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How To Protect & Perfect Your Delicate Eye Area This Summer


National Sunglasses Day, June 27th, is a great reason to invest in a serious pair of shades that are more than a fashion statement.

Be wary of those brilliant summer skies: UV can damage your eye tissue itself, starting with sunburned corneas, the outermost layer of the eye that plays an important role in focusing your vision. 

In the long-term, exposing your eyes to sun can lead to cataracts, macular degeneration and other conditions that can seriously affect your vision. 

Reflective surfaces like water, sand and snow increase these risks.  Ditto for concrete and cement in cityscapes. 

So whether you’re enjoying an summer vacation in the wide-open spaces, or just making your way through the asphalt jungle, protect your eyes with sunglasses every day – even when skies are overcast, or you’ve moved to the shade.


Protect those peepers  

Be sure that the shades you choose really do offer significant UV protection (many don’t). Wrap-around frames and large lenses a-la Jackie O obviously offer greater protection than a smaller silhouette.

If you’re outdoors a lot, check out sunglasses in high-tech sports styles that shield your eyes even more completely.


A hint of a squint?

The skin around our eyes is almost as fragile as the sensitive, miraculous eyeball itself.  

The delicate upper and lower lid are some of the thinnest skin on the body, so repetitive facial movements leave their mark here. 

As early as our 20s, our skin may start to show fine lines from smiling, frowning, and of course squinting in strong light (another great reason to invest in sunglasses). 

The area around your eyes telegraphs your mood, how much sleep you got last night, and maybe even more subtle health issues. Several muscles control the movements of our eyes, so this area of the face is almost always in motion whether we realize it or not.

Supermodel Tyra Banks popularized the phrase “smize," meaning the kind of smile that involves micro-expressions around the eyes as well as a big grin.

In fact, a new science is emerging around the interpretation of these micro-expressions.   

Smiles which involve only the lips and mouth are sometimes called a “Botox” smile or a “Pan-Am smile," and may appear insincere (although always polite).   

A more spontaneous, genuine smile as studied by scientists in the development of facial recognition technologies is called the “Duchenne smile," and involves tiny contractions and movements of the muscles around the eyes, or Tyra Banks’ “smize.”  

This authentic “smize," in fact, requires a bit of a squint (contraction of the orbicularis oculi, the muscle that closes the eyelids), so it’s not surprising that this area of the skin easily develops deep creases. These traces of expression become more pronounced as collagen in the skin declines, in response to the environmental effects of free radicals.  

Try an eye-cream containing a peptide complex, to rebuild skin’s support-structure. Replacing lost collagen can help fine lines look more filled-in, so the eye area looks rested and refreshed.

Formulations blending energizing Ginseng Root and Gotu Kola extracts have been a classic beauty go-to in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. Look for eye-care products containing these ancient herbal remedies to soften the depth of “smize”-lines, too.


Lighten up and pack those bags!

If you’ve got dark circles or undereye puffiness even when you’re well-rested, the reason may begin with your genes.  Skin density and color are initially programmed by our DNA, and people with very fair complexions often have a tinge of green, blue or purple in the translucent area under the lower lashes.

Could it be your kidneys? Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) interprets dark circles and undereye puffiness as a possible sign of kidney imbalance.

TCM associates the kidney with water and other fluids, and with the moistening aspect of Yin energy. Because the kidneys play an essential role in efficiently moving waste from every system of the body, this ancient Taoist system links kidney stagnation with fluids pooling in the tissues around the eyes.   

A couple of universal fixes couldn’t hurt, and might help:

  • Don’t sleep face-down. Sleep on your back and use a couple of pillows to elevate your head at night, so that lymph doesn’t collect below your eyes.
  • As soon as you get up, go for a brisk walk, jog, run, or other exercise that’s both aerobic and weight-bearing to move and circulate fluids that have collected in your body during the night.

Eye-care products containing retinol, Hyaluronic acid, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) can all help perk up the sensitive under-eye area as part of your regular skin care routine, so there’s no reason to ever stop smiling!

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