How to get rid of blue circles, dark circles and undereye veins in 2020: The latest research.

So you were searching for how to get rid of blue under eye circles or blue veins, and maybe you found my original post on this, or my one about purple under-eye circles, and you are wondering if there’s any new developments? Or maybe you were looking for something about how to get rid of the dark circles under your eyes without using makeup?

This post has been a LONG time coming but I am going to discuss how to get rid of blue under eye circles and dark circles and show you how I did it. Because things have changed since I wrote my first or even second post on this topic.

I have learned so much more about this topic than I ever thought I could, and I have found out that blue under-eye circles are part of a broader set of skincare issues. Maybe you’ve heard of them.

Redness in your face. Prone to breakouts for no apparent reason. Abdominal pains that come and go. Fatigue. Feeling the cold more than other people and getting coughs that never. Ever. Let. Go. There’s also evidence now that this same set of symptoms is connected to depression.

My original post still stands, but I was looking at several different causes of blue under-eye circles and I wasn’t seeing the bigger picture. What is causing the causes of blue and purple under eyes? There are two causes, which actually feed into one another and these also cause redness and acne.

Inflammation and stress exhaustion syndrome.

You may have heard of them.

All the things I recommended to do to fix blue under-eye circles are great at minimising them for most people on a daily basis. However, when you stop treating them, they come back within a week or two. You look tired out again. And all those related symptoms never go away, either.

To get rid of blue circles under eyes completely, to permanently get rid of dark circles under your eyes, and to ditch those other symptoms, you need to reduce inflammation. That doesn’t mean taking anti-inflammatories. In fact, ibuprofen and diclofenac are really bad for you if you have underlying inflammation, because your body reacts to them by working harder to be inflamed.

The blue circles and blue veins you can see under your eyes are inflamed blood vessels that are pushing against the thin skin beneath your eyes.

These can both be solved. You need to make major changes to your life. In this article, I will look at inflammation and I’ll write a separate one about stress exhaustion syndrome.

What causes inflammation?

Inflammation is your body’s response to an injury (real or not). It helps to heal injuries and release infection-fighting antibodies. This by itself is not a bad thing (it’s pretty good, actually).

Inflammation is there to protect you from injuries and support your body while it heals. So when does it become a problem?

Inflammation is intended to be a short-term response to a threat. When it lingers, it is called chronic inflammation. Some researchers now believe this to be the root cause of many illnesses, particularly the ones that have become a big deal over the past 30 years. Asthma. Allergies. Even cancer! Acute inflammation has clear signs, redness and swelling somewhere on your body.

Chronic inflammation is internal, you wouldn’t necessarily see outward signs that you would link to an injury. The skin on your face is thinner than elsewhere, and redness on your face, especially red patches, and blue circles under your eyes, are surefire signs of chronic inflammation.

When inflammation goes on for longer than it needed to, it causes “bystander damage” to the surrounding tissues near the site of injury. This means the inflammation starts to damage your body. [reference]

How does inflammation end (aka how can I get rid of these blue circles and other symptoms)?

In the body, inflammation ends when certain biological pathways are activated:

– The production and release of interleukin 10 [reference]

– Upregulation of anti-inflammatory markers such as the interleukin 1 receptor agonist or the soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor (yes, unresolved inflammation causes tumors) [reference].

– When your body produces and releases Transforming Growth Factor beta, which creates new epithelial cells after injury [reference].

– Cleavage of chemokines (a breakdown in specific proteins activated by certain mineral deficiencies)[reference]

– Production of anti-inflammatory specialised proresolving mediators such as resolvins, neuroprotectins and lipoxin (if you struggle to follow directions or read a map then your body might not be producing enough of these [reference]) [reference]

But what does all that mean in plain English?

When your body goes into overdrive trying to fight off outside invaders, you get sick with chronic illnesses. You get tired because your body is putting so much energy into fighting off threats. Eventually, you can get cancer or tumors because the biological defences are so worn down there’s nothing left in reserve. Those dark circles aren’t the most serious effect of chronic inflammation, that’s for sure.

What are these threats that your body is responding to?

This is the most controversial question about inflammation. There are two schools of thought: The commonly accepted one and the newest one. The common wisdom tells us that chronic inflammation has no cause but that if you eat certain foods you can heal from it. These foods give your body the fuel to overcome inflammation. The thing about this theory is that it maintains the status quo. All you have to do is change your diet, they say, and you can heal from inflammation.

But people are still getting sick. People are still getting dark circles under their eyes and constant fatigue and insomnia and depression and asthma and allergies.

What is going on?

Enter the second theory. This one says, it’s our modern way of life that’s causing the inflammation. The flame retardant chemicals that cover every fabric item in your home evaporate and get into your body. The microparticles of pollution from car engines and dust clouds from the desert fill your lungs. The water you drink contains microplastics that get inside every tissue in your body. The additives in foods and drinks, cosmetics, even our water, can cause deeper long-term damage stemming from chronic inflammation.

The science is starting to show this to be true.

If inflammation is the cause, to get rid of your dark circles or blue under eye circles or veins, you have three options:

Medium-term fixes such as matrixyl cream or allergy tablets. I went through all of these in my original article on blue circles.

Long term changes to your diet such as in The Inflammation Diet.

Transforming your entire life, incorporating changes to your diet, your exercise routine, fitting your home with an air purifier and so on so your dark circles are permanently gone.

Let’s look at the long term changes in more depth.

Changing your diet to get rid of dark circles and blue circles under your eyes, which are markers of inflammation:

The inflammation diet is a life-changing diet with a lot of evidence behind it. There are lots of different books on it written from many perspectives, and I’ve read so many while learning to heal myself. Here are my top 3 anti-inflammation diet books:

The Inflammation Spectrum: Find Your Food Triggers and Reset Your System by Dr. Will Cole with Eve Adamson

Why I like this book: It focuses on you as an individual, helping you find your specific problem foods so you can tailor-make your own dietary cure.

The Complete Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Beginners: A No-Stress Meal Plan With Easy Recipes to Heal the Immune System by Dorothy Calimeris and Lulu Cook RDN.

Why I like this book: It is super-easy to follow if you don’t have time to go in-depth into your food triggers, yet, eliminating the most common inflammatory foods to give you meal plans and recipes anyone can make!

The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book, Second Edition by Jessica Black N.D.

Why I like this book: Written by a doctor of naturopathy, this book looks at diet from a holistic viewpoint, sharing insights that come from outside the “standard” medical model to help you understand how you and your family can heal from inflammation.

Changes to your home:

The biggest difference to my life came when we bought an air purifier. I was living in China at the time and the air quality is variable, sometimes there is pollution or desert dust which get into the apartment and cause breathing problems. America also has pollution and desert dust, although not to the same extent (except LA).

New research shows methane, not carbon dioxide, is the biggest threat to our environment, and methane is found in high concentrations in modern intensive farming areas.

When I was pregnant in China, I had such bad breathing issues but I didn’t go to a doctor about it because our nearest western hospital was two hours away. Months after we left China, although my exhaustion had improved, I was still struggling to breathe, and in Northern Ireland I was spirometry tested and re-diagnosed with asthma despite being free of it for 13 years by that point.

Not only that, I was given very strong inhalers and was one daily dose away from having to shield during the big lockdown earlier this year. I used to climb mountains, so obviously the change in my ability to breathe (and move) came as a shock.

Getting an air purifier will benefit you and your family and I highly recommend it if you can afford it. We had one in addition to the usual air conditioning unit (which doesn’t purify the air). My only regret is we would have benefited more from having two purifiers; one for each main room of our apartment.

We spend so much of our lives trying to eat right, get enough exercise, drink enough water and sleep better, and it’s very easy to overlook the most fundamental thing we all need to sustain life: Clean, pure air.

Best for larger rooms: Honeywell HPA300 True HEPA air purifier. This one filters out more allergens than cheaper models and its throughput is more air per minute, meaning it’s good for large rooms. The downside is the bigger motor will be a little louder than a less powerful model.

Best for those people on a budget: Medify Air MA-14-B1 air purifier. This is $99.99 and is the best sub-$100 air purifier I’ve seen. They also do a half-size one on the same Amazon page for $49.99. These models rate high for being very quiet which is perfect for in the bedroom, where you should spend at least 1/3 of your life.

Honorable mention: Germ Guardian True HEPA Filter air purifier. This has so many features and is a complete steal at $89.99! I stayed with someone who had one of these last year and with my asthma, I could feel instantly that the air was easier to breathe and my chest was less tight. I felt refreshed after being there for a few hours. This has UV light to kill bacteria, a HEPA filter to catch allergens, and an activated charcoal filter to neutralize odors.

Changes to your lifestyle:

Our modern lifestyle is one of comfort and ease, and our stresses tend to be cerebral not physical, but our bodies and minds aren’t designed to live in this type of way. They need movement. Surprise. Hard physical work. Good sleep. Plenty of water.

There aren’t many books devoted to this aspect of chronic inflammation, and those that exist are usually crazy expensive.

Body on Fire by Monica Aggarwal is a good reference book on the main changes to reduce chronic inflammation, as agreed by most in modern medicine. It focuses on the effects of good and bad diet, exercise routines, sleep habits and hydration levels.

In my opinion, there’s a lot more to be said about this aspect which isn’t being talked about in the mainstream.

Conclusion:

To conclude, the blue and dark circles under your eyes could be caused by chronic inflammation, and you can address the root causes by changing your diet, lifestyle and environment. Improvements to your diet will normally resolve the vitamin K and iron deficiencies at the same time if these are part of the problem.

Tested: The Holy Grail concealer for blue undereye circles, dark circles and tattoos.

I’ve been working on my under-eye blue circles for a few years now. Every time I get on top of them with a great skincare routine to erase dark circles, I forget to keep going with my routine then they make a comeback. Thanks, ADHD.

So it’s no surprise, then, that I have tried a lot of concealers to cover up under-eye discoloration and concealers to get rid of dark circles. And I’ve written a lot of reviews of concealers that get rid of dark circles. Here are my previous favorites, in case you are wondering.

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A few weeks ago, I found a product that was so good, it actually covered up my tattoo in just two coats. The Urban Decay All-Nighter waterproof concealer. Staring at the empty space where my tattoo used to be, I was still skeptical. I’ve been hurt by concealers that cover everything but cake in my fine lines and age me about two decades in one fell swoop. So I tested it some more.

Let’s look at it in more detail.

The Urban Decay All-Nighter waterproof concealer comes in a silver tube the size of a mascara. It looks great in my handbag. And because it’s shiny, it’s easy to find, even in low lighting like when you’re trying to touch up your makeup in the car.

Not that you’ll need to do many touch ups with this one. Honestly, with the amount of actors having to do their own make up right now, this product will be flying off the shelves.

Onto the testing.

So I have this tattoo. It’s Hello Kitty. You might think it was a moment of drunk regret, but you’d be wrong. I got this tattoo when I was in Santa Barbara, California, and the only time I’ve ever wanted to get rid of it was when I was in Japan because you’re famously not allowed to use the hot baths if you have tattoos, even Hello Kitty tattoos, in case you’re a gang member.

At the time I used a different method to get it to vanish, which I’ll talk more about some other time. Today, I decided to see if this waterproof concealer would have worked.

First I painted over half of it with one coat of the Urban Decay All-Nighter waterproof concealer. As you can see, the heavy black lines have significantly faded away.

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Interestingly, it actually conceals better in brighter light, as you can see in this photo with the flash on:

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However, since I don’t live my life on a film set, I live in a world of natural light, it would still be obvious to anyone who looked at my wrist that there was a tattoo there. Only now it was a tattoo covered in makeup.

So I added a second coat. That changed things.

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Now that’s what I call coverage. That’s in the same light as the first photo.

But wait. We haven’t tested two coats with the camera flash, yet.

Oh. My. God.

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You would literally have to be 30cm away from my wrist to know there was a tattoo there in bright light.

Okay, great, it works to make the tattoo disappear. But how long does that last?

Before we answer that, you’ll notice I’m wearing a dress with white stripes, I can confirm there was no transfer of cosmetics onto dress. Literally none.

Okay, now let’s see how long it lasted.

Using the time signatures from my phone, you can see I finished the second coat of concealer at 3pm:

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At 9pm, after about 6 hand washes, and doing the dishes, it was only looking a little faded, so it will give good coverage for at least 6 hours:

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At 2am, it had faded a bit but was still giving phenomenal coverage:

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“Ah,” you say, “But you said at the start of this review that testing it on a tattoo isn’t the same as testing it on your face.”

And you’d be right.

So I put it on my ugly mug and took some pictures. On one side, I put the Clio Kill Cushion Foundation SPF 50 PA++++ on top of my concealer. I left the other side bare except for the Urban Decay concealer.

I put it on at about 5pm and it gave pretty good coverage immediately (first photo is my face with no make-up):

And this was after applying the Urban Decay. On the right hand side of each picture, I put foundation over the top to see how this product would work with other make up, because let’s face it, few people wear just a concealer alone.

The coverage was so strong, and yet even up close, my face didn’t look made up, and there was no caking, it just looked so natural! If you get a good shade match for your skin, you could actually wear this concealer by itself.

To be honest I was quite busy that day so I didn’t get to check in again until 3am, at which point I’d lost my phone so I had to use my husband’s phone and get him to send the photos in a Facebook message. After 10 hours, his phone made it look like this, but I don’t know if his camera has some odd settings or isn’t HD or something like that because I didn’t feel that pretty when I looked in the mirror.

urban decay concealer review 3am

So because I wasn’t 100% sure of what I was seeing, I decided what the hey, let’s leave it on overnight and see what happened.

I woke up pretty late because I’m still breastfeeding a baby who demands milk every couple of hours and I’m coming off some medication I was taking for post-natal depression, and these things are conspiring to make me very, very sleepy right now. So it was 2:45pm when I got up and took a photo.

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Seriously I was shocked.

For comparison, I washed my face and took another photo #nomakeupselfie and all my usual imperfections came back:

 

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This apparently took ten minutes.

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And this is what my pillow and eye mask looked like after sleeping in my make-up:

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Guys the Urban Decay All-Nighter waterproof concealer is the real deal. 100%. If you can’t get rid of blue circles or want to know how to erase dark circles under eyes, this is the new best quick fix on the market. The best part? It’s waterproof and stays put for at least 12 hours. Even when you get it wet. There’s a huge range of shades and the bottom line is, it’s cheaper and better than Bobbi Brown’s concealer. And it looks better in your bag and doesn’t require you to buy a separate concealer brush.

Vertict: Holy grail product.

Get it here on Amazon if you’re in the UK and Ireland, or visit your local department store that stocks Urban Decay in the States.

Have you tried this, yet? Let me know in the comments!

Blue Circles? How to get rid of under eye blueness, purple circles, and veins.

So you tried Googling “how to get rid of blue circles” and read a bunch of articles about how to get rid of DARK circles, and are feeling pretty disillusioned?  I’ve been there.  I’ve had them as long as I can remember and have tried every concealer to no avail (UPDATE 2020: I FOUND A CONCEALER THAT WORKS).  Then I did some scholarly research and found the answers.
Now I will share with you what to do and what not to do to get rid of the blue circles you get under your eyes. Some people’s blue circles show up more purple; the solutions here will also work for purple circles where the root cause is the same.  Note this won’t work for those brown ones you get with age, this is just for blue circles or purple ones!  Most of the stuff about dark circles is really talking about brown circles, and they tack “and blue circles” (or “and purple circles”) onto their generic articles just to drive you nuts in your quest for answers.  Why don’t they differentiate?  Well, that would mean you wouldn’t keep buying products that won’t work, then they’d be making less money!  Let me start by stating I have no interest in discussing make-up because it’s not an option for many people, and it won’t address the root cause of the problem, which with blue veins and blue circles is almost always your first task.  To use an analogy, why put a rug over a cracked floorboard when you can just fix the floor instead? Having said that, at some point I will do an article about color correcting with make-up because it’s worth knowing about, if you can wear make-up. I will link here once I’ve written about color-correctors.

What Causes Blue or Purple Circles?

Really the key to killing them is to work out what actually causes them in the first place.  Basically, the blue circles are caused by the veins standing out and becoming visible through the skin.  So two things are contributing to blue circles:  Enlarged veins, and thin under-eye skin.

Enlarged under-eye veins are caused by:

Caffeine (including those under-eye caffeine treatments that are marketed at getting rid of the other type of dark circle), and other stimulants such as energy drinks and certain medications – they dilate blood vessels.  In brown circles, this improves blood flow (and oxygen) to the under eye area, which helps.  In blue circles, it makes the problem worse.  Solve it: To really reduce those blue circles, cutting out coffee is number one.  This will, after a couple of months, allow the veins to go back to normal, eliminating those pesky under eye blue circles.

Allergies – Not the sort that put you in hospital, the sort that make your eyes feel sleepy, runny nose, itchy eyes, or a feeling of being gunked up inside.  When we are allergic to something, the immune system produces histamines to try and fight it.  These histamines make blood vessels swell.  This puts a lot of pressure on your under eye area, especially when you blow your nose, which increases physical blood pressure to the face.  This all causes blue circles under the eye area to look far worse than they would otherwise.  Solve it: Take an antihistamine, if you’ve never used them before, start with Loratadine or Cetirizine (the cheaper of the two – that’s $8-ish for 100 cetirizine pills vs $7-ish for 30 loratadines), and work your way through the others until you find the best one for you (they put strain on your liver so go with the lowest one available, usually the two I just mentioned are safest especially for long term use e.g. if you’ve a dust allergy and work anywhere with dust), and pinpoint and remove the source of the allergy as much as you can.  Hayfever typically strikes when flower pollen is at its height, but tree pollen can also be a cause and it’s found earlier in the year (March to May in the UK, this varies by plant succession and climate around the world).  Dust allergy is most commonly associated with year-round rhinitis (snot) and “hayfever relief” tablets work well for dust allergies too.  Move onto Benadryl only if you’re having no luck with loratadine or cetirizine (in England, Benadryl’s active ingredient diphenhydramine is used in sleeping pills). If none of the over-the-counter allergy tablets work, it’s time to pull out the big guns and ask your doctor to prescribe you the prescription strength ones, but only go for these if you really need them, as they will take a toll on your liver.  The clue about whether this is the cause is that you will have the other symptoms of allergy such as runny nose, hives etc, not just blue circles.

Iron Deficiency or Anaemia – If you can’t see any blue veins through the skin, just more of a continuous blueness radiating from the tear ducts, your blue circles are probably down to an iron deficiency.  This can occur in meat eaters and vegans, and can be associated with heavy blood loss e.g. due to your period.  Solve it:  Get some iron tablets, I’ve discussed which are best in this article.  Continuous use of iron tablets has side effects.  To determine whether your blue circles are down to iron deficiency, get a blood test done at the doctor’s, and check whether you have any other symptoms such as fatigue or poor concentration.  Consult your pharmacist to check if you can take iron, some people can’t.  Pharmacists always know best about these things, they are a cove of free knowledge.

Vitamin K deficiency – This goes hand-in-hand with iron deficiency, as vitamin K deficiency causes you to have increased blood loss, and it will cause the rest of your face to have redness as well as those blue circles from blood deposits as vitamin K makes your blood clot and without it, it doesn’t clot properly (it also helps you absorb calcium).  Many iron-rich vegetables are also great sources of vitamin K – such as kale or broccoli, or other dark green leafy things.  Solve it:  Vitamin K supplements.  Read my article on Vitamin K for advice on all things Vitamin K related, as well as the other effects of vitamin K deficiency and the interaction (bad) between Vitamin E and Vitamin K (always leave some hours between taking E and K supplements and buy them as separate supplements or they cancel each other out).  Avoid Vitamin K supplements if you have thrombosis or are taking anticoagulants (e.g. warfarin) as they cause problems, although if you think your blue circles are down to thinning of the blood, it is worth seeing your doctor if you’re on anticoagulants/blood thinners as they may need to adjust the dosage.  Consult your pharmacist before taking Vitamin K if you need to; their advice is always free and while they can’t generally advise on the effect a vitamin will have on you, they can definitely ask the right questions and tell you whether there is any reason you shouldn’t take it. Many pharmacies don’t actually stock Vitamin K because so many people don’t understand its benefits, I buy mine from Amazon; here’s a link to the Vitamin K I’ve been buying (it’s vegan, they’ve changed the ingredients which is why I’ve changed to this one; the quality is better than some of the more expensive ones). If you’re in the UK, you can get it here although if you’re on a budget, I recommend the (not available in the US) Pure Nature Vitamin K; the packaging’s a bit weird but I tried it this month and I’m halfway through my first pack and the quality of the supplement is nearly as good as the first one I linked; get it here (UK only)
(I only recommend things I’ve bought myself).

Thin Skin under eyes:  This can be something you were born with, sometimes it’s caused by a broken nose (it stretches and thins the under-eye skin) or it can just be a natural sign of ageing. If you’re really unlucky, it’s all three. When the skin under the eyes is too thin and pale, the blood vessels underneath will shine through like a shadow puppet show making delightful dark circles under the eyes. Luckily, some anti-ageing creams can help (even if you’re not ageing).  Solve it:  Creams marketed as “anti-ageing” are not created equal, but look for one with the ingredient Matrixyl in – this has been shown in double blind independent testing by the University of Reading (no pharma connections here, this is an unbiased study) to solve this problem.  Common products include Olay Regenerist 3 Point (has to say 3 point on it) Age Defying Moisturiser (this is the exact one: I’ve found it to be more expensive in shops than on Amazon); Sanctuary Covent Garden Spa Power Peptide Protect Day Cream SPF 20 (NOW DISCONTINUED as of December 2016).  Just Google Matrixyl Cream to see what comes up if you want to browse all the options, there’s loads, and they all put different amounts in, so if one doesn’t work for you, try another, although I highly recommend the Olay Regenerist 3 Point as I’ve found it to be fantastic and it’s had some excellent reviews compared to more expensive products. Use it VERY sparingly under the eye (I use tiny dots).  The other solution is “laser resurfacing” but it costs thousands of dollars and I’ve not seen a single good review or success story for undereye work so I wouldn’t go there personally. Get it here if you’re in the UK

What doesn’t work:

1. Anything that says “banish dark circles” they’re usually marketed towards brown circles for people in their late 30’s onwards, and generally work by thinning the skin and bleaching it (which makes it more transparent, which as you and I both now know, makes blue circles worse).

2. Caffiene under eye roll ons or creams:  These dilate those blood vessels, which means they make them bigger, which makes blue circles worse!!  I wish I’d known that before I tried one of these for 2 years!

3. Concealers and color correctors:  I’ve heard of people using tangerine concealers to get rid of blue circles but I don’t think they work if your skin is very light or very dark. I’ve tried all of them (even the MAC colour corrector), I’ve watched countless application videos and not one single one worked to just make my under eye area look like the rest of my pale face – they all either left it a bit too white, orange or brown (or yellow) and some of them sparkled, which made people think I’d been punched in the face by a glitter fairy (illuminating glow?  Who are they kidding??).  Maybe these work on a different kind of blue circle, and to be fair, they do cover it up on camera, but face to face in real life for normal people they’re no good.  Make up in general is no good to cover this up for those of us who are pale, prone to activity, like walking from A to B, or who don’t like to waste time, as the blueness tends to show through after an hour or so of even the thickest plasterboard of make-up.

4. Normal eye cream: I’ve not actually found any normal eye creams to be useful for any of the common complaints around the eye area, particularly blue circles.  Most of them are too watery or burn my under eye area which can be a sign of cell damage leading to ageing effects in the future so I discontinue use right away if anything burns.

5. Honey or beeswax – This bleaches things because it contains a low concentration of ammonia; honey is actually used to lighten hair “naturally” by some people.  If you use it regularly under the eyes when you have blue circles, it will keep lightening the skin, which makes it more transparent, which will make your blue circles or veins stand out even more. It has it’s uses, but this isn’t one of them!

Update 2016: I also did this shorter article about purple circles (because mine are sometimes purple)
Got any more tips for blue circles?  Share ’em in the comments! Click here to find out about the 3 brands I work with and find out how to get bigger lips without using fillers.