The contour of the eye: a fragile area

The eye contour area is the most fragile area of our face. The skin in this area is extremely thin and strained, with few sebaceous glands and sweat glands.

The epidermis around the eye is approximately 0.04 mm thick, compared to 0.1 to 0.15 mm on average on the rest of the body and the dermis is less than 0.5 mm thick, while in general its varies between 1 and 4 mm elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the area boasts 22 muscles, 14 of which are used every 10 seconds. The eyelids move with each of our expressions and bat an average of 10,000 times per day to evenly distribute the tear fluid on the eyeball. This perpetual motion in such a delicate area can lead to the formation of wrinkles and fine lines.

The signs of aging

There are various changes that affect the eye area over time.

1. Wrinkles
Chronologically, the first signs of aging that appear are the laugh lines, located at the “crow's feet,” the area of the face between the outer edge of the eye and the scalp. These wrinkles can enhance a smiling expression, but they should be considered an alarm to take special care of the eye area henceforth.

A few years later, the first gravity-induced wrinkles appear. They first form on the lower eyelid. They are caused by gravity, that is to say “the weight of the years,” and appear quickly. The dermis of the eyelids is low in collagen, and aging makes it easily sag, loosening the skin.

Then come the wrinkles overload. It is the logical consequence of the aging process—cell renewal increasingly slow, free radicals from various sources, sun exposure, etc.—which none of us can escape.

2. Dark circles and bags
Dark blue circles under the lower eyelids can have several causes: genetics, lack of sleep, stress, etc. With fatigue or with age, the blood and lymphatic microcirculation of the area under the eye becomes even more lazy; micro-blood vessels swell and venous stasis occurs. The blood pigments accumulate in the dermis and epidermis. The micro vessels become more visible due to the skin’s transparency.

In addition, the area has a different sub-dermal tissue because it usually contains no fat cells, allowing the extreme mobility of the eyelid. It is very loose and can be distended, causing the swelling of the eyelids: the eyelid edema, more commonly known as “bags.”

Eye care star performers

Many solutions are available on the market, in both day and night versions, in the form of gels or creams. Here are some of today’s best performers:

• Tensor polymers
The latest additions to cosmetic research, biopolymers produced from tapioca (cassava), almond or oat proteins, soothe around the eye in record time, forming a continuous elastic film that tightens the skin, in effect lifting it.

• Dermo-relaxing peptides with a Botox type of effect
By promoting muscle relaxation, these molecules help to reduce the depth of wrinkles caused by muscle contraction due to expression, particularly around the eyes.

• Extract of spilanthes Acmella buds
This 100% vegetable extract is a concentrate of flower buds of Spilanthes Acmella, stimulates the contractile power of fibroblasts, effectively restarting cellular dynamics and reorganizing and tightening the dermis’ 3D network, composed of collagen fibers and fibroblasts.

• Plant extracts that target dark circles and puffiness
A synergistic combination of three phytoactive extracts has been noted: extracts of Pfaffia, Marapuama and white lilies, all three of which are particularly rich in flavonoids, saponins and plant sterols. This leads to quick and lasting reduction of the bags and dark circles, while promoting a consistent colouring of the lower eyelid.

• Hyaluronic acid
The amount of hyaluronic acid present in the skin drops by half between the ages of 20 and 50. Widely used in aesthetic medicine as a substance for filling wrinkles, this glycosaminoglycan plays a major role in the moisture balance of the deep layers of the skin.

Isabelle Villeneuve is scientific director—head of innovation at Laboratoire Dr Renaud. Passionate about cosmetology, she has more than 20 years of experience. She has been actively participating in the dynamic development of Laboratoire Dr Renaud since 1995.

by Isabelle Villeneuve | Fall 2011