[By Nicole Lin]

Many men and women have battled undereye beauty woes for years but without success. Here we get the lowdown on the differences between eye and facial skin, and uncover the latest, effective aesthetic fixes that can be used to overcome them.

Differences between eye and facial skin

Differences in skin thickness, sensitivity and density of oil glands result in the differences of skin on different parts of your body. The skin around the eyes is the thinnest and most delicate part of your face. It does not have much support structure which is why it wrinkles easily. The eye area has very little oil (sebaceous gland) therefore it lacks the natural moisture which makes it drier than the rest of the facial skin. Furthermore, the skin around the eyes is constantly under stress from eye movements such as blinking and squinting, making it more susceptible to wrinkles. Finally, it also has numerous capillaries close to the surface of the skin, making it more susceptible to puffiness.

When should people start using eye cream? Can people use face cream as a substitute?

Caring for the skin around the eyes is a delicate process. Because it is thinner, it not only tends to be the first place to show signs of aging, but it is also more sensitive than the rest of the skin. Therefore, it is never too early or too late to start using an eye cream as it can help to slow down or reverse the effects of ageing at the eye area. However, extra care needs to be taken when choosing a skincare product for the eyes. It is important that the formula is gentle enough to be used for the sensitive eye area. Do not attempt to use products meant for the rest of the face or the body around your eyes as this may lead to irritation and redness. Contact lens wearers in particular, should avoid skincare products containing oil. The oil not only sticks to the lens causing blurred vision, but can also cause permanent staining. Products that contain gentle, non-irritating ingredients to reduce the appearance of wrinkles along with a wide range of vitamins, antioxidants, and skin-plumping substances are ideal choices:

  • Vitamin A (Retinol) – a common ingredient found in anti-ageing anti-wrinkle cream for the face and eye area. It encourages new cell growth and the production of collagen which can make the skin look younger such as Sloane Inc. Vitamin A Eye Renewal (HK$675 subject to 7% GST). However, a little goes a long way, eye creams containing Vitamin A should be applied sparingly.
    Vitamin C and E contributes to younger-looking skin in the eye area. Vitamin C encourages the production of collagen making it more pliable and elastic while Vitamin E soothes and protects the skin.
  • Hyaluronic Acid and Ceramides are useful in eye creams because of its excellent moisture-retentive qualities. It attracts and holds moisture, plumping up the skin. It helps to smooth out the wrinkles around the eye area, giving the skin a supple look.
  • Kojic Acid is capable of lightening the skin to lighten dark eye circles.

What are the causes of dark circle and eye bags? And solutions?

Dark Eye Circles

The periorbital area (around your eyes) is webbed with tiny capillaries. The blood vessels are so tiny that red blood cells have to stand in line to get through them. The red blood cells sometimes leak from these capillaries into the surrounding skin. Your body has a mechanism to mop up these escapees. Enzymes in your body break down the red blood cells, including their hemoglobin (the molecule that gives them their distinctive red colour). Unfortunately, when hemoglobin is broken down, its remaining components have a dark blue-black color, just like a bruise. So your dark under-eye circles are actually caused by leaky capillaries.

The reason why dark undereye circles are so apparent is because the skin around the eyes is the thinnest and most delicate skin of your entire body. The capillaries are much closer to the surface of the skin there. The more transparent the skin – an inherited trait, the darker the circles will appear. This combination of capillaries near the skin’s surface and translucent skin makes this discoloration more apparent. However, some individuals may also have inherent skin pigmentation in this area while others may have exacerbating factors such as eczema or chronic sinusitis which can make the appearance of dark eye circles worse. Lifestyle factors such as allergies, medications and even lack of a balanced diet can contribute to the deterioration of dark eye circles. It is a myth that a lack of sleep causes dark eye circles. While a lack of sleep does not relate directly to dark under eye circles, being tired however causes the skin to be paler, allowing the blood vessels underneath the skin to become more visible and appear darker or bluer. In all, the appearance and severity of dark eye circles is multifactorial or a combination of many of the above factors.

Eye creams can help to speed up the rate of the hemoglobin degradation. As the loose blood is completely degraded, the dark pigmentation fades. Eye circle creams can also help to strengthen the capillaries in your skin to prevent future leakage, causing dark eye circles. However, as these eye creams can take a few months to see a noticeable improvement, most of our patients would go for our in-clinic eye treatments to see faster results before using eye creams for maintenance. For individuals with genetic hyper-pigmentation on the undereye area, can be effectively treated with lasers such as The Sloane Clinic’s  Laser Toning treatment (USD$150). The gentle laser waves breaks down and reduce excessive dermal pigmentation while stimulating the deep layers of the skin to produce collagen. One can also opt for their Eye Revival program (USD$3500) which includes a combination of Laser Toning and Revitalift treatment at the undereye area. Laser Toning brightens the skin, improves sluggish blood circulation and stimulates collagen replenishment while Revitalift, a hyaluronic acid filler injected via microinjections, complements the laser effects by replenishing skin with hyaluronic acid. Thus, diminishing dark circles and illuminating the undereye skin.


Unlike Lady Gaga who says that we are “born this way”, there are several ways we can undertake to improve the appearance of eyebags. The main culprit in the development of eyebags is the extrusion of fat pads in the undereye area. This, coupled with loss of elasticity of the surrounding skin results in the unsightly pouches in the infra-orbital area that we call eye bags.

The gold standard for the removal of eyebags is a surgical procedure called Lower Blepharoplasty, which is the removal of fats usually along with excess skin and muscle from the lower eyelid area and then redistributing the remaining fat. Patients can usually expect dramatic improvement in appearance.

Patients who have a milder problem or those who are unwilling to undergo surgery can consider non-surgical alternatives such as Thermage (USD$2300) skin tightening for the undereye area. Thermage is a monopolar radiofrequency technology that stimulates your skin to contract and tighten after a single session. Increase in the skin tone can result in an improvement in the appearance of the undereye area.

A second non-surgical solution for the undereye area would be natural fillers. As we age, the area in the medial corner of the eye (tear trough) and the surrounding area loses volume and becomes more sunken. This sunkenness paradoxically makes the eyebags look more prominent. Natural hyaluronic acid injectable fillers such as Juvederm and Restylane can be injected just under the puffy eye area to get rid of the “hollow” under the eye, thereby smoothening out the undereye contours for an improved appearance. At the same time, fillers also do wonders for rejuvenation of the eye area, to smoothen wrinkles and fine lines of the undereye area and even brighten the skin to reduce dark eye circles.

Surprisingly, Botox can also be used to treat eyebags. However, it is specifically more suited for eyebags caused by muscle hypertrophy, known as orbicularis hypertrophy where the muscle around the eyes is thickened from excessive muscular action such as squinting. With orbicularis hypertrophy, a bulging is seen immediately below the eyes when the person smiles, this may sometimes be mistaken as an “eyebag”. By administering a small dose of Botox to the hyperactive muscle, the area flattens out after a few days.

All prices and information given are estimation and are subject to changes without prior notice. None of the information given in this article constitutes medical advice. Individuals with medical eye issues sholud still consult their healthcare professional for medical advice.


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6 thoughts on “See Eye to Eye”

  1. This is a great article about the use of eye product and Skincare product. Most people do not know that there are such different between the two.

  2. I can attest eye creams do nothing for my panda eyes despite what they claim. i have heard of fit k for under eye. anyone has the experience to share?

  3. I have also heard of eye massage but i cannot understand how that would help. I am really tempted to try the eye treatments mentioned though cos creams can only do so much, if at all.

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