The eye contour is the thinnest and most delicate area on the entire face. Constantly moving, as we blink over 10,000 times a day, and subjected to many environmental effects, it is the first to be marked by signs of ageing.
The skin around the eye varies from 0.33 to 0.36 mm in thickness, compared to the rest of the face which measures around 1 to 1.6 mm. The connective tissue in this area is therefore less and the hypodermis does not contain adipose cells.
Transcutaneous water loss is drastically increased as a result of these factors but in order for the eye lid to be able to move as much as it’s required to the skin needs to be this thin.
Although this area has little fat, it does contain 22 muscles. 14 are activated every 10 seconds to ensure the constant hydration of the cornea. These perpetual movements deteriorate the fibres more rapidly, making them less firm and prone to sagging.
Surface vascularisation is hardly visible, as the capillaries have minimised flow. However, the vessels of the subcutaneous layers make up a vascular reserve that can vary throughout the day.
External factors that can effect this area including cigarette smoke, facial movements, fatigue, stress and UV rays, just to name a few.
Over time, these various types of damage can affect the particularly fragile eye contour resulting in the three main concerns: puffiness, dark circles and wrinkles.
Why is the eye contour so susceptible to the appearance of wrinkles?
The extreme mobility of the eyelids and their anatomical characteristics, combined with the skin changes that occur during the ageing process, explain the prevalence of wrinkles in this area. The perpetual movements of the eyelids deteriorate collagen and elastin fibres more rapidly, making them less firm. Furthermore, due to how thin the skin is means that water loss is increased.
The eye contour therefore suffers from dryness, becomes weakened and a prime location for wrinkle formation.
What are the different steps leading to their appearance?
The first sign of ageing is the appearance of expression lines in the ‘crow’s-feet’ area. These lines form at the insertion point of muscles. Repeated muscle contractions accentuate this phenomenon and end up carving an irreversible furrow in the skin.
Over time, elastin fibres and collagen fibres become damaged, causing the lower eyelid to slacken and sag. The skin loosens and small wrinkles form.
If no action is taken, the collagen breaks down further and is no longer able to support the dermis, thus the wrinkles deepen.
Dark circles generally appear in the same areas affected by puffiness. They result due to a combination of complex biological parameters. If the microcirculation below the eye becomes sluggish, a more visible appearance of micro-vessels can be seen. These swell with blood and produce a darker tone around the eyes. Excess pigmentation in this area can also lead to this phenomenon.
As is the case with puffiness, dark circles can be occasional. They can appear due to fatigue, stress, alcohol or lack of sleep but they can also be somewhat permanent. In this case, it is likely that there is a hereditary or physiological origin.
The three types of dark circles:
Blue and violet dark circles: This is the result of deficient microcirculation and the permeability of the vessels, triggering the build-up of blood pigments responsible for the violet colour of the skin. The underlying structures also show through the thin, translucent skin below the eyes.
Brown dark circles: The dark, brown colour of these circles is linked to the hyperpigmentation of the epidermis and/or melanin deposits in the dermis. These circles are often linked with ethnic origin.
Red dark circles and micro-vessels: Sometimes the colour of dark circles is reddish. In this case, when you stretch the skin, you can see the micro-capillaries through it, generally in an area of puffiness and closer to the inner edge of the dark circle. These micro-capillaries are often caused by pressure exerted by the deposit of fat.
Puffiness, located on the lower eyelids, is mainly due to a sluggish lymph circulation.
How does puffiness form below the eyes?
As the skin slackens and becomes less firm the effects on the blood and lymph vessels that supply this area also becomes affected. They struggle to supply nutrients or remove toxins and the result is fluid retention: the eyelids swell.
What factors promote their appearance?
Puffiness that weighs down the eyes can appear occasionally and is caused by fatigue, stress or lack of sleep.
Puffiness is often more accentuated in the morning, reflecting the poor circulation of lymph in the lymph channels. Lymph is much more dynamic during the day thanks to the thousands of blinks of the eyelids. At night, the immobility of the eyelids causes a stagnation of lymph and/or poor blood circulation, heightened by the reclining position and resting of the muscles. The tissues are distended, causing notorious morning puffiness.
In the case of ageing, puffiness is caused by the slower functioning of the lymphatic circulation network: natural drainage becomes less effective.
In some cases puffiness can be heredity. This is a permanent condition and often corresponds to an abnormal deposit of fat built up in the cavity below the eye. This is accentuated by the slackening skin of the lower eyelid, caused by ageing. About one in 30 people suffer from this problem.
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Sourced article is from SOREDEC (Society of Research and Development of Cosmetics) SOREDEC is a specialists R&D house in the Southwest of France who formulate some of Europe’s leading Professional Skincare brands including Sothys and Bernard Cassiere Paris.