I think I was about 35 when I started noticing some fine lines around my eyes, especially when I smiled.
To tell you the truth, I sort of liked them. They made my eyes look warmer when I smiled.
But I also took notice.
My philosophy was (and still is) that there’s nothing wrong with aging. My greatest mentors and role models are women that are older and more experienced than I was. And I have always thought them supremely beautiful.
But, on the other hand, there was no sense in rushing the process. That was the day I started taking skincare more seriously.
For most people, your eyes are the first place you notice signs of aging
There are reasons for this.
- The skin around your eyes is the thinnest and most fragile.
This makes it more susceptible to breaking down, becoming looser, and even thinner. Which means it’s easier for fine lines and wrinkles to form.
- The skin around your eyes doesn’t have the support of bone and muscle.
The skin around your eyes covers a large space where your eye resides. This is brilliant for allowing your eyes freedom of movement and protection, but it means the skin there has no underlying support.
- The skin around your eyes is under a lot of stress
While the skin around your eyes doesn’t have much in the way of “meat” (muscle or fat padding) it’s affected by 22 muscles that are in perpetual motion as you use your eyes.
You blink about 10,000 times a day. This is crucial to keeping your eyes moist and healthy, but it does wear on your skin.
If you’re an eye rubber, there’s even more stress on your skin around your eyes from pulling and friction.
- Your body naturally makes less collagen and elastin as you get older
That means that your skin structure becomes looser and less elastic. Combine this with already thinner and more fragile skin and you can see why your eyes are the first place that reminds you’re aging.
What signs of aging around your eyes looks like
- Crow’s feet. These are the lines that fan out from the outer corners of your eyes when you smile. They’re generally the first signs of aging that you notice.
I love crow’s feet. I think they make your smile look bigger and more genuine. But not everyone feels that way.
- Dark circles and/or puffiness under your eyes.
This might be the next thing you notice.
Dark circles and puffiness are quite individual and not everyone experiences them. They often have a genetic basis.
The collagen and elastin in the skin around your eyes breaks down prematurely which changes the tone and texture under your eyes.
When you’re tired, or have allergies, or age, the blood and lymph circulation under your eyes slows down.
Because the skin is thinner under your eyes, you can see the signs of poor circulation and lymph drainage in the form of dark circles or puffiness.
Sometimes the fat around your eyes will shift to your under eye area and will also make that area look puffy. This is most common after 50.
3. As your estrogen levels go down, your skin gets drier. This makes fine lines look deeper.
- Weakening of the structural support around your eyes combined with disappearing fat pads cause a hollowing around your eyes. Your eyes may “sink in” a little bit.
This can make your lids look saggy and the skin above your eyes to look hooded. (as can collagen breakdown causing your brows to drop a little and laxity in the skin above your eye.)
What you can do to make your eyes look their best
- Prevention is always easier
This means sunscreen and sun protection every day. Even if it’s cloudy, even if you’re not going to be outside much.
If you’ve ever put sunscreen (especially chemical sunscreen) on your forehead or upper eyelids and sweated, you know that sunscreen can sting your eyes. Ouch!
Mineral sunscreens like zinc oxide tend to have a lot lower sting factor. This is a great place to use a sunstick (like All weather defense SPF 30) because the thick texture makes it so much runny.
Sunglasses not only protect your eyes, but can shield the skin around them too. So can hats that shade your face.
- Stop rubbing your eyes
This can be a tough one. Eye rubbing tends to be a habit you resort to when tired or stressed. Not the best time to work on stopping an ingrained habit.
But try because rubbing stretches the skin around your eyes and if you do it a lot, you’ll have more loose skin and lines htan you would otherwise. Plus rubbing vcan actually cause damage to your eyes, especially if they’re dry.
Your eyes are the first place that a lack of sleep shows up. Puffiness, dark circles, and deeper wrinkles. Nighttime is when your skin (just like the rest of your body) rejuvenates itself.
I cannot emphasize the importance of sleep on your overall health and your skin health. If you’re having difficulty sleeping check out this article, or seek help from your favorite acupuncturist, naturopath, or physician.
What you eat really does affect your skin.
There are so many things we could say about diet, but let’s keep it simple.
Stick to real (unprocessed) foods as much as possible. Work in lots of fresh veggies and fruits (which also increase skin hydration).
And eat enough protein.
Stay away from sugar as much as possible.
If you tend to have puffiness and dark circles under your eyes, be mindful of salt and sodium in food. You may also want to investigate food sensitivities.
- Drink your water
One of the ironies of our bodies is that if you don’t drink enough water, you will probably have more puffiness and bloating. This includes under your eyes.
So if you have bags or puffy areas, try drinking more water. Your skin will be plumper and smoother and the rest of your body will thank you too.
- Move the fluid away
One of the fastest ways to get rid of puffiness and give a lift to your eye area is to use a jade roller or gua sha tool, or even your fingers.
The key thing is to work gently from the center of your face outward toward your ears. Use a little serum,, moisturizer, or facial oil. This prevents your tool of choice (including your fingers) from pulling the delicate skin. You want to use firm but gentle pressure. If you’re using a jade roller or gua sha tool, repeat the stroke 3-5 times.
Stay tuned next week. I’ll post a video that shows you how to use the jade roller.
You can also use cold tea bags. Bonus points for green tea.
You’ll need to first brew the tea or at least pour boiling water over the bags. Then put the tea bags in the frig to cool.
Lie down and put the cold tea bags over your eyes for 15-20 minutes. The cool bags will relax you and soothe your eye area. The caffeine and antioxidants in the tea will give your eyes a lift, reduce puffiness, and help the area look brighter overall.
- Use good products and don’t be shy
No question that your eye area tends to be drier than the rest of your face, and of course it’s the first place to show signs of damage and aging.
To keep your eye area looking its best, you need some active ingredients. The good news is that, since the skin around your eyes is thinner, products tend to be well absorbed and utilized here.
This means that ingredients like peptides, retinol, and antioxidants can really do a lot for your eyes.
You may have heard to avoid your eye area when using retinol. It turns out that you actually can use it around your eyes (carefully so you don’t get it in your eyes-it stings).
Yes, your skin is thin and sensitive here but it’s no more likely to get red or flaky than the rest of your face. And the results are good, very good.
You need to proceed with some caution here, especially if you have sensitive skin. Start by mixing a drop of retinol serum into your moisturizer and pat around your eye area. If that doesn’t cause any problems, try patting the serum around your eye area every second or third might and work up to nightly.
What about eye creams?
I personally don’t think they’re necessary.
Most eye creams are thicker versions of other facial products. As long as you don’t use too much product around your eyes (so that they’re not absorbed well and run into your eyes-ouch!), you can save your money and use the same products you use on the rest of your face.
But if you love your eye cream, there’s no harm in topping off your routine with it.
If your eyes are showing some age and it’s bothering you, try this:
- Cleanse to remove makeup and grime.
- Use a gentle retinol product that includes some hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid. Pat it in and let absorb.
- If you ‘re experiencing congestion or puffiness under your eyes, use a jade roller or your fingers to gently massage outward from the inner corner of your eye to your hairline. Repeat 3-5 times. You’ll get an immediate effect (especially from the jade roller) and with consistent use, an even better one over time.
I think it’s important to note that no matter how well you care for your eye area, it’s going to change over time. In my book, that’s ok. The changes reflect the journey of your life and wisdom. You will always have the bright, intelligent beauty that reflects in your eyes.
The skin around your eyes is simply a frame for this brilliance. You can keep it looking its best with the few simple steps and products that you’re probably already using.