The Science Behind Why The Skin Around the Eyes Ages Differently

The Science Behind Why The Skin Around the Eyes Ages Differently

For decades, the beauty industry has taught us that we need a special product for our under-eyes because the skin there is fundamentally different from the skin on our cheeks and our chins. But have you ever found yourself wondering if that’s actually true?

Reference Lab

Feb 28, 2023

It turns out, there’s some interesting science to back it up. Research suggests that the skin around our eyes actually ages differently than skin on the rest of the face–and shows visible signs of aging when we’re still very young. In fact, a recent study found that under-eye wrinkles are the most pronounced visible signs of aging in women ages 20-29.¹ Let’s take a closer look at what makes under-eye skin different from other areas of the face–and what you can do to keep it healthy.

01 Under-Eye Skin Is Thinner

The skin around the eyes is among the thinnest on the body, with the stratum corneum being on average about 3 layers thick compared to 15+ layers on other areas.² The skin is so thin that you can sometimes actually see through it. If you have light skin and struggle with dark circles, you likely have that very thin, transparent under-eye skin to thank. What you’re actually looking at when you see dark circles are subdermal features like hollowness and pooled blood that appear blue or purple beneath thin under-eye skin.³

This incredible skin thinness means your under eyes experience more exaggerated signs of collagen and elastin loss–namely fine lines, sagging, and crepiness.¹,³ This may be partly due to a weaker skin barrier around the eyes. When the skin barrier is weaker, it experiences higher rates of transepidermal water loss, leaving the skin more vulnerable to environmental aggressors that degrade skin firmness and resilience.¹ So even though your under eyes and forehead are exposed to similar environmental conditions, your under eyes will be impacted more.

02 Under-Eye Skin Ages Faster

Do you feel like your eyes are aging faster than the rest of your face? You might be right. Because it’s so thin and vulnerable, periocular skin actually does age faster than other areas of the face. In a study, scientists measured the biological age of eye skin and compared it to skin just inches away on the temple. What they found was that the skin under the eyes was biologically 22.25 years older. The difference was even more pronounced in skin from the upper eyelid, which was on average 28.75 years older than skin on the temples. ¹

03 Under-Eye Skin Experiences Higher Cellular Senescence

To fully understand why under-eye skin ages faster, it’s important to look at the cellular factors behind accelerated skin aging. Research points to cellular senescence, one of the primary factors behind most biological aging in the body. Seeing increased cellular senescence in skin cells is a telltale sign that the skin is aging more rapidly.

In a study, scientists analyzed the expression of a key senescence marker, CDK2NA, in periocular skin. What they found was that periocular skin expressed significantly higher levels of cellular senescence than other areas of the face. This suggests that this delicate skin not only ages faster, but also loses its ability to efficiently repair and regenerate damage. In fact, in the same study, scientists found that DNA repair pathways were lower in periocular skin, suggesting that DNA repair insufficiency may be an underlying factor in rapid signs of visible aging.¹

04 Reverse Biological Aging with the OS-01 peptide

So what can you do to support the delicate skin around your eyes? The answer is OS-01, the first peptide proven to reverse skin’s biological age* by reducing the accumulation of senescent cells**. Stay tuned this month as we reveal key data behind the OS-01 peptide and our latest innovation: OS-01 EYE, a targeted treatment formulated with our highest concentration of the OS-01 peptide to address the unique needs of this incredibly thin skin.

* Measured in lab-based studies by analyzing DNA methylation after exposing ex vivo human skin samples to the OS-01 peptide, and using MolClock, a proprietary algorithm that predicts skin’s biological age based on DNA methylation (Zonari, et al)

** Shown in lab-based studies analyzing in vitro fibroblast cultures from patient derived samples (Zonari, et al)

05 Key Takeaways

  • The skin under the eyes is often the first area on the face to noticeably age
  • This ultra-delicate skin is up to 5x thinner than other areas and is more susceptible to collagen loss and environment aggressors.
  • Studies have shown that this skin ages faster than other nearby areas of the face.
  • Periocular skin shows signs of increased cellular senescence and decreased DNA repair, which may be why we see visible changes so early in our lives.
  • OS-01, the breakthrough peptide in our new OS-01 EYE treatment can help: it’s been shown to reduce the accumulation of senescent cells in human skin in vitro to maintain healthy and youthful skin.
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