Eye against I: Protecting the Most Delicate Part of Your Face
Baltimore-based aesthetician Arika Casebolt knows good skin in every season.
The aging process is a vile, diabolical entity. It is stealthy, sneaky and seems to attack overnight — and the feature that most betrays us, shows the sins of the past and our undeniable genetics are, if a thousand love songs are any indication, the most significant. Jeepers, creepers, where did you get those bags? In your eyes, the light, the fine lines. Baby’s got dark blue circles. Okay, I’ll stop. But you get the picture; the thin skin around the ocular area is most susceptible to sun and environmental damage, poor diet, dehydration, smoking and alcohol consumption — pretty much everything in life that is fun and naughty is an ocular tragedy waiting to reveal itself in the harsh fluorescents of the office or the dreaded rearview mirror (I do not, nor have I ever had a driver’s license, so this is not a daily occurrence for me, but I have been in the shotgun seat and that is some scary stuff). So, in lieu of Botox, Restylane and hardcore surgical procedures, how to protect the windows to your soul and prevent further damage?
First off, something easy that makes most everyone look mysterious and cool: Always wear sunglasses, as big as you can stand, every single moment you are outside, unless it is raining heavily. Seriously, shades that cover the entire eye area, corner to corner, are timelessly chic and provide essential protection from the sun in two ways: The obvious physical shield of the entire eye area, and the prevention of squinting, which is a habit that causes fine lines, creases and other visible signs of repetitive stress.
Second, get your sleep. Inadequate or frequently interrupted sleep patterns do visible damage, never mind messing up our circadian rhythms. According to Dr. Michael Breus, author of The Insomnia Blog, “As our eyes age, they become less effective at absorbing light. Pupils become narrower. The lens of the eye takes on a yellow cast.” Ew. As if that weren’t bad enough, Breus tells us that lack of sleep also disrupts the production of collagen, which, like all cellular entities that aid in epidermal repair and rejuvenation, functions most efficiently as we rest. Insufficient collagen production can cause the area beneath our eyes appear to have a dark, bluish cast and slackens the delicate skin.
Third, use a good eye cream or gel religiously; yes, you do need a separate eye moisturizer in addition to your regular unguents, as products for eye care are created specifically for the thinner, more fragile eye area, and they won’t clog pores or irritate your peepers like some facial treatments can. I like gel formulas — they seem to do a better job at reducing puffiness, especially if you store in the fridge; the coolness reduces swelling. Chilled chamomile or any black tea bags placed on the eyes can also calm puffiness; just brew your tea as usual, throw the bags in the freezer while you go about your business until cool, and lie down with the chilled tea bags on your lovely, limpid pools for about ten minutes. This shrinks swelling and leaves the tender skin of upper and lower lids moist and fresh.
In addition to moderately clean living and early protective measures, your diet can really make a difference in the appearance of those baby blues (or greens, or browns, etc). Foods that contain Omega-3s, like salmon, olive oil and nuts are great fighters of nasty inflammation. Red grapefruit, blood oranges and tomato sauce (yes, specifically the sauce — oddly, not found in raw tomatoes) imbue the most delicate areas of our epidermis with lycopene, a potent natural fighter of environmental damage. Oranges, kale and spinach help to boost the aforementioned, all-important collagen.
If a quick fix is what you desire, it’s a good idea to keep a creamy, yellow-toned concealer to pat gently upon dark circles; the sunshiny hue cancels out the telltale bluish cast of dark under-eye circles, and my make-up clients are always pleasantly surprised at what a difference this little trick can make. I also often pat a matte pale pink cream shadow or concealer in the little space between the tear duct and the bridge of the nose, which gives the illusion of a good night’s sleep and brightens the whole area quite nicely. Now, go forth and take on the world with eyes wide open.
Arika Casebolt is an aesthetician and make-up artist with over a decade of experience practicing aesthetics and beauty science. She is fully licensed in Maryland and D.C. and has worked for Natural Body Arlington, BlueMercury Dupont Circle, Charm City Skin and Chop Shop… As a writer, Arika has contributed to the D.C. City Paper, Verve Scene and Style, The Baltimore Examiner, Scripps-Howard News Service, and more — her blog is BeautyforBeauty. She lives in Baltimore with her husband, pets, and a constantly growing embarrassment of beauty products.