Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dark Circles and Sunscreen in the Eye Area

It’s a Q & A post today with a great question from Anita C.!

“When I was first learning to take care of my skin as a teenager, it seemed that conventional wisdom held that you shouldn't use sunscreen on the lower or upper eyelids, and that the only product that should go near eyes would be a specially formulated eye cream, and even then only along the crows-foot area, not the delicate lids. 
But recently I was reading a story about how to minimize dark circles that recommended SPF moisturizer as one of the key steps for helping eliminate stubborn under-eye darkness.  
Which is right?“

I love this question because it actually hits on 3 separate topics; dark circles, the use of sunscreen to reduce them, and if it's safe to put product in the eye area.

Where do dark circles come from? In general, there’s two causes. The first is an excess of pigment produced in the under-eye area, which usually shows as a brown or even blackish color, and is much more common in darker skin tones. The other is due to a thinning of the (already thinner) skin under the eye and is actually the vascular system showing through the skin. This type is more bluish in color, and more common to fairer skin tones.

So you’ve got dark circles...will a sunscreen or moisturizer with spf help? Yes, if used carefully and correctly. Why? If the case of under-eye darkness due to pigment, contact with UV rays will cause the pigment to darken up, the same as the rest of skin would anywhere else on the face or body. Sunscreen will help to protect against that. How would it help in the case of “thinning” skin? Free-radical damage from the sun can exacerbate collagen and elastin loss that occurs with age. Sunscreen allows your skin to essentially “focus on something else” and not battle the free radicals from UV light that can accelerate a thinner more fragile appearance.

Now to Anita’s question- can you put sunscreen, or anything else for that matter in the eye area?
There have been great advances in formulation and many great (and safe) products for the eye area, including some with a sunscreen. So, yes, I believe many people can safely use products in the eye area (brow-bone included). But it is, as always, on a case-by-case basis.
Here are some rules to go by:
  • Only use products in the eye area that have been opthamologist tested.
  • Use your bone structure as a guide and tap product on in a circle, around brow bone and under- eye area, but avoid the lower portion of the lid directly over the eyeball.
  • Common sense caution:  if you have allergies to ingredients, or if you suffer from seasonal allergies, always do a patch test first, not in eye area, and then do a small test area on one eye before applying a new product all over.
  • Remember that products do migrate a bit so never apply anything very close to the lashes.

Thanks again for the great question Anita! I'll have one more post in 2014, and I look forward to more questions in 2015! Hope you are all enjoying the Holidays with friends and family.