Specific Guide to Caring for The Skin Around Your Eyes

If your eyes are a window into your soul, well, you’re going to want to care for the skin around them the best you can. “The area around your eyes is one of the thinnest, most sensitive areas of your body. It’s also among the first to reveal the very first signs of aging, like fine lines,” says Lauren Fine, MD, a board- certified dermatologist at Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology in Illinois.

1. Do Commit to Treating Your Eye Skin

“Eye creams are one of the things that people forget about and don’t often use,” says Michele Green, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “You need a moisturizer that can penetrate the area to deliver the hydration it needs.”

2. Don’t Rely on Your Regular Facial Moisturizer to Get the Job Done

Many patients ask Dr. Fine if they can just use their regular moisturizer on their eyes, and most of the time the answer is no, she says. “You need an eye cream that is specifically designed for eyelid skin,” says Fine. Face serums and moisturizers may contain active ingredients, such as retinoids, that are too strong a concentration for under-eye skin.

Tips for Addressing Common Eye-Area Skin Problems

Here are some of the top eye-area concerns that dermatologists hear about — and their suggestions for addressing them.

Dark Circles

While they’re connected to lack of sleep, sometimes consistently logging eight hours a night won’t get rid of them. That’s because there’s a genetic component to dark circles, says Fine. “These are hard to erase completely, but there are some nice topicals that contain caffeine or vitamin K, which can help with circulation to lighten circles,” she says.

Puffy Bags

If you wake up puffy, it may be because of fluid that accumulated under your eyes while you slept, according to the Mayo Clinic. If this is a common scenario for you, buy a jade roller and keep it in your refrigerator. (Buy one that’s shaped like a small ball, so it’s suited for this smaller area.) In the morning, dip the roller into the eye gel and gently roll across the bags, suggests Green. While there’s no scientific proof that jade rollers will definitively reduce puffiness, some dermatologists, including Green, recommend using them on the eye area when they’re cold, as the cooling action will help reduce puffiness. Cold temperatures reduce blood flow to reduce eye-area swelling, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

How to Apply Your Eye Cream or Gel Properly

As for how to apply an eye cream or gel, Green recommends using the finger with the lightest touch, usually your pinkie. Gently pat across your under-eye area until it is covered. This ensures that you don’t tug on this delicate skin like you would if you smeared it.

Dermatologic Procedures for Addressing Eye Concerns

Sometimes, an over-the-counter solution just won’t do the trick. Fortunately, there are more powerful solutions available in your dermatologist’s office. Here are some procedures and treatments to ask about.

For Under-Eye Darkness, Hyaluronic Acid Fillers Can Help

A different approach may be warranted for people in their forties and fifties, she says. “There are often bony changes that occur, as well as slipping of deep fat pads due to a loss of fat and collagen, which serve as support for the area,” Fine says. What you’ll see in the mirror are pretty significant under-eye bags, and filler in the tear trough area won’t be able to correct the problem. “In this case, I find that most robust fillers in the mid and lateral cheek can help improve the overall appearance,” she says.

For Undereye Puffiness or Bulges, Surgery May Be the Only Fix

“With the loss of collagen as skin ages, the fat pad surrounding the eye can slip, creating a bulge that people perceive as bags around the eyes,” explains Fine. While a filler can sometimes help, the more reliable fix is surgery. Eyelid surgery is referred to as blepharoplasty, which can be done on either or both of the lower and upper eyelids to address bags under the eyes, wrinkles, and puffiness, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). In 2019, there were more than 211,000 eyelid surgeries, which on average cost $3,300 each, according to the ASPS. The greatest factor in recovery is swelling and bruising, which lasts up to two weeks.

One Last Thing About Caring for the Skin Around Your Eyes

The skin around your eyes tends to be drier and more delicate than the rest of your face. While some issues are hereditary, like under-eye bags, many topical remedies and in-office treatments can smooth lines, brighten the under-eye area, and reduce bags and puffiness. While it may be tempting to use your existing facial moisturizer around your eyes, it’s best to opt for a specifically designed eye cream or gel to slow down the signs of aging and reduce the risk of irritation. “Always give this area a little extra TLC,” says Green.

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