It’s bad enough that we have to worry about failing vision and cataracts as we age. To (kind of literally) add insult to injury, a host of other issues also alter the appearance of the eye area, and as we all know, well, there’s a lot that can go wrong.
Luckily, we’re seeing solutions on the horizon, so to speak. Here’s a quick reference guide to the problems you complain about most, and what you can do about them.
The Problem: Dark Circles
What’s up: There are tons of causes for the shadowy, unwelcome guests that cloud our under-eye area. The blueish-purple rings aren’t just associated with getting older – people of all ages suffer from them due to a host of reasons ranging from heredity to allergies – but combine thinning skin with lifestyle factors such as chronic stress, drinking, smoking and sun exposure catching up with us, and under-eye circles can take a turn for the worse.
3 Easy Fixes
Beginning: To effectively cover a dark under-eye area with makeup, choose a creamy concealer in one shade lighter than your skin tone. Make sure to go with a blend that contains yellow undertones, which help neutralize a purple cast.
Medium: Don’t shoot the messenger, but most derms contend that despite product claims, so far, no skin-care product has truly been scientifically proven to combat under-eye circles. That said, like makeup, some can improve the appearance of them. Look for a product that contains light-reflecting pigments, which deliver a kind of “mirage” effect to dark areas. Hydroquinone or kojic acid can also help lighten the area if you’re dealing with hyper-pigmentation issues. (That's when the skin is dark, not the blood vessels below the skin.)
Advanced: When all else fails, visit a dermatologist to determine what more aggressive measures you can take. Chemical peels can sometimes improve the condition, and many derms swear by laser resurfacing – which will usually vary from doctor to doctor – to treat the problem. One leading Beverly Hills cosmetic derm uses non-invasive blue light therapy and a Coolaser treatment to battle dark circles.
The Problem: Fine Lines and Wrinkles
What’s up: Crow’s feet are highly common, deepen with age and are attributed to everything from demonized cigarette smoking to the relatively benign smiling. And a recent University of Rochester Medical Center study found that our facial bones shrink with age, which could contribute to drooping brow bones and can cause – you guessed it – wrinkling in the eye area.
3 Easy Fixes
Beginning: While New Scientist recently reported that the results of treating crow’s feet with a new anti-wrinkle pill are promising, until the day it hits shelves, we’ll have to rely on cosmetic intervention. Try an eye cream that contains silicone fillers, which act like spackle and fill in fine lines.
Medium: Prescription tretinoin creams like Retin-A have been scientifically proven to improve fine lines, and another study that compared tretinoin to over-the-counter creams containing the ingredients niacinamide, peptides and antioxidants show those ingredients may provide comparable results.
Advanced: For truly bothersome eye wrinkles, Botox is a proven antidote. But botulinum toxin may have some serious competition: A Maas Clinic in San Francisco and the University of California San Francisco study recently found that an alternative injectable, Dysport, may be more effective at specifically treating crow’s feet.
The Problem: Chronic Puffiness and Bags
What’s up: Eyelid skin is thin, and its lack of thickness only increases as we age. As muscles weaken, fat migrates and fluids accumulate, so the area not only appears puffy, but it eventually creates lines of demarcation, otherwise known as bags – and we’re not talking Louis Vuitton.
3 Easy Fixes
Beginning: First and foremost, rule out allergies and cut out high-sodium foods (both of which may exacerbate the problem). And this technique may sound old-fashioned, but it still works: Fight bags with bags. Cold green tea sachets may work because the combination of a cool compress and tannins in the tea help to constrict blood vessels and reduce swelling.
Medium: Because the caffeine in tea also helps reduce swelling, look for eye creams that contain the ingredient, which has become widespread. An even more aggressive move? Use a facial roller to physically drain fluids that linger in the eye area.
Advanced: Blepharoplasty, also known as eyelid surgery or more commonly referred to as an “eye lift,” may sound extreme, but because it removes excess fat and skin, it’s probably the most effective way to get rid of the bags.
The Problem: Sunken Eyes and/or Loss of Volume
What’s up: You know what they say: At some point, it’s your ass or your face. The facial fat and volume loss that accompanies aging can result in an almost skeletal, sunken effect in the orbital area, especially directly beneath the eyes, which are often called “tear troughs.” It ain’t pretty, but unfortunately, it’s a fact of life. Here’s what to do about it.
3 Easy Fixes
Beginning: Truth be told, it’s one of the hardest problems to fix. One easy, relatively painless measure? Gain five pounds. Okay, okay, if you’re overweight to begin with, then the potential health problems associated with added pounds make this totally moot. But if you’re actually underweight, adding a little extra fat to the face area could do wonders when it comes to volume around the eye area.
Medium: Cosmetically, fool the eye, so to speak. Neutralize the lid by patting on concealer, and use a light eyeshadow color on the brow line to brighten the entire area. Avoid dark colors like chocolate brown or charcoal, which will cause those sleepy hollows to further recede.
Advanced: Though it’s technically considered “off-use,” derms commonly (and successfully) treat loss of volume in the tear trough with dermal fillers such as Restylane, a gel formulation of hyaluronic acid. The key here? You’ll want to do your homework and work with a doctor who has lots of practical experience with this specific procedure. After all, your eyes are about much more than just looks, right?