Beauty Clinic: What can I do about darkening eyelids?


Q. The skin on my eyelids is turning brown and has been getting worse over the last year. Some relations have the same problem so it may be hereditary to some degree. Is there anything I can do to lighten my eyelids?

A. According to dermatologist Dr. Daniel Glass (, pigmentation affects the eyelids to different degrees, primarily due to your family background. ‘If you and other family members have particularly dark eyelid pigmentation it is likely due to genetics.  However, the skin may become darker due to a range of external factors, most commonly after the skin has become inflamed for any reason, such as eczema.’ This can happen to anyone, but is more common in people with darker skin.

Certain medications and over the counter products may stimulate the problem. For example, some drugs for glaucoma contain an active ingredient (called a prostaglandin) with a hormone-like effect, which may cause increased pigmentation in the skin around the eyes.  An eyelash enhancer (Latisse) that contains a close chemical relation may cause a change in eye colour and may also affect pigmentation in the eyelid, according to the brand’s consumer information.

Additionally, Dr. Glass points out that some cosmetics include chemicals that make the skin more likely to react in the sun.  So one thing that you really should do is to make sure you apply a high SPF (30+) to your face and don't forget your eyelids. (Apparently eyelids are one of the most common sites people forget when applying sun preps.)  Also wear big sunglasses with wide arms. (Much wider than the ones in the picture above!)

Sometimes, pigmentation fades with time but it doesn't sound as if this is happening in your case. Dr. Glass says there are a number of prescribed treatments that may help to lighten pigmentation once the cause is determined. But he adds that it can be difficult to treat and prescription creams are only likely to help some people. As far as over the counter products are concerned, we haven’t come across anything that we could recommend. We suggest starting with your GP to get their advice.

Our suggestion is to use a good concealer. London-based make-up artist Jenny Jordan ( offers three different options for you to try. Firstly, a nifty way to convert your pigmentation into make-up! Smooth on a little eye cream, let it sink in then apply À La Carte Matte Eye Velvet Matte Cream Eyeshadow in Blonde, a wand that dispenses liquid shadow which becomes matte, is long-lasting, line-smoothing and non-crease. It's priced £26.

Secondly, try Mii Cosmetics Conceal and Contour Duo, a double-ended chubby eye pencil, in Perfect Peach, or, for Asian skin, Perfect Cream, both £11.50.  It’s very easy to apply and covers brilliantly.

A third option is Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage/£27.50, a duo palette with a colour corrector and a concealer. It comes in eight options for different skin tones so you can custom blend your own perfect shade. However, do ask for a demo from a consultant at a department store, eg Selfridges, or specialist retailer such as Space NK; the product is fab but it helps to know the tricks of the trade.

Photo by Alex Perez on Unsplash