Our eyes are our window to the world. Through them, we experience the glory nature has to offer, witness the joy on the faces of our loved ones, and take in wondrous sights. Over the years, our eyes see and witness a lot — be it a smile or a furrowed brow, every expression we make inadvertently affects the delicate skin around our eyes. Thus, it’s no surprise that our eyes are one of the very first places to show signs of aging. Add to this the stress of our daily lives and the high levels of pollution we are exposed to. Be it wrinkles, hollowness, puffiness, or just a plain tired look, the eyes are the first to show tell-tale signs of aging. When it comes to restoring youthfulness, our eyes, therefore, are a major target. Ayurvedic practitioners believe that aging or Jara (also known as Vardhakya) is a part of our life, and when our doshas are in proper harmony, this process can be natural and beautiful. Let’s understand Ayurveda's perspective on the signs of aging around the eyes and the herbs & lifestyle changes that can help delay this process.
Ayurveda Explains Eye Aging
“Jīryati iti jarā”
The above quote is perhaps an apt description of aging according to Ayurveda, which translates to growing old owing to the act of wearing out. The age-old science believes that the health of the skin is a mirror reflecting the state of the dhatus (tissue layers of the human body) in tandem with the doshas. This process is further influenced by factors that affect our Satwa (psychological being), Indriya (emotional being), Shareera (physical body), Agni (the digestive fire), and Bala or Ojas (the immune system).With the skin being the largest external organ of the body, there are higher chances of it getting damaged. To add to this, the skin surrounding the eyes is thinner and therefore more delicate than that on the rest of the face. This makes it especially vulnerable to environmental and internal aggressors.
Here are some of the major causes of aging around the eyes
- Loss of Collagen - The process of aging and external factors such as sun damage inevitably cause a loss of collagen. Thus, wrinkles and fine lines are the first to appear around the eyes as compared to the rest of the face. Moreover, decreased collagen levels lead to the veins becoming more prominent, causing dark circles, heavy eyelids, sagging, and drooping.
- Loss of Fat and Bone Tissue - Aging causes the fat in our facial muscles to clump and shift downward, thus making the skin sag. This is also accompanied by a loss in bone tissue, which further weakens the underlying support. Consequentially, the loss of fat and bone tissue leads to the formation of hollow surfaces on the skin, causing dark circles.
- Loss of Muscle and Skin Elasticity - The muscles surrounding the eyes are also subject to facial expressions, such as smiles and frowns, which subsequently lead to crow’s feet formation or the deepening of expression lines around the eyes. Age also reduces the production of elastin in our bodies, which imparts suppleness to the skin. Loss of elasticity around the eyes is evident when the eyes begin to droop and show wrinkles. The much-dreaded eye bags are also formed when fatty tissues surrounding the eye herniate due to the lack of collagen, weakened muscles, and stretched-out elastin fibers that normally hold it in place.
- Reduced Sebum Production - Oil-producing sebaceous glands in the skin around the eyes keep it soft and supple through the years. With age, the ability to produce oil or sebum reduces drastically. This results in the darkening of skin and the formation of wrinkles around the eyes.
- Imbalanced doshas - In terms of Ayurveda, an imbalance in the doshas also contributes to aging eyes. For instance, dry and tired-looking eyes are a result of a Vata imbalance. Inflammation is the result of a Pitta imbalance, and puffy and swollen eyes point to a Kapha imbalance.
Identifying and Combating Signs of Aging around the Eyes
Aging is inevitable; however, adopting a healthy lifestyle, knowing the signs and triggers that impact eye aging, and addressing them can help us ensure our eyes stay bright and youthful. Some of the most common signs of aging around the eyes include:
1. Crow’s Feet: Fine lines in the corners of the eyes
- Develop as a result of tiny muscle contractions every time we make a facial expression, along with factors such as thinned skin and diminished collagen
- Lack of hydration in the skin can also cause crow's feet formation
- Adopting a healthy diet that is low in salt and based on your dosha and consuming collagen supplements and collagen-boosting foods are some ways of reducing the appearance of crow’s feet. Additionally, getting enough sleep to reduce tiredness can stimulate collagen and elastin production.
Beneficial Ayurvedic Solutions:
- Egg White - Egg whites are rich in magnesium, which detoxifies and cleanses the skin while making it taut and smoother. An egg-white mask can be applied around the eyes for 15 minutes a few times a week.
- Ghrit Kumari (Aloe vera) - Being rich in vitamins A, C, E, and B12 along with folic acid and choline, Aloe vera stimulates the production of hyaluronic acid and collagen on the skin's surface, which helps the skin retain moisture, thereby reducing the appearance of crow’s feet. Scientific studies have also highlighted that using this herb can slow photoaging. It can be applied as a pulp at night.
- Coconut Oil - The high levels of vitamin E and linoleic acid in coconut oil help reconnect broken skin tissues, which slows the appearance of wrinkles and crow’s feet. Rub a few drops of extra virgin coconut oil around the eyes at bedtime.
- Cucumber - Vitamins B5 and B6 along with high amounts of niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine, all present in cucumber, soothe the skin and help reduce the appearance of crow’s feet. Thin slices of cucumber can be placed over the eyes as a part of your daily skincare regimen for visible benefits.
- Honey and Yogurt Mask - Honey is hydrating and antibacterial and an antioxidant that softens the skin, whereas lactic acid present in yogurt boosts exfoliation to keep the skin firm and smooth. Equal amounts of honey and yogurt as a mask can prove beneficial.
2. Dark Circles: Darker pigmented skin around the eyes which may be caused by various reasons
- Develop as a result of thinned skin and reduced collagen
- Hyperpigmentation caused by extensive exposure to UV rays
- Accumulation of blood under the eyes owing to poor circulation or lack of sleep
- Stretching and leaking of fragile capillaries present around the eyes
- The dominance of Vata and Pitta elements in the body
- Eating food in a hurried manner, consuming excess caffeine, and skipping breakfast, among other factors, which can stress the digestive system, making it more difficult for the body to absorb nutrients
- Getting sufficient sleep; exercising regularly; consuming vitamin C supplements; consuming vegetables and herbs high in vitamin K such as spinach, basil, tulsi, and collard greens; using serums containing niacinamide around the eyes (niacinamide helps reduce pigmentation); consuming warm foods and beverages and incorporating one tablespoon of ghee or olive oil to aid digestion can help reduce the appearance of dark circles.
Beneficial Ayurvedic Remedies and Herbs:
- Apple - Apples contain potassium, vitamins, and tannins, which effectively help fade dark circles. Slices of the fruit can be placed on the eyes for 15 minutes every alternate day
- Potato - Being rich in starches and minerals, potatoes help reduce the appearance of dark circles. Placing thin slices of potato on the eyes every alternate day for 15 minutes yields promising results
- Snigdh Nasya or the pouring of two to three drops of ghee made from cow’s milk into each nostril hydrates the skin and reduces fine lines and dark circles
- Tarpana (a dough made with urad dal, boiled barley flour, and ghee made from cow’s milk) can be placed on the dark circles around the eyes, and ghee should be poured on it, to reduce dark circles.
3. Puffy Eyes: Swelling around the eyes
Causes: Research has shown that this develops due to:
- Stress, hormonal imbalance, lack of sleep, and allergies that cause the swelling of blood vessels
- Ayurveda also stresses that an imbalanced Kapha, poor diet, high intake of salt, and dehydration cause puffiness around the eyes
- Eat a balanced diet with foods that are suitable to your dosha; avoid over-stimulating substances like caffeine and alcohol; regulate your sleep; and give yourself a relaxing eye massage
Beneficial Ayurvedic Remedies and Herbs:
- Kansa Wand - An ayurvedic tool that has an antimicrobial copper tip — promotes lymphatic drainage and therefore helps combat eye puffiness and induce radiant skin when applied to marma points
- Cucumber - Being a natural hydrant for the skin, applying cucumber slices provides quick relief from puffy, swollen eyes
- Triphala - Comprising haritaki, amalaki, and bibhitaki, triphala is used to eradicate ama (toxins) from the body. Being rich in vitamin C, it helps the eyes combat oxidative stress, which commonly causes inflammation. It is best used as an eye wash in the morning.
4. Other signs of Aging:
These include fine lines, wrinkles, and a dry and tired-looking skin
- Loss of collagen and skin elasticity
- Stress, poor dietary habits, environmental and occupational factors
- Consumption of caffeine and alcohol as well as lack of hydration
- Have a dosha-balancing diet, avoid over-stimulating substances like caffeine and alcohol, regulate your sleep, exercise regularly, stay hydrated
Beneficial Ayurvedic Remedies and Herbs:
- Chandana (Sandalwood) - Being rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, it protects the skin from free radicals, thus reducing wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging. It reduces hyperpigmentation and helps maintain skin buoyancy. It can be used topically in the form of a taila or serum
- Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) - This herb helps boost collagen production because it contains glycolic acid and vitamins A, C, and E. It also inhibits enzyme activity that degrades skin quality and protects the eyes from UV damage. Topical application is recommended for radiant skin
- Manjistha (Indian Madder) - This potent herb balances Pitta. Meanwhile, glycosides present in the herb brighten the skin. In combination with actives like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, it evens out the skin under the eyes while lending a youthful, radiant glow.
READ MORE: Ayurveda's Take On Dark Circles And Its Remedies | 5 Ayurvedic Tips To Soothe Dull and Tired Eyes
Ayurveda has always encouraged harmonious living with nature along with the practice of healthy lifestyle habits. Remember, self-care is at the heart of radiant-looking skin. You can also try the Rufolia Periorbital Eyemulsion and Sandalwood Rose Age Defying Eye Butter from The Ayurveda Experience, which combines the wisdom of Ayurveda with the miracles of modern science to help eliminate all signs of aging from around the eyes.