Consider how much our eyes reveal—the joys, sorrows, and love they have expressed over the years. But the skin around the eyes may reveal too much—including the fine lines of age, or the puffiness and shadows of long days with little rest. This delicate area requires special attention to keep it looking radiant through every stage of life.
Handle with Care
The skin around the eyes is very different, in physical structure, than the skin on other areas of the face,” explains Shelley Rubenstein at Nature’s Gate. The thinnest on the body, this skin is especially prone to crow’s-feet and other wrinkles, as well as unwanted puffiness. “The skin in this area should be handled very gently, never tugged or pulled, and any product applied to this sensitive area should be patted gently with one finger until it is absorbed,” Rubenstein adds.
This delicate skin can lose moisture more quickly than the rest of the face and body. “Lines and wrinkles are more apparent when the skin is starved for moisture,” says Laura Setzfand at Zia. Eye creams that deliver intense moisture are helpful tools to fight the signs of aging—but look for a product that absorbs easily to avoid rubbing and pulling.
Want your eyes to look their best? Start with the basics. Drink plenty of pure water, eat a wholesome diet—including brightly-colored, antioxidant-rich foods, and wash your face twice daily with a gentle, natural cleanser. Since mature skin dries out faster, “make moisturizing a priority,” recommends Brad Buchanan at Emerita. For easily irritated skin, consider fragrance-free products. Topical eye care formulas help support healthy cells—and address concerns such as loss of collagen and skin tone, thinning skin, and decreased blood flow.
Antioxidants can be applied externally to help protect against environmental damage and signs of aging. Dabbing a vitamin E-containing cream into fine lines around the eyes “has been known to do wonders,” says Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS. “You may also break open a capsule of 400 IU of vitamin E and get the same benefits,” she adds. In addition to E, other antioxidant stars include green tea and coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10.
A decline in collagen synthesis is a natural result of aging—and ushers in the appearance of wrinkles. “Collagen is one of the structural proteins that make up the framework of the skin, giving it tone, elasticity, and texture,” explains Linda Miles, DOM, LAc, at derma e. Research has indicated that vitamin C can help stimulate older skin cells to produce collagen at the same rate as younger cells—improving skin’s firmness.
Peptides are also extremely effective wrinkle fighters,” Miles adds. Compounds derived from palm oil and amino acids that work synergistically to improve skin’s appearance, “peptides support underlying cell functions that help skin repair itself while supporting elasticity and discouraging inflammation,” says Emerita’s Buchanan. Check labels for a unique blend of peptides that suits your needs—such as boosting collagen production and enhancing antioxidant action.
Be kind while fighting fine lines. Look for products that offer tightening and firming ingredients along with moisturizers including jojoba oil, marshmallow, rose geranium, or mango butter. Rubenstein at Nature’s Gate recommends firming formulas that also contain soy isoflavones, lavender, calendula, and chamomile for their soothing properties.
Tired of dark circles? For many people, this image problem is hereditary—and only becomes more noticeable with age. The fat pad beneath the eye thins over time, giving the area a sunken look, while studies demonstrate that slower circulation underneath the eye also contributes to dark circles that concealer can’t quite hide.
The good news is that vitamin K has been found to reduce the appearance of these unwanted smudges. “Whether dark circles under the eyes are a result of aging, genetics, or sun damage,” notes Leslie Baumann, MD, “vitamin K has been shown to reduce the puffiness and discoloration associated with this oftentimes troubling problem.” A fat-soluble vitamin found in green plants, K aids in strengthening capillaries, making them less likely to darken from bruising, explains Emerita’s Buchanan. It’s also a soothing topical ingredient, reducing puffiness and irritation.
Other culprits of dark shadows include dehydration, fluid retention, and even allergy-induced congestion. “As with most skin care issues, dark circles and puffiness should be addressed both internally and externally for best results,” says derma e’s Miles, “but there are natural topical ingredients that can help reduce their appearance.” These include the botanicals yarrow and eyebright. The patented antioxidant Pycnogenol helps promote healthy circulation and decrease swelling. White and green tea extracts, along with cucumber extracts, may also help alleviate unflattering inflammation.
Unpack your bags with these and other natural ingredients. Aloe gel helps soothe and smooth undereye skin, while ivy extract promotes circulation—encouraging a refreshed appearance. “Butchers broom extract combined with a unique peptide are clinically proven to reduce undereye puffiness,” adds Zia’s Setzfand.
Aging, environmental damage, and occasional fatigue are facts of life. But with care, they can be less visible in the oh-so revealing skin around the eyes.