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The Scientific Reason Men Get Old and Baggy Eyes

Experts explain exactly why men's eyes sag and wrinkle overtime — and what can be done to stop it.

Men get bags around their eyes because they’re getting older, because they made a series of bad lifestyle choices, and because their parents had them. (Kids get circles around eyes for completely different reasons). Simply put, your eyes can start to look like a wrinkled pair of cargo shorts, for a number of reasons. But determining the cause or causes can help guys reduce their ocular baggage and stave off future sagging. “While environmental factors, lifestyle, and exposure are all factors, the majority of patients with bags have a parent or grandparent with the same condition,” dermatologist Hal Weitzbuch told Fatherly.

Genetics aside, there are several age-related changes that cause eyes to bag and sag. Facial muscle movement that occurs when people smile can cause creases in the lower eyelids over time. In addition to that, repetitive motion damages collagen in the skin, effectively making skin looser. Adults lose about 1 percent of collagen every year,  a structural protein found in the skin that makes it firm. This causes wrinkles everywhere, but eye skin tends to be more thin and fragile, which makes eye bags more likely to show up sooner than other saggy lines.

Men tend to have thicker skin, which makes them less vulnerable to eye bags compared to women. However, a number of bad habits that men are more likely to take part in contribute to more eye baggage, which helps to even the scales. Men are more likely to smoke and drink than women, but they’re far less likely to wear sunscreen, research shows. “Men, in general, use less makeup, sunscreen, and moisturizers. It’s possible that these factors can lead to worse bags in men,” Weitzbuch says.

Norman Rowe, a plastic surgeon who specializes in anti-aging treatments for men, agrees that the sun may be their worst enemy. “Over-exposure to sunlight over time can diminishes collagen and causes wrinkles and bags,” Rowe told Fatherly. The best way to fix that is simply by welcoming SPF into your life. As for the damage that’s already been done, eye creams may not work for everyone, but creams with retinol, which boosts collagen production, are probably your best bet.

Putting some new lotions and creams on your face is the easy part. The challenging part is that men can still make all the right lifestyle decisions, slather expensive serums on their faces, and still get saggy eye bags because their parents had them.

“If the bags appear at an early age and the patient takes care to protect against environmental factors, then it’s most likely genetic,” Rowe explains. In these instances, there’s not much dads can do about their bags outside of costly cosmetic surgery. That’s an option, sure. But since your kid is probably going to have them one day, perhaps it’s more cost efficient to simply embrace the matching baggage.