It seems there are several reasons why so many of us are left battling unsightly dark patches. Age is an important factor, and as we grow older our skin loses collagen and becomes thinner so veins are more obvious. Sunbathing is believed to exacerbate the problem as it breaks down collagen more quickly.

Genes also play a part, as some of us are simply unlucky enough to inherit thinner skin or too much pigment in the eye area. Allergies can be to blame too, as they cause a release of histamines which can inflame blood vessels and cause swelling. Irritated blood vessels show up as bluish black shadows. A lack of vitamin K or a B12 deficiency can also result in dark circles. Pregnant women may find that the skin around the eyes darkens due to hormonal changes and increased dilation of blood vessels.

It seems there is a simple way to determine what causes dark circles – just gently stretch the skin under your eyes. If it becomes darker, the grey area is probably down to ageing or genetics. If the colour doesn’t change, then allergies, UV rays, stress or a lack of sleep could be the root of the problem.

In a 2006 survey, Clinique found that 50 per cent of women cited dark circles around the eyes as a major beauty concern. Their remedy for uneven skin tone is Clinique Even Better Eyes Dark Circle Corrector. This gentle oil-free formula is suitable for all skin types and claims to reduce dark circles by 30 per cent in 12 weeks. The product contains vitamin C and mulberry root to minimise dark patches, caffeine and green tea extract help to sooth irritated skin, while whey protein promotes collagen production.

Clarins Extra-Firming Eye Serum also targets dark circles. The product helps to tone, firm and regenerate skin, and has a matte finish which helps when applying make-up afterwards. This offering boasts organic green banana and lemon thyme to revitalise tired-looking peepers and open up the eyes.

L’Oreal’s New Skin Perfection Awakening Eye Cream promises to “transform” the eye contour and reduce dark circles. The tinted cream illuminates the area, leaving eyes looking revitalised. This is a good option if you are in your 20s or 30s and work stress or lack of sleep has affected your skin.

Concealers are all well and good but sometimes a little more is needed to even out dark circles. You’ve probably seen palettes of scary green, blue or red shades but believe us, if your circles are bad these will become your best friend. When considering corrector remember that opposite shades cancel each other out, so green will banish red circles and salmon/pink is good if your shadows are blue based (which most are).

A good starting product is Soap & Glory’s Kiss Ass Concealer kit, which comes with an eye brightening salmon coloured corrector, a basic cover-up for the rest of the face and a transparent powder to fix everything in place. The corrector also boasts the company’s PUFFEASE-8™ technology, which helps reduce puffy under eyes.

The only downside is that it comes in just two shades. If neither are quite right it’s worth checking out Bobbi Brown’s Creamy Concealer, whick works well to banish tired eyes when used with Bobbi Brown Corrector shades, with both items moisturising and full of minerals which ensure they don’t settle in fine lines.