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Unde- eye “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 under-eyes.
What Happens to Your Face 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 under eyes tight.
Under-Eye Bags, Wrinkles, and Circles
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 Causes Under-Eye Issues
Below are the most common under eye 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 under-eye puffiness.
Easy Ways to Reduce Under-Eye Issues
- 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 under-eye 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 under-eyes. 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 under-eye 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!
In case you haven’t heard, exfoliating is essential for a good skincare routine. It minimizes the appearance of large pores by clearing the dead skin & debris out, smooths rough patches, fades dark spots on your skin, and makes you glow! Our dead skin cells slough off every 28+ days and as we age it takes even longer. Though they’re microscopic, they are the cause of many of our biggest skin complaints. Oh, and they also block your skincare products from being able to absorb into your skin and your makeup from looking smooth. Exfoliating removes dead skin cells to make room for fresh and healthier ones. So, yeah it’s safe to say exfoliating is crucial if you want great skin. In this post, I’m going to explain how to exfoliate when you should do it, and which method is best for your skin type.
How often should you exfoliate your face?
For most skin types I say 2-3 times a week but this varies on your skin type. The goal is NOT to turn bright red, sting, or tingle—it’s to gently help along your body’s natural exfoliation process so that your face glows. Below are some common skin types and how best to exfoliate for each. I’ll go into my favorite products later on in this post.
Sensitive skin: You should be extra gentle and exfoliate with a warm, wet washcloth or a mild chemical exfoliant with lower active ingredient percentages once or twice a week, max. Scrubs will likely just irritate your sensitive skin type but if you find one that works, great!
Oily skin: Your skin has a higher tolerance for all types of exfoliants and you can treat your skin up to five times a week. You can exfoliate with a scrub, shaving, serums, masks… etc.
Normal to combination skin: You can use either of these methods with optimal results up to three times a week.
Now, onto the types of exfoliants. There are 2 “main” methods of exfoliating- Physical and Chemical. But within those two there are many ways that can fit your skin’s needs depending on your skin type.
Physical exfoliation is done with the use of grainy scrubs, brushes, masks, dermaplaning, shaving, microdermabrasion, or any other method to manually remove your dead skin cells.
Lately, physical scrubs have gotten a bad rep because they can be abrasive and can potentially cause more harm to your skin. I actually LOVE a good physical scrub, but I can see how people may take it too far. Use scrubs with tiny grains and don’t push hard! Gently rub in tiny circles all over your face and lips and rinse. Viola!
The easiest way to incorporate them into your routine is a face scrub when you’re already washing your face. I like to cleanse with my normal cleanser then come back with a scrub and lightly rub in circular motions.
My favorites physical exfoliants are:
There are also amazing masks that have scrubs in them. When you remove the mask your skin looks and feels incredible!
Chemical exfoliation has become super popular because it is more gentle and can be done on even the most sensitive skin types. Chemical sounds scary but really it’s just the use of gentle acids that dissolve the “glue” that binds your dead skin cells to your face.
Essentially, there are two types of chemical exfoliants: alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta-hydroxy acid (BHA). Let’s break them down:
Alpha Hydroxy Acid- AHA
AHAs, such as lactic or glycolic acid, dissolve dead skin cells and debris from the skin’s surface and don’t penetrate very deep into your pores. These are beneficial if you have sensitive, dry or sun-damaged skin. They’re best for “ungluing” dead cells to make skin brighter and smoother.
AHAs come in a few forms, like lactic, mandelic, and glycolic acid.
If you have sensitive skin or are new to chemical exfoliants, start with lactic acid, which is the most gentle of the acids. Apply it every three nights on clean, dry skin, and wait 10 full minutes before applying the rest of your skincare. If your skin is pretty normal with no real sensitivity issues, try glycolic acid since it’s a bit stronger.
My favorite AHA products:
Beta Hydroxy Acid- BHA
BHAs are oil-soluble, meaning they break down oil-clogged pores and treat blackheads, whiteheads, and zits. They’re also anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, which will help soothe any irritation from exfoliating, or from acne. The most popular BHA is salicylic acid, a longtime favorite acne spot treatment.
Here are some that I’ve tried and love:
Can you combine AHA and BHA Exfoliants?
Yes, if your skin is resilient, but they can be irritating and drying. So stick with only one chemical exfoliant at a time at first, and see how your skin reacts.
Here’s an example of a combo- The Ordinary AHA 30% BHA 2%- it’s one of the most deeply exfoliating products on the market. It’s definitely not for beginners, so start with a more mild exfoliant and move upwards—what’s mild to me, might be too intense for you.
How do I include exfoliation into my skincare routine?
Don’t be scared to incorporate it into your routine! Your dead cells re-accumulate every day, so regular exfoliation is a must. I suggest using exfoliants at night. If you’re using a scrub, wash your face with your normal cleanser first, then cleanse again with your scrub. If you have a mask, apply it after you cleansed your skin. Serum- Apply after you cleanse and tone.
No matter what, you must always moisturize after you exfoliate and wear SPF during the day. Exfoliants increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. But since you’re already diligent about wearing sunscreen and reapplying throughout the day, you’re good!
Can you over-exfoliate?
Yes! Exfoliating too often can damage your skin’s barrier and make it dry, red, flaky, itchy, breakout, cause premature fine lines, and overproduction of oil. So just remember, when exfoliating: less is more and start slow.
Don’t worry if you’ve over-exfoliated. Just stop all exfoliation and just layer on a super-rich lotion with anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe, cica, or calendula. My current fave is Laneige’s Cica Repair Sleeping Mask.
Now go on and get to exfoliating already. 🙂
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