There are many different skin regions on the body that have differing thickness and function, with the eye area being the most unique and specific of all these. Just like the skin on the soles of the feet is particularly rough and the skin around the cheeks and nose has very active sebaceous glands, in the same way the peri-orbital region (i.e. the skin around the eyes) is very unique with its own individual concerns, and therefore requires special treatment. First, the skin around the eyes has virtually no sebaceous (oil producing) glands, which makes it much more prone to dryness than almost all other skin areas. Second, it is thinner than any other skin region of the body except for the eyelids themselves, making it especially sensitive to stress from facial movements that contribute to wrinkle development (squinting, laughing, etc). Third, the undereye area has a particularly dense network of capillaries while at the same time much less fat padding. This makes it highly prone to both puffiness and dark circles. Fourth, there are several muscles surrounding the eye area that contract often with facial expression. These contractions have little effect on youthful skin that easily bounces back after such movements due to a thick collagen network, but in aged skin such contractions can leave more lasting lines/wrinkles due to a compromised collagen network. These reasons account for why the eye area is both the first part of the body to show the signs of aging and the part that shows it most dramatically through the rest of the aging process.
The Unique Concerns Of The Undereye Area
Puffiness and bags gradually become apparent in the undereye area for a variety of reasons. They are mainly due to poor drainage of excess fluids which build up from leaking capillaries and from inflammation-induced swelling. Because the skin under the eyes is so thin, and becomes even thinner with advancing age, this excess fluid/swelling/inflammation begins distorting the look of the area as it increases in proportion. This becomes visibly apparent as puffiness. Fortunately, recent discoveries in the field of cosmetic anti-aging have provided some options for reversing this unsightly condition. Soy Amino-Peptides, Rice Bran Amino-Peptides, Dipeptide Amino-Peptides, and Bioflavonoids have been shown in clinical studies to reduce the fragility of capillaries while improving fluid drainage. By enhancing the ability of the undereye area to drain these fluids there is a rapid removal of the “bulk” of the puffiness, which creates a smooth texture in a short period of time. Then by repairing the capillaries themselves there is less fluid that is allowed to leak out to incite fluid pooling in the first place.
Reducing Dark Circles
In addition to puffiness, dark circles are also another concern unique to the eye area that gets worse with age. Dark circles are the result of three main factors: 1. the higher capillary density in the undereye area (which is determined by genetics), 2. the thinness of undereye skin that allows increased visibility of this higher capillary density (which is determined by both genetics and the aging process), and 3. the inability of these capillaries to manage microcirculation, resulting in the leakage of blood and other fluids (which is almost completely determined by the aging process).
Luckily, extensive research in the anti-aging field has discovered highly effective ways to combat these dark circles. While nothing can be done about the genetically predetermined density of the capillary network around the eyes, we can control how that network shows through the skin. Polypeptides that incite collagen synthesis in the skin, such as Tripeptides, Pentapeptides, Oligopeptides, Tetrapeptides, Vitamin C, and GHK Copper Peptides, have been very effective in clinical studies at visibly thickening the skin by stimulating collagen synthesis, which gives the skin a greater density of collagen proteins. The more uniformly thick the skin is under the eyes the less the dark color of pigmented hemoglobin from the blood can show through.
However, while thickening the skin is effective at partially masking the capillary network, it does not solve the problem of capillary leakage, which accounts for a large portion of this discoloration. One of the main reasons why the appearance of dark circles increases with age is because this dense capillary network progressively diminishes in integrity, which allows blood, hemoglobin, and iron to leak and pool under the eyes. To combat this, clinical studies have shown that Caffeine (from Coffee seeds), Escin (from Horse Chestnut seeds), Butchersbroom Extract, Ivy Extract, and Irish Moss Extract enhance the skin’s own capacity to eliminate pigmented by-products of hemoglobin and strengthen the capillary network to prevent future fluid leaks. They work in tandem with Soy Amino-Peptides and Rice Bran Amino-Peptides to repair capillary walls that in turn reduce the appearance of dark circles as well as puffiness.
Antioxidants also combat dark circles and puffiness by soothing inflammation that contributes to swelling and by neutralizing free radicals, which weaken capillary walls. Extracts of Acai Berry (rich in anthocyanins), Olive Leaf (rich in oleuropein), Green Tea (rich in polyphenols and EGCG), Red Tea (rich in superoxide dismutase), White Tea (rich in catechins), Grape Seed Extract (rich in resveratrol polyphenols) and Ginkgo Biloba (rich in flavonoids and terpenoids) are just a few extracts that offer superior antioxidant support to the skin around the eyes.
Reversing Wrinkles Around The Eyes
The surrounding eye area is the very first skin region to experience the formation of fine lines and eventually deeper wrinkles. It’s also the region where they remain the most pronounced through the aging process. The best way to correct this in the long-term is by using topically applied compounds that stimulate the synthesis of new collage fibers. As collagen presence increases to a more youthful density it can hold eye-area structures in place to pull back already formed wrinkles, which keep future lines from forming. This can be done with polypeptide compounds mentioned earlier as well as Centella Asiatica Extract and Beta-Glucans.
The second way to fight wrinkles around the eyes is to keep the skin highly moisturized. The undereye area has virtually no sebaceous glands and is extremely prone to dryness, which only makes lines more pronounced. To keep the skin hydrated, different kinds of hydrating compounds must be utilized. The hydrophilic (water-binding) ingredient Hyaluronic Acid works well for this and is also a natural constituent of human skin (and the main factor that keep young skin so effortlessly hydrated and naturally plump). It grabs on to water to hold it in the skin, plumping up fine lines around the eyes.
Lipohilic (oil-binding) ingredients like Hemp Seed Oil and Flax Seed Oil form an insulating barrier over the eye area to hold moisture inside and their Omega-3 EFAs are additionally nourishing to the eye area. Jojoba Oil (with a lipid composition amazingly similar to human skin sebum) and Avocado Oil (rich in sterolins and with a high oleic content similar to olive oil) also have been shown to be very moisturizing to the eye area. When combined with nutritive oils (oils that are rich in antioxidant phytonutrients), these ingredients form a moisturizing barrier in the epidermis of eye-area skin that protects against free radical damage and provides soothing relief to inflammation.