As you age, fine lines and wrinkles are some of the first things to show up. While these wrinkles can settle in anywhere, you’ll find that a lot of these wrinkles prefer the space under your eyes.
“The skin in your eye area is especially delicate and prone to wrinkles, making it all the more important to care for this area!”
Although they’re a natural part of aging, not everyone wants under-eye wrinkles around. That’s why we’ve written the guide on keeping your under-eyes looking smooth and radiant.
What Causes Under-Eye Wrinkles?
The first step to smoothing the appearance of under-eye wrinkles is to understand what causes them in the first place. Although many factors go into wrinkle formation, here are some of the most common reasons a wrinkle might show up.
Repeated Facial Expressions
Facial expressions are an important part of communication, so it makes sense that we repeat the same expressions quite often. Unfortunately, repeated facial expressions such as frowning, squinting, and even laughing can result in premature wrinkles and fine lines.
This is because as your skin folds, it starts to crease. Over time, these creases become part of your skin structure with repetition.
Some facial expressions cause more creases than others. For example, squinting and smiling can both cause wrinkles in the outer corners of the eye, known as crow’s feet.
Dehydration can also cause fine lines, although these are typically referred to as dehydration lines. This happens because dehydrated skin is not as plump or resilient as properly hydrated skin.
Although these lines look similar to fine lines caused by aging, they have a much simpler fix. Once your skin is properly hydrated, these dehydration lines often disappear.
I recommend staying hydrated to help minimize your chances of developing dehydration lines. However, I also recommend staying hydrated to help maintain your overall wellness.
Chronically dehydrated skin can be more susceptible to premature signs of aging. So while your dehydration lines may not be a cause for concern, they aren’t something you want to see often.
Sun exposure is well-known for causing wrinkles, and it works in two ways to prematurely age your skin.
First, UVA rays can penetrate all the way into your dermis, which is the middle layer of skin responsible for elastin and collagen production. These two proteins help your skin stay plump, firm, and supple, and enable your skin to bounce back from stress.
UVA rays damage your collagen fibers, which then causes your skin cells to overproduce elastin. Too much elastin can trigger your skin cells to produce enzymes called metalloproteinases.
These enzymes are supposed to repair your collagen, but under the influence of UVA radiation, they often just further damage your collagen. This results in major skin damage, which expresses itself as fine lines and wrinkles over time.
Second, UV rays produce free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms that are missing an electron.
As these atoms search for their missing electron, they can often cause quite a bit of damage. This damage is called oxidative stress and results in dark spots, fine lines, and wrinkles.
Antioxidants are molecules that freely give spare electrons to free radicals to help them stabilize.
Loss of Skin Elasticity
As you age, your skin begins to lose elasticity. Elasticity refers to your skin’s ability to bounce back from stress and also helps your skin stay firm. If you remember from the previous section, elasticity is related to collagen and elastin.
These proteins diminish with age, which means that your skin is less able to bounce back from physical movement and stress. For example, if you pinch skin that has lost elasticity, it will likely take a bit longer to return to its original shape.
This is why wrinkles often start to form with age. Your skin is more likely to remain in certain positions, which is when creases will form.
While outside factors like sun damage and facial expressions can lead to premature signs of aging, genetics are the main reason for the appearance of wrinkles. In fact, genetics are responsible for 60% of skin aging.
Your particular aging process is tied to your gender and your ethnicity. For example, skin that is lighter in color is more likely to develop wrinkles in certain areas compared to skin that is darker in color.
Can You Get Rid of Under Eye Wrinkles?
This answer isn’t so cut-and-dry. Fine lines are typically much more receptive to anti-aging products and devices since they typically only extend into the epidermis. However, wrinkles can go as deep as the dermis, which no exfoliator can (or should) reach.
Some wrinkle treatments provide quick results, but a licensed dermatologist must administer them. These include dermal fillers, laser treatments, microneedling, botox, and medium and deep chemical peels.
Even if you can’t fully get rid of stubborn under-eye wrinkles, there are many ways to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles from the comfort of your home. Of course, the best way to get rid of under-eye wrinkles is to use a high SPF sunscreen to protect against sun damage.
What Are the Best Skincare Ingredients for Fine Lines and Wrinkles?
Although you can improve the appearance of your wrinkles with a good hydration schedule and a healthy diet, home remedies will only get you so far. One way to prevent premature wrinkles and lines is to use targeted skincare products. Here are some of my favorite ingredients to use in your anti-aging skincare routine.
Retinoids are big in dermatology right now, and for a good reason. This family of ingredients is derived from vitamin A, and they can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
More potent retinoids like tretinoin are only available with a prescription from your dermatologist. However, retinol is a milder form of retinol that you can get in many over-the-counter products.
Retinol is an exfoliant, which means that it can help clear away layers of dead skin cell buildup to help your skin appear smoother.
Although collagen production decreases as you age, retinol can support the appearance of firmer skin and help minimize the appearance of dark circles.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
Alpha hydroxy acids are a family of skincare ingredients that include lactic acid, glycolic acid, mandelic acid, and citric acid. These ingredients can help exfoliate away dead skin cell buildup and can even lessen the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
My favorite way to use this multipurpose AHA is through my Lactic Acid Serum. My award-winning formula features 9% lactic acid to smoothen and brighten the appearance of skin, as well as aloe vera and green tea extract to help hydrate.
Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)
Beta hydroxy acids are similar to AHAs in their exfoliating applications but tend to be a bit easier on the skin. This family of skincare ingredients includes salicylic acid, tropic acid, and trethocanic acid. Although these acids work similarly, salicylic acid is the most commonly used BHA.
Vitamin C is known in the skincare world as l-ascorbic acid, and it’s an incredibly potent antioxidant that can help improve the appearance of your skin. I mentioned before how important antioxidants are in preventing premature aging, and this antioxidant is a popular choice.
Even though vitamin C is incredibly important for your skin, the human body does not naturally make vitamin C. You can get vitamin C from your diet, but the only way to make sure that this vitamin gets into your skin is to apply it directly onto your skin via a topical product.
Interestingly, vitamin C is water-soluble, meaning it dissolves in water. Because of this, your body routinely flushes any unused vitamin C throughout the day. With this in mind, apply vitamin C at least once a day to help minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
You may also see this ingredient combined with tocopherol. This is just the dermatology term for vitamin E, which is commonly used to increase vitamin C’s effectiveness.
Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3, and it’s known for being gentle even on sensitive skin. You may also see this ingredient listed as nicotinamide.
Niacinamide helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Since collagen decreases as you age, niacinamide can help skin look more plump and smooth, making it an invaluable ingredient in any skincare routine.
Niacinamide can also support your natural skin barrier, which could help minimize trans-epidermal water loss. Keeping moisture inside your body gives your skin more access to hydration and may be less likely to crease.
What Is a Good Skincare Routine for Under Eyes?
With all of that in mind, here is my recommended skincare routine to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and potentially prevent them from occurring prematurely.
The first step in every skincare routine should always be a cleanser. Cleansing is important because your skin collects dirt, bacteria, sweat, and oil throughout the day. It’s also important to remove any makeup or SPF you may have applied during the day.
Cleansing should be part of both your morning and evening routines. This is because your skin continues to produce sebum and collect dirt, even while you are sleeping.
Follow your serum with a serum of your choice. Serums are skincare products that are formulated with highly concentrated ingredients. These products are designed to absorb quickly into your skin so you can sooner help support your skin barrier.
I recommend my Retinol Reform. This vegan and cruelty-free serum contains retinol and lactic acid to help both smoothen, brighten, and refresh the appearance of your skin. My particular formula of encapsulated retinol is gentler than typical retinol, which means it’s less likely to cause a reaction – although I still recommend starting slow and working up to nightly use.
The next step in your skincare routine is moisturizer. Moisturizers are often formulated for specific skin types, so it’s important to make sure your moisturizer is made for your skin.
Whether you use creams, ointments, or lotions, moisturizer is the best way to combat dryness. Hydrated skin is healthy-looking skin.
The sensitive skin under your eyes is much more susceptible to the signs of aging than the rest of your skin, so applying a nightly eye cream is important to keep this skin looking plump and young.
I recommend my Intensive Eye Renewal Cream. This eye cream is formulated with niacinamide, pea peptides, and shea butter to help smooth the appearance of under-eye skin and dark circles.
Sunscreen SPF 30
Since sun damage plays a major role in developing fine lines and wrinkles, it’s important to protect your skin daily. I recommend applying sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every morning before your makeup, and reapplying as directed.
Anti-aging eye cream is a popular product for a reason. Under-eye wrinkles are a natural part of aging, but external factors such as sun damage, dehydration, and facial expressions can speed up the process.
Although some wrinkles may never truly go away, plenty of at-home skincare products can help minimize their appearance.