What makes your eyes look ‘tired’?

What causes dark eye circles

The skin below our eyes is incredibly thin compared to the skin in other areas of the body. As a result, capillaries and muscle located underneath this thin patch of skin can easily become visible, creating dark eye circles. While dark eye circles can be worsened by a lack of sleep, there are many other causes:

  • Poor circulation: The sluggish movement of blood in the blood vessels underneath our eyes can worsen the appearance of dark eye circles. Stress, hormone changes, poor sleep and rhinitis worsen blood vessel congestion under the eye, leading to dark circles.
  • Lifestyle habits: Actions like smoking and excessive sun exposure can lead to accelerated collagen loss and pigment formation, worsening dark eye circles.
  • Genetics and Aging: Blood vessels and underlying muscles are more visible through thinner layers of skin, causing the blue grey appearance of dark eye circles. Skin under the eye may be naturally thin due to genetics, or from a loss of collagen due to aging. People with darker skin tones also tend to have more melanin deposits under the eye which gives the appearance of dark eye circles. Overhanging eyebags and tear trough deformities – hereditary or due to aging – can create a shadowing effect, which makes dark eye circles appear worse.

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What causes eye bags


Not to be mistaken for dark eye circles, eye bags refer to swellings over the lower eyelids. Overhanging eye bags can worsen the look of dark eye circles by creating a shadowing effect. Eye bags usually first appear in one’s 30s and gradually worsen with age, although some eye bags are hereditary. They are caused by overlying skin and muscle laxity, together with the protrusion of orbital fats beneath. Lifestyle factors like poor sleep or smoking may speed up the formation of eyebags due to accelerated collagen loss. Puffy eyes (caused by allergies and water retention) and enlarged undereye muscles (pre-tarsal orbicularis) can sometimes be confused with eye bags.

What causes droopy eyelids


Droopy eyelids, also known as Ptosis, may appear as we age and are typically caused by weakening muscles and loss of collagen from ageing and cumulative UV exposure. Again, poor lifestyle habits may accelerate the formation of droopy eyelids.


Together, dark eye circles, eye bags and droopy eyelids can make one look older than they actually are. The haggard appearance caused by these conditions frustrates many, but treatment options for dark eye circles, eye bags and droopy eyelids nowadays are plentiful thanks to technological advancements.

Treatment of ‘tired’ eye conditions

Home remedies


Home remedies are popular for treating dark eye circles, eye bags and droopy eyelids. For example, cold compresses can constrict blood vessels and hence reduce dark eye circles.  Improving your diet to eat more foods rich in antioxidants, such as lycopene, can help protect blood vessels and improve circulation. Of course, sleeping more would help to reduce instances of dark eye circles and eye bags. The downsides are that home remedies often require consistency in the long term to produce results, and are not guaranteed to work.

For more effective treatment options to correct dark eye circles, eye bags and droopy lids, consider a combination of medical skincare and non or minimally invasive approaches.

Medical Skincare & Oral Supplements

Medical grade eye serums/creams and oral supplements can be an easy way to lighten dark eye circles, as well as slow down the progression of eyebags and droopy lids.

  • Look out for eye serums/creams that contain ingredients that help with lightening dark eye circles and promoting collagen production. For example, our LUMINOUS Perfector contains a unique mix of anti-aging peptides that minimise wrinkles by reconstructing the dermal matrix through elastin and collagen synthesis. Gentle yet effective whitening ingredients like TNX acid, vitamin C, and niacinamide can help lighten pigment related dark eye circles.
  • Oral supplements block the melanin formation pathway and hence help to lighten dark eye circles caused by pigmentation. This powerful antioxidant also slows down free radical damage and indirectly collagen loss. Oral Sunblock supplements help to prevent pigment formation and reduce collagen destruction from UV damage.

Injectable Treatments


Injectables such as Rejuran, Botox and fillers can help improve dark eye circles, eye bags and droopy lids.

  • Rejuran improves under-eye skin quality. Increased thickness of the skin helps mask the appearance of blood vessels. Early tear trough deformities and eyebags can also look better due to the enhanced collagen production.
  • Botox provides a temporary brow lift which helps to open up the eyes.
  • Filler injections to areas like the mid-cheek or tear-trough (the crease between the lower eyelid and upper cheek) can help reduce the appearance of eye bags and minimise the shadowing effect that worsens dark eye circles. Fillers also stimulate collagen production.

Laser Treatments


Leveraging on the latest technologies, laser treatments are possible options for dark eye circles caused by hyperpigmentation and congested blood vessels.

  • Spectra XT and PicoPlus lasers work by reducing hyperpigmentation under the eyes. They also stimulate collagen production which helps thicken the under-eye skin layer.
  • Dual Yellow and Clarity II are vascular lasers that brighten up the area under the eyes by contracting dilated blood vessels. They also improve overall skin quality and thickness.

Skin Tightening Treatments

Energy-based treatments like the Ultherapy, Ultraformer III and Sofwave help tighten loose skin under the eyes and lift the cheeks. This improves support for protruding orbital fats and reduces the tear trough deformity that contributes to eye bag formation. These treatments can also be applied to skin over the brow bone to improve hooding of the upper eyelids.

Sylfirm, a specialised microneedling radiofrequency treatment, can also be performed on skin around eyes to safely and effectively lift droopy eyelids. An added bonus of this treatment is that skin channels are opened up temporarily to allow deeper penetration of proprietary anti-aging ingredients which further enhances firming and lifting.


Remember: The skin around our eyes is the thinnest and therefore most vulnerable to aging, especially with the repetitive stress of constant eye movements like blinking and squinting. Signs of aging first begin around the eyes, so starting preventative treatments early can help you avoid looking older than your actual age. A combination of treatments is highly encouraged for their synergistic benefits.

Since everyone has varying skin types and lifestyles, correct identification of the underlying cause behind your ‘tired eyes’ plays an important role in determining treatment outcome. Do remember to consult a doctor for a customised treatment plan if you want to improve your chances of treatment success.

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