How to Tighten and Firm the Skin Around Your Eyes
This article comes to you approved by the PhD experts at Defenage. Our goal is to provide you with medically sound information that has been written and validated by dermatological professionals.
Did you know you can measure your skin elasticity (or the amount of collagen and elastin in your skin) with a simple pinch test to see how long it takes to snap back? Gently pinch the skin underneath your eye and count how many seconds it takes to return to normal. Refer to the video below for detailed instructions on the pinch test:
Dermatologists say it should take no longer than:
- 1-2 seconds for individuals under 30
- 3-4 for individuals who are 30-44
- 5-9 for individuals who are 45-50
- 10-15 for individuals who are 60
- 35-55 for individuals who are 70+
How did you do? If you aren’t happy with the amount of time it took your eye skin to bounce back, let’s talk about what may be contributing to the loss of elasticity and how to tighten the skin around your eyes so you can improve your pinch test results!
Characteristics of Healthy, Youthful Eyes
The eyes have always been considered an indicator of youth, beauty, and health. Researchers have found that the appearance of the skin around the eyes, in particular, is a major factor in a person’s perceived age. But what characteristics contribute to a person’s perception of youthful, healthy eyes?
Youthful eyes are characterized by tight, agile, smooth, healthy-colored skin that snaps back quickly when you pinch it. The fat pads under the eyes serve to provide a foundation, diminishing any bags, dark circles, or loose skin. Over time, however, the skin around the eyes changes, and your age begins to show.
Why the Skin Around Your Eyes Is the First Place That Shows Age
Many young and healthy people wonder, “Why do I have lines under my eyes?” The skin around your eyes is thin and delicate compared to other areas of the face, which is why it’s the first facial area to show age. This region is a canvas for a lifetime of facial expression. If you think about it, your eyes showcase every emotion — whether you laugh, cry, or get angry, the skin around our eyes goes along for the ride.
In your 20s, your skin is firm and elastic, acting like a rubber band and snapping back easily from repeated expressions and movements. As you age, repeated movements become etched around your eyes. This is why we recommend that, at the very least, you have a skin care routine that cares for your eye skin. Even in its healthiest state, your eye skin will show increasing signs of aging unless treated and cared for.
The good news is that, as you learn about the causes of eye skin aging, you can take a more proactive approach in delaying, treating, and preventing its effects. We will address those causes below as well as how to tighten skin around the eyes through natural skin-tightening remedies, lifestyle changes, surgical under-eye wrinkle treatment, and other skin care solutions.
The Causes of Eye Skin Aging
The skin around your eyes ages over time as the collagen and elastin fibers that keep the skin tight and firm begin to break down. The result is sagging, loose skin. This process typically begins in a person’s 30s and continues from there. The aging process is accelerated by daily facial expressions, sun and pollution exposure, poor diet, lack of sleep, stress, and other unhealthy habits.
A woman’s skin is especially susceptible to aging when her estrogen levels decline with menopause (usually between the ages of 40-55). According to the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, estrogen helps your skin retain moisture, and when estrogen is depleted, the skin loses elasticity and becomes more vulnerable to dryness, wrinkles, and atrophy. It’s also slower to heal from wounds.
Ethnicity and Genetics
Even your genes play a part in your skin type and your vulnerability to wrinkles under the eyes. Some people are genetically predisposed to certain skin types more susceptible to aging. Evidence from Dermato-Endocrinology also suggests that certain ethnicities possess skin types that are better protected from sun exposure than others due to their high melanin content, and therefore, age at a slower rate.
Because your skin is the body’s first line of defense, it endures a lot of environmental stress. Frontiers in Pharmacology reports that sun radiation, smoke, air pollution, and even some cosmetic products speed up the aging process.
Smoking and Other Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits
Did you know that nicotine and other harmful chemicals found in cigarettes can contribute to premature aging and wrinkles, based on research by the Mayo Clinic? This happens when blood vessels narrow, reducing the flow of oxygenated blood to your skin cells.
Not only that, but Nutrients, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, reports that high-fat diets can also cause oxidative stress that yields inflammation and ages the skin at a more rapid rate. Stress also changes the proteins in the skin and reduces elasticity. If you participate in any of these unhealthy habits, it’s not too late to make changes.
How to Prevent Under-Eye Wrinkles
Keep Your Skin Clean
Clean the skin around your eyes using a gentle cleanser at least once per day. Remove your makeup before bedtime to remove toxins, impurities, and free radicals. This will keep your skin looking healthy and vibrant.
Protect Your Eyes From the Sun and Environmental Toxins
With increasing evidence that environmental toxins such as pollution and visible light cause skin aging, some manufacturers are developing sunscreen formulations that protect not only against UVA/UVB-induced skin damage, but also free-radical damage from environmental exposures.
While many sunscreens are safe to apply around the eyes and even on the eyelid region, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using mineral sunscreen formulas for the delicate and sensitive eye area. Mineral sunscreens are those made with zinc or titanium dioxide. Stick sunscreens work well for people who sweat or are active outside, as these sunscreen types tend to drip less. There also are sunscreen products made specifically to protect the area around the eyes.
You can also wear sunglasses and hats to help protect the skin around your eyes from ultraviolet exposure, including UVA and UVB rays.
Moisturize and Drink Water
It’s important to keep skin around the eyes hydrated, as dry skin is naturally thinner and more susceptible to fine lines and wrinkles. If your skin is still young and tight, you may only need a light moisturizer, but consider using a richer, thicker moisturizer in your 40s, 50s, and beyond. Be sure to also drink eight to 10 glasses of water per day so your skin gets the water it needs.
Try Natural Remedies
Tried-and-true home remedies can promote healthy skin and diminish under-eye bags. These are a few we’ve found to be effective:
- Hold a cool compress on your eyes while sitting upright.
- Get 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep each night so your skin can rejuvenate.
- Prop up your head to prevent fluid from settling around your eyes.
- Prevent or treat known allergies that cause under-eye bags.
- Quit smoking to protect the already thin and delicate under-eye skin.
- Limit dietary salt to prevent fluid retention under the eyes and elsewhere [source for all of the above: Bags Under the Eyes - American Academy of Ophthalmology (aao.org)].
- Drink tea or apply it to the skin — especially green tea, which has anti-skin-aging properties and caffeine thought to benefit the skin [These studies: A Review of the Role of Green Tea ( Camellia sinensis) in Antiphotoaging, Stress Resistance, Neuroprotection, and Autophagy - PubMed (nih.gov), and Research progress on the potential delaying skin aging effect and mechanism of tea for oral and external use - PubMed (nih.gov)].
- Apply shea butter, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, palm oil, soy oil, baobab oil, or python oil, which can all help promote a healthy skin barrier [African oils in dermatology - PubMed (nih.gov)].
Though natural remedies can be effective, beware of “natural” remedies with lots of hype but little scientific evidence to prove their efficacy. Some can cause skin irritation and even eye infections.
Be Careful With Makeup
If you want to know how to hide under-eye bags, you’ll be more effective in addressing the root of the problem and taking care of the skin than covering the problematic area with makeup. Makeup is often used to conceal under-eye wrinkles and bags, but applying it to dirty skin or using old products can intensify the problem.
Dermatologists recommend throwing out foundation, eyeliner, and concealer after one year, mascara after six months, and eyeshadow after two years. Using makeup after its expiration can cause styes and infections due to bacteria that accumulates after consistent and repeated use. To use cosmetics safely around your eyes, never share eye makeup with anyone else and make sure the skin around your eyes is clean before applying makeup so you don’t trap impurities underneath it. Remove makeup before going to sleep at night.
Invest in the Right Skin Care Ingredients
Retinoids, such as prescription tretinoin or over-the-counter retinols, are a key ingredient in anti-aging skin care. Researchers have found that topical retinoid use around the eyes can enhance skin firmness and elasticity. But retinoids can also be irritating to the skin, especially around the eyes, and those using over-the-counter retinols should minimize direct sun exposure. Thankfully, there are other options.
- Defensins, found in the DefenAge line of skin care products, offer comparable anti-aging results without the irritation.
- Topical antioxidants such as vitamin C have also proven to be important ingredients in topical skin care. Among other benefits, vitamin C can improve collagen production.
- Hyaluronic acid, found in many dermal fillers, is another ingredient commonly found in skin care products. It helps to hydrate and plump lackluster skin.
- Topical estrogens may help revive estrogen-deficient skin, a symptom of menopause.
- Niacinamide is one of the most sought-after ingredients in skin care today. The vitamin B derivative can help strengthen and firm the skin’s barrier.
As you research and purchase products, keep in mind that the FDA does not monitor or regulate skin care products as it does drugs and devices — so be selective and pay attention to ingredients.
Treatment Options for Aged Eyes
It may be that the damage has already been done and no prevention will reverse the wrinkles under your eyes. If you’re looking for answers on how to get rid of under-eye wrinkles for good, there are surgical and non-surgical treatment options available.
Nonsurgical Treatment Options
Dermatologists provide in-office procedures to help rejuvenate skin around the eyes, and dermal fillers are one of their go-to procedures. Dermal fillers are hyaluronic acid injections used to treat sagging or hollow eye skin. Some fillers also stimulate collagen production to help prevent wrinkles and encourage eye skin elasticity.
Skin care professionals may recommend treatment with radiofrequency and other devices. Radiofrequency utilizes energy waves to tighten the skin under the eyes by heating the deeper layers, which encourages cell turnover and elastin production to yield tighter, younger-looking skin. This treatment can be very effective in lifting and tightening the eye region. Laser resurfacing and chemical peels, which are eye wrinkle treatments that gently remove the top layer to reveal new skin, can also tighten eye skin, improve skin tone, and minimize the appearance of under-eye wrinkles and bags.
Most fillers and device treatments are noninvasive or minimally invasive, meaning they require little (if any) downtime. Complications can still occur, however, which is why it’s important to go to a provider who has experience with eye treatments.
Cosmetic Eye Surgery
While at-home care and in-office treatments offer some results and prevent skin aging, cosmetic eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) offers the most dramatic results for loose eye skin.
Eyelid surgery can eliminate hanging, excessive, and loose skin of the upper eyelids and address lower eyelid puffiness. The types of surgeons who perform blepharoplasty include plastic surgeons, facial plastic surgeons, and oculoplastic surgeons. When done by a skilled and experienced surgeon, cosmetic eyelid surgery can offer dramatic results. But those results take time, and as with any surgery, there are risks.
DefenAge Skin Care Solutions for the Eyes
Dermatologists recommend using DefenAge eye cream as part of your skin care routine in the morning and at night. DefenAge is a line of skin care products backed by science, having been tested in many clinical studies.
The line includes a hydrating eye cream, which dermatologists have found to reduce eye puffiness, under-eye circles, lines, and wrinkles. This eye product contains defensins and hyaluronic acid, which helps to hydrate the eyes, strengthen elastin, and fight cell damage.
The Mechanism of Defensins
Doctors discovered the anti-aging properties of DefenAge’s proprietary ingredient, defensins, in 2014. Defensins are a key ingredient of the DefenAge 3D Eye Radiance Cream. They activate specific stem cells that help to create new epidermal cells (cells from the skin’s outer layer). DefenAge is not a stem cell treatment. Rather, defensins stimulate the body’s own stem cells to grow more efficiently and to create thicker skin, which decreases pore size, improves overall skin quality, and more.
DefenAge skin care products also have other ingredients shown to improve skin health, such as niacinamide, which helps with pigmentation issues, skin barrier strength, and immunity. Our products have been shown in published studies to reverse visible signs of aging skin and hydrate the skin without causing irritation.
DefenAge is a “clean beauty” skin care line founded in 2014 by regenerative medicine experts. Our anti-aging innovations have become the center of our skin care formulations, and we’re working hard to make sure everyone knows about them. Having been clinically proven in 15 studies, our products are backed up with scientifically proven results. Learn more about us or contact us to learn more about our proprietary formulas.