June 2010 Ageless herbal newsletter
There are many contributing factors that manifest as dark circles under the eyes, and although genetics can play a part, this is not the main cause of this problem. Although wrinkles, fine lines or crow’s feet prematurely age the face, it is the dark circles that really make you look old.
The eyes are the main focus of the face and also the first thing that people look at when meeting you – this is a major part of the "mental picture" they immediately form about you.
It is therefore a good idea to have a smooth young-looking skin surrounding the eyes – this helps to create a more youthful appearance.
The skin around your eye area is the thinnest and most fragile skin found on the entire body, and must always be treated with the utmost care. The periorbital skin is about 0.55 mm thick, while skin on the rest of the face is about 2 mm thick.
Dark under-eye circles are equally found in men and women. They usually occur in adults, although children can also have dark circles under their eyes.
Sometimes it is a sign of nothing more than just a plain lack of sleep and exhaustion. This is usually remedied by a good night’s rest.
Naturopathic and Chinese medicine (Yang deficiency) view this problem as an under-performing liver or kidney ailment and we have found that there may be validity in this diagnosis.
Some people find that if they boost their liver and kidney functions, the dark circles under the eyes become far less prominent.
Although we are not implying that this problem is due to any disease of the liver or kidneys, it will definitely not harm anyone to pay some attention to these two very important detoxifying organs of the body.
As we age the skin starts to thin. Since the skin around the eyes is very thin to start-off with, aging makes the problem even more noticeable.
In aging, the collagen in the skin becomes thinner and it is not as resilient - therefore it is a good idea to start fighting premature skin aging as soon as possible. If skin care has been lacking in the past, all isn’t lost.
If you use a good skin care product formulated for the eye area, great improvement will be noted. In most cases dark circles are caused by the lymphatic drainage being compromised (see info below) and when the skin thins, this problem becomes even more visible.
When you get older, an enzymatic reaction called “glycation” occurs. This causes a domino effect - oxidation of the cells, cross-linking (aging), and hardening of the elastic collagen and elastin fibers. This all contributes to the formation of eye bags.
The health of the blood vessels is of utmost importance in fighting dark circles under the eyes. Fragile blood vessels (capillary permeability) will cause fluid to leak into the surrounding area, causing puffy eyes.
When looking for a cream or gel to combat this problem ensure that it will multi-task. In other words – it must help improve lymphatic drainage, strengthen blood vessels, boost collagen production and look after elastin fibers.
If you are unlucky enough to have problems with allergies or sinus, and suffer from hay fever and nasal congestion, the chances are good that you will also suffer from dark circles under the eyes.
This is not only caused by environmental or airborne allergens but food allergies or even supplements and medication can cause this.
Irritated skin and tissue caused by an allergic reaction will most likely trigger itchiness. This usually results in people rubbing their eyes – and this in turn will worsen the problem.
In our experience we have found that allergens are a very common reason for dark circles under the eyes. Relieving the allergic response of the body will make the dark circles less prominent. For more info…
Our lifestyle affects the way you look. Smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, or caffeine containing drinks, can also contribute to dark circles under the eyes.
Smoking cigarettes interferes with the proper transport of oxygen to the cells (see iron deficiency anemia below). In naturopathic medicine it is believed that smoking depletes vitamin C, which is critical to the manufacture of collagen and proper skin health.
Apart from damaging the lungs, smoking also directly affects the health of blood vessels, which can contribute to dark circles under the eyes.
Alcohol and caffeine should be limited as both these substances can have an impact on this problem.
If there is a shortage of iron in the body, oxygen cannot be properly transported by the blood. Hemoglobin is the oxygen transporting component in the blood, moving oxygen from the lungs to the cells where it is released for normal cell metabolism.
If you suffer from an iron deficiency anemia, the skin around your eyes can have a bluish tint. This is due to an oxygen shortage - should this shortage increase, the blue tint of the skin will become more prominent.
As soon as this shortage is corrected, the bluish tint of the skin will fade away. Please note - if an iron supplement is taken, it would be a good idea to take it with orange juice, as vitamin C assists with iron absorption.
When the skin cannot get rid of excess fluid in the tissues it will result in edema (oedema). This will cause puffiness and can also contribute to dark rings and circles under the eyes.
There are various factors that cause fluid retention. Impaired kidney or liver functions are a major cause (this underscores the naturopathic and Chinese "Yang deficiency" approach to this problem).
Apart from these serious medical conditions, there are also a host of other ailments that may contribute to this.
An excessive intake of salt – raw salt added to cooked food, salt added while cooking or sodium added in the manufacture of convenience foods – has a great effect on fluid retention.
Excessive salt intake affects our health and can increase blood pressure.
Using certain medication – such as taking cortisone internally – can cause the tissue to retain fluid and become puffy. Cortisone also thins the skin and causes skin fragility.
Medication to reduce fluid retention is available, and can be prescribed by your medical practitioner. You may however want to look at having a more "natural" approach. Vitamin C acts as a diuretic (removes excess fluid) and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) as well as B6 (pyridoxine) can be of help.
Using medication to dilate blood vessels (open wider) can contribute to this problem. It will cause the blood vessels to be more prominent since the volume of blood will be more.
When blood vessel health is compromised this problem will be more visible.
Taking a vitamin C supplement can be helpful.
A cream or gel containing ingredients that support vascular health (for instance butcher’s broom (Ruscus aculeatus) or Centella asiatica) could also be of benefit.
If your skin is dehydrated any minor defect will be far more pronounced.
Following a good daily skin care regimen is a given. This will help with surface hydration - yet a youthful skin requires proper hydration of the body.
It is important to drink enough water every single day. This is not only for the benefit of your skin, but your general health. We are referring to water – not tea, coffee, fruit juices or soda.
Ensure that you drink enough clean unflavored, unsweetened, uncolored, and uncontaminated water.
A very common skin complaint is hyper-pigmentation of the periorbital area (periorbital melanosis). This complaint is often found in Indian, Asian, Black or Mediterranean skin.
Hyper-pigmentation is formed by an excessively high concentration of pigment (melanin) in the skin. This manifests as very definite demarcation rings around the eyes.
These rings are referred to as Pigmentary Demarcation Lines (PDL) and are the bane of millions of people. They normally become more pronounced with age and are also referred to as Futcher's or Voight's lines.
Melanin production is normally stimulated by the rays of the sun, but studies show that PDL may be caused by other factors.
A huge amount of research has been done on the causes of these PDL markings and various explanations for this have been given.
These are - post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation (PIH) from contact dermatitis, hyper-circulation, stress, hormonal changes and sun exposure etc.
A study found that there are several triggers – including pregnancy and acute illness while the most common trigger seems to be puberty.
Various medical treatments have been tried to lighten and remove these rings. These include treatments such as glycolic acid peels, cryotherapy (freezing with liquid nitrogen), hydroquinone, kojic acid, azelaic acid, retinol, pure alpha hydroxy acid, topical vitamin C and liquorice extract.
Laser treatment, using a Q-switched ruby laser, was used in combination with topical tretinoin and hydroquinone application to lighten the skin around the eyes.
Although none of these treatments proved 100% successful, it was found that the shadowing of the skin became more noticeable when the skin was slack and loose, or if the eye area was swollen.
Our holding company, Sallamander Concepts (Pty) Ltd. has clinically tested a variety of “skin lightening” compounds and peptides on the market – including the above.
Various combinations and varying inclusion rates were used, yet no ingredient – natural or synthetic – could be found to fix this problem.
Considering all the above we maintain that our herbal Ageless Eye Gel is one of the best treatments to be found.
The herbs contained in our Eye Gel boost the production of collagen, while supporting the health and elasticity of the elastin fibers. This also helps to reduce excess fluid, improves lymphatic drainage and tones the blood vessels and capillaries.
The gel has a decongestive, calming and soothing effect on the skin while helping to fight allergies and has superb antioxidant properties.
The anti-inflammatory effect of the gel helps to fight skin irritation and to combat aging. It assists in remineralizing the skin, and has an astringent affect as well.