ScienceExplained. Why do we get bags under our eyes?

New year means a brand new feature!

Say hello to ‘ScienceExplained’! My new feature that answers the questions you have!

You might remember I wrote a previous post asking If you could ask science anything… what would it be. I received a few responses which I will address over time but I thought there was no better question to start with at this time of year than:

‘Why do we get bags under our eyes?’

After the hectic schedules of the festive period and new year celebrations including probably several late nights followed by the horrible task of getting back to work, I would be surprised if most of us managed to escape getting bags under our eyes. But why do we get them and how can we stop it?


First of all it’s important to note that bags under your eyes and dark circles are two separate things although they usually appear together.

Dark circles are down to genes as much as the lack of sleep. The skin underneath your eyes is very thin and covers muscles, fatty tissue and blood vessels. Dark circles are a result of the light reflecting back off the blood vessels that are sitting just below the skin’s surface, so how dark that area is has A LOT to do with skin colour and thickness. So people with thin skin and paler skin are more likely to suffer with dark circles as the blood vessels under your skin are more prominent – sorry guys! This also explains why dark circles appear to get worse as we age because our skin gets thinner and also when we are tired, because your blood vessels will increase in size as your body makes cortisol in an attempt to boost your energy levels and therefore increases the volume of blood, larger blood vessels and more light reflects back off the blood vessels making the area under your eyes appear darker.

As for eye-bags or the scientific term Periorbital puffiness, is a result of swelling in the area under your eyes which unfortunately gets worse with age again 😦 It is believed that the volume of fatty tissue in the area under your eye increases. Combine that with your thinning and weakening skin in that area, it leads to dropping and eye-bags. Again, being tired makes them more noticeable as your body tries to retain more fluid which again forces your blood vessels closer to the surface as they swell – the same thing happens if you eat too much salt or have allergies!


But how do we get rid of bags and dark circles?

There are several home remedies such as placing cucumber slices or tea bags on your eyes which reduce the swelling as the coolness of them causes the blood vessels just under the surface of your skin to shrink. Yes! Cucumbers do actually work! But only as a short term solution!


But nothing beats 8 hours of sleep, exercise and a good diet – sorry!

So, there you have it. Now, off you go and get some shut-eye.



If you have a science question that you want answered then please get in touch or comment below! There are no stupid questions so ask whatever you want!

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