5 Rules for Saving Your Skin’s Most Vulnerable Area

How to Protect the Skin Around Your Eyes

The skin around your eyes is different from the skin on other parts of your face and body. Since it is thinner and lacks as many oil glands as, say, your nose or forehead, it is more fragile and more easily damaged. It’s no coincidence that we show signs of aging first around the eyes.
 
For perspective, consider this: On average, the skin around your eyes is .05 millimeters thick, whereas on the soles of the feet it is as much as 5 millimeters thick—the eye area is one hundred times as thin, in other words. No wonder it doesn’t stand up well to rubbing, pulling, and harsh cleansing!
 
As with many things in life, it’s easier to prevent damage to that delicate skin than to try to fix it afterward, so here are 5 rules that will help you save your face’s most vulnerable area:
 
Hands off.
The less you pull and rub the skin around your eye area, the longer the skin holds onto its youthful elasticity, meaning less premature sagging and wrinkling.
 
If you have nasal allergies that make your eyes itch, troublesome contact lenses, or a bad habit of rubbing your eyes frequently, address the problem and fix it!
 
Sunglasses, always.
It doesn’t matter what the weather is doing: If you are outside during the day, you are being exposed to the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. Sunny or hazy, UV rays get through to damage the skin.
 
Your first line of defense is a pair of sunglasses appropriate to the weather conditions. Make sure the lens and frame are large enough to fully cover the undereye area. Wrapped styles are best for fully sheltering the skin from exposure.
 
Bonus: Protecting the eye itself from UV exposure slows down the formation of sight-stealing cataracts.
 
Wear sunscreen.
After your sunglasses, your second line of defense against UV exposure is an SPF of at least 30. Apply a small amount of sunscreen carefully around the eye socket, avoiding the eyelids. Pat it on gently, don’t rub.
 
Skip exfoliation.
Don’t use products that contain exfoliating grains, foaming cleansers, or use any kind of scrubbing tool around the eye. This isn’t a part of your face that needs a lot of cleansing, other than makeup removal.
 
Find a remover formula that will allow you to wipe away the day’s makeup with only one or two swipes. A drop or two of baby oil or similar product on a damp cotton pad works well. You might even consider using a drop of baby shampoo on a wet cotton swab to wipe along the eyelash line, because this has the added benefit of helping to prevent the irritating inflammatory eyelid condition known as blepharitis.
 
Once your eye makeup is off, continue with your normal evening beauty ritual.
 
Choose the right products.
You want to use a richer, creamier specialty formulation around the eye because of the skin’s dearth of oil glands there. Opt for eye crèmes that boost hydration, since this area needs extra moisture. It’s when you are dehydrated that dark eye circles are most noticeable.
 
Likewise, look for a product that contains peptides, protein molecules that help rebuild the natural collagen, improving firmness and minimizing wrinkles.
 
It’s fine to use products that reduce undereye puffiness or darkness, too, but pat them on very gently with the tip of your finger rather than vigorously massaging them in.
Anne M. Russell is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. She is the former editor in chief of VIVmag, previously having served as editor in chief of Shape. Prior to that, she was the editorial director of Fox Television’s Health Network, where she oversaw the Network’s website as well as on-air content. https://www.linkedin.com/in/annemrussell

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