Our eyes gaze and glance, notice and watch, taking in the world. They also express what we think and feel about it, as they shed tears, sparkle and wink. Meanwhile, other eyes are looking at yours, so why not make them look good?
Artificial colors, fragrances, firming agents and chemical preservatives abound in makeup and eye moisturizing products. Sure, they do the job, but eventually they also do a number on your skin.
More than anywhere else on your body, the skin over the eye sockets is the thinnest and most fragile. Fewer oil glands mean dryer skin, especially under the eyes, where it’s prone to wrinkles, puffiness and dark circles. And who hasn’t looked in the mirror and seen eyes red from overuse and minor irritation?
Start with a quality, simple-ingredient moisturizer for use on the skin around your eyes.
“You want a moisturizer that’s light and delicate, not thick and heavy. The same goes for concealers,” says Erin Madigan-Fleck, NMD, skin care expert and owner of Naturophoria in Atlanta, Georgia. “Gently apply the eye cream day or night, but not too close to the tear ducts, as it can migrate into the eye and result in irritation and puffiness.”
Eye creams formulated with aloe vera soothe; those made with arnica and calendula, which have anti-inflammatory properties, may help calm irritated skin; and yarrow aids in circulation. Green tea, because of its tannins, may help firm skin tissue.
What’s more, green tea—along with the antioxidants CoQ10 and vitamin C—helps fight free-radical damage and eases the appearance of wrinkles due to the effects of aging or the sun’s harsh ultraviolet rays.
If your eye area is very sensitive and every moisturizer product gives you trouble, open the fridge for a stick of organic butter. “Butter’s vitamin A and lactic acid help moisturize and nourish the skin,” says Elina Fedotoba, founder of the Association of Holistic Skin Care Practitioners and owner of Elinaorganics in Chicago.
To use this simple kitchen remedy, “freeze the butter, slice off two pieces and gently massage them into your skin,” says Fedotoba. “Start at the top of your nose outward to underneath your eyebrows, then around, underneath your eyes and back toward your nose.” Vegans can use coconut oil, “though it lacks enough vitamin A. But both are great emollients.”
Speaking of the under-eye area, where do those bags come from?
You can get them from possibly eating too much salt or not drinking enough water, or if you have poor circulation, says Madigan-Fleck. “The lymphatic system can stagnate, easily causing puffiness, and the cells starve for water,” she adds.
One of Madigan-Fleck’s remedies? Steep some chamomile tea, let it cool and pour some on a cotton round already wet with cold water. Place on top of your eyes and cover with a beauty ice-gel pack for ten minutes.
Once again, green tea comes to the rescue for puffiness. Fedotoba suggests you brew the tea and freeze it as ice cubes. Then, after applying eye cream, massage them around your eyes for half a minute.
Keep that teapot nearby if you’ve got dark circles under your eyes, often thought of as a sign of short sleep. “There’s some validity to that,” says Madigan-Fleck.
“But the discoloration may have more to do with allergies, nutrient deficiencies or hormone fluctuations” related to health concerns. You also could have inherited a tendency known as hyperpigmentation.
If nighttime restlessness paints those dark circles, “apply [cooled] gingko biloba tea to cotton pads and lay them on your eyes for at least ten minutes,” Fedotoba suggests.
But even some of the most natural, organic products can cause eye-beauty problems, such as redness or irritation—and fragrances in oils could be the culprit. Madigan-Fleck adds to the list eye fatigue from lack of sleep or too much screen time, as well as dust, allergies and poor air quality.
To soothe red, irritated eyes, Madigan-Fleck recommends applying a sterile-saline eyewash in an eyecup, adding, “Rest the eyes as much as possible, and always wear sunglasses.”
When you take those shades off, you can show off those lovely made-up eyes of yours. But try not to use extended-wear makeup products every day. “They have binding ingredients, such as rosin esters (pentaerythritol), that may possibly irritate the eyes,” explains Madigan-Fleck.
“Mineral makeup is often considered less irritating, as there are generally fewer cosmetic chemicals in it.”
Making your eyes beautiful naturally doesn’t stop with cosmetics. Eat a healthy diet with lots of vitamins A, C and E; recent research suggests that omega-3s can help ease dry eye. Also, turn down the sweet stuff: “Excess sugar can lead to glycation and the development of wrinkles,” notes Madigan-Fleck. Get plenty of sleep and exercise, drink enough water and go easy on the sun.
Looking for one more method to enhance your appearance? Enjoy life! A big smile or hearty laugh is the best way to light up your eyes—because nothing is more attractive than the beauty that comes from within.