Nobody likes having dry skin anywhere on their body, but the itching and flaking is especially problematic when it occurs under your eyes.
Yet it seems like the under eye area is the first to dry out — and the toughest to keep hydrated.
Why does your under eye skin get so dry? And what can you do to prevent it?
The solution is simpler than you might think!
What Causes Dry Skin Under Your Eyes?
There are many causes of dry skin, and chances are that several of them apply to you.
For starters, some people are genetically prone to having dry skin. If your general skin type is dry, you lack the necessary amount of oil glands to keep your skin moist.
Dryness can also be caused by sun exposure, as the heat sucks the water out of your skin.
Wind and dry air also contribute to dryness. If you live in an arid climate, if it’s wintertime or if you’re in an air-conditioned building, the very air around you is likely drying out your skin.
It’s not just environmental, either: if you wear thick makeup, or if you wash your face with hot water, you’re contributing to your skin’s dryness.
But why does the skin under your eyes dry out so much quicker than the rest of your skin?
Well, your under eye skin is much thinner and more fragile than the rest of your skin. This means that it retains less moisture and is more likely to dry out.
How to Treat Dry Skin Under Your Eyes
Wash with a Gentle Cleanser
You might think that you’re doing your skin a favor by washing it with strong cleansers, but your efforts may be making your dry under eyes worse.
Many cleansers contain harsh, drying ingredients such as sulfates and alcohols. The reason these ingredients make for such effective cleansers is that they draw every last bit of oil out of your skin.
But your skin needs to keep some of its oils to avoid drying out. This is especially true of your delicate under eye skin.
If you’re suffering from dry skin under your eyes, ditch the harsh cleansers and try a gentle one instead. Look for a cleanser that’s free of sulfates, alcohols, fragrances, AHAs and BHAs.
And gentleness doesn’t stop with your cleanser, either — you need to use a gentle hand while you’re cleansing, too.
Don’t rub or scrub it into your skin. Instead, apply the cleanser with light circular motions, then rinse with lukewarm water.
Make Sure to Moisturize
The best way to revive your dry under eye skin is also the most straightforward: moisturize it!
You should be moisturizing your entire face every morning and evening, so if you don’t already do that, now’s the time to start. Your skin needs a lightweight moisturizer in the morning and a richer one at night.
For best results, use a moisturizer that’s formulated for use around the eyes.
These moisturizers contain super-hydrating ingredients and provide a tougher moisture barrier to protect the thin skin under your eyes. They’re also free from irritating ingredients that you don’t want anywhere near your eyes.
Use an Under Eye Mask
If you need a quick fix for dry skin under your eyes, try a hydrating under eye mask mask.
You have many different options, from the classic cucumber slices to specially-formulated under eye sheet or peel-off masks. Their unifying quality: they deliver high doses of hydration right to your dry under eye areas.
If you use a store-bought mask, make sure it’s labeled as being safe for use around the eyes. Look for ingredients like super-hydrating hyaluronic acid, natural cucumber extract and barrier-building glycerin.
You can also try making your own hydrating and moisturizing under eye mask. Combine equal parts sweet almond oil and honey, apply the mixture to your under eye areas and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes.
How to Prevent Dry Skin Under Your Eyes
Don’t Touch Your Eye Areas
Constantly rubbing or touching the skin under your eyes is bad for many reasons.
The more you touch and stretch your skin, the faster it thins, wrinkles and ages. For the already-thin skin under your eyes, this is a recipe for disaster, since thin skin dries out faster than thicker skin.
You should avoid touching your face in general, but especially under your eyes. Keeping your fingers off your face will keep your skin healthy and strong.
Avoid Strong Chemicals and Harsh Products
As mentioned above, the harsh chemicals found in many skincare products can cause dry under eye skin.
Before buying a new product, scan the label for any mention of drying ingredients. If you see ingredients like sulfates, salicylic acid, fragrances or alcohols, skip it — it’s likely to dry you out.
Instead, look for products that are labeled as “suitable for dry skin” or “hydrating.” Consider browsing the natural skincare aisle, as these products are less likely to contain harsh, drying chemicals.
Wash with Lukewarm (Not Hot) Water
Hot water can feel heavenly on your skin, especially during wintertime.
But washing your face with hot water can cause severe dryness. That’s because hot water removes oil from your skin, and without that oil, your skin will start to flake, itch and redden.
To prevent your skin, including your under eye skin, from drying out after washing, use lukewarm water instead of hot. Lukewarm water can range from room temperature (around 70 degrees F) to body temperature (around 98 degrees F) depending on your comfort levels.
Massage Your Face with Essential Oils
Facial massage is a relaxing way to soothe your skin, tone your facial muscles and stimulate healthy oil production.
And massaging your under eye areas with essential oils takes these benefits to the next level.
It’s easy: just choose an oil, place a few drops on your fingertip, then massage it into your under eye areas using very gentle circular motions. Do this for a few minutes or until the oil has absorbed, making sure not to tug, pull or stretch the skin.
Recommended essential oils for under-eye massage include rose, chamomile, lemon, lavender, flaxseed, frankincense, clove and rosemary. Whatever you choose, make sure you don’t get any in your eyes as you massage.
Remove Your Makeup Before Bed
No, it’s not the end of the world if you forget to remove your makeup before bed once in a blue moon.
But if you regularly fall asleep before removing your makeup, you could be drying your skin out.
And the thin skin under your eyes is particularly at risk, especially if you wear eyeliner, mascara and other eye makeup.
Before you head to bed, remove all of your makeup with a gentle makeup remover and lukewarm water. Use a makeup remover without sulfates and other drying ingredients, and consider using a separate eye-safe makeup remover for your eye areas.
Going to bed with a clean, moisturized face will ensure that you wake up with healthy, hydrated under eye skin.