What is Collagen, and Why is it So Important?

pulling skinCollagen is one of the most frequently listed ingredients in high-end skin care products. You may have heard that your skin needs it, but do you know why? What exactly is collagen … and why is it so important for your skin?

Collagen: More Than Skin Deep

Produced within the bodies of animals (including humans), collagen is a collection of proteins. It’s present in the skin, but it’s also required to make and maintain healthy connective tissue throughout the body.

When collagen is collected into fibers, called fibrils, it is found in the skin, ligaments and tendons, corneas, cartilage and bone, blood vessels and even the gut. It also constitutes 1-2% of your muscle. Amazingly, collagen makes up nearly 35% of your entire body’s protein content!

Collagen and Your Skin’s Health

Of course, what we’re really interested in here is what collagen does to maintain the skin’s integrity. Along with keratin, a protein most often associated with hair and skin, and elastin, collagen maintains elasticity and strength. It also “plumps out” the skin, making lines appear more shallow.

When collagen production diminishes for any reason, the result can be weaker skin, breaks in the protein fibers, and eventually, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

When Collagen Production is Down

Unfortunately, as we age, collagen production – along with the production of other proteins as well as metabolic processes – tends to slow. With this slowdown comes a less frequent cell turnover rate, which means that “new,” fresh-looking skin is slower to appear. It also means that there is less elasticity to the skin, enabling lines and wrinkles to take shape.

Collagen production can also slow during times of illness or stress, giving an “ashy,” dry and less firm appearance to the skin.

Kids Have All the Luck!

Collagen production will wax and wane during different times in one’s life. Various factors, both environmental and internal, may mean slower collagen regeneration at various times.

When you’re young, collagen boosts back up quickly following stress or illness, giving resiliency to the skin. It literally “bounces back.” When you age, however, the indications of stress – rough skin, dry skin, and lines – tend to stay where they are, partly because there isn’t enough collagen to combat the stress.

The Skin Around Your Eyes is Most Susceptible

We tend to show aging first around our eyes, and there’s a very good reason. The skin under the eyes is extremely thin compared to the skin on other parts of your body. There are also comparatively few oil glands under the eyes, reducing lubrication to the area.

In addition to these factors, we tend to squint and rub our eyes rather frequently. Eyes are easily irritated, particularly as regards environmental pollutants. Makeup can be irritating, too. The thin, delicate skin around the eyes tears easily under these conditions – and the older we get, the less quickly it repairs.

So What Can You Do About It?

Don’t worry – it’s not all bad news! Newer-generation skin care ingredients are designed to combat issues associated with collagen loss, and even to boost or replace collagen entirely (though on a temporary basis). Here are several types you may find in eye creams:

  • Animal or Synthetic Collagen is added to many skin care products to restore elasticity to the skin.
  • Vitamin C, which is involved in collagen synthesis, is a great ingredient to help boost the synthesis of collagen in the skin.
  • Amino acids (especially glycine and proline) are also critical in collagen synthesis. Cosmetic grade amino acids often end in the suffixe “-ine” – look for these in your skin or eye care cream.
  • Polypeptides are even better and are more easily identifiable in cosmetic preparations, as they’re generally called exactly that. These are chains of more than one amino acid.
  • Procollagen is a pre-peptide ingredient. It boosts the production of collagen.
  • Alpha and beta hydroxy acids slough off skin to reveal fresher, more active skin cells underneath. Look for a gentle, non-irritating formula.

Don’t Stress!

Stressors, both internal and external, can also have an effect on collagen. Try these tips:

  • Don’t stress – literally. Stress encourages the production of the hormone cortisol, which degrades (breaks down) collagen bonds. Find time each day to meditate or just to sit quietly. Cut down on caffeine. Adopt a positive attitude wherever possible. These small changes really will make a difference in how collagen acts within your body.
  • Exercise. Because collagen metabolism is interconnected with other metabolic processes in your body, “getting things flowing” can boost its production. Get 30 minutes of gentle to moderate exercise a day.
  • Protect your skin. Environmental toxins assault the skin daily. Wear a protective foundation on your face and be sure to include SPF in the equation to minimize the effects of sun damage.
  • Wear non-sensitizing makeup. Hypoallergenic makeup will give your skin one less action to worry about (the sensitization itself) and will allow for more time to regenerate.
  • Whatever you do – keep smiling. Yes, “laugh lines” and crow’s feet are a major category to combat for many women and men. But that doesn’t mean you should stop smiling. With the tips above, your skin will “bounce back” from facial expressions, squinting and yes, even smiling, more quickly if you’re gentle with it…and if you use the right ingredients.

Additional Research:

News Medical

University of Maryland Medical Center

Anti-Aging Tips for Eyes

cucumber facialThere’s just something about the eyes that makes them one of the most appealing parts of the human body. Eyes are expressive. They can show laughter, love, poignancy and desire. They’re the first thing we look at when we want to know how someone is feeling – and what’s on his or her mind.

Unfortunately, all that expression means the eyes – and the skin around them – do a lot of work. The area around the eyes is often the first place where we show aging.

That’s because the skin around the eyes is up to ten times thinner than on other parts of the body. And with comparatively fewer oil glands, this delicate area is prone to fine lines, crow’s feet and the appearance of dark circles.

But there are ways to combat the first signs of aging around the eyes (and even some more advanced issues, like deep lines). With a little knowledge and some extra care, you can enjoy those beautiful eyes for years to come.

Tip #1: Choose SPF-Containing Eye Products

Sun damage can contribute to dry skin, tearing of the tissue and the appearance of sun spots and lines. Choose eye care products that contain sunscreen. Don’t use a regular (body) sunscreen for this; these can be very irritating to the eyes.

So make sure you select a formulation that’s made specifically for the sensitive eye area … though they are actually hard to find, because the addition of SPF makes creams less smooth and silky. Luckily, you can choose the next tip …

Tip #2: Wear Foundations That Contain Sunscreen

You can add to your sun protection of the eye area by selecting a foundation that contains SPF. Make sure your foundation has non-irritating ingredients; rubbing at your eyes could tear the skin and make it more prone to damage.

Tip #3: Choose Protective Eyewear

Sunglasses or eyeglasses with UV protection are great – they provide a physical barrier from the sun, wind, and irritants in the air. If you wear prescription eyeglasses, get a pair of prescription sunglasses or choose Transitions lenses, which go from light to dark when you’re in direct sunlight.

Tip #4: Use Retinol Products at Night

Retinol (vitamin A) is an extremely common product in eye care creams. It does a wonderful job at combating fine lines. Unfortunately, vitamin A makes the skin more photosensitive. So if you use retinol, apply it overnight. In the morning, after you’ve cleansed your skin, make sure you apply foundation that contains SPF as the photosensitive effects of retinol will continue for at least a day or two.

Tip #5: Use a Light Touch When Applying Concealer

Even the highest-quality under eye concealers can cake if they’re applied too heavily. And when they do, they’ll settle into the creases under and around the eyes. This adds to the appearance of aging.

When applying concealer, start with a very light touch. You can always build on it later if the concealer has worn away during your daily activities.

Tip #6: Work from the Inside Out to Conceal Dark Circles

We’ve all had that bad day when we were asked, “Are you, um…tired?” even though we’d had plenty of rest the night before. Those dark circles gave us the appearance of tiredness – and aging.

Look for products that work to actually reduce what causes dark circles: broken capillaries under the skin. Healing this issue will do anti-aging wonders for your eyes.

Tip #7: Get Plenty of Rest

And on the heels of #6 above: do make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is restorative; your cells do much of their repair work during this time. It’s critical that you make sure you’re sleeping well each night in order to keep your eyes looking bright.

Tip #8: Minimize Puffiness

Bags under the eyes are another telltale sign of aging. Choose ingredients that cool, soothe and reduce puffiness. And twice a week, treat yourself to a “cucumber facial.” Cut up some cold cucumber and place the pieces over your eyes. Then lie back and relax.

Another option: soak tea bags in cold water, then apply them to your closed eyes. These tried and true methods really do work, and they feel wonderful to boot!

Tip #9: Don’t Rub!

Rubbing at your eyes can cause microscopic tears beneath the skin’s surface. This will give you an uneven, rugged appearance you most definitely don’t want! If you have issues such as dry eye or itchy eyes, see your ophthalmologist for help. And if it’s your eye makeup that’s the problem, ditch it for less irritating, more natural ingredients.

Tip #10: Use Products That Contain Optical Brighteners

Optical brighteners are simply ingredients that deflect light from the skin’s surface. This makes your eyes appear brighter and minimizes the look of lines and shadowing.

It’s a simple trick, but it has a definite effect, particularly when you’re indoors in fluorescent lighting.

Tip #11: Ditch the “Raccoon Eyes”

Use a lighter touch with mascara and eyeliner. Makeup that smudges during the day will collect in your fine lines, emphasizing them. Try for a more natural look and use makeup designed not to smudge or smear.

Rest assured: the above tips really do work to make your eyes look their best. So try them – your eyes will thank you for it.

What to Look For in Eye Creams

face creamWow – check out the back of that new eye cream you purchased and you’ll probably see a laundry list of ingredients. Amazing that one little 0.5-oz. tube or jar can hold so much “magic” – but it really can.

Here is a list of some of the most common (and effective) active ingredients in today’s eye creams, and what they can do for you (also see The Science Behind Eye Creams).

Collagen and Elastin

Collagen and elastin are proteins produced by your body that renew and help maintain the integrity of your skin. When you’re lacking in them, your skin is less elastic and more fragile, causing the look of fine lines. Make sure any good eye cream contains either or both of these all-important proteins.

Retinol

Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin K. This all-important vitamin is essential to the health of the skin. In its form of retinol (or Retin-A), it regenerates and heals the skin, as well as reducing hyperpigmentation (dark spots). Users report dramatic minimization in the appearance of fine lines when Retinol is used regularly. However, it also produces photsensitivity (sensitivity to light), so do NOT use Retinol without adding an eye-appropriate sunscreen.

Hydroxy Acids

Alpha and beta hydroxy acids gently exfoliate, revealing the newer skin beneath. This speeds the regeneration process and removes the dullness of old skin cells. Be very careful choosing an eye cream that contains hydroxy acids; some may irritate the eyes. The best eye creams deliver hydroxy acids in a gentle, non-irritating formula.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol is an anti-oxidant complex usually made up of various fruits. It helps scavenge free radicals from the environment which can age the look of the skin prematurely and also produce a dull look to the skin.

Hyaluronic Acid

Don’t be put off by the word “acid” – in fact, this ingredient was first discovered by ophthalmologists to help relieve dry eye symptoms! However, NEVER get any eye cream directly into the eye; these generally contain any number of ingredients, some of which may cause sensitivity.

Hyaluronic acid, also known as sodium hyaluronate, is a naturally occurring component of your skin and connective tissue. It encourages skin tissue healing and lubricates the skin.

Beta Glucan

Beta glucans are sugars extracted from a number of vegetable sources, such as oats, algae or lichens. They form a moisture-holding barrier on top of the skin, enhancing moisturization under the eyes. (In fact, they’re used in medicine to help heal wounds by creating a barrier against dirt and bacteria.)

Cyclopentasiloxane

This silicone-based ingredient fills in lines and “plumps” the skin to minimize the look of lines and wrinkles underneath and next to the eyes (including crow’s feet / smile lines).

Peptides

Peptides are short-chain proteins that enhance “communication” within the components of the skin, directing it to heal itself, for example. Peptides are used for a variety of uses, including reducing puffiness and maintaining the integrity (health, elasticity, etc.) of the skin.

Soy Protein

Soy (glycine soja) protein is a dipeptide (two-chain) or tri-peptide (three-chain) of soybeans. It contains healing properties to help heal tiny pools of blood under the eyes responsible for the look of undereye circles. It also acts as a scavenger of free radicals, toxins which can reduce the integrity of the skin and make it age faster.

Pantethenol

Panthenol is the cosmetic and pharmaceutical term for a type of Vitamin B. Panthenol has the power to penetrate the second layer of the skin in order to effect real changes in the appearance and health of the skin.

Panthenol is a critical component in healing the skin and encouraging new, healthy skin cells to form, creating a smoother appearance to the skin.

Marine Extracts

Marine extracts are typically very high in certain minerals, including copper, zinc and iron. All of these help hold in hydration to plump out the skin and make it appear smooth.

Rumor has it Cleopatra herself used marine extracts from the Dead Sea to keep her complexion stunning. Today’s scientists see their value not only in replacing what the skin may be lacking but in maintaining hydration and reducing inflammation.

Vegetable/Vegetal Extracts

These are too numerous to mention here; suffice to say that science continues to uncover the many effects natural plant extracts can have on the skin. Note that “natural” does not always mean “superior” (or even safe – hemlock and cyanide are natural, for example!)

Vegetal extracts used in eye creams are typically chosen for their non-sensitivity to the eyes as well as their properties of moisturization, anti-inflammation and skin resurfacing properties. Research any plant extract you see in your eye cream.

Vitamins E, C and K

Vitamins are as important to the outside of your body (your skin) as they are to the inside. Vitamin E lubricates, hydrates and gives a soft, youthful appearance to the skin. It may also have repairative properties. Vitamin C is amazing at reducing pigmentation in the skin to minimize the look of age spots and dark circles. Vitamin K, in its form or Retinol, is described above.

Can You Avoid Crow’s Feet? (And Do You Even Want To?)

laugh lines
Laugh Lines – image by Scootie/Flickr

Crow’s feet. Mention the phrase to anyone who has them and you’re likely to get a self-directed “ugh!”

These lines or wrinkles extending from the eye’s outer corners are also called laugh lines. Yet despite this cheerful moniker, they’re rarely the cause for happiness in their owners.

Can you avoid the development of these pesky lines? And on the other hand – are you sure you even want to? Here’s the lowdown on crow’s feet, and one surprising reason you may actually want to embrace them.

Why We Get Crow’s Feet

When a child smiles, you’ll see tiny lines extending from the outer corners of his eyes. But when he stops smiling, they go away. Why doesn’t that happen with adult skin?

The answer amounts to two things: intrinsic and extrinsic aging.

Intrinsic means “from within.” The process of aging means your skin loses its elasticity; hence it doesn’t automatically bounce back into a firm appearance. Genetics contributes to this; if your mother and her father had early appearing crow’s feet, for example, you’re much more likely to get them earlier rather than later.

Extrinsic means “from without.” This is the part of the equation we have the potential to control. Outside factors may make crow’s feet appear earlier and have a deeper appearance. Let’s explore a few of these factors and what you can do to minimize them.

Aging Factor: The Sun

Perhaps the largest portion of skin aging can be put down to sun exposure. UV rays cause damage that’s often irreversible. This damage happens early and often: even in overcast weather, we may be exposed to damaging rays.

What You Can Do About It: Always wear sunscreen when outdoors, even on overcast days. Choose products that are gentle to the eyes. When you wear makeup, make sure it contains SPF of 15 or greater.

Aging Factor: Environmental Pollution

Pollutants in the air not only clog our pores and irritate the skin, they may also contain free radicals, which contribute to aging of the skin. The irritation factor also means that puffiness around the lines may be greater, deepening the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

What You Can Do About It: Cleanse your face twice daily and exfoliate once a week to rid your skin of pollution and toxins. Choose eye care products that contain antioxidants, which are free radical scavengers – in other words, they collect these irritants so that you can later wash them away.

Aging Factor: Smoking

Smoking has a tremendous impact on the skin, as well as the whole body. A smoker also squints much more often than a non-smoker, as the smoke as well as nicotine itself are eye irritants. In general, a smoker will show signs of aging on the skin much earlier than a non-smoker.

What You Can Do About It: This one is easy. Don’t smoke! Yes, we know, easier said than done. We won’t go into the many health reasons for quitting smoking (or for not starting in the first place); you already know those. For the purposes of this article, just know that if you’re smoking, you’re aging faster than a non-smoker, and it will eventually show.

Aging Factor: Gravity

Unless you’d like to move to a different planet, there isn’t anything you can do about gravity and its effects over time on tugging downward on your skin. Likewise with time: it marches on, and you do lose elasticity in your skin the older you get.

What You Can Do About It: Don’t stop smiling! Look for eye creams that have firming properties and collagen boosters to strengthen your skin. Another option: try eye exercises! Yes, these really can work. By toning the muscles around the eyes, you are creating a firmer foundation for the skin to lie on.

Now That You Know All About Them … Are You Sure You Want to Get Rid of Them?

Now here’s a surprising fact: crow’s feet that appear when you’re smiling may actually make you appear more attractive in some ways, according to Belgian researchers.

In a recent study where men were show pictures of people smiling, those who had “laugh lines” were judged to be smarter and more authentic. The pictures were also said to make the smiler more attractive in general.

On the other hand, the study emphasized that this general good feeling was garnered when the person was smiling, not necessarily when crow’s feet were present in the absence of smiling.

Our take? You’ve earned those lines; whatever you do with them, know that you’re beautiful, both inside and out. Life was meant to be embraced, lived fully and to be filled with laughter and good times. So don’t stop smiling – a look of joy truly is what makes a person gorgeous.

Eye Serums vs Eye Creams: Which Work Better? (And what I recommend)

serum-vs-creamIf you have dark circles or puffiness under your eyes, or crow’s feet, fine lines and wrinkles around the eye area, you might be wondering which work best at minimizing these problems: eye serums or eye creams.

Which works better?

There is a bewildering array of both eye creams and eye serums that claim to address problems around the eyes. They either minimize the appearance of  bags, dark circles and wrinkles using moisturizers …. or get rid of them entirely by rebuilding the skin cells.

So, what to do? How do you know which to buy? Which one will work best for your specific problem? What’s the difference between eye serums and eye creams, anyway?

All of these are good and valid questions, so you might appreciate some answers before you make a buying decision and purchase an eye serum or eye cream.

The Difference Between Eye Serums and Eye Creams

In a nutshell … nothing.

That’s right. Zip. Zero. Nada. For all intents and purposes, eye serums and eye creams are the same thing and will work (or not work) the same way.

Eye serums, in general, tend to be a little more viscous and not as thick as eye creams. They will be found in tubes or droppers that you will apply directly to the affected area, rather than rubbing it on with your fingers.

Other than that, you will find with research that the ingredients are pretty much the same for serums and creams and that they all more or less purport to do the same thing.

So, then, why are some products called eye serums while others are called eye creams?

It might be a marketing thing and a company thinking that “serum” sounds more scientific and official than plain old garden variety cream. The very word serum just sounds more technologically advanced, doesn’t it? Sort of reminds you of truth serum or a serum to cure a disease or something medical sounding along those lines.

But, eye creams are just as effective as eye serums and the only real difference is in the name.

About Buying Eye Serums and Creams

Do eye serums and creams work to help reduce under eye puffiness, minimize dark circles under your eyes and/or improve the appearance of lines and wrinkles around the eyes?

Some do and some don’t.

How do you know which eye serum to buy?

Here are a few tips about buying eye serums:

  • Do your homework. This means research into various eye serums that say they can help with your particular eye problem. Some eye serums are geared more toward improving crow’s feet and wrinkles, while others are designed to help improve bags and dark circles.
  • Once you have narrowed it down to a few products that seem to be focused on your eye problems, look at the ingredients in each product. Research the main ingredients to find out what each one is and what effects it is supposed to have. This will also help to save you from an allergic reaction in the event there is an ingredient in one of the eye serums that you know you’re allergic to.
  • Find out how readily available the various eye serums are and where you can buy them. Some eye serums are available only from the manufacturer’s website. Others are sold in a variety of big box mass retailers and drugstores, as well as online at sites such as Amazon (but careful of fakes!) Some people like to go to an actual physical store to buy a beauty product, while other shoppers vastly prefer the convenience of shopping online and getting delivery directly to your door.
  • Read product reviews and testimonials of the eye serums that you are considering buying. These can be quite revealing. For example, if one person says that the product has a funky smell, you might take it with a grain of salt. But if this is a recurring theme in quite a few reviews…take heed! It probably really does have an unpleasant odor.

Buying eye creams follows the same guidelines as shopping around for eye serums.

Which is Better to Apply: Serums or Creams?

This is a question without a clear cut, definitive answer.

There are those who swear by a certain eye serum and others who are equally passionate about their eye creams. The one you choose will depend on your particular needs, your budget and what others who have used it had to say about it.

There are serums formulated specifically for wrinkles … serums for dark circles … serums strictly for under eye puffiness … and the same applies to eye creams.

You can find eye creams that are slanted toward one specific problem area, the same as eye serums.

Regardless of whether you choose eye serums or eye creams, be sure to choose a product that is made to address your problem and you will be more likely to be happy and satisfied with it.

Recommendation

My recommendation, from personal experience is Revitol Eye Cream

Try Revitol Rejuvenating Eye Cream Risk FREE

revitol eye cream

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read my review and see my results here

Eye Creams Too Expensive? Here’s Some Common Household Ingredients For Your Eyes

Have a green attitude toward cosmetics (and the desire to save some money)? Here are some great household ingredient recipes to boost the beauty of your eyes!

For Puffy Eyes

potatoesPotatoes

Potatoes are wonderful for reducing edema (swelling) under the eyes and helping to decrease the look of bags. They also have astringent properties. Placing raw potato on your closed eyes for approximately 15 minutes in the morning can make a big difference in the way you look throughout the day.

Recipe: Potato Puffiness Reducer

Ingredients:

  • one medium white (not baking) or red potato
  • two bowls
  • grater
  • strainer
  • round cotton pads

Directions:

  • Peel the potato and discard the skin. Grate the potato finely over the bowl.
  • Allow the grated potato to sit in the bowl undisturbed for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, strain the grated potato through the strainer into the other bowl. There should be plenty of liquid. Discard the grated pieces.
  • Dip two cotton pads into the remaining liquid in the second bowl until soaked. Place the soaked pads over your closed eyes for 10-15 minutes.
  • Discard the pads and gently pat the eyes dry.

cucumbersCucumbers

Cucumbers have anti-puffiness plus astringent properties. It soothes the eyes themselves, plus the entire periocular (around the eye) area.

Recipe: Cucumber Eye Soother

Ingredients:

  • cucumber slices
  • knife or vegetable peeler

Directions:

  • You do not have to peel the skin from the cucumber first for this method.
  • Cut the cucumber into 1/8” thick slices.
  • Place over closed eyes and lie back for approximately 15 minutes. If your eyes are red or irritated, extend this time to 20-25 minutes.
  • Discard the cucumber slices after use.

tea-bagsTea Bags (Chamomile or Black Tea)

Like cucumber, unflavored tea not only reduces bags, it has astringent/healing properties. It also produces a wonderful cooling effect.

Recipe: Morning Tea for Your Eyes

Ingredients:

  • chamomile OR black tea bags (2)
  • pot or teapot
  • water

Directions:

  • Bring 1/2 c. water to a boil.
  • Remove from heat and place the tea bags into the water. Steep for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the bags from the water; squeeze out excess water (be careful – they’ll be hot). Place aside on a plate to cool COMPLETELY.
  • Once the tea bags have completely cooled, place them on your closed eyes for up to 30 minutes.
  • Discard the tea bags after you’re done.

For Dark Circles

Under eye circles appear as the result of blood-engorged vessels and capillaries. Because the skin under the eyes is extremely thin, these show up easily, particularly when the area is engorged or when you haven’t gotten enough sleep.

asian-pearAsian Pear

Asian pear is high in vitamin C, which is known to reduce darkness in general in the skin. It is also high in antioxidants, which help heal the eye area.

Recipe: Asian Pear Dark Circle Minimizer

Ingredients:

  • one small Asian pear
  • circular cosmetic eye pads or eye compresses
  • warm, wet washcloth
  • vegetable peeler
  • grater
  • small bowl

Directions:

  • Peel the pear, then grate into the bowl. Make sure you grate on a very fine setting.
  • Soak the eye pads in the juice in the bowl.
  • Put about 1 tsp. of the grated pieces onto each of the eye pads. Leaning forward so the grated bits don’t fall off, place the eye pads over your eyes.
  • Holding the eye pads in place, lean your head back. Place the washcloth over the pads and over your eyes.
  • Remain lying back for 30 minutes.
  • When finished, discard the peelings. You can keep the juice in your refrigerator for up to 24 hours to reuse in the next morning if you wish; simply warm the liquid in your microwave for 15 seconds ONLY, check to see that it’s not too hot, then soak two cosmetic pads in the liquid and place over your eyes for 20-30 minutes.

milkMilk

Interestingly, milk seems to reduce the look of darkness around the eyes, perhaps because of the natural sugar lactose. It is also very soothing to the eye area.

Recipe: Peaches and “Cream” For Eye Circles

Ingredients:

  • ½ c. full-fat milk or 2% milk
  • one small peach
  • vegetable peeler
  • fork or vegetable masher
  • two small bowls
  • cotton balls

Directions:

  • Peel the peach and remove the pit. Mash the fruit well with your fork or vegetable masher.
  • In the second bowl, pour the milk. Make sure it’s cold.
  • Soak 4-6 cotton balls in the milk for 5 minutes.
  • Lean back and gently place 1-2 tsps. of the grated peach each of your closed eyes. Make sure you get the entire eye area covered.
  • Place the soaked cotton bowls over the mashed peach. Relax for 30-45 minutes.
  • Discard the milk and the mashed peach after use. You may reserve the remaining mashed peach if you’d like for re-use within 24 hours. Keep the peach refrigerated during this time.

To Reduce the Look of Fine Lines and Wrinkles

Because of the thin, delicate nature of the eyes around the skin, wrinkles tend to show up here first. Here’s how to combat them naturally.

avocadoAvocado

Ah, wonderful avocado. It is rich in vitamins which “plump out” the skin, making lines appear less noticeable. It also tightens the skin gently, without over-pulling or discomfort.

Egg

To tighten loose skin and bags under the eyes – hence, flattening out wrinkles – try egg.

Recipe: Avocado and Egg Wrinkle Reducer

Ingredients:

  • one-half medium, very ripe avocado
  • one large pasteurized egg at room temperature (do NOT heat up)
  • two bowls
  • spoon
  • fork
  • circular cosmetic eye pads

Directions:

  • Scoop the avocado out into one bowl. Mash well with a fork.
  • Crack the egg into the other bowl. Beat well until frothy.
  • Soak the eye pads in the egg mixture for approximately 5 minutes.
  • Scoop a little of the mashed avocado onto two eye pads. Place over closed eyes.
  • Place the egg-soaked cotton pads over the mashed avocado on your eyes.
  • Relax for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the eye pads and avocado and rinse your eyes and eye area gently with warm water only (do not use facial wash or soap).
  • After use, discard the egg. DO NOT re-use the egg that is left over in the bowl. You may re-use the avocado later; keep refrigerated and covered for up to 48 hours.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these tried-and-true kitchen recipes. Click here for more eye beauty tips. From our kitchen (and our wallet!) to yours: good health to you, and happy savings!

Do Eye Creams Actually Work?

beautiful eyesEye creams are making up an ever-growing percentage of the $43 billion skin care industry. With scientific advances – particularly in the past 10-15 years – and positive user testimonials, more and more eye creams are popping up on department store shelves. And new ones just keep coming.

The big question is: do these formulas actually work? If so, what do they do? And how long do you have to wait for results? Here’s the low-down on this very popular niche of the skin care industry.

The Skin Under Your Eyes is Not the Same

The basic overlying premise of eye creams is that products for the skin aren’t enough for this very unique area. The periocular (around the eyes) skin is different, experts say. Are they right?

Yes, according to scientific research. The periocular skin is up to 10 times thinner than the skin on the rest of the body and on the face. That makes it more prone to damage, the appearance of dark spots and dark circles, and to the aging effects of the sun.

In addition, there are fewer oil glands directly beneath the eyes, making the area less lubricated against gravity and facial expressions – and ultimately, the appearance of fine lines comes sooner.

There’s also the sensitivity issue. The eyes themselves can become irritated by moisturizers formulated for the body or for the face.

Promises, Promises … and Real Answers

Most eye care creams claim to be formulated to address issues such as fine lines, dark circles, and loss of elasticity due to age. There’s good news: our research showed that many mid- to upper-tier eye creams really do have science to back up these activities. A few include:

  • Dark circles. Tiny capillaries break underneath the skin all the time. Rubbing, overactivity of the area or irritating environmental pollutants can all cause this. The difference is that with the skin under the eyes being so thin, these dark areas aren’t as easy to disguise and therefore are very noticeable. Ingredients such as Retinol (a derivative of vitamin K) have proven results in this area, actually boosting the healing process, while moisturizers like hyaluronic acid “plump” the area, lifting the skin up and out from the area rather than directly next to the pooled blood underneath.
  • Fine lines. Any moisturizing product will help plump the skin, making lines appear more shallow. Humectant ingredients also draw moisture from the outside, while some moisturizing ingredients form a barrier to hold moisture in. Beta glucans, an ingredient category common to the eye cream industry, are one good example in this. In fact, they have a history in wound protection usage, giving a solid scientific background to their claims.
  • Cell rate turnover. Sloughing off old skin to reveal the fresher, younger-appearing skin cells below has commonly been address in the skin care industry via ingredients such as hydroxy acids. However, these can be irritating to sensitive eyes. Alpha- and beta hydroxy acids in eye creams are formulated in percentages, forms and suspensions formulated to be less sensitive to delicate eyes. Meanwhile, the activity of (gently) abrading old skin cells encourages faster growth of the newer cells – mimicking the activity found in a younger person’s skin.
  • Replacement of important proteins. As we age, the activities of naturally occurring proteins such as collagen and elastin slow down. Unfortunately, for aging skin, this means less plumpness and elasticity to the eye area. Actually replacing these important skin components via collagen and elastin not only gives a better appearance quickly, it also seems to improve “communication” between the skin cells, directing them to act the way they did when one was younger.

Patience, Young Grasshopper … Patience

Scientists, dermatologists and plastic surgeons alike agree that the above activities are very real. However, even for a high-quality product that contains a good hefty dose of active ingredients, seeing results can take time.

Some activities of a good eye cream will show immediately, such as plumping and moisturization of the skin. On the other hand, healing activities and cell turnover rate will take a bit longer. Don’t rush it – eye creams are designed to work gently on this sensitive area. Dermatologists recommend waiting at least four weeks before placing your final verdict on any eye cream.

A few warnings, though: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t purchase an eye cream that claims it will definitely, absolutely cure your every eye care issue. Look for scientific studies to back up claims. And of course, if an eye cream is irritating to your eyes, stop using it immediately. It’s not worth your eye health and your comfort to use a product that causes eye sensitivity.

And remember: not every eye cream will work for everyone. You are an individual; your skin may react in different ways or you may have greater or less sensitivity than the next person. In today’s eye cream industry, you have plenty of choices, so find the one that works best for you.

Image by Jerome S

The Science Behind Eye Creams: New Ingredients, New Promises

eye cream ingredientsAsk any woman (and quite a few men) what their most troublesome aging area is, and they’ll probably say, “the eyes!” That’s because the skin underneath the eyes has very few oil glands, so it’s more prone to wrinkling. Our eyes are also expressive and constantly in motion, stressing the area on a daily basis.

Compounding the problem, periocular (“around the eyes”) skin is 10 times thinner than the rest of the body’s skin. This means it can tear easily and shows broken capillaries in the form of dark circles.

Since ancient times, women have tried every remedy under the sun for aging eye skin, from the slightly useful to the downright dangerous.

Luckily, modern science has uncovered some amazing ingredients that can help cosmetic eye-aging issues. But is the hype real? Here are a few of the latest breakthroughs and what they can do for your appearance.

Synthetic Peptides

Peptides perform a wide range of actions in the body, including wound healing and cell communication. They’ve been used for some time in the cosmetics industry, but have recently come to the forefront of cosmetics news as synthetics aimed at better targeting the aging process are being developed.

In a nutshell, peptides are chains of amino acids. The new synthetics – for example, Matrixyl (Palmitoyl pentapeptide-3), developed by L’Oreal and marketed by Proctor and Gamble – are said to have retinol-like properties without the irritation. (See retinol, below.) Structurally, they’re related to precursors of collagen, which diminishes in production as we get older.

Fibroblast Conditioned Media

Fibroblast conditioned media ingredients are also found under the names human adipose stem cells or epidermal growth proteins. Though stem cell research is a controversial topic, FCM is actually the media in which they’re grown, not the actual stem cells as used in medical research.

The aim of FCM ingredients is to increase the turnover rate of skin cells. As we age, cell turnover/regeneration rate slows. Boosting this process can have the effect of fresher, younger-looking skin.

Epidermal Growth Factor

This is another ingredient aimed at speeding up cell growth. EGF is already found in the human body. Adding it to an eye care ingredient is said to help the production of newer, fresher-looking skin.

Chemically, EGF is a polypeptide, or chain of amino acids. In both cosmetic and medical applications, it has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. This translates to less puffiness and irritation/breakage of the skin.

Retinol

Retinol is a fat-soluble form of Vitamin A. It is said to both regenerate and “plump out” the skin. Often, this effect is given the general term “resurfacing” in eye care preparations.

Retinol should be used very carefully when applied around the eyes, as it can be irritating. Eye preparations that contain SPF in addition to retinol ingredients are preferred as photosensitivity (an overreaction to the sun’s rays) typically occurs with retinol use.

Glycans

These polysaccharides (sugars) are said to aid communication between the dermal and epidermal layers of the skin. Such “messages” are important because they direct the skin to produce collagen. Like other processes, this interaction is said to slow due to aging.

Currently, the leader in the glycans movement is cosmetics giant L’Oreal. They say that glycans help increase the production of collagen to help minimize the look of lines and wrinkles.

Homeostatine

Homeostatine takes its name from the homeostasis, a state of balance between two or more things. In the case of Homestatine, balance is said to be achieved in the dermal matrix (layer). This balance means less inflammation in the skin, as well as the restoration of skin elasticity.

It has a natural base – seeds of the Andean tree Caesalpinia spinosa plus Enteromorpha compressa algea – making it appealing to marketers and consumers looking for natural, organic ingredients.

Resveratrol

Here’s another eye care ingredient that is garnering interest due to being plant-based (red wine, actually). Reservatrol is touted as being an antioxidant/free-radical scavenger. It also protects against UV-B skin stress.

Its effects are two-fold: protective and repairative. Some studies suggest that it may prevent abnormal cell creation as well. In eye care creams, it smooths and re-texturizes the look of skin, minimizing the appearance of fine lines.

Science or Science Fiction?

Cosmetic marketers are famous for making grandiose claims. Do the above ingredients actually work? Science leans toward “yes”…with reservations. Many factors are at play here, including the ingredients’ sources and concentration.

So we’ll reserve the final judgment to you. Take the more conservative claims into account when choosing eye care items, and always look for sample sizes when available so you can see what’s really right for you – and what really works.

How to Minimize Dark Circles Under Your Eyes

tired eyes can be revivedAre you tired of looking in the mirror and seeing Rocky Raccoon staring back at you? Are you interested in finding out how to minimize those bags under your eyes?

We’ve probably all had those days when our puffy eyes seemed to dominate our entire face, making us look tired or worse yet – sick.

If you have more of those days than you would like to, take heart! There are things you can do to help minimize those dark circles under your eyes.

First of all, it might help you to gain a good understanding of what causes these blemishes.

Causes of Dark Under Eye Circles

The scientific name for dark under eye circles is periorbital hyperpigmentation.

In other words, an excess of pigment, or color, under your eyes.

In the majority of cases, they are a result of blood capillaries just beneath the skin being visible. This can be due to a number of reasons and is more prevalent in some people than others.

For instance, have you ever noticed that some people are more prone than others? While some of us might only have bags under our eyes every now and then, there is a small but unfortunate group where this is a chronic condition.

So, what causes them for those people, and the rest of us who only get them occasionally, as well?

Here are the most common causes:

  • Allergies – One of the effects of being allergic to something, usually something environmental such as pollen or dust, is that allergy sufferers often develop these eye circles. It isn’t known exactly why allergies cause them, but many doctors believe it is due to the allergy sufferer having itchy eyes and rubbing the eye area; thus breaking the capillaries that lie beneath the skin.
  • Heredity – Your tired eyes might have been passed down to you by a relative, as there is lots of evidence that it may be a genetic trait.
  • Exposure to Sun – Sunlight causes your body to produce more melanin, which is the pigment that actually gives your skin its color. This can also affect the color under your eyes by stepping up the pigmentation.
  • Age – Sadly, one of the things that can make you look tired than your feel is the thinning of your skin and the loss of collagen and subcutaneous fat. When there isn’t as much between your blood vessels (capillaries) and your outer layer of skin, the vessels become more noticeable.
  • Irregular Pigmentation – This can be a real concern and is especially pronounced in people of color, such as Asians and blacks.
  • Lifestyle – Lack of sleep, smoking, poor diet, excessive alcohol, drug use, even stress … all of these lifestyle factors can give your eyes that droopy, tired look.

Can You Get Rid of Under Eye Dark Circles?

Depending on the cause, you might be able to minimize them or even get rid of them completely.

For instance, if your daily routine includes staying up watching the Late, Late Late Show until the wee hours of the morning and then grabbing what amounts to a short nap instead of a good night’s sleep of at least 7-8 hours … start going to bed earlier. This will remove a lot of pressure on your eyes and skin.

If you do recreational drugs, drink alcohol excessively, eat a poor diet with insufficient vitamins, minerals and nutrients … more healthy lifestyle changes will strengthen your skin and make you look healthier all around – read this article for diet-related prevention.

Avoid known allergens and not staying out in the sun for over long periods since this can make your skin worse.

Dark circles due to age, heredity or irregularities in pigmentation are tougher, but this is where creams and serums specialize in rebuilding your skin. You probably won’t be able to totally eradicate them, but you can minimize their appearance by following a few of the tips shown below.

How to Minimize Your Eye Circles

Here are some pointers that might help you minimize the appearance of the circles under your eyes:

  • Laser Therapy – A last resort for most people and not always successful.
  • Makeup – This is covering up the problem, but if your dark circles aren’t too bad, it may work.
  • Cold Compress – Apply a cold, used tea bag, two cold teaspoons, a bag of frozen corn or peas wrapped in a soft cloth or a cold compress to your under eye area. This reduces the enlarged and discolored blood vessels.
  • If nasal congestion from allergies is the culprit, try flushing your sinuses every night with a salt water solution of one-fourth sea salt and two cups of warm water, or use an over the counter saline rinse.
  • Skin Creams – There are a lot of skin creams and serums that claim to work at minimizing dark circles under the eyes. The ones with an astringent can probably help by reducing puffiness and shrinking capillaries just under the skin. Also, those using natural ingredients such as Vitamin E and C will help you develop healthier and firmer skin.

If you do use a skin cream, you will probably still want to use a concealer to camouflage the circles and minimize their appearance.

If you have tried some of these tips and suggestions and seen an improvement, please let us know! Have your own tip? Let us know below!

Using Natural Supplements to Banish Under-Eye Dark Circles

drinking orange juice

drinking orange juiceCan you use natural supplements to banish under eye dark circles?

If you have dark circles under your eyes, you may be stymied about how to minimize their appearance or make them go away completely. You’re loath to fork out a king’s ransom on a pricey cream or serum, preferring to look in Mother Nature’s medicine cabinet instead.

More and more people are choosing a natural alternative when it comes to products such as eye creams and serums.

In fact, the best rated eye serums and creams contain natural ingredients!

So, can you use a regime of natural vitamins and minerals and dietary supplements you can take to help improve the look of your eyes?

If there are … what are they?

Which Natural Supplements Work on Dark Circles?

Here are the most highly recommended natural supplements to help get back the youthfulness of your eyes:

  • Grape Seed Extract Grape seed extract is loaded with OPCs, or oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes, which are potent antioxidants. It is reported to help improve the look of your skin by supporting blood vessel health. Since the dark patches under your eyes are actually caused by the capillaries, or blood vessels, showing through the skin, it’s easy to see why this natural supplement would help. It also promotes collagen, which by plumping up the skin beneath your eyes would also help to improve skin health.
  • Vitamin B9 – Vitamin B9 is folic acid. It can help improve your look by promoting healthy skin and eyes.
  • Iron – Iron is an excellent supplement to take. If you have an iron deficiency, you will be more prone to dark circles. Women need about 18mg of iron daily, while men need only about 8 mg.
  • Vitamin C – Vitamin C helps to boost production of collagen and promotes healthy blood vessels, making the capillaries beneath the skin under your eyes less prone to appear dark and distended. If you smoke, you need more Vitamin C than a non smoker.
  • Vitamin B12 – A lack of Vitamin B12 can contribute to the puffiness under your eyes. Why? Because it can result in poor oxygenation of your blood and tissues, causing the skin under your eyes to thin and show the blood vessels through.
  • Vitamin K – Vitamin K is much needed for healthy blood because it supports normal blood clotting, as well as healthy circulation. You can eat more green leafy veggies to get your Vitamin K, but you can take a supplement or multivitamin that has your daily requirements of this important vitamin.
  • Zinc – Zinc is critical to your connective tissue and also helps to lessen the appearance of darkened skin with too much pigmentation. Don’t over do it with zinc! Too much can hinder your absorption of other vitamins and minerals.
  • Water – Drink more water! Research has shown that kidney problems can contribute to a decline in skin health. Besides that, your skin and blood vessels – in fact, your entire body – needs to be well hydrated to keep you in good health. So, add water to your list of natural supplements and make sure to drink plenty every day.
  • Local honey – There is no hard and fast evidence to support the theory that taking a spoonful of honey from the area where you live will help to prevent allergies from flaring up, but many people swear it works. Since those dark circles can be caused by allergies, you really have nothing to lose by adding a spoonful of honey to your diet every day … but it has to be locally-produced – the theory is that the bees collect the local pollen that you are allergic to. By ingesting it, your body builds up an immunity.
  • Cut down your salt intake – As sodium in salt can cause your tissues to retain fluid, reducing your salt intake can help diminish the puffiness. Since too much salt leads to all sorts of problems, such as hypertension and heart attacks, cutting down to 1200 mg a day is your goal. That means changing your diet to fresh foods and cutting out the processed junk … which will make you much more healthy anyway!

What other natural measures can you use to reduce or banish those circles under your eyes?

Lifestyle Changes

Here are some lifestyle changes that can help to diminish the appearance of under eye circles:

  • Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep is one of the prime reasons for … looking tired.
  • Elevate your head while you’re sleeping. The puffiness will be made worse by fluid accumulating under your eyes while you are asleep. By adding an extra pillow and never sleeping flat on your back, you can help prevent this build-up.
  • Eat a healthy diet. One of the major reasons for poor skin is poor health. Eating a healthy diet will go a long way toward staving off the look of aging and developing health conditions.

With natural supplements and lifestyle changes, not only your eyes but the rest of your body will look younger and more radiant … plus you’ll feel more youthful and energetic. What’s not to like?