One of the truly annoying things about growing up is that gradually you're forced to worry about things you never worried about before. For example, when I was a kid, I stretched, rubbed, and pulled at my eyes from morning till night with nary a thought of wrinkles, but now that I'm in my twenties, it's a different scene. Every time I try to remove mascara, a little fairy appears in my bathroom mirror and screams at me, "YOUR DELICATE UNDER-EYE SKIN SHOULD BE TREATED LIKE SILK." It's exhausting!
But yeah, your delicate under-eye skin should be treated like silk. Suffice it to say that the skin around your eyes is thinner than the skin on the rest of your face and doesn't have as many oil glands as, say, your nose, meaning that eyes are one of the first places to show aging on your pretty little face.
So you have to care for your peepers, and you have to care for them in a slightly different manner than the rest of your face. I like to think of it as a luxurious process, something Frenchwomen all over the world have probably been doing since the cradle. All that gentle patting and lavender-scented nighttime creams seems almost royal if you do it right, no?
1. Wake up slow.
One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is a little time in the morning to let your eyes adjust to the world around you. On the days when I roll out of bed and head straight to my computer, I can feel my eyes protesting. Look outside, check out the weather, drink a slow cup of coffee. Eyes need to wake up, too.
2. Gently de-puff.
If you have to get somewhere fast and don't have the time to let your puffy nighttime eyes come down on their own, try one of these tried-and-true de-puffing remedies: cucumber slices, chamomile bags, cold spoons. You've heard about them a million times, but that's because they actually work. Too mainstream for you? Real Simple recommends wrapping a bag of frozen vegetables in a thin towel and laying it over your eyes for ten minutes.
3. Apply your morning cream.
I'm not going to be the crazy one who says that you have to have a morning eye cream and a night eye cream and an afternoon eye cream and an eye cream JUST FOR SATURDAYS AND SO HELP ME IF I SEE YOU USING THE WRONG EYE CREAM ON THE WRONG DAY — I'm just going to point out that there are specific eye creams for mornings, and if you'd like to go crazy, be my guest. Look for something with caffeine for maximum de-puffing capabilities, like Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream from 100% Pure (vegan, mostly organic). Drier AM eyes can opt for Caudalie Vinosource S.O.S. Morning Eye Rescue, which uses antioxidants to soothe and moisturize.
What should you look for in an eye cream, anyway? Oprah's eye guy recommends creams with something super-emollient, like shea butter; hyaluronic acid for drawing in moisture; and retinol and vitamin C to build collagen. Youthful makeup guru Michelle Phan recommends peptides, antioxidants (that's vitamin C), and retinol. I also recommend plugging your cream into Skin Deep to make sure it's not toxic before you buy.
4. Eat some kale.
And spinach and oranges and eggs, all of which are good sources of lutein, which is found in high concentrations in the human eye.
5. Look away from the computer.
All the creams in the world can't save your eyes if your MacBook is out to BLIND YOU. Follow the 20/20/20 rule when typing away at your busy job to avoid eye strain: Every 20 minutes, look away from the computer for 20 seconds at something 20 feet away.
1. No more makeup.
While removing makeup, it's really hard to be gentle on your eyes. Some ladies go for a thick swab of cold cream; others use specific eye makeup removers that promise to be gentle. Personally, I recommend reusable cotton pads, like these eco-friendly ones from S. W. Basics, and a lot of oil. I've found that olive oil is a gentle, cheap way to remove the stubbornest of mascaras, but if you've got an endless budget and a real desire to treat your eyes right, you could try removing eye makeup with argan oil, also known as "liquid gold." Just avoid anything with lots of different essential oils. Keep it pure and your eyes will thank you.
Remember to be gentle when applying your makeup remover of choice, and especially gentle when swiping it off. Patting motions and gentle, light swipes should do the trick, but if you've got six minutes to spare and are really taking this eye care thing seriously, this instructional video about the proper way to remove eye makeup is pretty helpful.
2. Apply your nighttime cream right.
Now that you've yanked all your eyelashes out while removing mascara (I TOLD YOU TO BE GENTLE), take extra care with your night eye cream application. Go for a lavender-scented cream to get you in the mood for slumber, like Eminence Organic Lavender Age Corrective Night Eye Cream. Dab a pea-sized amount of the cream on your ring finger, then gently, gently, GENTLY pat it around your eye, both above and below, following the curve of your eye bones. Don't get the cream too close to your lash lines, as eye creams travel and will cause puffiness and irritation if they get in your eyes. Some say there's no need to moisturize your upper eyelid. Some say you should moisturize everything. I say we all think too much.
3. Grow your eyelashes while you sleep.
I and every other faux-hippie on the internet swear by this trick: Before going to bed, apply a little castor oil to your brows and lashes. It's a home remedy that seems to actually work; I've been doing it for a few weeks now, and I'm pretty sure my lashes have grown longer, which is beyond amazing. Be careful to keep the heavy goopy oil out of your eyes, though. Hey, if Oprah's brow guru recommends castor oil for eyebrow growth, can the boho children of the internet be so wrong?