Keeping your complexion moisturized is an important part of maintaining healthy skin, especially if your skin is compromised or particularly parched. One area of the face that’s known for drying, sagging, and showing general signs of skin degradation such as fine lines and wrinkles sooner than other areas is the skin underneath and around the eyes. "The area around the eye is 40% thinner than the rest of the face, therefore dehydration is more evident, as with other ailments like puffiness, dark circles, lines and wrinkles, as well as other signs of aging,” says dermatologic surgeon, Dendy Engleman, MD. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to make sure the skin around your eyes stays hydrated, plump, and healthy.
We spoke with Engelman and board-certified plastic surgeon, David Shafer, MD, to find out why the skin around the eyes tends to dry out, and the best tips for keeping it looking and feeling its best.
Up Your Water Intake
“Keeping the body hydrated with adequate fluid intake is important for everyone,” says board-certified Plastic Surgeon, David Shafer, MD. Whether it's the skin around your eyes, on your hands, neck, face, or any part of the body, hydrating from the inside is just as important—if not more—as moisturizing the surface with creams and serums, so be sure to get your recommended half gallon of water a day.
Steer Clear of Drying Culprits
When it comes to protecting the skin around the eyes, staying proactive by avoiding known skin-driers on a regular basis, to the best of your ability, may save you from dealing with dry skin down the road. "Sun damage, caffeinated beverages, dehydration, and/or alcohol can make dryness worse, so it’s important to remember to avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol, and wear sunscreen!" urges Engelman.
To that last point... hopefully, everyone is wearing SPF every day, as it’s not only a proven defense against sun damage, but skin cancer as well. However, even the most devout sunscreen applier can sometimes neglect important areas, like around the eyes. Shafer notes that we often forget the eye area when applying products for fear of getting formula in our eyes, but don’t forget to carefully dab some sunscreen around your eyes in the morning, and reply throughout the day for optimum coverage.
Use a Humidifier
Humidifiers not only help with congestion and other cold symptoms, they’re also a great way to treat dry skin easily and effectively. "The skin around the eyes is thinner than other areas of the face and body," explains Shafer. "This makes the skin more susceptible to external conditions such as low humidity which can lead to dry skin." If you live in a naturally dry climate, or if you notice signs of dryness during windy or winter months, sleeping with a humidifier can add much needed moisture to your skin while you rest.
Reach for the Right Products
"I recommend investing in a dedicated eye serum/cream," says Engleman. "Serums are best for people with oily skin, and eye creams are recommended for people with dry skin because you also don’t want wrinkles either." The formula isn’t the only thing to consider—active ingredients can help deliver the results you want. "Look for products containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin which can moisturize the epidermis to minimize the appearance of fine lines."
Invest in Your Skin
The skin is our largest organ, and it needs care and attention in order to function at its highest potential. Keeping healthy habits will go a long way toward great skin, and taking the time and care to invest in and apply products designed for the skin around the eyes may show even more improvements. The pros recommend creams, masks, and serums to get the job done. “SkinMedica Instant Bright Eye Cream and Eye Patches are probably the best products available,” says Shafer. “These are medically-based skincare products which help improve the underlying chemistry of the skin.”
Engleman recommends Revision DEJ Eye Cream which “contains peptides that strengthen the skin around the eyes to prevent puffiness. She's also a fan of Valmont L'Elixir eye cream made with green tea and caffeine "to help de-puff eyes by constricting the superficial capillaries," she explains.
Treat Your Allergies
Allergies often come with itchy eyes, and rubbing that area of the face can lead to microtears, stretching, and general stress which can dehydrate. “If you have allergies, speak to your physician about getting antihistamines, like Allegra or Zyrtec,” says Engleman. “Lymphatic drainage massages that you can do yourself can reduce the puffiness, and leveling your pillow so that water doesn’t pool underneath your eyes can help address concerns around puffiness.“
Talk to Your Dermatologist About Treatments
If you’re battling dry eye skin and nothing you’ve tried produces real change, it may be time to consult a professional. “In my practice, we offer a great new in-office treatment called DiamondGlow™ which uses customized diamond heads to resurface and stimulate the skin while infusing super hydrating and rejuvenating serums,” says Shafer. “For skin around the eyes, we will use a finer diamond tip and pair it with one of the SkinMedica® pro-infusion serums, each with different benefits including one for hydration and skin rejuvenation (Ultra Hydrating), antioxidant protection (Vitamin C), reduction of the appearance of dark spots and skin discoloration (Skin Brightening), and lastly, to smooth skin texture and increase clarity (Pore Clarifying).” Because the skin around the eyes is so thin and sensitive, the last thing we want to do is traumatize it by constantly dabbing and applying creams and serums over and over. If at-home treatments aren’t showing results, talk to your dermatologist about adding a semi-regular eye treatment to your skincare routine.
Always Honor Your Eyes
The bottom line when it comes to keeping the skin around your eyes looking and feeling its best? Don’t forget about it! This goes beyond applying specially-formulated eye creams—the eye area should be protected with SPF and sunglasses whenever possible, and moisturized daily, like the rest of your skin. “The best advice is not to neglect the eye area,” says Shafer. “Most people are good about applying face moisturizer, but often neglect the eyes, neck, decolletage and hands.”