Do You Really Need An Eye Cream?
When it comes to our individual skincare rituals, most of us have it down to a science. Maybe it’s a gentle, nourishing soap + splash of water, or a more involved, three layer, face-to-neck process - either way, skincare has traditionally been about mastering the face before anything else.
However, there’s one unassuming area that’s often left out of this conversation: our under eyes. For me, the appearance of dark circles first brought my attention here (I’ve had them since I was 12, and yes, I get plenty of sleep). There’s also puffiness, dryness, fine lines and many other signs that indicate this delicate region may need a little more TLC than it’s been getting.
The first signs of aging often happen around the eyes, so taking care of this area is indispensable. But you don’t necessarily have to use a special eye cream, and here's why.
First things first: even though some symptoms can be alleviated by incorporating the right products, not everything can be fixed topically (sigh).
Remember those dark circles I mentioned? For the most part, they’re hereditary, meaning no amount of creams/solutions can ever fully erase them. Now that I’ve made peace that genetics play a key factor here (1), yellow-based concealers have become a good friend of mine.
Wrinkles are another hot topic, but let’s level set again here: wrinkles naturally come with age. They are an inevitable part of gravity, and while some products can reduce the signs, they won’t disappear altogether.
So, before we begin, learn from me and save yourself the heartache by accepting the possibility that your under eye situation may not have a quick fix in the form of a cream.
Demystifying the marketing
You may have noticed that eye cream is one of the most overpriced beauty products out there (sometimes costing $200+). Unfortunately, more often than not, these products - both the expensive and the cheap ones - are a scam.
Why? For one, the skincare industry makes a lot of money by segmenting out each part of the face (the neck, the eye, your head, shoulders, knees & toes...) and hoping that consumers follow along blindly.
The truth is, of all the face products available, eye creams are usually twice the cost & half as potent as the others. That’s because they often have a lower concentration of active ingredients to account for the "sensitive and delicate nature" of the skin around the eye, which sounds helpful, but you’re actually not helping your situation as much as you may think because of this.
So, a more effective method is to use your existing, high potency serums (like vitamin C, retinol/bakuchiol & peptides) all over your face, including the skin under your eye. However, if that’s too harsh for your skin to handle right away, start slowly - like 1-2 times a week - and then gradually increase to allow your eyes time to adjust to the active ingredients. Just be careful not to over-do it, and watch for signs that you’re incorporating active ingredients too much too soon (like redness and itchiness).
Ingredients are everything
Now, let’s examine what’s in your typical eye cream. Just like all skin moods aren’t created equal, not every eye cream is going to be right for you, and that all boils down to which ingredients they include.
Are you dealing with dark circles like me, or is puffiness more your focus? You’ll definitely want to evaluate this before you start buying new products. Although skincare marketing can be powerful and promising, don’t just take their word for it: check 👏 the 👏 contents!
To make it easy, here’s a quick list of symptoms plus the elements that can lend a helping hand:
Dark circles: Besides the aforementioned genetic factors, sometimes circles often appear as a result of things such as lack of sleep, too much stress, salt intake, allergies, and even a potassium deficiency (2), so be sure to take those into consideration when evaluating your features. Additionally, dark circles may appear as a result of volume loss under the eye (which is best treated with injectable filler). But if you still want to give eye creams a shot, look for Vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin, which can improve circulation.
Puffiness: A cold compress is both soothing & beneficial in this case (#MiniSpaDay), but if you’re looking for something to add to your daily ritual, cooling ingredients such as chamomile, cucumber and arnica (2) are beneficial for calming the inflammation and de-puffing in the AM.
Dryness: If the skin under your eye is particularly dry, you may be a candidate for an emollient (but not poor clogging) eye cream. But on top of that, under eye dryness is equally about what should be in your products, as it is about what shouldn’t. First, cut out harsh products containing drying alcohols, irritating fragrance, and put down the harsh scrubs and peels while you’re at it, and maybe even retinol, too (3). Controlling inflammation and protecting your skin barrier should be the foundation here - adding in an extra eye cream is a plus.
SPF is your BFF
If you’re not already using a product containing SPF on your face, let this be your motivation: UV rays from the sun can increase signs of aging (like wrinkles), and up your chances of developing skin cancer if you’re exposed for too long while unprotected. In fact, our eyes are the most susceptible to these potential hazards, as we tend to lather protection everywhere but here.
Although most moisturizers containing SPF aren’t typically as effective as using straight sunscreen (2), it’s still a good idea to apply it and protect the delicate skin under your eyes. Look for products containing zinc oxide or titanium oxide as well, which are gentler & easier on the area (3).
Of course, while these are all good protocols, to be fully prepared you should wear SPF along with protective gear such as hats & UV-proof sunglasses. Yes Kim K shades, we’re looking at you.
Eye creams are great, but not 100% necessary
There are plenty of anti-aging, dark circle-erasing, and puffiness-eliminating products being advertised to us everyday. However, if we’ve learned anything from our research, it’s that these creams may not be as effective as they claim to be, especially depending on what you’re seeing in the mirror.
Taking the time to figure out your needs before purchasing an arsenal of products will not only save space in your bathroom cabinet, but your sanity as well; narrowing down potential causes, checking ingredients, applying your current serums all over including your eyes, and protecting your face from the elements will all have you well on your way to a more well-rounded skincare approach!
Written by Adrianne Neal