Can Pregnancy Cause Dark Circles?

Pregnancy affects your body in many ways. If you've developed dark under-eye circles, they could be directly linked to a few key pregnancy-related factors.

Creating another life is arguably one of the most impressive feats a human body can achieve. As with all impressive accomplishments, a multitude of changes must take place to reach the end goal.

Dramatic changes are not exclusive to the first stages of pregnancy. In fact, they continue to occur throughout gestation and after delivery.

Before exploring the pregnancy factor, you should understand what causes darkened skin beneath the eyes. Dark circles are usually caused by either pooling of blood or hyperpigmentation.


Can Pregnancy Cause Dark Circles?

Mask of Pregnancy and Dark Circles

The mask of pregnancy, or melasma (scientifically known as 'melasma gravidarum'), is an effect of hormonal changes. This usually mask-shaped browning of the skin is provoked by an uneven accumulation of melanin. This is the skin pigment that leads to tanning.

Usually, this discolouration of melasma returns to normal after pregnancy. But while you do have this uneven pigmentation, it's very important to use a high-SPF sun cream. Sunlight can worsen melasma in the same way sunlight provokes a tan.

We recommend the following sun creams for high protection:

And for effective cover-up, we recommend:

Dark Circles Caused by Blood Pooling

The skin under the eyes is extremely thin. In fact, it's thinner than any other skin on your body. You can literally see through the under-eye skin. The thinner it is, the more visible dark circles are.

But if most visible blood vessels are blue, why aren't dark under-eye circles blue?

When blood is oxygenated, it's bright red. When blood is deoxygenated, it's such a dark shade of red that it can look black. Whether rich in oxygen or depleted, the blood in blood vessels reflects blue light through the skin more successfully than red or any other colour.

When blood pools beneath the skin, it becomes deoxygenated, just like the blood travelling back to your heart and lungs through your veins. So pooled blood is dark red, and the more deoxygenated this blood is, the darker your under-eye circles become, looking almost blue-black.


Can Pregnancy Cause Dark Circles?


Dark under-eye circles can be caused by pregnancy due to:

  • Fluid retention
  • Inflammation
  • Sleep deprivation / lack of movement during sleep
  • Deoxygenation of blood from lack of movement/exercise
  • Hormonal changes causing dilation of blood vessels

These changes are not exclusive to pregnancy, but they're all high probable during this time.

Factors such as fluid retention trigger inflammation. Inflammation slows blood flow in these areas, contributing to blood pooling.

Lifestyle factors then exacerbate the darkness of under-eye circles by contributing to blood deoxygenation. Finally, hormonal changes can increase the size of our blood vessels, which means more blood can pool in these areas.

If you're experiencing dark circles during pregnancy, It's important to keep the skin under your eyes properly hydrated. When skin cells are dehydrated, they shrink in size. This causes skin to appear pale and more translucent. Moist, plump skin lifts away from areas of pooled blood, and circles appear reduced.

We recommend the following products for under-eye hydration during pregnancy:

It's also possible that your dark under-eye circles may not be caused by pregnancy. Refer to our full guide on the causes of dark circles for a complete understanding of this condition.


Can Pregnancy Cause Dark Circles?