It's Called Beauty Sleep For A Reason & Your Eyes Know It

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Did you know that the tender skin around the eyes is 10 times thinner than that on the rest of the face? In fact, the area surrounding the eyes is extremely sensitive. Given their near-constant activity — blinking, smiling, frowning — it makes sense that the eyes needs some extra TLC. Read on for common eye area issues and my expert tips for dealing with them.

Puffiness
While under-eye puffiness can be a result of genetics, it can also be exacerbated by overconsumption of salt and lack of sleep.

Foods high in salt can cause your body to retain water giving it a puffy and swollen look, often particularly noticeable in the eye area. The day before a special event, try eating less salt and upping your intake of water. You might also try sleeping with two pillows underneath your head to encourage overnight drainage.

If you find yourself getting less sleep than you intended, chances are you’ll find yourself yawning more the next day. The act of yawning causes your eyes to water which then creates swelling and puffiness. Excessive yawning is actually the equivalent of crying because of the fluids it engenders. So, before you stay up past your bedtime to watch another episode of your favorite show, consider the side effects; it’s called “beauty sleep” for a reason.

If, however, you wake up puffy and need a quick morning fix, start by taking a warm shower. Heat from the water dilates (relaxes and opens) lymphatic vessels to help assist with drainage of fluids (wastes and toxins) that build up in blood vessels. Washing your face in the shower allows the water to directly hit your face with some force, thereby stimulating excess fluids and encouraging them to move out of the eye area. In addition, standing upright in the shower also helps move excess fluids out of the face area. Remember to only use warm water though — not hot — especially if your skin has a natural tint of redness.

Sagging
Sagging of the skin due to a loss of elasticity is also a common genetic issue, but the skin’s elasticity, especially around the tender eye area, can be aggravated by rubbing and tugging the area.

For gentler eye makeup removal, saturate a cotton pad with an oil-free eye makeup remover and hold the pad to the eyes for 30 seconds, allowing makeup to loosen and dissolve before gently rubbing it away. Again, simple things like avoiding foods high in sodium before bed, drinking 12-16 glasses of water daily, and wearing prescription glasses and sunglasses to avoid squinting should help minimize sagging. And, of course, you should use an eye cream to keep skin lubricated as the tissues around the eyes have very few oil glands.

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Dark Circles
Darkness under the eye area occurs because the skin there is extra thin, which means that the blood vessels are often visible beneath the skin. The most common reasons for thinning in this area are genetics and a loss of collagen and “plumpness” from aging. Some people also have a deep inset bone structure that can cause a shadow under the eye or blood leaks from the capillaries, both of which result in dark eye circles.

But, you can do things to help minimize this issue. For one, get plenty of rest. A lack of sleep compromises your body’s circulatory system, leaving stagnant blood in the vessels under the eye.

And, two: When applying eye cream, use circular motions to stimulate stagnant blood flow that’s contributing to darkness. Always apply eye cream with the ring finger as it’s the weakest. Over time, eye cream application may help make the area appear lighter. I recommend an eye cream with ingredients like Haloxyl and vitamin C, such as Vitamin C Eye Brightener, since these ingredients have been to shown to assist with skin density and capillary repair to constrict blood under the eyes making dark circles appear less noticeable. The next best fix? A good concealer!

Fine Lines
Although the eye area is delicate and you want to be careful, it’s very important to not only moisturize this area by using an eye cream but also to exfoliate where lines, wrinkles and crow’s feet are visible. For exfoliation, apply a gentle alpha hydroxy acid chemical exfoliant like AHA Smoothing Serum 10% (being careful not to get it too close to the eye area) followed by eye cream. This winning combination can dramatically reduce the appearance of dry skin and fine lines. But, be careful not to get the AHA serum too close to the eye

NEXT: How Hormones Affect Skin As You Age

When it comes to our faces, we don’t rely on just anyone to tell us what our skin needs to get that ever-elusive glow. Instead, we turn to skin-care veteran (and celebrity fave!) Renée Rouleau, who knows it takes more than the right products to get radiant. Each week, she’ll be serving up her expert tips to keep your complexion in tip-top shape.