Beauty, frames and those bloomin’ dark circles

June 5, 2018 Siu-Yin Shing

Can glasses cause dark circles around our eyes? That is the million-dollar question.

Many glasses wearers, like myself, do believe that wearing glasses constantly can slowly change the appearance of the skin around our eyes. I wrote a blog post on this exact topic back in 2014. Now, four years later, this topic is still just as popular and relevant in the blogosphere of all things beauty as it was back then.

What causes dark circles?

To start, we need to explore the main causes of dark circles around the eyes, and there are several of these.

The first is our skin. The skin around our eyes is actually thinner than the rest of our body, with some people having even thinner skin than others. Ageing skin also leads to our skin thinning. Then there is our blood, and a build-up of oxygenated blood beneath the skin’s surface, which is seen as darker around our eyes, because the skin is thinner.


Basically, this pooling is actually dilated blood vessels, and can be caused by several factors including tiredness and poor circulation, which in turn are affected by smoking, allergies, excess salt, alcohol or, in rare cases, liver, kidney or thyroid diseases.

The beauty experts (think CACI, Resultime and SKN-RG), all share the view that the appearance of dark circles is mainly caused by these dilated blood vessels, giving the delicate skin around our eyes that annoying dark bluey-black colour.

So, what has all this got to do with wearing glasses? Well, beauty expert Mary Overton from CACI International (who is a proud specs wearer herself) says, “Wearing glasses which press too tightly around this delicate area can slow lymph circulation causing the appearance of dark circles.”

So, the pads resting on our nose can slow down our blood circulation and, over time, the skin around our eyes may darken due to the blood underneath not being able to circulate properly. The problem is acerbated by heavy and ill-fitting specs, say some of these aforementioned beauty experts.

PIC - eye rubbing from pressure pads

But what do the optical experts say?

Clive Marchant, vice president of the Association of British Dispensing Opticians, says he thinks UV rays play a part. "The fact that lenses and frames filter UV light means the area around the eyes does not obtain a healthy glow or tan, in the same way as if we stay indoors in dark rooms we become pale and get a grey skin tone. At the same time, UV protection is important to avoid increasing our risk of skin cancer."

Nowadays with the latest lens technology and wider knowledge of how to protect our eyes from the harmful UV rays, we are basically constantly wearing sunscreen around our eyes when we wear glasses, which is why the ABDO theory makes perfect sense.

I have been wearing glasses for 22 years and of course back then, UV optical lenses were not a thing. However, the nose pads resting on my nose is, of course, unavoidable. It’s worse with older glasses which were heavier too, therefore, more pressure resting on my nose. When I take my glasses off, I personally feel that the skin around my eyes is slightly darker, even if I am well rested, hence my obsession with this topic.

So, how do we solve this problem and how do we avoid it to start with? There are a few things we can do:

  • Wear contact lenses to give your eyes a break (but this only applies to people who actually embrace both contact lenses and glasses)
  • Take your glasses off whenever possible. When your eyes feel tired, massage the area very gently in a circular motion to encourage blood circulation


  • Covering dark circles with makeup is just a temporary solution but if you do wish to cover them up, always pat the makeup on and never rub to avoid damaging the delicate skin
  • Try eye creams, which can help to reduce the appearance of dark circles and tackle not just the top layer of the skin but the deeper layers too. When applying eye cream, however, be extra gentle because the skin around our eye area is thinner, so more care is needed

PIC – Cucumber eyes

  • Finally, treat your eyes to an eye mask. Use a cooling eye patch/mask that you keep in your fridge every-night before bed. The cooling sensation helps to reduce the size of the blood vessels, therefore helping to reduce the appearance of dark circles

All of these methods take time to see the difference, but it is worth it.

PIC - Rihanna’s after party specs (captioned)

So, there we have it, glasses certainly do play a part in dark circles, however, for the health of your eyes, please always wear UV lenses to protect yourself from those harmful rays! After all, if you’ve got photochromic specs or are wearing prescription sunnies, people can’t see your post-partying dark circles anyway!


British-based eyewear blogger Siu-Yin Shing founded her blog,, six years ago to cover eyewear, fashion and anything in between that concerns specs wearers. She also writes for one of the largest B2B optical groups, The Eyewear Forum, and is the proud owner of more than 25 pairs of glasses.