All the Problem Signs You’re Seeing in Your Eyes, Explained
In many ways, your eyes are a window. They’re a window into what’s going on inside your body, your health, your stress levels, your sleep. They’re also a window into your emotions. Make an expression with your face—happy, sad, frustrated, whatever comes to mind. Now, cover your eyes and try to make the same impression. Chances are, other people won’t be able to tell what expression you’re making. That’s how influential the signaling power of our eyes is.
But because of this, our eyes can sometimes betray us. Rough night? Your eyes will give you away. Too much time in the sun without proper protection? Your eyes are telling the story. Haven’t gotten much sleep recently? The eyes have it.
For skincare enthusiasts, this can be frustrating. Eyes are often the first problem sign people notice in the mirror. And because of that, we’ve dedicated this blog to them. Let’s talk about all the problem signs you’re seeing in your eyes, and why they exist.
1. Dark circles
Chances are, you’ve woken up with dark circles before, especially after many sleepless nights and stressful days. Dark circles are also one of those problem signs that really ebbs and flows. It’s not as though you develop dark circles as you age—it’s more that some days you have them, and some days you don’t. So what’s going on there?
One reason the eyes are the window to our health is that the tissues surrounding our eyes is very thin, and there are also lots of capillaries—therefore lots of blood flow—in that area. (Side note: your gums are the same way—they can be really vascularized because there are so many blood vessels there.) Your blood vessels are essentially how your body is communicating. So if you’re dealing with inflammation, an immune response, dehydration, whatever it is, your eyes will give you away.
Another consideration is that your circulatory system goes to work when you’re sleeping. Think of your sleep time as a way for your body to clean everything out. So when you don’t get enough sleep, you’re cutting that process short. Blood pools in your eyes and is unable to drain. Boom, dark circles.
2. Dark circles due to hyperpigmentation
We want to emphasize that these types of dark circles are different than the ones we just mentioned. The former is due to your circulatory system; the latter is due to hyperpigmentation.
The color of our skin, and its ability to handle the sun, is due to melanin. Melanin is a pigment, and while we all have melanin, some of us have more melanin than others. For example, people of color typically produce more melanin than people that are fair-skinned. Melanin is what makes us get tans in the summer. Melanin also plays a critical role in UV protection, and the more melanin you have, the more protection you get. That’s why people with fairer skin need to be extra diligent about sunscreen.
Now, a downside is that people who tend to produce greater levels of melanin also tend to experience more dark circles under their eyes due to melanin deposits. This is a form of hyperpigmentation—essentially there’s more pigment under your eyes, causing dark circles. It has nothing to do with lack of sleep or blood drainage under your eyes.
3. Crow’s feet
Crow’s feet or laugh lines are a form of wrinkles that can develop around your eyes. Imagine that a teeny tiny crow has planted its foot on the outer corner of your eyes. That’s what they look like. The nature of crow’s feet is that they tend to be very expressive. You’ll notice them more when you’re laughing or smiling or squinting, which is also how they tend to form.
Laugh lines or crows feet tend to worsen due to age. That’s because your skin loses its natural elasticity as you get older, so all those years of laughing and squinting will leave a mark. Sun exposure also worsens crow’s feet. In fact, the most common way people tend to get crow’s feet is when they’re squinting due to not wearing sunglasses. If you find yourself constantly squinting due to the sun, especially when you’re on your morning or evening commute, you’re going to develop crow’s feet more quickly.
This one is a big consequence of aging, more than anything else. As you age, you tend to develop this hollow, sunken look around your under eyes. It’s due to changes in your muscle structure as you age. It’s also one of the hardest things to change topically, and the #1 unmet need that many consumers report during our research and testing.
The truth is, there isn’t much a topical cream can do about this. The problem is too structural. When consumers are seriously concerned about seeing hollow, sunken eyes, they’ll often turn to eye lifts or fillers. Our advice? Live a healthy life.
So, what do I do about these problem signs in my eyes?
We thought you might ask! When it comes to the problem signs you’re seeing around your eyes, here are some of our best tips:
- Get enough sleep. This doesn’t mean “Get 8 hours of sleep per day.” Don’t prescribe to that rule—get the amount of sleep you need so that your body feels rested, your circulatory system can get to work, and you wake up feeling bright and refreshed. Some people need more sleep than others.
- Eat healthy, stay hydrated, and get some exercise. Since your eyes are a window into what’s going on inside your body, whole-body health is your friend. In terms of how your skin looks, dehydration is visible. A poor diet is visible. So make sure you are being as healthy and hydrated as you can be.
- Invest in sun protection. This includes a daily sunscreen and wearing sunglasses—All. The. Time. Sun damage amplifies all your problems. UV damage makes your crow’s feet, and really any fine lines, more pronounced. Additionally, sunglasses are a great way to make sure you aren’t squinting too much and exacerbating your crow’s feet. Keep them in your bag, in your car, at the office.
- Invest in a trusted eye cream. We’re going to be honest with you. For some brands, their eye cream and face cream are exactly the same, except one is in a tiny bottle with the fragrance taken out. (And before you ask, no, Perricone MD is not one of those brands.) Now, a benefit to eye creams is that you can get super targeted with your functional ingredients. And those functional ingredients tend to be spendy, which is why eye creams are often the first thing people buy and use sparingly.Just make sure to do your research. At Perricone MD, for example, you can rest assured that Cold Plasma Plus Face and Cold Plasma Eye are completely different products. Our eye cream contains specifically targeted peptides that are clinically proven to address signs of aging around the eye. In particular, Cold Plasma Plus Eye is formulated to improve the appearance of puffiness and the appearance of dark circles around your eyes. Cold Plasma Plus Eye is also more emollient and moisturizing.
- For hyperpigmentation, use products with Vitamin C or Retinol. These products can help with brightening the appearance of areas that have been darkened due to melanin deposits. Now, we could probably write a poem about how much we love Vitamin C. For now, if you want more detail, check out our blog on everything you need to know about Vitamin C Ester.
- Massage your eye creams into your under eye. If you really want to help with circulation, put some elbow grease into it! When applying your eye cream, gently massage your under eye area in a circular motion. (Note, not your actual eyelid. Just the under eye. Don’t hurt yourself.) Some eye creams come with little roller ball applicators. That’s actually not a gimmick! They can help with massaging and circulation. But your finger also works just as well. Give your eyes a little love.
Remember that taking care of your eyes starts with taking care of your body. Eat healthy, stay hydrated, sleep more, invest in self-care, and protect yourself from the sun. With these tips in mind, we hope that your eyes and your body can have a more amicable relationship.
Not sure which eye treatment is right for you? Check out our guide: Eye Cream 101