Eyes On the Prize

This past March (23rd to be exact…in case you want to give me a present in the future) I turned 25 years old. While in the grand scheme of things that’s still very young, biologically, I’m starting to get old. Ever since I was a fresh-faced 19 year old esthetics student, I’ve been haunted by the statistic from my textbook that by age 25, our bodies’ collagen production decreases by 1% every year. My skin’s natural suppleness is officially on an unyielding decline from hereon out. Cheerful statistic, right? The area this tends to show up first is around the eyes, which is why today we’re going to learn about why the eye area is getting bombarded and what we can to do help combat the signs of aging around those peepers!

What’s happening? As mentioned before, collagen production starts slowing down. We’ve all heard the word collagen in contexts ranging from injections to supplements, but what is it? Collagen is the largest, most abundant protein in our bodies, and it makes up 70-80% of our dermis. A good way to think about collagen is that it’s like the framework for a house, giving shape and support for everything. When that frame starts breaking down, we get sagging and wrinkling. The skin around our eyes is also much more delicate and fragile than anywhere else on the face. The skin in this area is about 1-2mm thick, whereas the rest of the face is 3-4mm thick. This means there’s already a lot less cushion in this area to begin with. Combine that with the 22 muscles around the eyes constantly contracting this thin skin to make facial expressions and blink around 10,000 times per day, and this orbital area is bound to show some wear.

Collagen in the dermis

What’s making it worse?
STRESS! Truly the worst thing for us both emotionally and physically. When you’re stressed out, you don’t just look worn out from lack of sleep. When under stress, one of the chemicals our bodies release is cortisol. Among a staggering number of other detrimental effects this has on our bodies, it inhibits collagen production. Stressing about fine lines and wrinkles will literally give you more fine lines and wrinkles. Another huge factor is sun damage. Unprotected UV exposure packs a one-two punch when it comes to aging the eye area. Not only do UV rays break down collagen and elastin, but squinting from the sunlight tightly contracts the muscles around the eye, folding and wrinkling the skin. Dehydration is fun since it not only contributes to fine lines, but also dark circles and puffiness. If you live in a dry climate, you’re also up against transepidermal water loss (aka: TEWL), which is where the air around you is so dry it literally pulls the water out of your skin. Rude. So on top of all of that, you’re probably part of the problem. Most people seem to be insanely indelicate with their eyes. Whether it’s those who suffer from dry, itchy eyes rubbing them or being unnecessarily rough when taking off your eye makeup, you have to make a conscious effort to take it easy! The eye area is already under attack from all angles, so the least you can do is be gentle.

What to do? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the collagen in serums and creams are not making it to your dermis. The molecular weight of collagen is so large that it is unable to do anything but sit on top of your epidermis. Your skin might look more plump and supple while the product is on since the collagen can act as a temporary surface filler, but there is no actual absorption of collagen to the part of our skin that needs it. There are some micronized collagen products popping up where the molecules have been diced up into small enough particles to get absorbed, but there is no research (at least yet) showing that our skin cells are able to use this to actually build new collagen. Again, at best it’s going to be a lovely moisturizing. What you really want to do is utilize products with ingredients that can make it to the dermis to help stimulate and promote the natural production of collagen. Some of the best ingredients to look for are Vitamin C, reishi mushroom, and silk or rice amino acids. For combating UV damage, you need to be wearing sunscreen and UV blocking sunglasses all day every day. To help with dehydration, getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, and upping your intake of water-dense foods (ie: cucumber, celery, grapefruit, etc) helps to make sure your skin cells aren’t losing too much water. Products with ingredients like jojoba oil, glycerin, aloe, and hyaluronic acid can help lock in that hydration to help protect the skin from TEWL. I’m also a huge fan of sleeping with a humidifier on since our bodies tend to lose a lot of water during sleep while all of our reparative functions are at work. If dark circles and/or puffiness are also a concern, always look for an eye product with something to stimulate microcirculation like niacinamide and caffeine. This helps to get the blood and oxygen flow moving to prevent blood pooling (a major cause of dark circles) and fluid retention. To make sure you’re not contributing to the problem, anytime you’re dealing with the eye area, use only your ring finger and dab instead of pull. This is the “weakest” finger, so it’s easier to make sure you’re being nice and gentle. You want to avoid pulling since gravity is taking care of that for you 24/7. The world is harsh to our eyes, the least we can do is show them a little TLC.

If your under-eyes are feeling a little needy, add on a triple-hydrating Gigawatt Brightening Sheet Mask by Sara Elizabeth Skincare to your next facial or lash appointment at BLT Beauty! Now go off with these tidbits of information to start your new and improved eye-care regimen.

Thanks lovie!



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