How To Properly Care For The Skin Around Your Eyes

When it comes to skincare, the eyes have it. But why does the area need special treatment? A board certified dermatologist and cosmetic chemist break it all down.
Written by Jeannine Morris Lombardi
(21)Is this article helpful?5 min read
How To Properly Care For The Skin Around Your EyesOleg Gekman/Shutterstock

When it comes to skincare, the general rule is that it’s easier to prevent than it is to correct, and the same remains for the delicate skin around your eyes. Whether you just began noticing fine lines or have deeper-set crow’s feet, the way you choose to address the issue will make all the difference in your anti-aging intervention.

Why You Need an Eye Cream

It’s not an illusion. The skin around your eyes is, in fact, different than the skin on the rest of your face. For starters, it’s super thin. It also lacks oil glands, which makes it drier and more prone to irritation than other parts of the body. Therefore, caring for it with a product and regimen of its own is essential.

“The eye area is very sensitive, and great care needs to be taken when formulating an eye product so that you don’t irritate it,” explains NYC-based cosmetic chemist and founder of BeautyStat Cosmetics, Ron Robinson. “From a texture perspective, the formula has to be spreadable, but without too much slip so you can control it as you apply.”

How to Apply Skincare Around the Eyes

When it comes to application, dermatologists agree that the best way to apply an eye cream is to pat it around your eye with your ring finger. “This way, you’re not tugging on the skin and creating any irritation,” says board certified dermatologist Adriana Lombardi, MD, of Skin Cancer and Cosmetic Surgery Center of New Jersey.

Besides the patting technique, it is also important to note that the skin above the eye is just as important as the skin below it. Some (but not all!) eye creams are specifically formulated to be used in this way, so be sure to follow the directions.

How to Treat Common Eye Concerns

Because the skin around the eye is so delicate, it is more likely to show signs of aging like crepiness, fine lines, and wrinkles. But the orbital area is also prone to dark circles, puffiness, and a general appearance of tiredness that may be the result of genetics, lifestyle, or other environmental factors. Regardless of the source of your concern, these tips will have you well on your way to perkier peepers.

For Fine Lines & Wrinkles

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydration is essential in order to decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Many eye creams contain hyaluronic acid, which is a powerhouse ingredient that quenches the skin by absorbing 1,000 times its weight in water. Retinol and creams with retinol-like growth factors (ingredients that behave like retinol), meanwhile, stimulate collagen and improve the appearance of fine lines overtime. Try Neocutis Lumiére, which has growth factors, caffeine, hyaluronate and chamomile to decrease fine lines and puffiness. A good drugstore option is Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Eye Cream for under-eye use. It contains vitamin B3, which counteracts the otherwise irritating effects of retinol.

Best Skincare Ingredients for Fine Lines & Wrinkles:

  • Hyaluronic Acid (HA)
  • Retinol

Besides using eye creams, there are non-surgical procedures that can soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well. As consequences of facial expressions, crow’s feet form over time on the sides of the eyes thanks to your muscles contracting, which makes a neurotoxin injection like Botox® a good option.

“Botox® relaxes the muscles so they can’t create lines any longer, which acts as a fix and preventative measure,” says Dr. Lombardi. Without muscle contraction, your lines can’t deepen. If you take this route, you’ll want to keep up with your injections about every three to four months.

If you’re finding the lines under the eyes aren’t improving with skincare, lasers may be able to help. The goal is to stimulate collagen production and smooth out wrinkles. Dr. Lombardi recommends a series of three non-ablative laser treatments spaced one month apart from each other.

Best Minimally Invasive Procedures for Fine Lines & Wrinkles:

  • Neurotoxin Injections (think: Botox®)
  • Non-Ablative Laser Treatments

For Dark Circles

While there are many causes for under eye dark circles (and Dr. Lombardi recommends speaking with your dermatologist to understand how to best target your unique case), the most common reason is having a hollow under your eye. The light reflects in the hollow orbital bone and casts shadows that form due to increased puffiness on the lids caused by lack of sleep, allergies, and eating salty foods.

In this case, the best fix would be to decrease the hollow using a hyaluronic acid-based dermal filler like Restalyne® (getting more sleep and cutting out salt doesn’t hurt either!). Under-eye Restalyne® injections last anywhere from six months to one year.

Skin conditions such as eczema or allergies can cause the skin to thicken and lead to the appearance of darkening the under-eye area as well. If this is the case, then a topical steroid can help clear it up. Increased pigment under the eyes can also be genetic, which is common for people with darker skin tones. Laser treatments would be the best solution.

Best Minimally Invasive Procedures to Treat Dark Circles:

  • Hyaluronic Acid-Based Fillers like Restalyne®
  • Non-Ablative Laser Treatments
  • Topical Steroids (in cases of allergies)

Eye cream can, of course, help as well. We like the Jafra Revitalize Longevity Eye Créme because it addresses anti-aging concerns and also contains optical diffusers that help to immediately blur imperfections and temporarily brighten the area. Another editor-approved pick? IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Brightening Cream, which has a blue tint to help brighten the appearance of dark circles.

For Puffiness

According to Dr. Lombardi, under-eye puffiness occurs for two main reasons:

  1. The fat pad that typically sits under the eye protrudes outward due to genetics
  2. Fluid pools because of the delicate nature of the skin and muscles in the area

Using ingredients that work to constrict the blood vessels and improve circulation will help to decrease puffiness under the eyes. Vitamin K and caffeine are two of the most popular. Vitamin K helps to promote proper blood flow, which, in turn, decreases puffiness. Caffeine, meanwhile, is a vasoconstrictor that reduces inflammation by restricting blood flow to the area.

Best Skincare Ingredients to Decrease Puffiness:

  • Vitamin K
  • Caffeine

Try Isdin KOX or Alchimie Forever Rejuvenating Eye Balm, which contain Vitamin K and antioxidants to decrease puffiness and improve the elasticity of the skin. For a caffeine boost that doesn’t involve coffee, the Fountain of Truth Magic Wand: Sculpting Eye Roller instantly awakens tired eyes.

The Takeaway

If you’ve already mastered the art of applying eye cream, eye serums are the buzziest new addition to the skincare game. Brands like Fresh, Clinique, and La Prairie recently released eye serums meant to complement cream-based formulas in their collections. While some industry professionals say an eye serum is simply a marketing ploy, dermatologists agree that, with the right ingredients, they work just as well as creams — albeit with a much finer texture.

If you find an eye product that works for you, it doesn’t matter if the formulation is a serum or cream. If you choose to layer, a serum should be applied under a cream (just like the rest of your face routine). At the end of the day, what matters is that you’re consistent in using it.

Since most eye creams don’t have sun protection in them, Dr. Lombardi highly recommends applying a physical SPF, like zinc, each morning on top of your eye cream of choice to help prevent fine lines and wrinkles caused by sun damage.

Was this helpful?
JEANNINE MORRIS LOMBARDIis a contributing writer for AEDIT.

Related Procedures



‘Try on’ aesthetic procedures and instantly visualize possible results with AEDIT and our patented 3D aesthetic simulator.

App QR Code