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The costly mistakes that are giving you a serious case of the crows!

Gemma Montgomery Skin. Skin Care specialist.

The saying goes ‘The eyes are the windows of the soul’. But have you been looking in the mirror recently thinking more along the lines of old soul?

Rest assured, you’re not the only one! In fact I’d estimate 90% of women who walk through my clinic door are concerned about their ageing eye area. The most common complaints are:

Crows feet – The lines that extend at the sides of the eyes when we smile appearing more prominent. These lines may have become present on the skin when the face is at rest.

Crepey under eye skin – The skin under the eye’s become less taught and supple, appearing saggy and crinkly.

Eye bags – The under eye area has become puffy with fluid retention.

Hollowing and dark circles – Eyes are appearing more inset and dark shadows are more evident.

Upper eye skin feels heavier – The skin above the eye lid has stated to drop, making you appear more tired and annoyingly causing applied eyeliner to smudge on to the eye lid.

In a nutshell, the eye area is often the first place you’ll see the signs of ageing due to the following:

  • The skin around the eye is thinner in nature and contains no oil glands for lubrication.
  • The eye is an area of repeated expression. Think how often you use your eye muscle each day when smiling and squinting. Did you know that people with green and blue eyes are naturally more sensitive to sunlight, causing them to squint more than brown eyed people?

Quick self test

To test the resilience and elasticity of the skin under your eye, pull the skin under the lower lid gently forwards and see how long it takes for it to snap back into place. It should be pretty instant. A few second or longer indicates loss of elasticity.

Although we all expect to have signs of ageing as we grown older, people often get disheartened if it’s happening earlier than expected or if others are commenting on you looking tired all the time.

So lets dive into the costly eye ageing habits:

  • Removing your eye makeup with the wrong products.
    Whether you choose to remove your eye makeup with wipes, cleanser, or a specific eye makeup remover, please beware. Many contain ingredients such as emulsifiers, mineral oil, fragrances, alcohol and parabens. These nasty’s can strip the delicate eye skins protective barrier, drying the skin out, causing, redness and sensitivity. The skin will become thinner and inevitably lines are more likely to become imprinted on to the skin.
  • Forgetting your sunscreen and sunglasses
    Protecting your eye area from harmful UV rays in the day is essential to stop DNA damage and subsequent breakdown of collagen and elastin, resulting in thinning of skin. A good pair of quality sunglasses will also block out the harmful UV rays and will help to reduce the squinting motion.
  • Incorrect eye cream
    It’s natural to think you’re helping the skin by applying eye cream, Sadly as with makeup removers many ingredients in creams can cause more harm than good and at worst just pool and sit on top of the skins surface doing nothing! It’s the usual culprits. Emulsifiers, mineral oils, fragrances.
  • Waxing the brows
    Hot wax and the pulling motion combined can cause the upper eye skin to become less taught and lose resilience. This is due to the mechanical motion and stripping of the skins protective barrier.
  • Sleeping position and lack of
    It’s well documented that the body goes into regeneration and repair mode when asleep. Lack of good quality shut eye impedes this process causing the skin to appear more saggy and sallow.
    Sleeping on your side or front can cause the skin to crease creating sleep lines that can mimic crows feet. It’s exactly the same principle as repeated muscular movement. Crease the skin repeatedly and the line will imprint on to the skin. Lack of sleep can make the eyes appear more hollow and dark. It’s called beauty sleep for a reason!
  • Excess sugar.
    Beware of the link between sugar and internal inflammation. Inflammation is linked to many chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. I witnessed the damaging effects of inflammation first hand in my NHS nursing roles. Sugar also accelerates the ageing process by attaching to collagen through a process known as glycation. Glycation produces enzymes that break down collagen and connective tissue, which is necessary for strong supple skin.
  • Being underweight
    Being underweight can accelerate natural physiological age related changes. As we age the fat pad to the upper cheek can descend south causing the upper cheek to appear more flat and dipped. This fat pad is what gives us our full face and high cheekbones in our youth. Being underweight can mimic this natural process causing the cheek to look flat and the under eye receiving less structural support. The under eye skin appears more translucent, eye bags can protrude and dark shadows appear.
  • Poor diet
    A diet abundant in the correct vitamins, minerals and amino acids is essential to build strong healthy skin cells. Poor nutrition equals weaker delicate skin. Also bear in mind salt intake and it’s ability to cause water retention. This may exacerbate puffy fluid retained eye bags.
  • Neglecting to visit your health professional
    Feeling increasingly tired and eyes becoming puffy can be a sign of impaired thyroid function. Tiredness and dark shadows may be a sign of anaemia (low iron)

Take action

  • Swap your harsh make up remover for a formula gentle enough to use everywhere including the eye area. One that removes make up and grime without causing harm to the delicate skin. I recommend the Dermaviduals cleansing milk. £20 for 150mls
  • Invest in a good quality UVA/ UVB protectant. I recommend Heliocare 50 gel. It looks and feels like a cream is extremely light and non sticky, simple to wear under make up. If possible try and invest in some good quality sunglasses.
  • When choosing an eye cream. Look out ingredients that will hydrate and increase the suppleness and tone of the eye skin, whilst helping with circulation. Examples include Hyaluronic acid, Caffine, Butchers broom, Kigella, ceramides, phytosterols, Cukoo flower oil, olive oil, Shea butter, cucumber and panthenol. The ones I recommend are : Dermaviduals Eye Cream (£30 for 15ml) or Obagi Elastiderm eye cream (£85)
  • Use the softest flat cotton pads you can find to remove makeup.
  • If fluid retention’s present under the eye, try using a cold compress eye mask to help reduce the swelling and cold sliced cucumber. Affordable eye masks can be found on amazon here.
  • Ditch eyebrow waxing for tweezing or threading or if waxing is a must, try to go longer between appointments or rotate appointments with tweezing.
  • Try to develop healthy sleep habits. The latest research shows that the optimal time to go to bed to induce the kind of sleep that causes the repair in our bodies is 10pm, if rising around 6-6.30am. Invest in a good quality pillowcase and train yourself to sleep on your back.
  • Cut back on refined sugar and should the sweet temptation arise, choose sweet skin healthy options such as strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and apples and good quality dark chocolate (cocoa)
  • Try to maintain a healthy weight by including ‘good’ skin healthy fats. Examples include oily fish, avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut, olives and olive oil. Additional natural supplements can help such as fish oils, aloe vera, multi vitamins and bee pollen. Please speak to me if you’d like to discuss how these supplements could help you.
  • If symptomatic, make that appointment with your health professional. A simple blood test can rule out any common disorders such as impaired thyroid function or anaemia.

Treatment options

Botulinum Toxin A injections

At Gemma Montgomery Skin strategically placed injections using the prescription medicine Botox, can be used to soften crows feet lines and lift the upper eye skin, to create a natural, rejuvenated appearance. Treatment is subject to suitability following thorough medical consultation. Prices from £180

Dermal fillers

Treatment with hyaluronic acid dermal fillers can be given to help with under eye hollowing and shadowing, known as tear trough filling. I personally do not perform this eye rejuvenation treatment due to the potential associated risks. For those interested I am happy to recommend a suitably qualified medical specialist.

If on examination the problem is sinking of the upper fat pad of the cheek, then this can easily be restored and rejuvenated with hyaluronic acid dermal filler. Treatments start at £500 and are subject to full medical consultation.

Skin needling

A simple procedure performed in my clinic. The skin around the eye is traumatised using very fine needles. The trauma stimulates the wound healing cascade, resulting in increased collagen production and smoother, tighter, brighter skin. Prices start at £150

Prescriptive eye treatments

A 45-minute eye treatment combining massage, lymphatic drainage and prescriptive topical active skincare. Price £75.

So as you can see the topic is quite lengthy and everyone’s concerns are different, but I hope I’ve covered all options as concisely as I can.

If you’d like to discuss your concerns further then call 01422 385265 or email

Know anyone else who would benefit from this info? If so, then please share.

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