"Is it possible to reduce wrinkles? How do I minimise bags? Can I use the same product on my face as under my eyes?"
At Mokosh, we receive questions like this a lot. Most of us are aware that the skin around our eyes is especially delicate, and the first part of our face to show signs of ageing. This usually shows up as fine smile lines at the outer corners of our eyes, drooping of the eyelids and dark circles and/or puffiness below our eyes.
But is there something we can do to keep this area of our face looking younger for longer? To answer that question, we first need to understand why this skin is so susceptible to the signs of ageing.
What’s special about the skin around the eyes?
The most important difference is that the skin around the eyes is extremely thin. Both the epidermis and the underlying dermis are thinner in this area than elsewhere in the body (1), so it is equipped with less of the skin’s physical support system - collagen and elastin.
Secondly, it was recently shown that the skin at the outer corner of the eyes, where smile lines develop, has virtually no sebaceous glands. The same study found a correlation between the density of sebaceous glands, wrinkle depth and sun damage - the conclusion being that sebum, which is produced by the sebaceous glands, may reduce wrinkle depth and offer protection from sun damage (2).
As the years go by and collagen gradually diminishes, the already thin skin around the eyes will become even thinner, while the smile line area, unprotected by sebum, will develop deeper wrinkles.
Why do dark circles and/or puffiness develop below the eyes?
As we age, changes occur both to the bones and the soft tissues of our face. The bones are slowly resorbed, while the collagen and fat deposits that make young skin appear so plump and firm are gradually lost over time. These changes in bone and soft tissue can create a sunken, hollowed out appearance below the eyes.
The dark colour change in this area can be caused by a few different factors - loss of collagen from the skin makes the underlying dark tissue more visible. In some cases the dark colour is due to melanin and other pigment deposits in the skin.
Puffiness under the eyes, or ‘eye bags’, can be caused by retention of fluid, sometimes combined with changes to the arrangement of the soft tissues in that area.
What can we do about it?
1. Keep skin around the eyes well moisturised with a light, well-formulated oil.
Because the skin near the outer corner of the eyes has very few sebaceous glands, we should regularly apply a ‘sebum substitute’ to reduce wrinkle formation in this area. Our two serums are ideally formulated for this. Choose our lightest option Elderberry & Chia Seed Beauty Serum or our more protective Raspberry & Pomegranate Beauty Serum if skin tends to be dry. Just 1 drop shared between two fingers and then dabbed gently onto the skin around each eye will be sufficient. Use your 4th or 5th finger to apply it, rather than a massage or wiping motion which can stretch the skin. Apply it twice daily, and notice your fine lines soften.
2) Protect collagen
Take care of the collagen in the skin around the eyes, because you can’t afford to lose it! Use sun protection (hat and sunscreen), as well as sunglasses to stop UV light reaching this area. Make sure your eye serum is rich in antioxidants, as these will neutralise the collagen-damaging action of free radicals caused by exposure to sunlight and pollutants. Once again, both our Elderberry & Chia Seed Beauty Serum and our Raspberry & Pomegranate Beauty Serum are rich in antioxidants and will offer protection from the effects of free radicals when applied regularly.
3) Boost collagen
A few actives are known to induce the formation of collagen when applied topically. This can slow down and even reverse the loss of collagen associated with ageing. Retinol, bakuchiol and vitamin C are examples of actives thought to increase collagen production. Look out for a new product coming from us soon - we’d love you to try our new collagen booster!
However, it’s important to be careful using actives in the eye area because its thinness means it will be more reactive. We recommend minimising exposure of the eye skin area to essential oils, fragrances, preservatives, emulsifiers and other synthetics that can set off inflammation, and always patch test before applying a new product to the face, and even more so, the skin around the eyes.
4. Eye bags
The cooling effect of the classic cucumber slice on each eye is thought to constrict blood vessels, which can reduce swelling below the eyes. Others recommend using a cold jade roller to promote drainage, while some find that gentle Ayurvedic face massage can help release built-up fluid. Regular application of cold packs (or cucumber slices!) combined with regular and skilful massage may help reduce this problem, but for some, the injection of fillers or cosmetic surgery is the only fix.
5. A holistic approach
A healthy lifestyle can help us keep our whole bodies healthy and looking and feeling younger - and that goes for our largest organ, our skin. In particular, we should focus on:
- Not smoking, actively or passively. Smoke reduces the production of collagen in the skin and also upsets the matrix in the dermis, speeding up skin ageing.
- Limiting alcohol consumption. Alcohol consumption can deplete nutrients that are needed to maintain collagen, resulting in collagen loss. It can also upset sleep patterns (see next point).
- Sleeping well. Insufficient sleep is known to disrupt our skin’s barrier function and speed the skin’s ageing process. Read more here.
- Keep well hydrated and don’t overdo the salt. High salt diets can increase fluid retention, while some believe that dehydration will increase the prominence of dark circles under the eyes.
- Eat lots of plants - a diet rich in antioxidants will protect your skin’s collagen from the inside, by neutralising those nasty free radicals. It will also reduce the risk of many degenerative diseases.
- Relax - in whatever way that suits you best. Keeping stress levels low means a calm, healthy immune system, and will keep you younger, inside and out, for longer.
(1) Chopra, K. et al. (2015) "A comprehensive topographic thickness of human skin on the face". Aesthetic Surgery Journal 35: 1007-1013
(2) Tamatsu, Y. et al. (2015) "New finding that might explain why skin wrinkels more on various parts of the face." Clinical Anatomy 28:745-52