Swooshes of black, lacquered liquid liner and spiky strokes of mascara top this season’s dramatic makeup looks. Given that lids and lashes are once again the feature attraction, there’s no better time to get ahead of your eye woes–like dark circles, crow’s feet and puffiness.
So why is the skin around the eye area so susceptible to these pesky concerns? “The skin in this area is the thinnest on our body,” says Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, a Toronto-based dermatologist and owner of Bay Dermatology Centre. “It will wrinkle faster and show signs of aging just based on this fact. Plus, we also smile a lot (hopefully); and this dynamic muscle action leads to creases in the skin that become deeper over time.” No matter what your skin woe, you should always practice care when using creams around the eyes. “I start application at the outer edge of the eye, work over the lid and then tap under the eye and gently rub in,” says Skotnicki.
Your Concern: Dark circles
Dark circles do not discriminate–they happen to young and old alike–but can seem more apparent as you age. “The exact reason dark circles appear is unclear,” says Dr. Skotnicki. “But the consensus is that they’re caused by vascular congestion.” In other words, blood vessels swell with blood and cast a bluish shadow. “The area under the eye is really an empty space–there is skin and bone with minimal muscle, so vessels are seen more readily.” This is often hereditary, but lifestyle factors like allergies, lack of sleep and/or intolerance to certain foods can also play a part.
“If you understand the cause, you appreciate that it can be hard to treat,” says Skotnicki. “The best treatment is an in-office procedure with a healthcare professional to try to add a layer of dermal filler like Restylane or your own plasma (with a procedure called Selphyl) to mask what is underneath.” Otherwise, creams with caffeine or vitamin K can help constrict blood vessels so they’re less apparent. Skinbrightening agents like vitamin C can help brighten the dark eye circles and retinol-based eye creams build up collagen reserves to improve skin density around the eyes.
Your Concern: Wrinkles
Repeated smiling, squinting and sun exposure (UV rays break down collagen and elastin, causing skin to buckle) mean that crow’s feet are usually the first sign of aging. Left untreated, they can develop into deep creases around the eyes. But the good news is that these crepe-like lines can be softened with the right regimen.
“Anything that moisturizes the area will help reduce the appearance of crow’s feet, but won’t prevent continued aging,” says Dr. Skotnicki. If you truly want to repair and protect, you’ll have to kick it up a notch with line-busting ingredients like retinol and peptides that work to smooth fine lines and wrinkles and prevent future sagging. “Some cosmeceutical ingredients such as a high percentage of stablilized vitamin C or over-the-counter retinol formulations can help, ”says Dr. Skotnicki. If you have sensitive skin, the last thing you want to do is irritate eyes. “Many patients have trouble finding an eye cream that does not irritate. It is trial and error in these cases,” she says. “Use a less-is-more approach and find an eye cream with a single active ingredient, like vitamin C and not a large ingredient list.”
Your Concern: Puffiness
Puffiness and under-eye bags can make you look tired and well beyond your years. “Puffiness can be caused by water retention, which happens more as we age, in hot climates and in some patients with poorly controlled thyroid function,” says Dr. Skotnicki.
The RX: A de-puffing eye gel or old-fashioned cold compress first thing in the morning can minimize the appearance of bags. “Eye creams or eye gels that have been kept in the fridge and applied when they’re cool are also very useful,” says Dr. Skotnicki. A rollerball applicator is great, as it glides smoothly around the eye without pulling or tearing and helps to soothe puffiness. Lifestyle choices are at play here, too. Avoid salty foods as they can cause even more water retention. Sleeping on your back with your head elevated on an extra pillow can minimize puffiness as well.
In Focus: Rethink your old eye cream with the latest launches
This silky serum melts into the eye area without irritation, and is formulated with Pro-Xylane, flaxseed, jasmine flower and chlorella extracts to target and treat the visible signs of aging.
This potent botanical formula lift s and firms, thanks to a cocktail of black tea, pine polyphenols and patented peptides, which activate skin’s collagen reserves.
Four different reparative enzymes jump start skin’s natural repair processes to ward off fine lines and crow’s feet.
This lightweight serum treatment nixes free radical damage and kick-starts DNA repair, all while you sleep.
*Originally published in Cosmetics magazine