Three products for a radiant, customizable tan — without UV rays

Three products for a radiant, customizable tan — without UV rays

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Action de la niacinamide sur les cernes bruns.

Dark circles: how does niacinamide work?

Dark circles often betray fatigue and weigh down the gaze. They can be caused by numerous factors, but they are not inevitable. Thanks to niacinamide, an essential derivative of vitamin B3, it is possible to diminish pigmentary dark circles. Discover its mechanism.

Published February 16, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 6 min read

What is the origin of dark circles?

Dark circles typically arise from a dysfunction of the lymphatic tissues , leading to poor waste removal from cells by the lymph. This then results in a decrease in blood circulation activity. The skin around the eye being much thinner compared to the rest of the face, it allows the blood vessels to show through.

If these marks often follow a period of fatigue, a stressful episode, short nights or a hectic pace, other factors tend to promote them. These include pollution, sun exposure, dehydration, stress or a diet rich in sugar, salt and fats. Genetics can also be responsible for the presence of dark circles.

Liver problems or eye allergies should also not be ruled out. Indeed, poor waste elimination by the liver can lead to an accumulation of bilirubin, a yellow pigment. The area around the eyes is very thin, the skin there is very sensitive and easily reveals pigmentation. Three categories of dark circles can be distinguished.

The bluish dark circles.

Quite common, they usually occur upon waking and intensify during periods of fatigue. Also known as vascular dark circles, they are associated with a poor blood and lymphatic circulation. As they accumulate, the blood pigments cause a bluish discolouration beneath the eyelids, particularly in the hollow of the eye and all around. This dysfunction is likely to intensify with age. The blood capillaries responsible for blood circulation relax due to a decrease in collagen production and become permeable.

Brown under-eye circles.

Brown circles or pigmented circles are the result of an accumulation of melanin pigments under the eyes. This hyperpigmentation is often hereditary in origin and affects people with darker skin more. Pigmented circles can also form over time. Particularly thin, the eye contour area tends to let more solar radiation pass through. The melanocytes are thus significantly stimulated in this area and synthesise a large amount of melanin.

Hollow dark circles.

Also referred to as structural dark circles, this type of under-eye shadowing is characterised by a pronounced shadow and depression beneath the eyes. They can have a genetic origin or gradually develop with age, when the facial adipose tissue, located between the skin and the orbital bone, depletes and the skin sags.

What is niacinamide?

Also known as nicotinamide, niacinamide is a water-soluble compound derived from vitamin B3. Essential to the body, it contributes to energy transfer in cells by participating in the synthesis of coenzymes NADP and NAD. When applied topically, it offers numerous benefits, suitable for all skin types.

  • Anti-inflammatory : it assists in reducing redness and itching, and soothes the skin. This active ingredient is particularly favoured by skin prone to acne or atopic conditions.

  • Antioxidant : Niacinamide aids in slowing down skin ageing. Its ability to neutralise free radicals provides skin cells with protection against oxidative stress.

  • Hydrating : several studies have shown that niacinamide contributes to the maintenance of the hydrolipidic film of the skin and to the reduction of transepidermal water loss, which allows the stratum corneum to maintain a good level of hydration.

  • Relipidating : This vitamin notably stimulates the synthesis of ceramides, lipids naturally present in the skin and contributing to the formation of the skin's protective barrier. The use of niacinamide thus helps to prevent the first signs of skin ageing, and to reduce wrinkles and fine lines.

Niacinamide and its action against brown circles: what is the process?

Please note : if brown circles are of genetic origin, it is impossible to diminish them.

When used in eye contour care, niacinamide can diminish the appearance of brown under-eye circles over time and "refresh the gaze". It acts on these through a reduction in their pigmentation. Several studies have proven that niacinamide has an inhibitory effect on the transfer of melanosomes from melanocytes to keratinocytes. The primary role of melanocytes is to protect the skin from the harmful effects of UV rays, which explains why the skin tans in the sun. However, due to its thinness, the skin around the eyes may tend to show this pigmentation excessively, leading to the appearance of dark circles.

A study conducted on a hundred individuals notably demonstrated that the topical application of a cream containing 5% niacinamide twice daily helped to reduce signs of hyperpigmentation after four weeks of application.

Furthermore, the lipid-replenishing power of niacinamide enables it to strengthen the skin barrier, and thus the skin's protection against external aggressions. This property is particularly interesting for the delicate and thin area that is the eye contour. The application of niacinamide can thus minimise the impact of UV rays on the skin, even though it does not replace the use of SPF protection.

However, it is important to highlight that the various tests conducted in the studies were not specifically carried out on the eye contour area, but on hyperpigmentation marks present on the face. Therefore, the anti-dark circle effect of niacinamide has not been directly demonstrated.


  • BOISSY R. E. & al. The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer. Cutaneous Biology (2002).

  • CESTARI T. & al. What causes dark circles under the eyes? Journal of cosmetic dermatology (2007).

  • KREFT D. & al. Niacinamide - mechanisms of action and its topical use in dermatology. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology (2014).

  • KHAN T. & al. Management of periorbital hyperpigmentation: An overview of nature-based agents and alternative approaches. Dermatologic Therapy (2020).


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