The delicate skin around our eye area is often the first to show signs of ageing. Not only is the skin there extremely fragile and lacking in collagen, making it more susceptible to fine lines and wrinkles, but with over 22 moving muscles and 10,000 blinks happening each day, our skin is under constant exertion. Not to mention the added environmental factors that pepper modern life; pollution, stress and even blue light emitted by our digital devices all add to the ageing effects that show around our eye contour. Luckily, there are precautionary steps and little tweaks you can make to your daily routine to help protect and repair this delicate skin.
Why Is The Eye Contour So Susceptible to Ageing?
The skin around the eyes is very thin and lacking in soft tissue such as fat, muscle and oil glands, all of which give skin the support, structure and moisture needed to remain taught and firm. Also, due to facial expressions and blinking, the muscles around our eyes are constantly moving which negatively impacts the skin and leads to the development of fine lines and wrinkles.
At What Age Should We Start To Protect Our Eyes?
The body’s ability to produce collagen naturally begins to slow down as we enter our 20s, so start thinking about protecting against the early signs of ageing at around this time, “The best results come from prevention, so I would recommend incorporating an eye product from around age 25” advises Dr Yannis Alexandrides, Founder of 111SKIN. “If you have extremely dry skin, noticeable dark circles, chronically puffy eyes or other eye-specific issues, you want to take care of your eyes no matter what your age.”
What Other External Factors Affect Ageing?
Unfortunately, in this busy modern age, it’s not just the untimely breakdown of collagen that affects the rate at which our eye contour ages; there are other contributing external factors too. Dark circles occur when the blood vessels under the thin skin of the eyes dilate and expand, creating the appearance of a dark shadow. While it can be caused as a result of bad diet, excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, smoking, stress and exhaustion, dark circles are also hereditary, meaning you can be pre-disposed to their occurrence.
If you live in a city or an industrial area, you are also at risk of air pollution. As well as causing skin to be starved of oxygen, air pollution is made of a mixture of ozone, heavy metals and free radicals, all of which attack the cells and the skin’s own antioxidants and cause problems both on the surface of the skin and deep down through the pores.
More recently, an increase in our skin’s exposure to blue or HEV (high energy visible) light emitted by our digital devices also affects the rate at which our eye contour ages. The issue with blue light is that is has the ability to penetrate all the way into the dermis, the site at which our collagen is produced, which causes disruption and inference, and leads to the loss of elasticity and visible fine lines and wrinkles. Blue light has also been proven to affect melatonin (the sleep hormone), leading to a lack of sleep, which can also result in dark circles.
Concern: Fine Lines & Wrinkles
Cause: Breakdown of collagen due to natural ageing process.
Preventative Action: It’s vital to invest in a dedicated eye cream. Using your regular face cream on the delicate skin around your eyes could lead to stinging, burning or inflammation. Look out for collagen-stimulating ingredients, such as peptides and vitamin C, that help to stimulate the fibroblasts within the dermis and work to increase your collagen production, giving skin the support it needs to rebuild volume and density.
Be gentle! When applying eye products take care to lightly tap onto the orbital bone using your ring finger. This will reduce friction or any pulling and dragging on this delicate area. “Avoid highly active ingredients, for example high levels of retinol, and vigorous scrubbing should be avoided for this same reason due to the delicate skin. Also try to avoid rich and heavy creams as they can weigh the area down,” says Dr Alexandrides. Sleeping with an eye mask on can also reduce friction from your pillow during the night. Try Slip’s super gentle, silk sleep mask.
Taking inspiration from professional, surgical procedures, medical-grade LED treatments are also an effective way to reboot collagen production. Dr Dennis Gross’ at-home expert eye device SpectraLite uses 72 LED lights to stimulate collagen and works to brighten and tighten the delicate eye area – adding just three minutes to your daily skincare routine.
Concern: Under-eye Bags
Cause: A lack of sleep is the most common cause of under puffiness. When you haven’t had sufficient sleep, your body stops flushing out excess fluid, which instead gathers in the tissue under our eyes.
Preventative Action: Make sleep a priority, all adults need between 7 and 9 hours a night.
Reduce the swelling and puffiness by applying a cold compress. We recommend popping a couple of teaspoons in the fridge overnight and pressing the rounded surface to the undereye area in the morning. Alternatively, press a used teabag or a cold slice of cucumber over your eyes first thing in the morning. The ascorbic acid and caffeic acid helps to minimise water retention and reduces swelling and puffiness.
Look for eyecare products that contain hyaluronic acid, which works to pull moisture into the skin to plump out fine lines and wrinkles and create a more smooth and even skin texture.
Concern: Dark Circles
Cause: A combination of bad lifestyle choices and exposure to air pollution and blue light from digital devices.
Preventative Action: While it’s not possible to prevent blood vessels from dilating, there are a number of small lifestyle interventions you can make. Try to follow a nutritious, anti-inflammatory diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetable, whole grains and healthy fats, all of which can bring about skin improvements, particularly for the eye area. Reduce your alcohol and caffeine intake and make sleep a priority. When it comes to skincare, look for products that work to increase collagen production and plump up skin to thicken the surface area and reduce the visibility of blood vessels.