Eye cream is easily one of the most disputed skin care products on the market. Some experts say that it should be an essential part of your skin care routine, while others say it’s just thinned out face cream. On top of what, there are a million different products on the market – from eye cream for dark circles to eye cream for wrinkles.
The skin around your eyes is much thinner and more delicate than the skin on the rest of your face. As well as that, the periorbital area (the under-eye area) has less muscle and fat to support the skin there. As a result, crows feet and fine lines around the eye area are usually one of the first signs of ageing. It’s no wonder then that eye cream is so popular. But do you really need it?
Here’s everything you need to know about eye cream – what it is, what it does, and if you need it.
Isn’t eye cream just watered down moisturiser?
One common complaint when it comes to eye cream is that it’s just watered down moisturiser. While this can be true of cheaper products, there’s a reason that eye cream is thinner than your standard face cream.
Eye cream is formulated to be much thinner than a regular moisturiser, as the skin around your eyes is much more delicate.
Using heavy creams around the eyes can actually weigh down this delicate skin. Heavy creams can also cause milia, small white bumps caused by keratin build up in the pores.
Eye cream also tends to be formulated with more potent ingredients than your regular moisturiser, whose sole job is preventing moisture loss in the skin.
However, since the skin is thinner around the eyes, it also absorbs products much more easily. This is why your under-eye area is more sensitive to stronger ingredients. As a result, formulating a potent yet gentle eye cream is a delicate balance.
So what does eye cream actually do?
Good eye cream should contain ingredients targeted at helping a particular skin care concern, such as brightening dark circles, de-puffing eye bags or improving the appearance of wrinkles.
Cheaper creams may be formulated similarly to your regular moisturiser, in that they’ll probably give you some hydration but not much else.
Keeping the skin around your eyes hydrated will definitely help to offset fine lines developing from dehydration. But if you want to really make this step count, you need to supercharge your routine with more potent ingredients.
What ingredients should you look for in an eye cream?
Antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E are essential anti-ageing ingredients. They neutralise free radicals which can cause premature ageing, and protect against environmental damage like UVA and UVB rays. They can also help reduce the effects of sun damage by brightening hyperpigmentation and age spots.
Keeping the thin skin around your eyes as plump and hydrated as possible is one of the biggest things you can do in your twenties to prevent fine lines later down the line.
Look for ingredients that attract water into the skin to prevent dehydration and moisture loss. Hyaluronic acid attracts up to 1000 times its own weight in water. Aloe vera juice is made up of 98% water, making it another amazing for hydration.
Glycerin and ceramides also help attract moisture into the skin, while botanical oils will help the skin retain water.
Hydrating ingredients are all well and good, but they’re pretty useless without occlusives. Occlusive agents are ingredients that sit on top of the skin to prevent dehydration and moisture loss. Using eye creams formulated with occlusive plant oils will help to trap moisture into the skin.
Olive oil and apricot kernel seed oil mimic the skin’s own natural oils, so they won’t cause clogging or milia.
If you wake up with puffy eyes in the morning, you should choose an eye cream formulated to reduce inflammation and puffiness.
Ingredients like CBD and caffeine help to reduce puffiness and inflammation in the skin, while the act of massaging the area also helps disperse built-up fluid.
The best eye cream for dark circles will likely include brightening ingredients like vitamin C. Many creams targeted at dark circles and eye bags also include caffeine, which stimulates circulation in blood vessels.
However, caffeine and vitamin C can also be irritating in stronger quantities, which can cause skin sensitivity. Skin expert Paula Beguon says that while caffeine has its benefits, it also comes with its own set of risks.
“It can penetrate skin and has a constricting effect, which can help improve the look of redness but also may be sensitizing”.
When should you start using it?
Regardless of what age you are, it’s never too late to start a more rigorous skin care routine. Even if you’ve already begun to see the signs of ageing, starting with an eye cream will help to keep your delicate under-eye skin as healthy as possible.
But if you’re really serious about future-proofing your skin, the earlier you start using eye cream the better.
Experts say that you should start off with a hydrating cream around the age of 25, to prevent fine lines and crows feet caused by dehydration. Once you’re in your 30’s, you can level up to a retinol eye cream.
What’s the best way to apply eye cream?
Put a pea-sized amount on your ring finger and dot evenly along the brow bone and under eye area.
Gently tap the cream into the skin like you’re playing the world’s smallest piano, very softly. This gentle “piano” technique will also give your circulation a boost to reduce puffiness.
Don’t pull and tug at the skin, as it is much more delicate and can stretch over time.
While this might seem a bit precious, years of tugging at this thin skin can cause sagging down the line.
When should I use it?
Knowing when to use your eye cream depends on what kind of active ingredients are in it. Hydrating creams can be applied as part of your morning routine, however stronger actives like retinol and caffeine are best applied in the PM.