How to Treat Under-Eye Wrinkles, According to Skincare Experts
We're all about embracing the natural evolution of our bodies as we age, but if you want to prevent or get rid of under-eye wrinkles, we get it and we support that too. Taking care of your under-eyes and having a specific routine (yes, you need eye cream) is necessary if your skincare goals involve reducing under-eye wrinkles.
The skin under the eyes is thinner than the rest of the face and more susceptible to external factors that can increase signs of aging, says Dr. Azadeh Shirazi, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of AziMD Skincare. "As collagen and elastin start to decline beginning in our 20s, we start forming lines and wrinkles by our 30s."
She explains that three types of wrinkles can develop around the eyes as we age. Dynamic wrinkles form from muscle contraction under the skin's surface; think crow's feet that appear when you're smiling. Over time, dynamic wrinkles can become static wrinkles, which are a result of the natural aging process and environmental factors like sun exposure that exacerbate wrinkles. Static wrinkles are creases and fine lines visible when your face isn't moving. "The last type is a wrinkle fold caused by loss of support and structure with age that causes sagging and wrinkle folds," says Dr. Shirazi.
No matter what type of wrinkles you experience, if you're looking to reduce their appearance, we've got you covered. Ahead, learn how to get rid of under-eye wrinkles with these dermatologist-approved tips and how to prevent them altogether.
1. Incorporate a Retinol in Your Routine
Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and is one of the most popular anti-aging ingredients. It works to reduce fine lines and wrinkles by stimulating collagen production — something we all need for plump-looking skin. "The main causes for under-eye wrinkles are due to the weakening of collagen fibers and elasticity due to sun exposure, blinking, squinting, smiling, and facial movements, and the passage of time," says Renée Rouleau, a celebrity esthetician and founder of her eponymous skincare line.
Adding an eye cream formulated with retinol can help keep the skin under the eyes looking smoother and more youthful. We recommend the Peace Out Retinol Eye Stick ($28, sephora.com), which has a balmy texture and is easy to apply thanks to its tube applicator. With consistent use, you're sure to see a difference in the under-eyes. "It's pretty impressive the degree of improvement you can see by just using retinol consistently under the eyes for over a year," says Dr. Shirazi.
Just like any other part of the body, dead surface skin cells can build up underneath the eyes, preventing your products from fully absorbing and targeting that area, says Rouleau. "Gentle exfoliation as well as adding moisture under the eye helps create a smoother appearance," she says.
The key is to be gentle and use an eye cream with a chemical exfoliant. You won't want to use a physical exfoliant, like a scrub, since the area is very thin and fragile. Rouleau recommends the Overnight Eye Serum from her line ($50, reneerouleau.com) because it gently exfoliates the skin to help reduce dryness, fine lines, and milia bumps. You can also apply it in addition to your eye cream for maximum moisture and hydration. "The result is a skin-plumping effect with fewer visible surface lines," she says.
You can also try chemical peels, which is an exfoliation procedure done by a professional. "Chemical peels, such as TCA or glycolic acid, can peel away the skin's top layer to reduce the appearance of fine lines," says Dr. Shirazi.
3. Try a Hyaluronic Acid Serum
"Serums with hyaluronic acid help add moisture to the skin," says Dr. Brendan Camp, a board-certified dermatologist of MDCS Dermatology. "Hydrating the skin around the eyes plumps it up so that wrinkles are less pronounced." One to try is the Vichy Minéral 89 Eyes Hyaluronic Acid Eye Gel Cream ($24, ulta.com), which is also formulated with caffeine to help give the appearance of a brighter and more awake look.
4. Try Professional Microneedling
Microneedling is a procedure that stimulates collagen production and rejuvenates the skin. "The device causes thousands of tiny needles to go in and out of the skin to improve skin texture and smooth the skin's surface," explains Dr. Shirazi. Microneedling is usually done in-office at the administration of a dermatologist.
5. Consider Injectables
For deeper lines or wrinkle folds, ask your dermatologist about fillers. "Dermal filler injections can lift and brighten the under-eyes," says Dr. Shirazi. "Hyaluronic acid fillers are best for folds under the eyes."
Dr. Camp says, "injections with neuromodulators can also help limit the ability of certain muscles to contract, which prevents the formation of dynamic lines that form when making certain facial expressions." If you're interested in injectables, we recommend setting up an appointment with a dermatologist to discuss the best option for you.
How to Prevent Under-Eye Wrinkles?
If you're looking to prevent more or new under-eye wrinkles from forming, it's necessary to take precautionary measures. The best way to keep under-eye wrinkles from appearing is to apply sunscreen daily. "Sunscreen is crucial, as the eyelid skin is thinner and more prone to UV damage that degrades skin collagen," explains Dr. Shirazi. She and Dr. Camp also recommend taking the extra step to wear sun-protective clothing for full body protection when you know you're going to be out in the sun for an extended period.
"Protecting skin from the sun with daily SPF moisturizer, sunglasses, and wide-brimmed hats can limit the effects of UV radiation on the skin that contribute to the development of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots," says Dr. Camp.
Vitamin C is another skincare ingredient that supports collagen production and protects against harmful environmental factors that can destroy the bodily structures that prevent the formation of wrinkles. "Vitamin C skincare products help minimize eye wrinkles by neutralizing free oxygen radicals, which are unstable oxygen molecules that can result from sun exposure," says Dr. Camp. "Free oxygen molecules can damage skin structures like proteins, lipids, and cellular DNA."
And finally, always use an eye cream. There's always some debate about whether an eye cream is needed if you're already using a facial moisturizer, but we're here to tell you it is. Rouleau recommends opting for an eye cream that isn't overly greasy or too heavy.
"You want to make sure that your eye cream doesn't have too many oils that give it a greasy feel," she says. "These heavy oils can weigh down the delicate tissue of the eye area and, over time, weaken elastin fibers causing premature wrinkles."
Also, look for an eye cream with peptides. "I really like eye creams that use peptides, which are short- or long-chain amino acids," says Rouleau. "These can penetrate easily through the skin's barrier and help send a signal to your skin to create more collagen." The EltaMD Renew Eye Gel ($57, dermstore.com) checks off all the boxes when searching for an anti-aging eye cream.