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.