Why the Skin Around Your Eyes Ages So Quickly—and How to Protect It

It’s all about the collagen. Unsplash/Soroush Karimi

When it comes to restoring a youthful look, your eyes are your greatest opportunity. Whether it’s wrinkles, hollowness, puffiness, or just plain tired-looking, your eyes experience aging before any other part of your face.

The eyes are the first to go and the most important to fix.

There are several making factors making the eyes more vulnerable.

  1. The skin itself is very thin—because of that, the skin around your eyes is more susceptible to breaking down, meaning it’s that it’s more prone to laxity, developing fine lines and wrinkles, becoming looser, and even thinner.
  2. The tissue below the eyes is naturally missing a lot of essential elements that make your skin strong—there’s very little soft tissue like fat or muscle. Lack of those supporting elements increases the likelihood of the skin caving in.
  3. Making matters worse is the anatomical fact that the skin itself is literally covering the hollow space of the eye socket.
  4. There is also the issue of dark circles and puffiness that can be a result of lack of sleep, diet and stress.

Seems like everything is working against you, no? Well, the good news is that there are plenty of ways to prevent damage to the skin around your eyes, and even help repair that area. Here are the essential tips you need to keep your future looking bright.

Say YES To Eye Cream

A lot of my patients are confused about eye cream. They think that whatever they use on the rest of their face will work just fine on their eyes. Unfortunately, this is not the case—it comes down to a few key differences:

  • A moisturizer is not an anti-aging treatment and, while hydration is definitely something you need, it won’t do anything to fix or prevent the signs of aging.
  • Can’t you just put your anti-aging face product around the eyes and expect the best results? The answer is definitely not. Many of those ingredients are too strong for the delicate eye area and can cause stinging, burning and inflammation.
  • Eye products have been specifically formulated to avoid that with special delivery systems to ensure those ingredients actually gives the eyes what it needs (collagen-stimulating ingredients) where it’s needed (the fibroblasts cells in the dermis).

Invest In The Good Stuff

There are tons of anti-aging ingredients out there, but only a handful of them truly have an impact on your eyes. The tried and true formulas include peptides and vitamin C. These are the cardinal collagen stimulators that exist. However, you can also add ingredients like retinol—to smooth the skin’s surface and minimize discoloration—and hyaluronic acid—to pull moisture in the skin and negate the crepey texture that dry skin can create.

Myth buster: Many consumers believe that creams with collagen in them are good for actually firming the skin. This is not even remotely true. The same goes for ingesting collagen: it does not magically add more collagen to your skin. The only way to give your skin more collagen is by making your skin create more of its own collagen, which is exactly what the above ingredients do.

The latest at-home LED device, SpectraLite EyeCare Pro by Dr. Dennis Gross. Kristin Wolford

The Bright Stuff

Besides at-home products, there are a multitude of professional treatments that are great for addressing eye problems. Lasers specifically designed to stimulate collagen—like the V-Beam, Smoothbeam, and Laser Genesis—can work wonders on wrinkles, tone and skin laxity.

But an area I’m excited about is medical grade LED treatments. This uses intense lights to stimulate the skin to immediately start creating more collagen. These treatments traditionally are administered only by your dermatologist in the office—until now. I developed my new Spectralite Eyecare Pro device, now regarded as the next frontier, because this FDA-cleared medical device creates collagen in the eye area at home. The American consumer wants everything quick and easy, and Spectralite fits the bill—requiring just three minutes a day without any redness or discomfort.

I predict many more effective at-home devices will hit the market place in the next few years. Once upon a time, electric razors and hair blowdryers were rare too. Technology marches forward for skin care devices, but now consumer can have higher expectations.

Remember: It’s All About The Collagen

Collagen is the protein fibers that gives your skin support and density. They are like the steel beams giving your skin a firm texture and support. It’s analogous to the foundation of a building collapsing and causing cracks in the structure above it. In the skin we see these cracks as wrinkles. To repair the eyes, you need to increase your collagen production and, to do that, you need to stimulate the cells—called fibroblasts—located in the lower layers of the skin known as the dermis.

Board-certified dermatologist, dermatological surgeon and native New Yorker, Dennis Gross, M.D., founded his NYC practice in 1990 following extensive research at prestigious institutes, including Memorial Sloan-Kettering. He and his skin care expertise have been featured in publications including The New York Times Magazine, Elle, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Find him on Instagram at @dennisgrossmd or www.dennisgrossmd.com.

Why the Skin Around Your Eyes Ages So Quickly—and How to Protect It