It’s no secret that the skin around our eyes is the first area to show signs of aging. And while there’s no magic formula to get rid of pesky wrinkles, crow’s feet and dreaded eye bags, there are ways to perk up your peepers. The key is preventing (or delaying) the issues in the first place vs. correcting them after the fact. But first, what’s the deal with eye skin? Read on to find out.
Why is the Skin Around Our Eyes Different From the Rest?
In other words, why are our bodies doing this to us? There are three main factors at play here:
- The skin around the eyes is extremely thin and more delicate than the skin on the rest of your face (and since thin skin fills more easily with fluid, that’s how you end up with those lovely eye bags).
- Skin in the eye area also lacks oil glands, making it more susceptible to irritation than nearly any other area1.
- As we get older, skin in the eye area loses elasticity and becomes even thinner due to a breakdown of collagen2. But that’s not all, as collagen decreases, veins appear more prominent and then hello dark circles.
Add to that, the sun’s rays and other environmental stressors and well, we need all the help we can get.
What are the Most Common Eye Area Concerns?
Fine Lines - A lifetime of smiling, squinting and unprotected sun exposure is the main culprit here. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to prevent fine lines, wrinkles and crow’s feet, but you can help slow their appearance. Keeping skin well-hydrated is the key (more on that later)3.
Dark Circles – As we mentioned earlier, darkness under the eye area occurs because the skin is extra thin, making the blood vessels visible beneath the skin. Loss of collagen and our youthful “plumpness” happens more and more as we age, only adding to the problem4.
Bags Under Eyes – Puffiness, for some, can be a result of genetics, but nothing brings on the bags like lack of sleep. Salty foods, allergies and dehydration don’t help either as they cause the body to retain water giving it a puffy, swollen look (particularly noticeable in, you guessed it, the eye area)5.
Are Eye Creams Really That Different From Regular Creams?
Absolutely. Eye creams are formulated specifically for the delicate skin around the eyes so they tend to be thicker. They usually contain more oil than the regular facial variety because, as we mentioned, the skin around the eyes is more fragile, more prone to dryness and lacks those oil glands that would help keep the area hydrated.
Because the eye-area skin is so delicate, eye cream formulations require careful engineering to be effective, yet gentle on the area. Peptides are synthetic compounds, engineered to do just that in our skincare. They can help boost collagen production, so they’re great for those looking to help smooth out fine lines and wrinkles6. Suffer from puffy eyes? Peptides can help here as well, they can help improve elasticity and optimize hyaluronic acid production in the under eye skin7,8. If you’re hoping to brighten up dark circles, you’ll want to reach for the products that contain vitamin C or sodium ascorbate to help thicken the skin and conceal the darkness9. Look for ingredients like "tripeptide" or "tetrapeptide" on your ingredient list
And there you have it. From moisturizing to using sun protection to getting enough z’s, there are so many ways to take care of the area around two of your most prized possessions. If your skin is particularly sensitive or you have other skin conditions to contend with, you should speak with a dermatologist to find the eye cream that’s right for you.
- Ahmadraji, F., & Shatalebi, M. A. (2015). Evaluation of the clinical efficacy and safety of an eye counter pad containing caffeine and vitamin K in emulsified Emu oil base. Advanced biomedical research, 4, 10. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.4103/2277-9175.148292
- Zhang, S., & Duan, E. (2018). Fighting against Skin Aging: The Way from Bench to Bedside. Cell transplantation, 27(5), 729–738. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1177/0963689717725755
- Hiroshi Ohshima, Koji Mizukoshi, Midori Oyobikawa, Katsuo Matsumoto, Hirotsugu Takiwaki, Hiromi Kanto, Masatoshi Itoh (2009) Effect of vitamin C on dark circles of the lower eyelids: quantitative evaluation using image analysis and echogram. Retrieved from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1600-0846.2009.00356.x
- Vrcek, I., Ozgur, O., & Nakra, T. (2016). Infraorbital Dark Circles: A Review of the Pathogenesis, Evaluation and Treatment. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, 9(2), 65–72. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-2077.184046
- Bags Under the Eyes. (2021). American Academy of Ophthalmology. Retrieved from: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/bags-under-eyes
- Varani J, Warner RL, Gharaee-Kermani M, Phan SH, Kang S, Chung JH, Wang ZQ, Datta SC, Fisher GJ, Voorhees JJ. Vitamin A antagonizes decreased cell growth and elevated collagen-degrading matrix metalloproteinases and stimulates collagen accumulation in naturally aged human skin. J Invest Dermatol. 2000 Mar;114(3):480-6. DOI: 10.1046/j.1523-1747.2000.00902.x. PMID: 10692106. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10692106/
- Eleni Papakonstantinou, Michael Roth & George Karakiulakis. (2012). Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging, Dermato-Endocrinology, 4:3, 253-258, DOI: 10.4161/derm.21923
- Aldag C, Nogueira Teixeira D, Leventhal PS. Skin rejuvenation using cosmetic products containing growth factors, cytokines, and matrikines: a review of the literature. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2016;9:411-419. Published 2016 Nov 9. doi:10.2147/CCID.S116158
- Sundaram, Hema; Fagien, Steven. (2015). Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Volume 136, Supplement 1, November 2015, pp.149S-163S(15). Retrieved from: https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/wk/prs/2015/00000136/A00105s1/art00024