Dylan Mustapich is a NYC-based lead esthetician who has been featured in New Beauty, Teen Vogue, Wired, and The Huffington Post. With a lifelong love of all things skin, he is incredibly knowledgeable about skincare ingredients, routine refinement, and personalized skincare, and follows emerging technology closely.
Why do you have lines under your eyes? Atolla gets to the bottom of it, and what you may be able to do to help to reduce their visibility.
As we age, lines and wrinkles happen — it’s a normal part of life. But do you know why you develop those lines, and what (if anything) you can do to minimize them or slow down how quickly they appear?
At Atolla, our goal is for you to love your skin, at any age or life phase. There’s no such thing as “perfection,” because everyone’s skin is unique.
Rather, we believe in achieving skin health as the goal.
Part of living your best skin is understanding how it works, so that you can learn to see yourself for the beautiful, unique human that you are. So, if you’re here because you’ve been asking yourself “why do I have lines under my eyes?” We’re here to answer that and so much more!
Reason #1: Genetics
Let’s start with one of the factors involved with how and when you might develop under eye wrinkles that you can’t control: genetics.
Your genes have at least a small role in how old you are when those fine lines and wrinkles start to show up, and how deep they may get. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how amazing your family members look as they age), external factors tend to have a lot more influence on those things.
Interestingly enough, there was a study done that looked at the differences between genetics and external factors. In this case, they studied sets of identical twins, looking for both similarities and differences in the way they had aged. The researchers looked at their appearances, and factored in various lifestyle choices like smoking, stress, and sun exposure. The twin that had more of the risk factors that we’ll discuss below also tended to visibly age more quickly.
While more studies need to be done to have a more conclusive answer, this was definitely confirmation that the belief that external factors have more of an impact than simple genetics is likely true.
Reason #2 : Sun Exposure
Although we know how important it is to always wear sunscreen, the most likely answer to “why do I have lines under my eyes?” is that you’ve had more sun exposure than you think.
It’s likely that up to 80% - 90% of fine lines and wrinkles (and other signs of aging that happen to the face) are due to sun exposure. This is especially true around the eyes, where the skin is naturally more thin than other areas of the face. What that means for you is that lines are more visible in the under eye area.
The good news is that, because the impact of sun damage is so well-documented, so are the ingredients that have been researched to help slow it down and counteract it. Among them, vitamin C is probably the most studied and has the most proven track record, as well.
This is why it is so important to wear sunscreen everyday, and especially if you’re planning on spending time in direct sunlight. A quality sunscreen is at least 30 SPF (50 SPF is even better), provides broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB light, and is water resistant. Even with all of those factors, sunscreen should still be reapplied at least once every two hours (or more, depending on how much time you’re spending in the water or if you’re sweating).
Reason #3 : Frequently Rubbing Your Eyes
No judgement from us — we know how tempting it can be to rub your eyes when you wake up in the morning, after you wash your face, or after a relaxing shower.
For a lot of people, rubbing the eyes is something they do unconsciously. Unfortunately, frequently rubbing your eyes can also contribute to how soon you develop noticeable under eye lines. It all comes back to how delicate the skin is in that area.
When you rub that delicate skin, you can damage it by stretching it out and triggering the breakdown of the elastin and collagen that help to keep it plump. This can also contribute to dark under eye circles, as well.
Try patting your skin dry after you shower or the next time you wash your face. Even this small change can make a difference.
Reason #4 : Repetitive Facial Movements
Each of us has a tendency to use certain facial expressions when we feel emotions — happiness, sadness, confusion, excitement. Think about the face that you make when someone has surprised you, or when you’re trying to show disdain. It’s usually the same face, right? While the lines and wrinkles that they cause are usually a sign of a life well lived, it’s the repetitiveness of using the same muscles over and over, and the way that the skin reacts over it that can contribute to them.
When we’re younger and our skin has more collagen and elastin, it naturally bounces back. However, as we age and our collagen production starts to slow down (and the existing collagen begins to degrade), it isn’t as resilient and the lines become more visible.
Reason #5 : Smoking
Smoking simply isn’t good for you, inside or out. Not only is it dangerous for your health, it is also a major contributor to the development of lines in the under eye area. This happens for a variety of reasons.
For one, when you inhale as you smoke, you naturally squint your eyes. And, as we just discussed, that repetitive facial movement over time can definitely contribute to the development of lines under the eyes.
In addition, nicotine actually reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood that circulates all throughout the skin. With less oxygenation to the skin, it is less able to rebuild itself and remove toxins, which also makes it more difficult for it to bounce back. It’s even possible that nicotine may contribute to a quicker breakdown of collagen, while also impacting the skin’s ability to replace it.
It just isn’t worth it.
Reason #6 : Dehydration
One final factor that can contribute to the development of lines in the under eye area (and all over the face, in fact) is dehydration.
The body is made of mostly water, and it needs water to be able to perform all of its functions smoothly. Although we don’t often think about it, our skin is actually the largest organ of all.
When it doesn’t have enough water to be able to function optimally, the results can be visible lines and wrinkles. Your skin may also feel tighter than normal, itch, or flake. Dehydration can also lead to the appearance of sunken eyes, which can make both lines under the eyes and under eye circles more apparent.
Focus on drinking the recommended amount of water daily (around 15 8-ounce glasses of water a day for men and 11 for women), eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and reducing the amount of sugar and sodium in your diet. Your body will thank you, both inside and out.
How You Can Help Decrease the Appearance of Fine Lines
Once you know the answer to why you have fine lines, you can move on to learning how to decrease their visibility (if you’re interested in that). A great way to do that is by developing a skin care routine that works for you and your specific skin.
More and more, people are turning to custom skin care routines to help them reveal their best skin yet.
At Atolla, our most comprehensive plan is The Ritual. It starts with a skin assessment where you answer questions about your skin care goals, the history of your skin, any allergies, your lifestyle, etc. We take the answers to those questions and create custom formulas using only vegan, cruelty-free ingredients that we use in a cleanser, serum, and moisturizer meant to help you reach your skin goals.
Pro Tip: When applying your serum, take the product all the way up to your eyes, and use a gentle tapping notion with your ring finger for gentle application.
When you use those formulas twice daily, it can help increase your skin’s hydration and resilience. Combined with lifestyle changes like drinking plenty of water, quitting smoking, and wearing sunscreen when you go out in the sun, you may be able to see a real change in your skin with consistent use.
To Sum It All Up
At Atolla, our biggest goal is for you to have the healthiest skin regardless of your age. Part of loving your skin is also understanding how it works and what you need, so you will be able to truly embrace your skin and work with it instead of against it.
After all, we only get one body in this life. Embracing it is important to living a healthy, balanced life.