SKINCARE 101: Do We Even Need a Separate Eye Cream? 👀
Honestly. Ask yourself, what is the point of an eye cream?
Better yet, ask yourself what your eye area needs from an eye cream. Like the rest of your face, your eye area needs moisture, vitamins, antioxidants, hydration, sun protection. Like the rest of your face, your concerns for your eye area are probably related to signs of aging — dehydration, fine lines, wrinkles, skin sagging. Beyond those, the only unique concerns you're likely to have for your eye area are puffiness and dark circles, right?
Every well-formulated facial moisturizer contains most of what your skin needs each day, i.e. vitamins and antioxidants, humectants that prevent water loss (think glycerin, aloe, propylene glycol), emollients (e.g. plant oils like shea butter, cocoa butter, petrolatum and squalane) and even ceramides, peptides, and amino acids. Your moisturizer really should contain a blend of all of those ingredients. Paula's Choice CLINICAL Ceramide-Enriched Firming Moisturizer is an excellent, A-plus facial moisturizer. It contains all of the super-beneficial nurturing, fortifying, replenishing ingredients that your skin needs every day.
There is absolutely zero reason why a well-formulated moisturizer for your face shouldn't be equally as effective in your eye area!
Now, by well-formulated (those of you who've read other posts I've written may know what I'm about to say!), I don't just mean that the product contains good-for-skin ingredients. As important as what's in it, is what's not in it. The delicate skin in your eye area is actually thinner than the skin on the rest of your face. That's why fine lines and wrinkles form there first! So, you should never, ever put anything in your eye area that contains volatile ingredients that have a reactive action on skin like denatured alcohol or fragrant plant oils (aka essential oils) like lavender, menthol, orange peel, limonene. As damaging as they can be to your facial skin, they're even more damaging to the skin around your eyes. Over time, they will degrade and thin your already delicate skin barrier, leading to moisture loss, fine lines, sagging, dark circles — and more. As crazy as it may seem, there are hundreds of products marketed specifically for the eye area that actually contain alcohol and fragrant plant oils. Products you would never expect to be pro-aging. It's just plain sloppy formulating. One, named WrinkleResist24 Intensive Eye Contour Cream, comes to mind. Look closely at the ingredient list. Priced at $60 for .50 oz/15mL, you should expect something a lot more effective and gentle from an iconic brand like Shiseido.
It makes my eyes tear up...
Water, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), Glycerin, Petrolatum, Butylene Glycol, Paraffin, Polyglyceryl-2 Diisostearate, Squalane, Glyceryl Oleate, Sodium Glutamate, Sodium Pca, Dipropylene Glycol, Beeswax (Cera Alba), Microcrystalline Wax (Cera Microcristallina), Polyethylene, Methylparaben, Phytosteryl/Octyldodecyl Lauroyl Glutamate, Fragrance (Parfum), Trisodium Edta, Tocopheryl Acetate, ALCOHOL, Tocopherol, Iron Oxides (Ci 77492), Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Sapindus Mukurossi Peel Extract (Sapindus Mukurossi), LIMONENE, LINALOOL, CITRONELLOL, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, GERANIOL, Uncaria Gambir Extract (Uncaria Gambir), Benzyl Benzoate, Hexyl Cinnamal, Sanguisorba Officinalis Root Extract, Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate, Hydroxyproline, Iron Oxides (Ci 77491), Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, Bht.
So, do you need a separate eye cream?
You may, if you have a particular concern for the two benefits common to many eye creams that aren't necessary in a facial moisturizer — puffiness and dark circles. The former is certainly achievable, the latter requires more of a preventative action. There are certainly eye products on the market that can depuff or decongest under-eye bags in no time. They're particularly effective first thing in the morning when puffiness is most pronounced. Like right after you feed the cat and turn on the Keurig. A key ingredient to look for is, oddly enough, caffeine — which happens to have a superb effect on puffiness. My two faves include the Kiehl's Facial Fuel Eye De-Puffer, an iconic, five-star product first introduced by Kiehl's around 2005. (I know this because I worked on the product when I was in-house at Kiehl's, including naming it and collaborating on its formulation.) And, the relatively new Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG from Deciem's magically priced The Ordinary brand. (It's $6.70!) So, if you suffer from puffiness (and that's especially true if you're Italian), by all means give one of these a try. They work!
Dark circles are another matter entirely. Because there are many causes for dark circles — ranging from genetics and thin skin in the eye area to lack of sleep and unprotected sun exposure — treating and preventing them is difficult, but not impossible. I make a habit of using a peptide-rich eye treatment with a mineral sunscreen like SUPERGOOP! Advanced Anti-Aging Eye Cream Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 37. Both ingredients are somewhat helpful in diminishing the look of dark circles, short of reaching for a concealer. And the high SPF at least removes sun damage as a factor in making dark circles worse.
When dark circles are more prominent, particularly when I haven't slept well or I'm dehydrated from that third glass of wine, I need a little tint. (As a man, I don't want anything makeupy!) If you suffer from more severe dark circles, a great formula with a slight hue is the SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50). It contains a 100% mineral sunscreen complex with a super-high SPF, a subtle color-correcting tint that blends easily into my skin, as well as nourishing ceramides. When dark circles are in sight, this is my hero! 🙋🏼♂️
Another way to tackle dark circles is by using a formula rich in proven skin brightening ingredients like niacinamide (vitamin B3) and licorice extract. An excellent all-around eye gel that I'm kind of loving right now is the DR. DENNIS GROSS SKINCARE Hyaluronic Marine Dew It All Eye Gel. In addition to its quickly absorbing ultra-light gel texture, it's simply an outstanding, well-formulated product, boasting ingredients like Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycerin, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Caffeine, Panthenol, Madecassoside, Sodium PCA, Lactic Acid, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, and Dimethicone. Nary a fragrant plant oil in sight.
Now, that's an eye-opener!