Undereye “problems” are one of the top skincare questions I’m asked about. With filters & photoshop, it’s easy to forget that real under eyes are rarely flawless and smooth. We all have our issues- bags, circles, fine lines, wrinkles, crepey skin… And unfortunately, as we get older, they’ll get worse! So in this post, I’m going to cover everything you need to know about what happens as we age and which lifestyle changes can easily help your undereyes.
What happens to your eyes as you age?
As we get older, we lose fat and bone density all around our bodies, including our faces. There is also a decline in the supporting structures that hold everything together. The skin loses collagen and becomes thinner and more translucent. The hollowing of the face around the eyes is often the first part of the aging process that you’ll notice.
From the age of 35, the number of bone regenerating cells in our face decreases, which causes the bone around our eyes to widen and give us eye hollows and flatter cheeks. The bones in our central face and jaw rotate back and down which changes the overall structure that we’re used to. Crazy, right?!
While there are some natural ways to help prevent bone loss (incorporating calcium, vitamin D, exercise, and having great dental hygiene) there’s really only SO much that can be done.
On top of bone loss, you also will naturally lose fat in your face. This accentuates the hollowing and wrinkling around the eye area. The image below shows how your fat pads age over time. As you can see the fat pads are important to prevent wrinkles and keep undereyes tight.
Eye Anatomy 101
The eye skin is one of the thinnest on the body. So basically you have delicate, thin skin sitting over a hollowing structure around the eyes where you have bones, blood vessels, fat pads, and muscles. Of course it’s the first to show aging, darkness, and wrinkles!
The position of your eyes in their socket also depends on your genetics. If other members of your family also have the appearance of sunken or darkened eyes, it could just be part of your DNA. Again, as you age, these issues will worsen (ugh).
Also, your circles might have nothing to do with your actual skin, it could simply be the way your face is shaped. When people have deep tear troughs under their eyes, the shadowing and indentation can cause the appearance of darkness. This is what I have and I’ll explain in my next post how I solved it.
What are the main lifestyle causes for undereye issues?
Below are the most common undereye problems that people struggle with:
- Dramatic weight loss- When you lose a lot of weight, the fat loss comes from all areas of the body, including your face. A dramatic loss of fat in the face can also make the blood vessels surrounding your eyes more visible.
- Lack of or poor-quality sleep- Frequently getting less than seven hours of restful sleep can take a toll on your appearance, especially your eyes & skin.
- Dehydration- Lack of proper hydration can lead to sunken eyes and accentuate fine lines.
- Sun exposure – Our bodies produce melanin when we have sun exposure, which darkens our skin. Darkened skin under the eyes might look like shadows, which can cause the appearance of hollowed-out eyes.
- Allergies- Having allergies can cause dark circles to form under the eyes and give them a sunken look. People with allergies may also rub or scratch the skin around the eyes leading to irritation.
- Vitamin deficiencies & undernutrition- Deficiencies of vitamin C, vitamin K, and iron can cause eyes to become sunken.
- Smoking- Smoking degrades collagen and causes your skin to lose elasticity. This can lead to accelerated sagging skin on the face and the appearance of sunken eyes.
- Salty foods- Salt intake can also affect the eye appearance. Lowering the amount of sodium you eat can help reduce undereye puffiness.
Lifestyle changes and home remedies to help your undereyes:
- Don’t rub your eyes! Rubbing and itching can wreak havoc on your sensitive and thin eye skin. It can cause broken blood vessels, which can give the skin a dark, almost bruised appearance.
- Maintain a fixed sleep schedule and get enough sleep- a minimum of 7 hours a night is ideal. If you have trouble falling asleep try incorporating Magnesium into your nighttime routine to give you a more restful night. These pills work very well for me.
- Wear sun protection, including sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats when you go outside. There are a few great eye creams that contain SPF too! Surprisingly there aren’t many that have over SPF 15 so after searching the internet I’ve found some that DO have higher SPF!
- Apply cold compresses to temporarily reduce puffiness and redness. It will also help reduce fluid retention around your eyes after sleeping. You can also use a refrigerated face roller or undereye masks.
- Drink lots of water- The skin around your eyes is very close to the underlying bone, and a lack of fluids can cause blood vessels to become more prominent.
- Avoid too much caffeine and soda. Don’t worry, I’m not saying cut caffeine out completely! Just know that caffeine and soda dehydrate you and cutting back will help your sleep schedule! I try not to have any caffeine past 1pm.
- Eat your fruits & veggies- Dark green, leafy vegetables, carrots, apricots, mangoes, papayas, oranges, lemons, and pumpkins are rich in the vitamins and antioxidants needed for bright, healthy eyes. Dark leafy greens like kale are also great for maintaining the sparkle in your eyes too!
- Get bloodwork and find out if you’re deficient in anything. The Dr. can help you find the right supplements that may help your undereyes. Here I explain all of the supplements I take and why I take them.
- Quit smoking- The toxins in cigarette smoke damage the delicate tissue around your eyes and causes premature aging.
- Be gentle when applying makeup and skincare. The skin is very thin so use your ring fingers when you apply eye cream- it’s your weakest finger so you’re less likely to push too hard.
- Avoid salty foods because they cause us to retain water and can lead to undereye puffiness.
While I’d like to say those lifestyle changes will fix everything, I’m a bit more realistic than that. If you attempt these changes and you are still struggling with bags, darkness, wrinkles, that’s ok! I have more posts coming with what products, fillers, lasers, and surgeries will work for each eye type. I will dive way deeper into the varying eye issues and how to treat them. Be sure to sign up for my email list here so you don’t miss it!