Are we all tired of puffy eyes at one point or another?
By the time you finish this article you will have blinked more than fifty times. If you suffer from eyestrain (if you work with computers, odds are you do) and didn’t sleep well last night (the average person gets less than seven hours instead of the magic minimum of eight), you’ll probably blink twice as much. This can make your eyes dry, fatigued, and blood shot. Throw in years of sun exposure, pollutants, allergies, excessive squinting (another computer liability), stress, and yet another birthday, and it’s no wonder your eyes look and feel worn out. Whether its dark circles, puffiness, sagging skin, or a murder of crow’s feet, your eyes say a lot about your current health.
We get massages to rub out kinks in our back and shoulders and don’t think twice about pampering our hands and feet, but we often overlook our eyes, one of our most overworked body parts. The eye contour area is your face’s most delicate skin area and deserves the same TLC.
Take the time to show your eyes you care. Many spas now offer eye treatments or eye facials to soothe and rejuvenate your peepers and the surrounding skin. Such treatments are growing in popularity, especially among men, according to Melanie Valliere, spa director at Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa in Whitefield, New Hampshire. Two years ago, one out of every eight guests would include an eye treatment, she says. Now we’re seeing one out of every six.
Eye treatments are often quick (many last about thirty minutes) and inexpensive (the average price ranges from $30 to $75). You can get them separately or in conjunction with a full facial. Eye treatments may vary somewhat depending on the spa, but most follow a similar format. At Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas, the Aromatic Eye Contour Treatment begins with a general face cleansing. This includes applying the appropriate cleansing cream, based on one’s skin type, to remove any makeup and prepare the area. An enzyme peeling cream is then added for about four to five minutes to remove any dead skin cells.
After that, a mixture of serums is gently applied around the eye until the skin absorbs all it can. The main ingredients include sodium hyaluronate (to moisturize the skin), silicium (to regenerate cells, prevent appearance of fine lines, and improve texture), and chamazulene (to soothe the eye area). This is followed by a relaxing ten minute massage around the brows and eyes. A finishing cream tightens the area to lock in the nutrients and re-enforce the treatment.
The massage part is crucial because it helps to remove built-up toxins around the eyes and stimulate better circulation, says Pat Eisert, an esthetician and massage therapist at Barton Creek Resort & Spa. As you age, small capillaries around the eye will leak from weakness, which cause hemoglobin to pool around the eyes, Eisert explains. This gives a dark circle appearance and contributes to puffiness. The massage gently moves clogged lymph away from the area so the body can then flush it from the system. The result is smoother and brighter looking skin.
Some eye treatments are designed to target specific conditions like wrinkles or puffiness. To combat wrinkles, Mountain View Grand’s De-Stress Eye Treatment for Wrinkles applies a mix of freeze-dried collagen and water like a mask to the skin surrounding, but not covering, the eyes. Collagen is responsible for skin strength and elasticity, and the body’s natural production of collagen slows as you age. The mask helps stimulate natural collagen and refine any fine lines that appear, says Valliere. Mountain View Grand’s sister treatment to soothe puffiness is performed similarily, but relies on ginkgo biloba and vitamin C to reduce stress and swelling. Several small studies suggest that ginkgo biloba may be associated with mild increases in blood flow to the eye area, while vitamin C is touted for its antioxidant and inflammatory properties as well as its ability to relieve sun-damaged skin.
Certain spas, like the Azure Day Spa and Laser Center in New York City, also offer microcurrent therapy as part of their eye treatments. Microcurrent therapy has long been used to help stroke patients with facial weakness as well as professional athletes with muscular injuries. Here, a microcurrent machine zaps small currents of electricity into specific trigger points around the eyes. This helps reduce inflammation to allow the skin to better absorb therapeutic creams and other ingredients; it also stimulates and tones facial muscles to help rejuvenate sagging skin. As you age you lose muscle tone in your body, even around your eyes, which can cause that sagging skin look, says Mina Bowker, a microcurrent therapist and esthetician at Azure Day Spa. Yet if you exercise, you can regain some of that lost muscle tone. The same concept applies to microcurrent therapy-it exercises’ the muscles in the face and helps to revive your skin texture.
The mild current is equal to one millionth of a watt. To put in perspective, it would take 60 million times the units of electricity to light a regular 60-watt light bulb. Most people describe the procedure as a gentle warm sensation.
The effects of most eye treatments can last several days to a week, sometimes longer. You can prolong the effects by reducing your exposure to congestions like smoke and allergens, by taking regular eye breaks from the computer, and by treating your eyes to some at-home exercises and soothing remedies. (See sidebars.) Look out for your eyes, and you’ll begin to see yourself in a better light.
Sight for Sore Eyes
Here are some simple at-home treatments to soothe dark circles, and puffy, dry, and tired eyes:
Dark Circles: Cover your eyes for 15 minutes with a cotton ball dipped in cool cucumber juice. Before bedtime, massage almond oil around the eyes.
Puffy Eyes: Moisten two chamomile tea bags with cold water or stick them in the refrigerator to cool them, says Pat Eisert of Barton Creek Resort & Spa. Place them over the eyes for five to ten minutes. You can also use cotton balls soaked in rosewater. To make rosewater, place a handful of dried rose petals in a mason jar, fill with boiling water, seal, and let set overnight; then mix 1 cup rose-infused water with 2 teaspoons glycerin, and 5 to 10 drops of essential oil.
Dry Eyes: Apply a warm washcloth over your eyes for up to ten minutes followed by one of the gentle massages mentioned above. Do this several times per day. This helps open clogged oil glands in the eyelids that help with lubrication.
Tired Eyes: Rub your palms quickly together until they feel warm. Cup them over your closed eyes. Feel the heat emanating from your palms, but don’t touch your eyelids. Sit quietly in this position for a minute. Repeat several times. This helps to soothe eyes and revitalize the surrounding area.
Your eyes need daily exercise like the rest of your body to keep them fit and healthy. Here are some eye routines you can do at home or work.
Eye Area Massage This is an exercise recommended by esthetician Pat Eisert of Barton Creek Resort & Spa. Face a mirror. Take both ring fingers to the inner corner of your eyes near your nose, then as your move them gently out toward the temples, lightly tap the area. Then move your fingers in one smooth movement down to your clavicle. Repeat four or five times. This helps remove built-up toxins in the lymph, says Eisert.
Acupressure ” Focus on five trigger points around each eye and a sixth in between them to alleviate eyestrain and promote overall eye health. Work on both eyes simultaneously. The first point is between the bridge of your nose and the inner corner of your eye; the second is below where the eyebrow begins; the third is located beneath the center of your brow; the fourth is where your brow tapers off; and the fifth is just beyond the outer corner of your eye. Finish off with the third eye point, located directly between your eyebrows. Press gently on each point with your fingertips for about sixty seconds or until you feel a pulse.
Eye Socket Massage Take your index and middle fingers of each hand and place them on either side of your nose just below the bridge. Rub your fingers up to the bridge of your nose and along your eyebrows. You’ll feel a notch in your eye socket where the bone begins to turn downward. Rub the notch gently for a moment. Then follow the line of the socket rim down beneath the eye and back up along the side of your nose. Repeat the movement five times to relax the eyes and surrounding area.
Face Scrunches ” Scrunch your face tightly: purse your lips, draw your cheeks in toward your nose, pull your eyebrows down, and bring the flesh of your chin up toward your mouth. Tense everything in your face, hold for several seconds, and then completely release. Repeat. This relieves stress and tension and relaxes your eyes and face muscles.
The Lion A play on Lion Pose in yoga. Take a deep inhalation. Open your mouth wide, stick out your tongue, look up, then exhale forcefully, and say Aghhhhhhh! like a lion’s roar. You may feel silly, but this not only stimulates the eyes, but is also a wonderful instant tension reliever.
At-Home Eye Care
Skin Own eye+ Hyaluronic Acid, periwinkle, and licorice ensure the deep penetration to transform and firm skin around your eyes. Cucumber depuffs while aloe smooths and silkens. Its t’s ultimate concentrate.
Juice Beauty Stem CellularInstant Eye Lift Algae Mask is a two step process allowing the STEM CELLULAR™ Activator Fluid and pure marine algae Eye Mask to perform at the highest level of potency and in record speed. Just 10 minutes!
Aubrey Organics Lumessence Rejuvenating Eye Cream: Contains a liposome-based complex of antioxidants to repair damaged skin around the eyes and prevent fine lines and wrinkles.
Kiss My Face Eye Witness Eye Cream: Counteract daily free radical damage and reduce eye puffiness with this natural blend of essential fatty acids, vitamins A, C, and E, and soothing shea butter, (800) 262-KISS, www.kissmyface.com.
Eye Contour Cream: Its draining and decongesting properties help reduce the appearance of dark circles and sagging skin. Suitable for all skin types and ages,(801) 487-2832, www.phytomer.com.
Golden Door Skin Care Eye Gel with Vitamin K Reduce the appearance of dark circles, puffiness, and fine lines with Golden Door skincare’s latest addition to their eye-care arsenal, featuring vitamin K, spirulina, fennel, and aloe, (800) 231-1444, www.goldendoorskincare.com.
Body Systems Cranberry-Cucumber Eye Gel Body Systems unique formula, which contains both cucumber extract and aloe, reduces puffy eyelids, www.bodysystems.net.
By Matthew Solan