Why We Should All Embrace Those Dark Circles

by Katie Hoffman

Dark circles are a formidable, evil force that every woman will battle sooner or later. Generally, the dark circle conversation gravitates towards ways to remove dark circles or the search to find a concealer that covers under eye shadows, but maybe it's time we finally do something about that. Maybe we need to talk more about accepting the dark circles so many of us have. They may not cause the same turmoil as acne, stretch marks, cellulite or any other blemish or body part that flips our insecurity switch, but dark circles are clearly something we're still committed to hiding.

The desire to hide part of yourself to feel more confident and beautiful is a complicated matter. After all, every woman should be able to express her beauty in a way that makes her comfortable, and getting to a place where you can proudly display the parts of yourself you once concealed doesn't happen overnight. But life gets so much better when you learn to love your flaws — even the ones under your eyes — and embrace the mentality that covering up should never feel mandatory.

I can't remember the first time I looked in the mirror and saw a zombie (on a strict brain-free diet) staring back at me. I've had dark circles for so long, I can't even remember when they first appeared. I'd guess they probably developed when I was in junior high, during that awful part of puberty when you just go looking for items to add to your list of "New Things I Don't Like About Myself." When you have fair skin, dark circles are just about impossible to camouflage. If you think figuring out how to use color correctors to hide acne is difficult, try finding the right colors to neutralize the hard-to-miss shadows under your eyes. I tried applying extra coats of foundation and concealer. I used products described as "magic wands," and even gave dark spot correctors a whirl. For a while, my makeup routine focused on covering up that tiny area underneath my eyes rather than pampering and highlighting the rest of my face.

Maybe it's unfair that some women were blessed with that year-round, well-rested subtle, summertime glow while the rest of us look like we just crawled out of a crypt every morning, but we make it seem a lot worse than it actually is. While lack of sleep and heredity can both play a role in the appearance of dark shadows under your eyes, some under eye circles have other underlying causes.

According to Real Simple, the color of dark circles helps determine their cause. My circles are definitely of the bluish variety, which can "result from oxygenated blood pooling beneath the under-eye skin." If you notice that your bluish circles are at their worst when you first wake up, that's because all that oxygenated blood has been pooling there while you've been asleep. Circles with a brownish tint are usually the result of hyper-pigmentation, often brought on by rubbing your eyes too much or not protecting that sensitive under eye skin from the sun.

Knowing the cause of something doesn't make it any easier to live with it, does it? But why is it that we're so concerned about a little darkness under our eyes? It's kind of like contouring, am I right? Okay, dark circles may not be as cute as dimples, but they're far from the worst thing that could happen to a person.

I think perhaps we've all gotten too swept up in the myth of beauty rest. We've all heard the terms "beauty rest" or "beauty sleep" before in the context of some magical, fairytale slumber that's supposed to help us prevent split ends and maintain our healthy complexions. But we're still waiting on the guidelines to actually achieve proper beauty rest. Do we need to sleep with a pea underneath our mattress or brush our hair a hundred times before nodding off? Is wearing a mask necessary, or is that optional? Look. We could all use more sleep — beauty or otherwise — because most of us aren't getting those recommended eight hours, but I think the notion that a woman "needs her beauty rest" is a really weird standard to uphold. They're just dark circles, not the under eye branding of our failure to be beautiful, well-rested women.

They may seem unsightly at best and reminiscent of a panda bear at worst, but I think we all need to work on embracing our dark circles. There will be nights when staying up way too late making memories even Instagram couldn't capture will be more important than spooning your pillow at a reasonable hour. You may look tired, but that's because you've been up chasing your dreams instead of just visiting them. You saw the midnight show, you enjoyed that extra hour with a friend you don't see enough, or you made that deadline that seemed impossible. Those shadows under your eyes do more than suggest you need more beauty sleep; those dark circles are life's version of war paint, and they prove that no amount of stress, lack of sleep, or oxygenated blood has stopped you yet.

Images: Author's Own; Giphy; Twitter/natARTic, iSurB_, alywest_