- Loose skin under the eyes is caused by genetics, aging and overexposure to the sun.
- Over time, collagen and elastin, proteins that keep the skin tight and taut, degrade and production of new fibers slows down.
- Topical skin tightening products use ingredients to stimulate new collagen production and protect the skin from further damage.
- More immediate and dramatic results are possible via cosmetic procedures, although at the expense of downtime, side effects and cost.
Genetics and aging are the primary causes of sagging skin under the eyes. As you age, your body slows collagen and elastin production, proteins responsible for giving your skin its elasticity. Damage from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation and certain lifestyle choices also contribute to excess skin under the eyes. Fortunately, there are many anti-aging products and procedures that help tighten the skin under and around the eyes, giving the face a more youthful appearance.
How to Tighten Skin Under the Eyes
Sagging skin under the eyes can be tightened by using skin care products or undergoing procedures that stimulate the skin’s collagen and elastin production to contract existing fibers.
Adding an over-the-counter (OTC) topical cosmetic to your existing skin care routine can help encourage collagen production. Many of these products also offer sun protection and moisturization to give skin a more plump and youthful appearance.
Cosmetic procedures and plastic surgery offer more dramatic, effective and longer-lasting skin tightening solutions. When compared to OTC cosmetics, however, procedures are more expensive and often result in some downtime and side effects.
Under Eye Skin Tightening Treatments
Effective topical skin tightening cosmetic products are formulated with ingredients shown to:
- Encourage collagen production
- Slow down collagen degradation and
- Protect against sun damage.
While your skin care routine will vary depending on your skin type and specific needs, eye creams should generally be used at night after you’ve applied any cleansers, toners and serums.
Retinol and tretinoin are vitamin A derivatives called retinoids, that function as antioxidants, compounds that protect your cells from damage caused by harmful molecules. When included in topical creams, retinoids stimulate collagen production and slow the deterioration of existing collagen fibers.
Eye creams with low concentrations of retinoids can be purchased OTC. Creams with higher concentrations may be prescribed by your doctor or dermatologist. First-time users are cautioned not to use too high a strength at the start.
Vitamin C creams
Eye creams commonly use vitamin C, formulated as L-ascorbic acid, for its skin tightening properties. Vitamin C is most often found in concentrations of 10–20% to increase collagen production and prevent collagen degradation.
Hyaluronic acid (HA), may also be found in vitamin C eye creams to help hydrate the skin. Vitamin E, also called alpha-tocopherol, is another ingredient frequently added to vitamin C eye creams to enhance its antioxidative effects.
Vitamin B3, formulated as niacinamide and used in a concentration of 5%, reduces the appearance of wrinkles when used in skin-tightening eye creams. Peptides, amino acids that send signals to your body to boost collagen production, are frequently added to niacinamide-containing creams to enhance its anti-aging and anti-wrinkle effects.
Vitamin B3 eye creams are a less irritating alternative to those made with retinoids.
Protection from the sun is important to minimize photoaging, or skin aging, caused by the sun. Photodamage, such as under eye wrinkles, crepey skin and fine lines, can be prevented by using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 16. Add sunscreen to the end of your skin care routine and use it as needed throughout the day.
Other treatments and procedures
Topical cosmetics are effective at treating mild skin laxity under the eyes. However, creams and lotions require consistent use and may not be wholly effective at treating more severe cases of sagging skin.
However, there are multiple effective cosmetic and surgical alternatives:
- Dermal fillers are injectable treatments made with hyaluronic acid that can fill in wrinkles and smooth the skin around the eye area.
- Chemical peels dissolve the top layer of skin to stimulate growth of a new, smooth layer of skin.
- Microdermabrasion uses tiny particles to exfoliate and peel away the outer layers of skin to encourage collagen production, resulting in smoother skin.
- Microneedling uses small needles to create microscopic punctures on your skin to stimulate collagen production.
- Radiofrequency and laser skin tightening use heat to trigger the body’s wound healing process to promote collagen production and resurface the skin.
- Blepharoplasty is a form of plastic surgery in which loose skin and fat is removed from the eye area.
Making lifestyle changes can also slow down signs of aging skin. Consider:
- Eating foods with less sugar and more vitamins
- Getting enough sleep
- Quitting smoking, which increases the rate at which collagen and elastin is degraded
Best Way to Tighten Skin Under the Eyes
Topical skin care products made with effective ingredients—such as retinol, vitamin C and vitamin B3—have proven efficacy in tightening the skin under the eyes.
When purchasing topical treatments, pay close attention to the label. Products that are safe for use around the eye should be advertised as such. Those not designed to be used near the eye may cause irritation as the eye skin is thinner than other parts of the body.
If the skin under your eyes is severely wrinkled or sagging, you may want to consider undergoing a cosmetic procedure. Skin tightening procedures offer the most immediate and long-lasting results, but even they cannot outright prevent your skin from aging.
Natural Skin Tightening Alternatives
Beauty gurus and proponents of DIY solutions commonly recommend a variety of skin tightening home remedies, such as egg white face masks, coffee scrubs and slices of fruits and vegetables.
Although some natural ingredients may help hydrate or tighten skin, studies are inconclusive as to their efficacy. If you choose to try a home remedy, do so with the understanding that its effects will be mild at best.
Similarly, facial exercises are sometimes suggested to tighten excess skin. Proponents believe that the increased circulation caused by exercise washes away some of the molecules responsible for causing skin laxity; however, there is currently no evidence to support the claim that facial exercises tighten the skin under the eyes.
Genetics, aging and photodamage contribute to the breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers in the skin. As a result, wrinkles, fine lines, crows feet and loose skin form under the eyes.
Sagging skin under the eyes can never be fully prevented, but topicals and procedures can limit its visibility and lead to some degree of skin rejuvenation.
Using OTC and prescription topicals, such as creams, lotions and toners, can stimulate collagen production and lead to a more youthful appearance. Topicals can be added to your existing skin care routine to both protect your skin from signs of aging and combat mild skin laxity.
For more immediate and dramatic results, nonsurgical and surgical options are available. The adequate procedure for you will depend on the severity of your condition, your preference and the results of the consultation you have with your dermatologist.
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