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L'huile essentielle de menthe poivrée contre les cernes.

Peppermint essential oil: a solution against dark circles?

Fatigue, poor blood circulation, exposure to the sun, etc., are all factors responsible for the appearance of dark circles. These are among the most common cosmetic concerns. Let's explore whether peppermint essential oil has benefits against dark circles.

Summary
Published February 9, 2024, by Manon, Head of Scientific Communication — 6 min read

The origin of dark circles.

Dark circles , also referred to as periorbital/periocular hyperpigmentation, periorbital melanosis, infra-orbital darkening, infra-orbital discolouration or idiopathic cutaneous hyperchromia of the orbital region, are a common concern that manifests as a darkening of the skin surrounding the periorbital area and/or a depression of the lower eyelid. They appear as bilateral, round or semi-circular, and uniform spots, giving the subject a tired appearance. There are several types of these:

  • The bluish or vascular dark circles :
    This type of dark circle manifests as a purplish pigmentation, varying in darkness, at the level of the lower eyelid. This phenomenon is linked to a failure of the microcirculation of blood and lymph in the area around the eye. Due to slow blood and lymphatic circulation, the pigments present in the blood accumulate and are poorly evacuated, resulting in a bluish-purple colouration.

  • The brown or pigmented dark circles :

    This type of under-eye circle forms due to the accumulation of melanin, thus creating a pigmented spot that completely surrounds the eye. Often, this hyperpigmentation is of genetic origin and primarily affects individuals with darker skin, who tend to produce abnormally more melanin in this area. However, these under-eye circles can also occur following certain skin conditions.

  • The hollow or structural dark circles :

    These dark circles are characterised by a pronounced shadow under the eyes. A specific facial bone structure highlights the hollow located under the eyes, making the contours of the eye socket more apparent. When light comes from an upper direction, a shadow forms under the eyes. Conversely, frontal lighting will diminish this effect.


Dark circles can be caused by a variety of factors, both external and internal. These factors include genetic elements, excessive skin pigmentation, fragility of blood vessels, poor blood circulation, skin sagging associated with ageing, hormonal fluctuations, excessive sun exposure, rubbing or scratching the skin around the eyes, and the use of certain ocular hypotensive medications. Lifestyle-related aspects can also contribute to the development of dark circles, such as lack of sleep, stress, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, although their link has not been clinically proven.

Peppermint essential oil against dark circles?

Thepeppermint essential oil is a natural oil extracted from the variety of mint known as mentha x piperita. It is obtained from the leaves of the plant through steam distillation, allowing for the production of a pure oil highly concentrated in active compounds. Already used in antiquity for its medicinal virtues and pleasant fragrance, this oil emits a characteristic fresh and herbaceous scent reminiscent of mint. Is it effective against dark circles?


Recent research has explored the antioxidant potential of peppermint essential oil by assessing its ability to trap reactive oxygen species (ROS). However, the findings of these studies remain contentious, as some assert that this oil does not possess significant antioxidant activity that could be beneficial in alleviating dark circles. At present, there are no conclusive studies demonstrating a positive effect of peppermint essential oil on dark circles.

Therefore, it is important to emphasise that peppermint essential oil does not appear to be an adequate solution for combating dark circles. However, there are other active ingredients whose properties for fighting dark circles have been proven.

Which active ingredients should we turn to?

Other active ingredients may be favoured to combat dark circles:

  • Arbutin Acid : This active ingredient, an extract from the leaves of bearberry, cranberry, pear or blueberry, has demonstrated its ability to inhibit the activity of tyrosinase, as well as the maturation of melanosomes. Research has highlighted its effectiveness in treating melasma, a specific form of facial hyperpigmentation. Consequently, it could also be considered for reducing brown under-eye circles associated with facial hyperpigmentation.

  • Caffeine : This alkaloid aims to promote blood circulation around the eyes, thereby stimulating blood flow in the capillaries. This action prevents the accumulation of plasma and subcutaneous pigments, thus preventing the formation of dark circles. Moreover, it improves the lymphatic microcirculation of the eye contour, thereby reducing swelling and alleviating under-eye bags.

  • Niacinamide : Also known as Vitamin B3, niacinamide is an active ingredient that works to even out skin tone due to its anti-spot properties. It acts on the biosynthesis pathway of melanin, which plays a role in the formation of brown circles, by regulating the transfer of melanin granules to the basal epidermis. Furthermore, niacinamide stimulates blood microcirculation, which helps to reduce the appearance of bluish circles and bags under the eyes. You can find this active ingredient combined with caffeine in our eye serum which helps to promote blood and lymphatic microcirculation to reduce bluish circles and decongest bags around the eyes.

Sources

ALANKAR S. A Review on peppermint oil. Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research (2009).

PAVLIĆ B. & al. Antioxidant and enzyme-inhibitory activity of peppermint extracts and essential oils obtained by conventional and emerging extraction techniques. Food Chemistry (2021).

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