In terms of skin complaints, eye bags and dark under-eye circles are amongst the most common. They can make you look tired, dull and older than your years. So, why do we get them? Well, it’s all down to fluid retention. This occurs when water is excessively stored in the skin tissue underneath the eye. As for dark circles, they appear as your under-eye skin shows blood vessels underneath more prominently than anywhere else. This post will guide you through the 7 most common causes of eye bags and dark circles, and how you can reduce them.

1. Sleep

It’s a well-known fact that poor sleep can contribute to the appearance of eye bags and dark circles, but why?

Lack of Sleep

One of the most common causes of eye bags is not getting a sufficient amount of sleep at night. Lack of sleep prevents your body from flushing out excess fluid, and instead, this gathers in the tissue under our eyes, causing eye bags to appear. So, how much sleep should you be getting? For an adult around 8 hours sleep per night is recommended. This will reduce your susceptibility to eye bags and under-eye circles.

Dark Circles and Sleep

It’s not only eye bags that owe themselves to a poor night’s sleep, as dark circles are also heavily affected. A lack of sleep causes the blood vessels underneath your eyes to dilate, creating a dark tint that is visible through the thin, delicate skin under the eye. double-bed-1215004_640 Source: Stefano Ferrario

2. Age

Getting eye bags and dark circles is a natural part of the ageing process. As we get older, the fat under our skin’s surface starts to droop, and this misplacement of fat is what leads to bags under the eyes. Additionally, as we age the ligaments and muscles that hold the fat together within our face begin to weaken. This causes our skin to sag and eye bags become more visible. Age is also a factor that causes dark circles to appear. As we age, we start to lose some of the fat and collagen under our eyes, and this, as well as the thinning of the skin, magnifies the appearance of blood vessels underneath the eye, resulting in dark circles.

3. Lifestyle

  There is a strong correlation between an unhealthy lifestyle and the appearance of eye bags and dark circles. And whilst you may not want to completely overhaul your diet, there are a few ways to help cut back on the negative influences that increase the appearance of eye bags.


You may notice that if you indulge in a salt-heavy meal before you go to bed you will wake up with bags under your eyes. This is because salt causes your body to retain water. When you ingest too much salt it tends to dehydrate you, and therefore your body naturally holds on to excess fluid to avoid further dehydration. As mentioned earlier, this excess fluid gathers within the skin under your eyes and leads to eye bags. Therefore, you should try to reduce your salt intake in your diet. salt-273105_640 Source: Anna Kropekk

Removing Make Up

Sure, it takes some effort, but removing your makeup properly before you go to bed will effectively help to reduce the risk of eye bags. If you keep your eye make up on, it can have many negative effects on your skin. You may experience skin irritation around the eye area, and your skin’s ageing process will be accelerated, leading to wrinkles and dark circles. However, when you do remove your eye makeup, you should take extra care to do this gently, ensuring you’re not pulling at your delicate under-eye skin too harshly.

4. Smoking

Smoking has many health risks and one of these is the damage it causes to your skin. Harmful tobacco fumes kill healthy cells in your body and break down collagen production. This accelerates the ageing process and appearance of wrinkles and lines. But smoking can also accentuate eye bags. Due to the constant contact with tobacco fumes, a smoker’s skin is incredibly thirsty, and the body retains water in this area to avoid the skin becoming even more dehydrated. This ultimately leads to the appearance of eye bags. What’s more, smokers tend to have a poorer night's sleep than non-smokers, due to the nicotine withdrawal they experience during the night. This lack of sleep contributes further to the appearance of eye bags and dark circles.

5. Allergies

If you’ve suffered from an allergic reaction before you’ll know that one symptom of this is puffiness and swelling around your eyes. When you suffer an allergic reaction, your body releases chemicals (histamines) that cause your eyes to swell and become puffy. Allergens also accelerate the fluid build-up underneath your eyes, which further cause the skin to bulge and form eye bags. Allergies also contribute to the appearance of dark circles. Histamines that are released during an allergic reaction inflame the blood vessels and cause them to swell, leading to dark under-eye circles. flo Source: Dan Zen

6. Genetics

The onset of eye bags and dark circles is partly hereditary. If your parents or grandparents have eye bags or dark circles then chances are, you will have them too - it’s in your DNA. If you start to develop eye bags or dark under-eye circles at a young age, investing in your skincare routine and a nourishing eye serum can help to reduce the signs. gen Source: Caroline Davis

7. Medical Reasons

There are a number of medical complaints that can also lead to the accentuated appearance of eye bags and dark circles. It’s important to remember that if your eye bags continue to worsen, despite following the recommended steps, this could be a sign of an underlying medical issue. In this case, you should visit your local GP for help and advice. Whilst they can be difficult to shift completely, taking steps to improve your diet, lifestyle and sleeping pattern, can help to significantly reduce the appearance of eye bags and dark under-eye circles. For more advice, follow our top tips on how to treat eye bags!