Here’s a hint: It’s earlier than you think.
Eye creams are often synonymous with aging, usually marketed alongside keywords like “anti-aging,” “wrinkles,” and “mature”. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it can foster the notion that eye cream is only needed when you reach a certain (older) age.
In actuality, the aging process is already well on its way by the time we reach our early 20s. Even in our 20s, our skin is already racking up damage from inadequate skincare or punishing lifestyle habits like not enough sleep. With the addition of excessive sun exposure, some of us can quickly develop premature aging signs.
To help you delay these signs, we’ve put together a guide that talks about the factors that speed up skin aging, preventative measures for maintaining good skin quality and addresses the ultimate question of when to start using eye creams. Let’s get to it!
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
Many people only start using eye creams once they begin seeing visible signs of aging around their eyes. The thing is, eye cream is more effective as a preventative measure than a cure. It can’t reverse the aging process or completely eliminate wrinkles once they’re there.
At best, eye cream can delay the progression of skin damage, improve skin tone a and make fine lines look less pronounced with regular use.
It’s important to point out that skin doesn’t age at a uniform pace throughout the body. The thin skin around the eyes ages at a much faster rate. This is because the eye area lacks oil glands which leads to a lack of natural moisture. Additionally, the insufficient soft tissue support makes the area more prone to wrinkles.
For these reasons, it’s ideal to start using eye creams in your early 20s. That way, you can catch those premature aging signs before they have a chance to set in fully.
Factors That Speed Up Aging in Our 20s
The effects of sun damage are cumulative and not always immediately apparent, aside from the typical sunburn. The lack of obvious signs, however, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
With constant exposure and not enough UV protection, our skin deteriorates at an alarming rate. Elasticity and hydration are diminished, leaving our skin dry, thickened, rough, and mottled. This, in turn, accelerates the development of wrinkles, actinic keratosis, and hyperpigmentation issues.
The eye area is subject to thousands of micromovements a day, many of which we do imperceptibly. Squinting is one such movement that can affect the skin around the eyes.
When we squint, the muscles contract and form lines or grooves in the skin. With constant repetition, the elastin fibers of those areas begin to break down, and the skin becomes less able to bounce back. As a result, the lines become a more permanent feature on the face.
Lack of sleep / proper nutrition
The appearance of our skin is influenced not only by external causes but by internal ones as well.
Sleep is essential to the healing and restoration of our bodies, and the lack of it can show up on our skin. A study showed that lack of sleep leads to premature visible signs of aging, weakens the skin barrier, and hinders the skin’s ability to repair itself. Because of this, the skin becomes more prone to moisture loss and slower to recover from sunburns, erythema, inflammation, etc.
Proper nutrition is equally essential to skin health. Many of our favorite foods are loaded with refined sugar, sodium, and trans fat, so balancing it out with healthier choices is crucial.
Vitamins A, C, D, E, and fatty acids are particularly beneficial in maintaining optimum skin health. Together, they work to:
- Slow wrinkle formation
- Protect the skin from UV damage,
- Improve suppleness and elasticity
- Enhance its recovery ability
Increase in stress
As we make our way through our 20s, the responsibilities pile up, as do our worries. Jobs, mortgages, loan repayments – all of these can cause stress levels to skyrocket, and not only does it affect our health, it also affects our skin.
A study showed that stress can severely impact our skin barrier and rate of wound healing. Increased cortisol levels can trigger inflammation, diminish the skin’s ability to retain moisture and protect against infections. Generally, reducing its ability to repair the damage.
If you’re starting to use an eye cream before any aging signs have popped up, consider using more hydrating ones. By sufficient hydration, you can prevent the early formation of lines and wrinkles.
Two excellent hydrating ingredients to look out for are:
- Hyaluronic acid: This skin-plumping ingredient attracts moisture into the skin and can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. It improves skin hydration, elasticity and stimulates collagen and elastin.
- Ceramides: These are lipid molecules that link together to form and reinforce the skin’s water permeability barrier. Keeping this barrier healthy allows the skin to retain water more efficiently and stay hydrated longer.
However, if you have oily skin, heavy eye creams may do more damage than good, as its thicker consistency can clog pores or cause milia in some people. Fortunately, many lightweight eye gels which are formulated with hyaluronic acid and ceramides are suitable for oily skin types.
It might be tempting to use eye creams with popular active ingredients like peptides, retinol, and vitamin C, simply because of their wondrous anti-aging claims. But if you aren’t seeing any aging signs on your skin, it’s better to go easy on the actives for now.
Many actives contain properties that speed up skin cell turnover and refine the top layer of the skin. These processes can cause increased photosensitivity especially if you have sensitive skin. Certain active ingredients can also be incompatible with the other skin care products you’re using. This could lead to further skin irritation.
If you’re already seeing signs of aging around your eyes, don’t worry, you can still benefit from a good eye cream. The best way is to single out your main skin concern – whether it’s dark circles, wrinkles, or puffiness – and choose an eye cream or eye serum with actives that address that.
If you have…
- Dark eye circles or hyperpigmentation: Vitamin C is an antioxidant known to brighten and protect skin from UV damage. It also thickens the dermis and improves skin tone, making dark circles less noticeable.
- Puffy eyes: Caffeine and green tea have vasoconstricting properties that reduce morning puffiness in the under-eye area by improving microcirculation and flushing out excess fluid.
- Fine lines and wrinkles: Retinol is the most popular wrinkle-fighting ingredient in the market. It works by boosting skin cell renewal, stimulating collagen production, and improving overall skin texture, making lines and wrinkles less prominent.
It’s important to manage expectations and remember that results aren’t immediate. As with any other type of skincare product, prolonged and consistent use is needed. Knowing how to correctly apply eye cream is equally important as well.
If you’re dealing with hereditary eye bags or other issues beyond the scope of what eye creams can help with, it’s best to consult a dermatologist.
Dermatologists can help by:
- Conducting a more extensive evaluation of your skin concern and medical history.
- Giving more accurate diagnoses.
- Prescribing specialized non-OTC medication.
- Discussing invasive or non-invasive treatment options with you.
- Referring you to a surgeon, if needed.
When it comes to delaying the signs of aging and when to start using eye cream, it’s better off to start an eye care regimen early on. But even if you already see some lines here and there, all is not lost. By choosing the right products and making mindful lifestyle choices, you make room for improvements that your skin will thank you for.
Hopefully, our guide on skin aging factors and preventative measures have helped you understand the importance of starting eye cream early and especially in our 20s. If you’re convinced, remember to check out our guide to best eye creams for 20s. If you’re looking for more natural alternatives, make sure to check out our DIY eye cream recipes or our favourite natural and organic eye creams. If you think we missed out on some important tips, please let us know in the comments below – we’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.