In this article we want to talk about hyperpigmentation around the eyes. A lot of people struggle with this and it’s one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to skin care.
People want to know how to fix hyperpigmentation under eyes and dark under eye circles.
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What Doesn’t Work?
There are so many creams out there that claim to improve the look of dark circles and hyperpigmentation under the eyes and you probably have spent money trying out these creams only to find out they really don’t do anything.
Here’s the thing!
The skin around the eyes is very thin and very delicate. Truthfully traditional skin lightening ingredients like hydroquinone, vitamin C and retinoid don’t work particularly well for hyperpigmentation around the eyes.
Why you might ask?
Because the skin there is thin and delicate. A lot of the pigment ends up leaking out into the deeper layers of the skin where topical skin brightening and lightening agents are simply not going to access that pigment and therefore it ends up actually taking you several steps back because a lot of these products can be very irritating.
Retinoids can be particularly irritating around the eyes, as can hydroquinone. Any time you have irritation, that ends up worsening hyperpigmentation. It’s called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Trying out a bunch of different skin lightening ingredients actually can take you several steps back just by causing too much irritation.
Remember the skin around the eyes is very delicate, very thin and it can’t handle irritating ingredients like elsewhere on the face or body.
Here we specifically talking about the hyperpigmentation issue, but a lot of people have dark circles that are hereditary and it’s really just due to their facial anatomy, the structure of their eye socket. No topical is going to correct that. If you have hereditary dark circles, products are not going to do anything. They’re not going to be able to change your facial structure.
Most products claiming to improve the look of dark circles are not going to work.
The one product that definitely is necessary to prevent further darkening of the hyperpigmentation, in the case of pigment, is sun protection. Wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen around the eyes is really important to protect against ultraviolet radiation that not only drives pigment but causes inflammation in the skin that further drives hyperpigmentation.
Some sunscreens also can protect you against another type of wavelength of light that actually causes hyperpigmentation to be more stubborn and more persistent.
That is visible light.
Tinted sunscreens that have iron oxides in them actually can protect against those pigmenting wavelengths of visible light.
Also your makeup can protect against those as well. Concealers not only camouflage the dark circles or the hyperpigmentation but they also provide some protection against those pro pigmenting wavelengths of visible light.
In some cases makeup can protect you against ultraviolet radiation from the sun, but by large, makeup will offer protection against those pro pigmenting wavelengths of visible light.
We recommend choosing a waterproof sunscreen. Why? These tend to not settle in the creases as much as non-waterproof. They tend to adhere to the skin and stay put with sweating a little bit better.
We suggest a waterproof mineral sunscreen for a few reasons.
Waterproof is less likely to settle in the creases and then mineral sunscreens are much less likely to cause any irritation around the eyes. As opposed to chemical sunscreens, a lot of people find that those sting and burn around the eyes and are just too irritating.
So select a mineral sunscreen. Choose a mineral sunscreen formulated for babies in which the active ingredient is zinc oxide. Why? Sunscreens formulated for babies tend to be made for very sensitive skin, very delicate skin, perfect around the eyes.
You’re going to get a white cast with a zinc oxide mineral sunscreen, so as a second step, use a cosmetic concealer to not only cover the white cast but to offer you additional protection against those pro pigmenting wavelengths of visible light.
One of the nice things about using a zinc oxide sunscreen around the eyes is that you layer your cosmetics on over it, but because it does give that white cast, it’s actually going to brighten up the under eye area quite a bit.
Along those lines, when you’re selecting a concealer, choose a concealer that is at least one to two shades lighter than your surrounding skin. This will help make the under eye look a lot brighter. Not only do you have that white cast from the zinc oxide sunscreen there, but you also are putting makeup on over it, you’re really going to get a nice brightening effect from that cosmetic approach.
Mineral sunscreens and sticks are a nice option. Actually the Vanicream lip SPF that is used for lips, you can also take a little bit of it and put it on your finger and dab it under your eyes for sunscreen as well. It’s perfect there, it stays in place really well and doesn’t settle into the creases.
We also strongly encourage everybody to wear sunglasses when they’re outdoors, not only to protect the eyes from ultraviolet radiation, but to protect the skin around the eyes. Ideally sunglasses should be the wraparound style of frames. It will help block UV from coming in the sides. Typical glasses will offer some protection against UV rays, but they’re not going to necessarily block out rays coming from the side.
One tip when it comes to choosing your sunglasses, especially in this case where you’re trying to improve hyperpigmentation under the eyes, is don’t choose sunglasses that have metal frames. Why? The metal frames conduct heat and heat can worsen hyperpigmentation quite a bit.
Not only under your eyes, but also on your cheek and the metal frames also tend to reflect sunlight more onto your skin and give you even more exposure.
There are actually ingredients that may help fix the look of hyperpigmentation under the eyes.
Two in particular are worth considering: caffeine as well as vitamin K.
Caffeine is an antioxidant and it can constrict the blood vessels and that can actually help push some fluid out from under the eye and improve the overall look of dark under eye circles.
Caffeine, because it’s an antioxidant, can potentially reduce the burden of free radical damage that further worsens hyperpigmentation.
Vitamin K is also an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory and it has been shown in combination with caffeine to improve the appearance of dark under eye circles.
Both caffeine and vitamin K are good ingredients to entertain the idea of incorporating into your skincare routine to brighten up the look of hyperpigmentation under the eyes. Both caffeine and vitamin K tend to be pretty well tolerated. That’s important because anything that causes irritation can actually end up worsening the hyperpigmentation around your eyes. But those two ingredients tend to be well tolerated.
What about massage and jade rollers and things like that?
Those things actually don’t hurt to try and the reason they may give you some temporary improvement in the look of dark circles is because they will push some excess fluid out from those tissues and as a result smooth and flatten things out.
Another type of product that you may try are under eye hydro gel patches. Those tend to have caffeine in them and they are typically cold when you put them on the skin, so they have a cooling effect. That can help in reducing swelling. Good product is DermaE Bright Eyes hydro gel patches.
Those are nice to do in the morning before you start getting ready, because swelling and puffiness under the eyes is worse in the morning and that can ultimately make the dark circles look much more noticeable. It’s just nice to do those before going on to do your skincare routine and put on your makeup.
It’s a very temporary modest difference, but we do think it’s worth doing if you have the time to incorporate it.
Tips For Bags
Speaking of puffiness, if you have under eye bags, then that too is going to worsen the appearance of hyperpigmentation under the eyes. Just by having that collection of fluid under the eyes.
A few things can make that worse.
If you eat a high salt diet, you can have fluid retention and that’s going to show up most notably under the eyes. It’ll be more obvious first thing in the morning. So keep an eye on sodium in your diet. A very high salt content can definitely make your under eyes look puffy the following morning.
Sleep with your head on two pillows or slightly elevated. This will help with drainage of that fluid. If you’ve ever noticed the puffiness tends to be worse at night because you’re lying down and it has time to pull there. If you keep your head elevated slightly, that will help.
Last but certainly not least, if you have seasonal allergies, that will certainly make the dark under eye circles and the hyperpigmentation look a lot more noticeable. Because you have fluid that accumulates there from sinus drainage, making it look more obvious and then if you’re rubbing your eyes that’s going to create irritation around the delicate eyelid skin. That’s further going to exacerbate the hyperpigmentation. It’s going to lead to more post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Those are our tips on improving hyperpigmentation under the eyes. It is a really frustrating thing to cope with. We don’t want you to buy expensive eye creams promising results. There’s really a very limited number of things that can help.
There are certainly several procedures that can definitely improve hyperpigmentation under the eyes. Certain lasers can definitely help.
So if you’re really bothered by the hyperpigmentation under the eyes, definitely see a dermatologist for cosmetic treatment. It’s not cheap or accessible to everybody, but if you have it in your area, if you have it in your budget, we would definitely recommend them because they can get you more sustained, more noticeable results.
Skincare products are really not going to do that much and most products actually can end up worsening things just by being too irritating.