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Retinol Under Eyes: Potential Benefits and Risks

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Retinol and other retinoids can be powerhouse ingredients for your skin. Studies have shown that retinoids can thicken the skin, increase collagen, and aid in the treatment of photoaged skin (from UV rays).

Since this all sounds pretty great, a lot of people want to use retinoids around one of the first places that start showing signs of skin aging -- the under eyes. But, is using retinoids under your eyes safe?

Below, we will review if you can in fact use retinoids under your eyes, what benefits you might experience from using retinoids on the undereye skin, how you can be safer with your application techniques, and the potential downsides of using retinoids too close to your eyes.

Can you use retinol under your eyes?

Some dermatologists consider it ok for some patients to use retinoid products for the under-eye area, while others may not consider under-eye retinoids a good idea. If you do choose to try undereye retinoids (as advised by your doctor), this needs to be done very carefully.

The area under the eyes is some of the thinnest skin on your body, so it will be more reactive to retinoids as compared to the skin on the rest of your face. Also, you still need to take care to not get retinoids very near or in your eyes, if your doctor has approved this application.

You may see some retinoid eye creams made specifically for the eye area. In general, these creams will have lower strengths of retinoids to help avoid irritation, and they likely have a very moisturizing base to help soothe the area and further reduce negative effects.

Why retinol may help your under-eye skin

Retinoids may deliver benefits to the under-eye skin in the same way they deliver benefits to the rest of the skin on your face. They may increase the skin thickness (with time), boost collagen or prevent its breakdown, tighten the skin to some extent, and may reduce the appearance of fine lines.

How to apply retinol under your eyes in a safer way

If you have gotten approval from your doctor or dermatologist to try out undereye retinoids, there are ways that you can apply them more gently to help avoid irritation or eye issues.

Choose a formula made for the under eyes, or go with a less strong strength of what you use on your face. You may want to dilute the retinoid by mixing it with your favorite eye cream or face cream to make the application even more gentle. Before, applying, you may also want to apply a thin layer of a gentle moisturizer underneath.

Gently tap a small amount of the approved retinoid right along the orbital bone (the edge of your eye socket). You will want to avoid getting too close to the eye itself.

Space out your applications below the eye as directed by your doctor. Even if your skin seems acclimated to retinoids, take it slow when including your under eyes. Take days in between to see how your skin reacts, and if your under eyes start feeling irritated or dry, take a break and reassess, or reach out to your doctor.

Potential negative side effects of using retinol too close to your eyes

Aside from the potential for red, dry, irritated, swollen, scaly, or peeling skin underneath your eyes from applying too much retinoid cream, or too high of a strength, there may also be the potential for negative eye effects from direct exposure to retinoids.

Dry eye syndrome and conjunctivitis may occur in 20%-50% of patients that use retinoids. High-dose retinoids too close to the eye may also have a negative effect on the cells lining the surface of the eyeball, or even cause corneal toxicity. Additionally, retinoic acid coming into contact with the eye, may cause issues for glands in your eyelids called Meibomian glands, leading to Meibomian gland disorder or dry eyes.

Retinoids under your eyes: Bottom line

While some doctors may approve the use of retinoids under your eyes to help with the long-term anti-aging benefits, it should not be taken lightly.

Retinoids can be irritating and drying initially, especially to the thin skin under your eyes. Additionally, negative eye effects including dry eye, Meibomian gland dysfunction, conjunctivitis, or corneal toxicity may occur.

If your doctor does approve retinoid use on the undereye area, do this very carefully, and give the skin ample time to adjust. Use only a small amount, and maybe mix it will a nourishing under-eye cream, or overtop of your normal moisturizer to help buffer. It is also normal to use a lower strength than you would normally use on your face to help avoid irritation and dryness. Also, retinoids can migrate in the skin past where they are applied, so you do not have to apply very closely to your eye, and should keep your distance to help avoid negative eye effects.

Strut Health prescription Tretinoin formulas online

Here at Strut, we know the benefits that retinoids can have on various skin concerns including acne, scars, melasma, and general skin-aging. For this reason, we have developed multiple formulations that contain one of the most studied prescription-only retinoids, Tretinoin.

If you are interested in seeing if one of our Tretinoin formulations is a good fit for your skin goals, simply select a product and complete our online questionnaire and image-based telemedicine consultation in under 15 minutes. Our doctors will review your information to make sure the formula is a good fit for you, and make any desired customizations. If you are a good candidate for treatment, your prescription Tretinoin formula will be shipped to your front door with our free shipping.

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