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Learning to Embrace My Dark Under Eye Circles

Dark circles. Bags. Under eye circles. Whatever you call ‘em, I got ‘em. I’ve had them ever since I was a baby, and they’ve been here to stay ever since (I was a very tired looking baby). And they aren’t just dark. They are actual deep crevices under my eyes as well. My glasses usually hide them, but I know they’re there. Oh, I know they’re there.

Now, under eye circles in and of themselves aren’t bad. Some people have dark under eye circles due to illness, lack of sleep, or just genetics (so dark circles on someone may be a sign that something is off, so if you don’t normally have them, please get yourself checked out, just in case!). I myself fall under that “genetics” category (thanks, mom and dad!). But the worst thing about having under eye circles is that they are so noticeable and everyone always points them out to you (in a concerned way, of course):

“Are you feeling okay?”

“You look really tired!”

“You need to get more sleep!”

“Concealer would really help with those!”

All super helpful, except I’m a) feeling just fine, b) am sleeping 8+ hours a night and, c) concealer is not strong enough to cover these babies.

But the worst actually is:

Person: “Wow, you look really nice! You looked really tired yesterday.”

Me: “That’s because I’m wearing makeup today…”

My under eye circles never really started bothering me until I became depressed when I was around twelve. Before that, I barely noticed them. I was healthy, sleeping well, and mentally stable. But once I turned twelve, I stopped sleeping, ate less, and was just generally not in a good way. The lack of sleep and nutrients caused my eye circles to turn even darker and that’s when people started commenting. I got more and more self-conscious until the day I finally realized how bad they were.

I was around thirteen at the orthodontist getting my braces tightened (ah, the joys of being a young teen) and my orthodontist had my file with him. I had forgotten that when you first get braces, they take some pictures of your face, from the front and both sides, just for a frame of reference for your face and jaw line. My doctor jokingly showed me mine, and said he could sell these to a tabloid magazine one day when I became rich and famous (hardy har har). But I didn’t find it funny because I saw my photos. I remembered the medical assistant who took the photos said I didn’t have to smile in the pictures, so I didn’t. But what I saw when I looked at the photos was an unsmiling twelve year old, with under eye circles so dark, it looked like I had been punched in both eyes. In fact, the first thing that crossed my mind was that it looked like a mug shot of a drug addict who hadn’t slept in a week.

I was so shocked and embarrassed. That was me? That was what I looked like? I’ve been walking around this world, walking past people, looking like this? It was then that I became obsessed with trying to get rid of my dark circles.

I somehow convinced my mother to let me start wearing makeup, or at least start using some sort of concealer or foundation. She let me buy this weird foundation stick that you were supposed to put under your eyes to try to reflect some light under your eyes and lessen your dark circles. Didn’t help, but I tried the best that I could.

Later, when I was older and feeling less depressed, my eye circles grew less dark, but were still prominent. I was so embarrassed by them. The thought of my pictures from the orthodontist haunted me. I wanted to look bright and happy, not depressed and sad. I started wearing foundation from a compact as a teen, putting it under my eyes. It didn’t do much, but it was a start. I then graduated to concealer AND foundation, and that’s where I stayed for a long, long time.

I was so embarrassed for anyone to see me without makeup. It started to become part of my identity. I didn’t like the way I looked without it. The concealer helped lighten my dark under eye circles, the foundation smoothed my skin, and the eyeliner and mascara made my eyes look bigger. I wanted to look like the best version of myself, which meant no under eye circles and no imperfections (minus the occasional pimple or two. I’m human, okay?). I even thought that people treated me more nicely when I was wearing makeup. That’s how convinced I was that I needed to wear makeup.

It didn’t help that there’s been such a boom in the beauty industry lately. Full face makeup, caking and baking concealer onto your face, with bronzer, highligher, the whole shebang covering your entire face, made me see my imperfections even more. Though the people who were doing this to their faces were probably covering up their own imperfections (maybe even some dark under eye circles…? Gasp! God forbid!).

But then came the turning point. About a year or two ago, I developed cystic acne. For those who don’t know, adult acne is real and it is awful. You thought you were done with acne during puberty? Uh-uh! It’s back to haunt you in your better and more emotionally stable years! My acne was so bad that every time I put on makeup, it made my cystic acne even worse. And for those who don’t know, the more you touch and bother cystic acne, the worse it gets (and the bigger it gets too!). And cystic acne HURTS. My face was so bad that I did the unthinkable: I stopped wearing makeup entirely.

I know. It went against everything I had done for years. But my acne was so bad that I couldn’t help it. My makeup routine dried up until I was only using acne face wash and an acne safe moisturizer since I was drying out my face so much. I was embarrassed to go out without makeup, but at this point, I was even more embarrassed of the giant cysts that were popping up on my forehead and cheeks. I didn’t want people to even look at me. I was in my late 20’s and I had acne. I felt like such a loser.

As my face slowly started clearing up, thanks to trial and error of face care and finally a trip to the dermatologist (why did it take me so long to go??), I suddenly realized that I hadn’t really been wearing makeup. My daily makeup routine had boiled down to just acne safe moisturizer and a bit of sunscreen. I should have been shocked until I realized that I didn’t care that I was walking around without makeup. My face was clearer now and I was actually proud to show it off. Nothing artificial on my face, not even under my eyes!

I don’t know if it was my adult acne, the fact that I’m older now, or the fact I just don’t care what other people think, but I realized that my under eye circles are NORMAL. I was born with them. I have them. They are a part of face and I can’t change that. So why am I trying to change something I literally can’t?

The beauty world has a product for everything you hate about your face. Cover your imperfections: zits, acne, acne scars, discoloration, wrinkles. I’ve tried and seen so many items, home remedies, and even procedures for getting rid of dark circles and the bags under your eyes. It makes me so aware and insecure of my own under eye circles and makes me wonder, “why is everyone so desperate for me to get rid of them, if I was born with them?” Are they an imperfection or just natural?

I’ve decided to embrace my under eye circles. They’re a part of me, and completely natural. Do I wish I sometimes looked like someone else who doesn’t have those deep, dark crevices circling my under eyes? Of course! But no matter what concealer I use, I can’t hide their darkness and the deepness of them too. It’s my face, and I need to love it, dark eye circles, acne scars (thanks for that, cystic acne!), and all. No amount of makeup can make me forget that I have them, so why even use it?

Thanks to developing acne later in life, I’m now taking even better care of my skin than I ever have. I’m keeping it clean, exfoliated, and moisturized. I’m taking pride in my skin and face, and usually just wear moisturizer and sunscreen in my day to day life. If I want to wear makeup for special occasions, I only wear a light bb cream, mascara, a bit of eyeshadow, and use an eyebrow pencil to fill out my brows. Simple and natural. For me, makeup should be all about enhancing your natural beauty, not about hiding and changing it.

So I’m wearing my bare face and under eye circles proudly. Is my skin perfect? Hell no! Will it ever be? I’m gonna go with another hell no since your skin just basically gets worse the older you get (yay nature and the passage of time!). But am I embracing it and working it? Hell yes! (With not too much filtering of selfies, might I add. Also, smearing Vaseline over your phone’s camera just doesn’t work the same way it did back in Old Hollywood)

So if you see me out and about, I hope you think my dark circles suit me, because they aren’t going anywhere. And frankly, I don’t want them to. If I ever have to cover them up for any reason (weddings, other special events where you are not in charge of your makeup look), you know it won’t be for long. These dark semi-circles are ready to shine and be in the spotlight! And for once, I finally don’t mind.

*NOTE: If you love the way you look and just love wearing makeup, go for it! This isn’t at all to shame anyone who wears makeup because they just love wearing makeup. You do you, but I hope that you can feel confident all dolled up as much as you do when you’re also all dressed down. Face wise, that is.*

Do you have dark circles? Do you cover them up or do you let them see the world? (Haha) Do you have any "imperfections" that you embrace? Also, do you think the beauty world is trying to make us feel bad for having “imperfections?” Let me know in the comments!

Stay Weird,

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28 comments on "Learning to Embrace My Dark Under Eye Circles"
  1. Love this! As someone who has always suffered from acne and irritation and redness, it's so hard to go through life being constantly self-conscious and aware of how your face looks at all times. I'm so glad that you're embracing yourself completely—you deserve it! You're beautiful, eye circles and all. Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. Awww thank you so much for saying that! Your comment literally made my day! It really is hard having acne and everything that comes with it. I still get self-conscious about my occasional pimples and my acne scars, but it's my face, so what can you do? Thank you, you're so sweet! I really am trying to embrace myself, because I think it's worth it in the long run. And you deserve the same as well, lovely! Thank you so much for reading and your lovely comment. <3 <3 <3

  2. Yes! Yes to all of this. I have battled with my self image for years and my under eye has always been a negative thing for me, I hate looking at myself in the mornings as it's always worse but even throughout the day it used to really get me down but I'm starting to embrace all if myself now, the older I get the more I realise it really does not matter, when I'm 80 it's going to be the least of my worries lol I want to look back on life with lots of happy memories, not think of all the things I hated about myself or thought I needed to change. I'm really glad you're embracing yourself, even the tiny details <3

    Jordanne ||

    1. Hi Jordanne! Self image is so hard to accept! I'm slowly on my way to it, but it's so hard when you can pick out every flaw on your face and what you'd like to change. I'm sorry you've dealt with the dreaded under eye circles too! Mine are definitely worse at night, just because I'm so tired by then. That's really so true! When we're old, we're really not going to care at ALL about our under eye circles. We'll probably have bigger fish to fry ;) Thank you for your lovely comment and for reading too! I'm so glad someone else gets it and is learning to embrace them as well <3

  3. Thank you so much for this! Sometimes it is so hard accept yourself for who you are, when everyone around you is trying to bring you down. I'm glad that you have finally accepted your dark circles and be proud of yourself.

    For years I felt self conscious of my curly, frizzy, uncontrollable hair until I realized that my hair didn't define me and I learned to not only (semi) control it but to accept it. To love it.

    Thank you again, for sharing this. Hope people stop asking you if you are sick/unwell/tired

    Loren |

    1. Hi Loren! Thank you for your lovely comment! I agree, it's so difficult to really embrace who you are sometimes when it seems like it's you against the world (or you vs. yourself!). I'm happy I'm finally on that path to acceptance (haven't quite reached my destination when, but I'm getting there!).

      That's awesome to hear! I personally love curly hair, but I have some friends with curly hair who hate it. I think it may be a grass is greener situation sometimes, haha. I love that you were able to accept and love (and style!) your curls!

      Thank you again for your comment and reading too! I'm so glad you liked my post. And haha, I hope they stop asking me that too! It gets a bit annoying after a while, but I guess their hearts are in the right place!

  4. I have pretty bad dark eye circles too: well, I attribute it to being a night owl and poor sleep hygiene (which I am working to improve!), being part Indian (South Asians are prone to have deep dark circles under their eyes) and taking prednisone (which retains water in your body, making you gain weight and have those puffy eyes). I use an orange color corrector and the Tarte Shape Tape concealer.

    It's great that you're on the path to self-acceptance. I've been so upset with my weight gain from prednisone and resenting and hating my body for having lupus. It is what it is and while I wish it were different, I am trying to accept myself and tell myself my weight isn't my worth. Just like how your dark eye circles aren't tied to your worth!

    Hannah |

    1. Hi Hannah! I'm sure my poor sleep hygiene doesn't help MY dark circles either, so I really feel you on that one! Does the makeup seem to help your dark circles? No matter what I try, it seems like there isn't enough makeup to mask them. Or else I'm just doing it wrong, haha!

      Thanks! It's a hard journey to be on, because once you start accepting one thing, you start noticing other things you wish you could change. I'm so sorry about your lupus and the medication reaction. I hope the benefits of the medication eclipse the side effects and you're feeling better. You feeling better is the most important thing and you're right, your worth isn't tied to your weight at all. Just like my eye circles for me (and lots of other things that I didn't mention in this post. Oh, I could go on and on, lol). :)

      Thank you for reading and your amazing comment! <3 <3 <3

  5. What a great post! I have darker under eyes, but my mum has so maybe I get it from her. I do what I can to lessen it, but I have to deal with it as it’s a part of me 😊 so I try and embrace it as much as I can 😊xx

    1. Hi Lauren! Gotta love genetics, right? ;) And that's great! Embrace them and learn to love 'em! :)

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting!!

  6. I have awful eyebags and I just give up on them. I don't wear makeup on a daily basis, maybe not even a monthly basis, so I just let it be as it is!

    1. Hi Nyxie! Good for you! I mean, sorry about the eyebags, but good for you for just accepting them! That's what I usually do with my dark circles. Leave them be and then only wear makeup on special occasions. They kind of just are what they are so what can ya do?? :p

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! It always means a lot when you comment <3

  7. Hi Emily! I love this post!

    I really feel for you when you saw the unflattering images of you. When I was around that age, I hated seeing my face in pictures too. I don't have a problem with under eye circles, but my teeth are bad and my side view looks like a ball smashed into my face. Haha.. I still struggle with it at times. Anyway, I digressed, I know how it feels to have a perceived "flaw" on your face as a young teen.

    I also feel bad for you that you developed cystic acne, but I'm glad it turned out to be a blessing in disguise after all! I feel like our journey, though different, led us to the same conclusion - that we should embrace what we're blessed with. And it's wonderful!

    I'm so happy for you that you no longer feel the struggle to cover it up, instead, you're embracing your features and setting a great example for the world!

    You're shining, lady! Shining with beauty! :)

    Thanks for sharing this inspiring post. :)

    1. Hi Julie!

      Thank you so much! I always get so happy seeing your comments! :)

      I'm sorry you had similar issues. My teeth aren't the best either, so I never show them when I smile. And I'm sure the side of your face doesn't look like that! You always looks lovely in the pictures I've seen of you! But it's hard when you see yourself through your own eyes and not others. We're our own worst enemies and I know how hard that can be, especially when you're young and you look in the mirror and see it immediately! I'm sorry we both had to go through that. :(

      I love that our stories were different too, but the endings were the same, as well! I love that we're both embracing ourselves too. <3 It's a tough journey, but it's one worth taking!

      Thank you so much! Your words were so lovely and comforting to hear and made me feel really special. I loved your post about complexion. It was so beautiful and thought provoking and real. I'm glad you're embracing and accepting yourself as well. I think we were on similar wave lengths when we wrote our posts!

      Thank you, Julie! You shine on too, you lovely lady! :) And thank you for reading and posting such an amazing comment! Your comments always make my day!

  8. I'm sorry this happened to you. I don't think people realize how what they say can have a negative impact even though that's not what they intended!

    1. Thanks! I know, I think people mean well, but sometimes I'm not sure they've realized what they've said! Thankfully it doesn't bother me too much anymore. Now I'm just like "yeah, it's genetic, I've slept well, thanks," haha. What can ya do??

    2. I have genetically deep set eyes and dark circles and I have embraced them. Somethings can't be changed and you have to make peace with them. Fighting😃😃

  9. Hey Emily! WOW WHAT A POWERFUL POST! I wholeheartedly believe everything happens for a reason and your acne was such a blessing because it helped you realize how your skin is naturally beautiful. I sent through a similar situation when I was younger and even had cystic acne as an adult too. It seemed like as soon as I accept my acne that's when my skin cleared up. I applaud how you pushed through that tough moment and came out stronger and feeling more beautiful than ever! Thanks for sharing this👏🏾😍✌🏾🥂

    Natonya |

    1. Hi Natonya! Thank you so much for your wonderful comment! I think things happen for a reason too, and as awful as my cystic acne was, it took me on this journey to embracing my skin and my under eyes, so in the long run, I'm glad it happened. I'm sorry you suffered from cystic acne too (it really is no joke!), but I'm so happy your skin cleared up too! Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words! They really made my day and made me glad I was brave enough to post this! <3 <3 <3 Thank you for taking the time to read it and for writing your lovely comment!

  10. I love this! I've always had dark circles and fine lines since I was a child. I remember being told I look old when I was only around 9! I still haven't come to love or accept it but hopefully one day I do

    1. Aw thanks for your comment! I'm so sorry people have said that to you. :( It's amazing what rude things come out of some people's mouths. I hope you can accept them one day, if that's what you want to do. It's totally up to you! I know some people are perfectly happy to have them, or they try to get them fixed or cover them up with make up, and that's perfectly fine too. But I personally am just trying to accept and embrace them. Plus, it saves money on concealer, lol!

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! <3

  11. We all have our insecurities but this post seems like a really positive step into recognising yours! I have dark circles but I don't think about them too much at all, for me it's my skin I struggle with. It's important to be kind when bringing up these kind of topics for definite!

    MB |

    1. Thank you so much for saying that, Meghan! And that's fantastic! I'm a little jealous that your dark circles don't bother you, but I hope I can get to that point where they don't bother me either :) And so true! These kinds of topics can be pretty delicate, so it's always good to handle them with care and kindness!

      Thank you for reading and your wonderful comment! I really appreciate it!

  12. Hey read ur article....amazing...I am going through the same phase...many people suggested me about concealors and makeup...i wasnt able to see my face in the mirror...everytime someone was looking at me..I thought they are looking at my face...I was so has been years I have been depressed due to I have still not overcome this..can u please tell me what I can do to not these things bother me.

    1. Hi there! I'm so sorry you're struggling with this issue too. For me, I just had to come to the realization that my under eye circles were just a part of my face. Sometimes it still bothers me, but I've been trying to NOT use makeup (mostly because it didn't work or it would just make me realize how bad my circles were), but I've been using things like vitamin C serum to brighten my skin (they say it may work on under eye circles, but I think mind are just genetic and won't change). I'm so sorry this has affected you so much! I'm sure your circles aren't that bad, but just in case, I would check with your doctor, just to make sure they aren't a sign of something else happening. But if nothing is wrong, just remember that you're lovely WITH your under eye circles, and I promise you, no one is looking at them or judging you. It can be hard to accept something that you can't change, but that doesn't mean it's a bad thing. You're perfect just the way you are! I hope this helps a little and I'm sending you positive and good vibes!! <3 <3 <3 Don't let your under eye circles define you!!! xoxo

  13. Hi Emily! Thank you so much for this post! It MADE my DAY! I’ve felt insecure about my eye bags since I was a teenager! I always tried to hide them and looking at my pictures where they were still very visible, made my feel so bad! So I never wanted to take any pictures( which is crazy !!! I could have kept so many nice memories alive!) I’m trying to change that and “embrace it”. I’m happy that when I googled “under eye bags” I didn’t find only tons of articles about “how to get rid of them”. Thanks again!!

  14. I read your article and I can relate to it 100%. I am also insecure about my dark circles, and my friends just point them out. I had dark circles since kid (genetics) but when I started to hit puberty and was not in a good mental state my dark circles became more darker. But slowly I am accepting them.
    And I just wanna say thank you so much for writing this article, it gained my confidence.

    1. Yeah I have the same issue and people would ask me if I have a black eye or why I look so tired. I think people who don’t have them just assume that it’s always due to tiredness or being unhealthy but that’s not always the case. Some people (like myself) have always had them due to genetics as they’ve been here since childhood. It’s sad that we’re made to feel bad about these things or that we have to cover them up because they’re just a natural part of us like a birthmark or beauty spot. I always felt SO insecure and began wearing concealer every single day. Even when I was at home, so that I didn’t get comments from family members. I also wore a lot of makeup because I hated my face. It’s weird because when I wore all this make up people treated me better and I was more popular (during school times). It’s crazy! I have now stripped back from the makeup and will go out with a bare face because I hated feeling bad about my face. I try to take care of my skin as much as possible and I’ve tried fillers but the result is very subtle and costs money. My dark circles are caused my thin skin and so the blood vessels and veins show through which make my under eyes look dark. I think retinol creams are supposed to help plump up the area and boost collagen so might try that.

      Thank you for your post! It’s inspiring and makes me feel better and more willing to embrace my dark circles.


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