skin that reveals the blood vessels under the eye. They become more prevalent with age, as the skin naturally loses collagen.The brown colored circles come from the pigments in the skin and are more related to heredity. These are know as pigmented type.

Dark circles are often thought to be due to vitamin K deficiency or a lack of antioxidants in the diet.

Dark eye-circles and Chinese medicine

Chinese medicine often associates dark circles under the eyes as a sign of imbalance in the kidneys and adrenals. Kidney decline is a natural part of aging, but it is also due to exhaustion and overstrain, and is aggravated by lack of rest and relaxation. In the 5-element theory, the color that correlates to the Kidneys and adrenals is the color black. There are multiple possibilities for dark under-eyes:

  • Kidney deficiency (could be equated to adrenal fatigue)

  • Qi and blood deficiency (general fatigue and lack of rest)

  • Qi and blood stagnation (poor circulation)

  • Allergies (see below)

man jade rolling his under-eye

Your acupuncturist will be determining your unique pattern and prescribing tailor-made formulas that are suited just for you.

You can give yourself Jade rolling treatments, facial Gua Sha massages, and self acupressure on the points around the eyes, on the eyebrows and near the sinuses.

These three methods aim to increase blood flow and improve lymphatic drainage.

1: Use Caffeine

Caffeine will help constrict the blood vessels, making them less apparent under the thin skin of the under-eye. You can either consume it by drinking (read here to know why we do not recommend any amount of caffeine to our patients that are pregnant or trying to conceive), or by applying it topically.

Many eye creams contain caffeine for this reason.

2: Play with cold compresses

woman with cucumber slices over her eyes

Just like caffeine, cold has a vasoconstrictor effect.

You can use dedicated cold eye bags, or even a spoon left in the fridge over night.

We personally love keeping our jade rollers and GuaSha boards in the fridge for the added tightening effect when applying them to the skin.

Cold cucumber slices also work wonder. Cucumber has ascorbic and caffeic acid, which helps bring down the water retention rate.

3: Address allergies

Many allergy sufferers will wind up with dark circles under the eyes. Having itchy eyes and scratching them damages the already very fragile skin around the eyes, thus making the blood vessels of the area more visible.

There are anti-allergy eye wipes and eye drops available over the counter, and your acupuncturist can also help you balance reactivity over time with herbal treatments.

4: Protect your skin from sun damage

When you are wearing sunglasses, you not only protect your sight, but you also protect the skin around the eyes. We recommend 100% UV protection sun glasses, sometimes also labeled as UV400.

We also advise that you do not forget to wear a daily SPF protection and think of applying some on that tender skin around the eyes.

5: Moisturize your skin and skip makeup

woman moisturizing her under eye region

If you are used to applying foundation or concealer, at the end of the day, use a gentle make-up remover.

Or skip make-up altogether! Many components in make up products are toxic or allergenic, and the action of rubbing a cotton pad over the already very delicate skin around the eyes can further sensitize this area.

Do however consider applying non toxic moisturizing creams or oils (like sesame oil).

6: Get more sleep!

Avoid adrenal fatigue by trying to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every single day.

7: Genetics...

If despite all your efforts your skin is still naturally browner around the eye sockets, you might want to talk to your dermatologist about treatments such as fillers (which thicken the skin under the eyes making it less see through) or pulsated light therapy.

Talk to your acupuncturist and book a session for a complete assessment!


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