How Do Dark Undereye Circles Form, and What Is the Best Treatment?

Though dark undereye circles are a common issue, they can still be frustrating and affect your self-confidence. They can give you a permanently fatigued appearance that makes others assume you are exhausted or unwell, even when you are well-rested and have plenty of energy. To make matters worse, they are hard to conceal, even with makeup.  


Fortunately, there are several effective treatment options for dark undereye circles, such as IPL therapy, dermal fillers, and medical-grade skin care products. In this article, our team at Dermatology Medical Group of San Francisco will take an in-depth look at the causes of dark undereye circles and suggest ways to give your eyes a fresh, rejuvenated appearance.

Why Do I Have Dark Circles Under My Eyes?

Dark undereye circles, medically known as periorbital hypermelanosis, is a widespread aesthetic concern for patients from all backgrounds, regardless of gender, age, or ethnicity. These dark circles often form due to a combination of aging, genetics, and lifestyle factors.


The skin around your eyes is the thinnest and most delicate on your body. Because it is virtually translucent, the underlying blood vessels are more visible, which is the primary cause of dark undereye circles. However, other variables can also cause this cosmetic issue.


  • Vascular complications: The blood vessels beneath the eyes can swell and expand, contributing to a darker color. Various elements can cause these vascular changes, including chronic sleep deprivation, allergies, or harmful habits like smoking and drinking.
  • Increased pigmentation: Sometimes, the skin under your eyes might produce excess melanin. Medications, sun exposure, and genetics can all increase melanin production.

Are Dark Undereye Circles Genetic?

Heredity significantly influences the formation of dark undereye circles. If your relatives have this condition, you’ll likely experience it too.


Daily habits and lifestyle choices also affect your overall health, including your skin quality. These factors can contribute to or exacerbate the appearance of dark circles.



Your food choices impact skin health. A high-sodium diet lacking vital nutrients can lead to water retention, causing the delicate undereye area to swell and appear darker. Likewise, dehydration may result in dull-looking skin and sunken eyes, both of which can make your dark circles look more prominent.


Alcohol and Smoking

Drinking and smoking can dehydrate your skin, causing it to lose its suppleness and increasing your chances of dark circles. Furthermore, smoking hinders the production of collagen, a protein responsible for maintaining skin’s resilience and thickness.



Chronic stress is another lifestyle factor contributing to dark circles. It can affect every facet of wellness, including sleep patterns and hormonal balance. If you experience high daily stress levels, take time to work more relaxation and self-care into your routine.


Sun Exposure

Prolonged exposure to UV rays increases melanin production, which can darken the skin under your eyes.


Screen Time

Most people spend their work and leisure hours looking at devices. The resulting eye strain can enlarge the blood vessels around your eyes, leading to dark undereye circles.



With age, your skin will inevitably lose collagen and become thinner. This natural process can result in dark undereye circles.

Can Lack of Sleep Cause Dark Circles Under the Eyes?

Quality sleep is crucial for overall health. Insufficient rest can lead to poor circulation, resulting in a buildup of blood under the eyes, which further exacerbates dark circles. The skin can also lose its glow, making any discoloration more noticeable.


Insufficient sleep leads to a pallid complexion, increasing the visibility of blood vessels under the skin. Also, inadequate rest can cause fluid accumulation beneath the eyes, creating a swollen appearance casting shadows resembling dark circles.

How Can You Prevent Dark Circles From Forming?

You can minimize or prevent dark undereye circles with several preventive measures, many of which involve simple lifestyle changes.


Healthy Diet

Choosing whole, unprocessed foods like fresh fruits and vegetables can give you a glowing complexion. Fill your plate with choices such as bell peppers, citrus, and leafy greens – these options have plenty of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals that maintain skin health. Don’t forget to drink lots of water throughout the day.


Adequate Sleep

Sleep is when your body restores and repairs itself. A lack of rest can make your skin look sallow, causing dark circles to appear more pronounced. Improve your sleep hygiene by getting seven to nine hours of restful sleep every night.


Sun Protection

Overexposure to sun can boost melanin production, causing your skin to darken. Use full-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, wear UV-blocking sunglasses, and stay out of direct sunlight whenever possible.


Limit Alcohol and Caffeine

Alcohol and caffeine can dehydrate your skin, making dark circles more apparent. Try to limit your consumption and balance it with plenty of water.


Proper Eye Care

Regularly using an undereye cream with peptides or retinol can stimulate collagen production, minimizing your dark circles.


Avoid Smoking

Smoking accelerates skin aging and can worsen dark circles. If you smoke, call (800) QUIT-NOW to speak to a counselor who can help you stop.

What Are the Best Treatments for Dark Undereye Circles?

There are several targeted solutions for dark undereye circles, including laser therapy, fillers, and intense pulsed light treatments. If you are searching for an overall refreshed, youthful appearance, our experienced dermatologists can tailor a care plan to meet your needs.


To choose an effective treatment for your dark circles, you must first understand what causes them. A professional consultation with our dermatologists can determine this. For instance, if your primary issue is hyperpigmentation, IPL or laser treatments could be beneficial. If hollowing or loss of volume is causing shadows, dermal fillers might be a better solution. Our medical professionals will also consider your overall health, lifestyle, and preferences before suggesting the most suitable treatment.

Dark Undereye Circles Treatment in San Francisco, CA

With the professional team at Dermatology Medical Group of San Francisco on your side, you never need to worry about dark circles under your eyes again. If you’d like to say goodbye to your dark circles, call us at (415) 362-2238 or arrange a one-on-one consultation online so we can help you identify the best course of action to get you a revitalized, energized, youthful appearance today.