Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 2/22/2021
If you’ve ever looked at your reflection in the mirror or seen a photo taken in bright lighting, you may have spotted fine but noticeable wrinkles under your eyes.
Under eye wrinkles are a common sign of aging that develop as a result of the gradual decline in your skin elasticity that occurs as you get older. They affect men and women and may begin to appear as you enter your late 20s, 30s or forties.
Like other wrinkles, the wrinkles that develop under your eyes aren’t totally avoidable. However, the right combination of good habits, skin care products and science-based treatments can help to slow down the effects of aging on your skin and make under eye wrinkles less visible.
Below, we’ve explained how under eye wrinkles and other wrinkles develop, as well as what you can do to treat and prevent them.
Wrinkles, whether they develop under your eyes or elsewhere on your face, develop as a result of natural changes that occur in your skin as you age.
As you get older, your skin tends to become thinner and less elastic. Over time, simple actions such as making certain facial expressions cause your skin to develop creases that can deepen and become more visible.
Since the muscles near your eyes are some of the most frequently used on your face, wrinkles often develop above, beside and under your eyes, as well as on your forehead.
In addition to becoming thinner and less elastic, it’s common for your skin to become drier and lose some of the fat that provides it with its smooth texture. All of these changes can affect the appearance of your face.
Some aspects of the skin aging process are linked to genetic or metabolic factors and, for the most part, are unavoidable. This type of aging is often referred to as intrinsic aging, as it can’t be fully prevented.
Other aspects of the aging process are extrinsic. Over time, things like your level of exposure to UV radiation from the sun, cigarette smoke or the effects of excessive alcohol consumption can all take a toll on your skin and make wrinkles and other signs of aging more obvious.
On a day-to-day basis, the effects of intrinsic and extrinsic aging are invisible. However, over the course of months, years and decades, common signs of aging such as under eye wrinkles start to become more obvious.
The most effective way to get rid of under eye wrinkles is to prevent them from developing in the first place.
You can do this by practicing habits that protect your skin from damage, whether from the sun or other sources. Try to:
Minimize your time in direct sunlight. UV radiation from the sun can have a significant negative effect on your skin. In fact, experts believe that sun exposure is responsible for as much as 90 percent of the visible changes that occur in your skin as you age.
To prevent wrinkles from worsening, try to limit the amount of time you spend outside in direct sunlight, especially on bright, sunny days.
Use sunscreen and other sun protection. When you are out in the sun, make sure to protect yourself from UV radiation by applying sunscreen, wearing a hat and using other clothing to cover exposed areas.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum, SPF 30+ sunscreen to protect your skin whenever the weather is sunny.
Avoid repetitive facial expressions. Repetitive expressions such as squinting contract the muscles in your face and can contribute to facial lines. Try to avoid making the same facial expressions again and again, as this may worsen fine lines and wrinkles.
If you smoke, quit. Smoking can speed up the effects of aging, meaning wrinkles under your eyes and elsewhere on your face may develop faster. If you smoke, make an effort to quit.
Our guide to quitting smoking explains how you can quit successfully, from making a quit plan to dealing with nicotine cravings and more.
Drink alcohol in moderation. While it’s fine to drink a small amount of alcohol, drinking large quantities of alcohol on a regular basis can dry out your skin and cause you to look older than you really are.
If you drink, try to limit your alcohol consumption to the CDC’s recommendation of up to two drinks per day for men or one drink per day for women.
Moisturize regularly. Moisturizing increases your skin’s water content, stopping it from becoming dehydrated. This can give your skin a more youthful appearance and reduce the visibility of wrinkles and other signs of aging.
Try to apply moisturizer every day or any time your skin feels dehydrated. Our Everyday Moisturizer, which contains hyaluronic acid and shea butter, is designed to provide your skin with the ingredients it needs to optimally retain moisture.
It’s worth practicing these habits even if you already have visible wrinkles or other signs of skin aging, as healthy habits may help to stop your wrinkles from worsening.
In addition to moisturizer, other skin care products and medications can help to slow down the effects of aging on your skin and make under eye wrinkles less visible. These include:
Tretinoin. A prescription retinoid, tretinoin works by speeding up your body’s creation of new skin cells. Research has shown that regular use of tretinoin can reduce the visibility of wrinkles that develop around your eyes.
Tretinoin is one of several active ingredients in our Anti-Aging Cream. You can learn more about how it works in our detailed guide to using tretinoin for wrinkles and skin aging.
Over-the-counter retinoids. Over-the-counter retinoids such as adapalene may also help to treat under eye wrinkles and other signs of aging.
Alpha and beta-hydroxy acids. These ingredients can be found in over-the-counter facial washes, creams and other skin care products. They work by stripping away old skin cells and stimulating the creation of new skin.
Common hydroxy acids include glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, citric acid and malic acid.
Research shows that alpha and beta-hydroxy acids can treat wrinkles and make your skin more elastic and hydrated. Beyond wrinkles, they’re also used to treat scarring, acne, dryness and skin pigmentation issues.
Several cosmetic procedures can make wrinkles less visible, including the wrinkles that develop under your eyes. These procedures can vary in cost and effectiveness. Options include:
Dermal fillers. Dermal fillers, which are designed to restore volume and fullness in your face, are often used under the eyes in the tear trough area. Applied regularly, fillers can make under eye wrinkles and fine lines shallower and less visible.
It’s important to note that results from dermal fillers aren’t permanent, meaning you may need to have fillers reapplied every few months to maintain your results.
Chemical peeling. This treatment involves exfoliating the outermost layers of your skin, allowing them to grow back with fewer wrinkles. Chemical peel procedures can vary in depth from mild to deep based on the severity of your wrinkles.
Dermabrasion. This procedure involves removing the outermost layer of your skin using a small device. Like with other skin resurfacing procedures, the skin that grows back has fewer wrinkles and a smoother texture.
Laser skin resurfacing. This procedure involves removing damaged areas of skin using a surgical laser. In addition to treating fine lines and wrinkles, it can remove scarring and other common age-related skin imperfections.
Just like other fine lines and wrinkles, the wrinkles that develop under your eyes are a common, natural part of the aging process.
While under eye wrinkles aren’t completely preventable, simple habits such as limiting your time in direct sunlight, using sunscreen, avoiding squinting and applying moisturizer often can help to slow down the development of these wrinkles as you age.
If you already have noticeable under eye wrinkles, medications such as tretinoin and treatments such as dermal fillers and skin resurfacing procedures may help to make them less visible.
Of course, as always, if you’re looking for guidance about the best course of treatment for your under eye wrinkles, reach out to your healthcare provider or certified dermatology practitioner.