Of the many ways the last few years impacted us, it wasn't very kind to our eyes. Think: Sleepless nights, unprecedentedly stressful circumstances, and a serious spike in screen time. “Lack of sleep is terrible for your body overall, as it throws off your normal circadian rhythms, which throws off your hormones, your melatonin, and decreases your ability to heal wounds and suppress inflammation,” explains Dr. Robyn Gmyrek, a board-certified dermatologist at UnionDerm. “While we sleep, the body repairs damage to important proteins such as collagen and elastic tissue." As Gmyrek points out, a 2015 study was conducted to investigate the effect of sleep on eye skin. "It showed better and more efficient skin repair of DNA damage in good sleepers, and a better response in the skin to ultraviolet-induced inflammation or redness. The sleep deprived had more water loss from the skin, which led to dry skin, and was attributed to poor skin barrier integrity,” according to Gmyrek.
Science says stress messes with us too. “Emotional stress increases the level of the stress hormone, cortisol, in the body and the skin. This leads to delayed wound healing, a decrease in collagen production, and an increase in inflammation. A rise in cortisol has been proven to lead to skin prematurely aging by decreasing important cells called fibroblasts, which are responsible for collagen production in the skin,” Gmyrek explains.
And finally, there’s the screens. “With so many people now working from home and on screens 8-18 hours a day, blue light has become a more important factor. It has been found that blue light contributes to skin aging similar to UVA by producing reactive oxygen species — and contributes to premature skin photoaging,” Gmryek adds.
Plus, the masks that protect us from COVID-19 hide everything but our eyes—so we can't even use our old favorites as means of distraction. Luckily, cosmetic dermotologists and spas are offering a range of solutions to help soothe, refresh, and brighten things up. We broke down everything you need to know about the facials, acupuncture, lasers, injectables, and more in-office treatments that target and invigorate the eye area—plus options to try at home.
HydraFacial Eye Perk
What it is: An eye-focused spinoff of the famous HydraFacial. The classic HydraFacial uses a double-helix vortex treatment wand meant to draw out dead skin cells and dirt while applying nutrients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and growth factors. It is designed to leave the skin cleaner, smoother, brighter, and soften the appearance of lines. But, the original HydraFacial wand wasn't intended to treat the eye or lip area. Now, HydraFacial offers Eye Perk. Available as an add-on to HydraFacial or as a stand alone treatment, Perk uses a new, gentler roller ball attachment meant to cleanse, exfoliate, treat, and hydrate the eye or lip area in about 10 minutes. To maximize the results, you’ll take home a 30-day supply of the nourishing serum used in your HydraFacial Eye Perk treatment.
The results: Perk is meant to smooth, brighten, tone, and hydrate skin around your eye area.
The experience: It’s totally painless. “Our clients tell us that it’s soothing, and afterwards, they feel refreshed,” says Dr. Renée Moran of Dr. Renée Moran Medical Aesthetics and RM Skincare. “There’s no downtime whatsoever. You will see immediate results that will continue to get better with time if you use the take-home products diligently.”
The cost: Prices may vary at different spas and skincare centers. At Moran’s office, the cost to add this onto your HydraFacial is $50, which includes take-home products.
The at-home alternative: You can purchase HydraFacial’s Perk Eye Replenishing Serum for at home use. Moran also recommends using her RM Skincare Bye Bye Bags, a tinted five-in-one anti-aging eye treatment with SPF, for instant and longterm results.
What it is: A facial that uses mild electrical current to stimulate the skin and facial muscles, promoting healing, and collagen and elastin production. At SB Skin in NYC, the 50 minute facial consists of cleansing, light exfoliation, LED light therapy, application of serum and moisturizer customized for your skin, and a massage. “It’s one of the most effective, non-invasive anti-aging treatments—no needles, fillers or downtime involved,” says Shamara Bondaroff, founder of SB Skin. “And my clients always notice the most dramatic result around the eye area.”
The results: The treatment promises to lift and open up the eye area, giving the whole face a more youthful, refreshed, well-rested look. It is designed to improve skin quality, like a more even tone, smoother texture, and a healthy glow.
The experience: It's relaxing and completely painless. “Microcurrent is sub sensory and mimics your own body’s current, so you hardly feel anything. Many clients fall asleep during our treatment,” Bondaroff explains. “At most, you may feel a slight tingle or buzz during the treatment since microcurrent employs a mild electrical current to stimulate facial skin & muscles.” There’s no downtime at all. “Many clients come the afternoon of a big event because you’ll see dramatic results immediately after just one treatment, which will last for about a week to 10 days,” she adds. To see sustainable results, Bondaroff recommends a series of three to five treatments, followed by regular maintenance.
The cost: SB Skin’s signature microcurrent facial is $225.
The at-home alternatives: There are less-powerful, but still effective, at-home microcurrent devices like NuFace and Ziip. “They won’t give you the same results as a professional machine, but if you use it regularly you will see a similar lifted, toned, well-rested result. I recommend clients use at-home devices to maintain the results from our treatments,” Bondaroff says.
GingerChi’s Accu-Chi Rejuvenation Treatment
What it is: Acupuncture is used to define, sculpt and regenerate—with a focus on rejuvenating the skin under the eyes. “The acupoints where the needles are inserted are connected by meridian lines which direct Chi and Blood to the face. This helps clear stagnation, reduce puffiness, clear congestion and release tension in the facial muscles. In Traditional Chinese Medicine terms, the flow of Chi is improved and balance is restored,” explains Anna Lam, founder of GingerChi.
The results: The Acu-Chi Rejuvenation Facial stimulates cells called fibroblast, promoting collagen and elastin, as well as releasing tense muscles: “This leads to more definition, less puffiness, reduced dark circles, softening of fine lines, uplifted and improved muscle tone, as well as a better disposition,” says Lam. This may benefit the entire face, but is commonly used to address concerns around the eye area.
The experience: Acupuncture needles are very fine. When inserted, they feel like a very slight pinprick. Needles are inserted around the mouth, eyes, cheeks and jawline as well as a few strategic points on the body. After they are inserted, there is no pain, just a sense of overall relaxation. “While the needles are taking effect, the treatment is enhanced by further releasing tension to balance, sculpt and define. You may even fall asleep. After the treatment, your face may look a bit flushed. This is normal due to the increased blood flow,” Lam explains.
The cost: The cost of a GingerChi Acu-Chi Rejuvenation Facial is $200. A package of four is $750.
The at-home alternatives: While not as effective as acupuncture, Lam suggests trying acupressure with your fingers and stimulating acupoints with a gua sha tool. “You can use your fingers on acupressure points to relieve tension, improve circulation, and clear congestion,” says Lam. “Regular use of a jade roller or any form of gua sha tool will create similar (although more subtle) effects,” she adds. “Moving these tools across your face helps stimulate the acupoints to increase blood flow, encourage lymphatic drainage, relax tension, and improve tone. “
Botox for Crow's Feet and Frown Lines
What it is: Botulinum toxin is injected in the forehead and crow’s feet area to pause muscle movement that causes fine lines. “This helps prevent those lines from becoming etched in and more permanent,” explains Dr. Y. Claire Chang, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology.
The results: Aside from diminishing fine lines, it can help open up the eyes to make you look more awake and refreshed.
The experience: “The treatment does not require any numbing cream and is very well tolerated,” says Chang. There is low risk of bruising and swelling, so for most patients, there’s really no downtime at all. “The results take full effect in about 10 to 14 days and last for about 3 to 4 months,” Chang adds.
The cost: The cost of botulinum toxin treatments vary, but may start at around $650 per area.
The at-home alternatives: Nothing will pause movement the way that Botox does, but to reduce fine lines in these areas, Chang suggests retinol eye creams that can help stimulate collagen and fight skin aging. She recommends RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream and iS Clinical Youth Eye Complex.
What it is: Fraxel laser treatments stimulate new collagen and elastic formation around the eye with non-ablative fractionated resurfacing. “The laser light penetrates the skin and creates microthermal zones or columns of heat so that the skin cells produce new collagen and elastin,” explains Gmyrek.
The results: Improved fine lines and wrinkles, and a more taut, tightened-up look. A month after your treatment, your skin texture will improve and fine lines will soften—it will continue to improve for up to three months, due to the process of new collagen and elastic tissue formation.
The experience: After one hour of topical numbing cream, the Fraxel laser feels like a hot, prickling sensation. Treatment of the entire face takes 15 to 20 minutes while treatment just around the eyes takes about 10 minutes. There is a cool stream of air that is integrated into the laser system to soothe the treated area.
“Pain is very subjective, but my patients find it very tolerable,” says Gmyrek. “Patients will often tell me they mostly feel the heat from the laser treatment, but they are not in pain.” Swelling and redness in the areas treated can last about five to seven days depending on the settings used by the doctor and also the reactivity of the patient.
The cost: According to Gmyrek, a full face Fraxel non-ablative laser treatment costs about $1500 per treatment in NYC. Fraxel of just the periocular area costs about $750 per treatment in NYC. “I recommend that they find a Board Certified Dermatologist, at the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery website,” she adds. “Please don’t let just anyone laser your face!”
The at-home alternatives: First, Gmyrek recommends using an eye cream that has retinol or peptides to stimulate collagen and elastic tissue. Additionally, she suggests trying an at home laser called the Tria SmoothBeauty Eye Wrinkle Laser. “This device is a low energy, non-ablative fractionated laser, modeled after the in-office Fraxel. It has been shown to stimulate collagen production. The device is FDA cleared and is safe for use under the eye and around the crow’s feet area. While not as strong as in-office treatment, it does work.”
Hyaluronic Acid Fillers
What it is: Hyaluronic acid fillers are placed in the under eye area or in the cheeks with a needle or cannula to smooth and replenish loss of fat and structural volume (a normal occurrence as we age).
The results: This smooths out the area, reduces shadowing, and creates a rejuvenated, more youthful look. “I typically use hyaluronic acid fillers around the eyes to replace under eye and mid-cheek volume loss, and tear trough fillers to smooth out under eye hollowing and shadows,” explains Chang.
The experience: On the day of the treatment, your provider may apply numbing cream to the treatment area to help with comfort. “The treatment is typically quick and well-tolerated. A pinch and some crackling sensation is what I tell patients to expect,” Chang says. The most common side effects? Redness, soreness, bruising, and swelling, which might take up to 2 weeks to subside. “Fillers can last around 12 months, but duration varies depending on the type of filler and the patient,” Chang adds.
The cost: Cost of fillers vary but can start at around $950 per syringe. Here's a more in-depth breakdown on common pricing.
The at-home alternatives: Daily eye creams are an easy at-home way to prevent and improve under-eye hydration and bounce. “I recommend eye creams with hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid and ceramides, to repair and plump the skin around the eyes,” says Chang. “Antioxidants can help repair, brighten, and stimulate collagen around the eyes. Caffeine can help reduce swelling and puffiness around the eyes.” Some of her faves are Neocutis Lumiere Illuminating Eye Cream, Defenage Skincare 3D Eye Radiance Cream, Murad Vitamin C Dark Circle Correcting Eye Serum, and SkinCeuticals AGE Eye Complex.
Skin Tightening with Inmode Mopheus8
What it is: Inmode Morpheus8 is a fractional radiofrequency microneedling device. It uses radiofrequency energy to remodel and contour the face via subdermal adipose remodeling: “I particularly prefer this device due to its deep tissue remodeling which can help strengthen the under eye skin, decreasing the appearance of dark circles, eye bags, and wrinkling,” says Dr. Sheila Farhang, Board certified dermatologist and founder of Avant Dermatology & Aesthetics.
The results: Tighter, more youthful looking skin, with a brighter, refreshed undereye area. “While there is an immediate result, the results gradually improve over time since it takes a few weeks to months for the deep tissues to rebuild," Farhang explains. “I usually recommend 3 treatments one month apart. Results are technically permanent but quarterly or biannual maintenance is recommended."
The experience: Thanks to topical anesthesia, it just feels like a little prick. “Downtime is very minimal with some possible redness and minor swelling the day of the treatment. Most people can go to work the next day,” says Farhang.
The cost: This specific procedure only around the eye can be $300-600, but may vary.
The at-home alternatives: Farhang suggests eye masks and cooling tools for a quick, temporary fix to rejuvenate the under-eye. She recommends eye creams with hyaluronic acid (pulls in water to the skin) and caffeine (constricts the vessels) for help with eye-bags and dark circles, like Skinbetter Instant Effect Eye Gel. She also advises sleeping elevated on your back and drinking lots of water to try to decrease fluid retention.
What it is: Various lengths, curvatures and widths of lashes are carefully selected and applied with FDA-approved, medical grade adhesive.
The results: “Your lashes will appear fuller, longer, curled, and your eyes can be ‘contoured’ to your desired shape,” explains Clementina Richardson, celebrity lash expert and founder of Envious Lashes. By adding a bolder and dark lash, your eyes appear wider, brighter, and more awake—even when you don’t have the time (or energy) to apply makeup.
The experience: “It’s quite relaxing,” says Richardson. “Clients lay comfortably on our plush customized beds while the service is performed."
The cost: Lash extension pricing can vary. Richardson mentions that they can range from $105-$550.
The at-home alternatives: "Try a conditioning serum, like our Luxuriating Lash Conditioner. It contains a unique blend of natural and botanical ingredients to help your lashes reach their full potential, creating both density and length,” she explains.
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