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The Bad Habits That Are Aging Your Eyes

There’s a lot more to looking bright-eyed than a great mascara—though we’re the first to admit it definitely helps. As it turns out, there are certain habits we can try to break (like sleeping face down!) that will naturally make our eyes appear less puffy, more clear, and younger all around. Here’s how to minimize the damage:

Stop Rubbing Your Eyes

Excessive eye rubbing can hurt the network of blood vessels underneath your eyes, potentially making dark circles more prominent, and leading to puffiness, redness, and wrinkles, according to Dr. Jennifer Linder, a dermatologist in Scottsdale, AZ. Constant rubbing can also make your eyes itch more, fueling the vicious cycle. Keep your hands to yourself and consider taking a non-drowsy antihistamine like Claritin if allergies are causing itchiness, suggests Linder.

Step Away From the Screen

Red, irritated eyes, blurred vision, and headaches are just a few of the oh-so-pleasant side effects of staring at a screen for long periods of time. When you look at a monitor, you blink about a third as often as you do normally, which dries out your eyes, explains Dr. Neeti Parikh, an ophthalmologist in New York City. Focusing on something up close can also strain the muscles in your eyes, which causes headaches. Her advice? After an hour of screen time, take a five-minute break to completely relax your eyes. Eye drops made from artificial tears (found in most drugstores) can help ease your dryness. You might also consider investing in an anti-glare filter, she says, which cuts down on the brightness that contributes to headaches.

Don’t Forget the Eye Cream

By the time you turn 26, your skin’s collagen levels start to dip, making the area around your eyes less elastic and causing fine lines to form. This is where an eye cream comes in. Choose a formula that has retinol, which increases cell turnover and cranks up collagen—we recommend StriVectin-AR™ Advanced Retinol Eye Treatment. Products with peptides can reduce the muscle contractions that cause wrinkling and increase collagen production, according to Linder. We love dr. brandt® Do Not Age eye cream, which has three different types of peptides to keep skin looking youthful. If you want to go the natural route, try Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream, which brightens and plumps skin with antioxidant plant oils.

Keep Your Sunglasses On Hand

Just like your skin, your eyes need year-round protection from the sun too. Extended exposure to sunlight can damage your eyesight and cause all sorts of other health problems, from cataracts to skin cancer of the eyelid. Parikh tells her patients to wear sunglasses whenever they go outside, even on cloudy days, because damaging UV rays penetrate the atmosphere no matter what. Look for lenses that block 99 to 100% of UVA and UVB rays and protect the delicate area with SPF even if you’re mainly indoors: Supergoop!®’s Advanced SPF 37 Anti-Aging Eye Cream not only contains those antiaging peptides we talked about, but also softens the look of fine lines and dark circles with light-diffusing minerals.

Sleep Face Up

We know, we know. It’s so easy to just face-plant on the pillow. But sleeping this way every night can crease the skin around your eyes and mouth, contributing to premature wrinkles, says Linder. If you’re burrowing your head in pursuit of a darker bedroom, consider investing in an eye mask or black out shades. Some derms claim that sleeping on a silk pillowcase can help minimize facial creasing, so consider switching up your bed linens too.

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