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Are Eye Creams Really Necessary?

eye creams
May 20, 2018 Reviewed by Marta 13 Comments

In Allure magazine’s book, Confessions of a Beauty Editor, the author asserts that special creams for the eyes are unnecessary: skin around the eyes “does not require its own product. Regular moisturizer works just fine.” I couldn’t disagree more. Eye area skin has important characteristics and as we get older (than the average 20-something magazine editor) they become more pronounced and demand specialized treatment. In fact, I would go so far as to say that a damn good eye cream is the best investment you can make.

The skin under the eye does not have much support structure, which is why it wrinkles easily and isn’t very elastic. The eye area is also surrounded by some of the thinnest and most delicate skin on the body. There are few oil glands to lubricate this area. Furthermore, eyes have some very specific issues and needs. Here are some of them:

Eye Creams for Milia

A bump in the road to beauty can, admittedly, appear anywhere on the face, but the eye area is especially prone to perplexing little white lumps. Although they may look a bit like whiteheads, they are actually keratin-filled cysts that are formed when skin cells become trapped under the epidermis. The most common cause of milia is from using heavy skincare products that contain comedogenic ingredients, which can prevent the sloughing and shedding of dead skin cells. If this is something you have experienced, then be sure to look out for an eye cream that is a light formula, or is even closer to a serum or gel in consistency. A great find is Deciem NIOD Fractionated Eye Contour Concentrate ($68 in the shop), and AQ Skin Solutions Eye Serum ($99 in the shop) is an excellent light gel that won't clog pores.

Eye Creams for Sensitivity

If your shampoo has ever made you cry, you know how sensitive the eyes can be. Some commonly used cosmetic ingredients are actually known to cause ocular damage — such as  triethanolamine, hexylene glycol and sodium hydroxide. A good eye cream should be formulated without them, such as (Skin 2 Skin Care Revitalizing Eye Gel ($49 in the shop), which is effective with no nasties.

Eye Creams for Dark Circles

Your regular moisturizer will be of little use for dark under-eye circles. There are some specific ingredients that can be of some help, and they are a key feature of some of the newest, good quality eye creams. They include Hesperidin methyl chalcone , Bioskinup Contour 3r, Haloxyl and Eyeseryl. Read more on the causes of and solutions for dark under eye circles. You’ll find haloxyl and eyeseryl in Your Best Face Correct ($150 in the shop) and Hesperidin methyl chalcone in Medik8 Pretox Eyelift ($70 in the shop).

Eye Creams for Puffy Eyes

If you are saddled with bags then keep an eye out for Eyeseryl in eye creams such as  $49 in the shop). This is tetrapeptide-5 and it is supposed to reduce water retention and ensure lymph drainage, while protecting collagen from cross-linking that causes baggy eyes. Additionally, it reduces leaking of fluids from the capillaries into the tissue, which can cause puffy eyes. You'll also find Eyeseryl in ReLuma Eye Cream ($95), as well as their key active of stem cell conditioned media that helps with wrinkles.

Eye Creams for Crepey Lines

Delicate eye area skin seems to be prone to a specific kind of dry wrinklyness that is known as crepeyness. Slathering on a rich moisturizer isn't necessarily the answer, at least not for me. Your Best Face Correct ($150 in the shop) goes amazingly far — just a pea-size pump does both eyes.

Eye Creams for Sagging Lids

One recent find is E'shee Clinical Esthetic Alpha and Omega Gene Therapy Eye Cream ($284 in the shop) — a splurge that is worth the money. It took my eyes, which were already in fairly good condition, to a whole new level of improvement. Lids are lifted and the under-eye area feels firmer, flatter and smoother, probably thanks to trifluoroacetyl tripeptide-2, which is a new peptide to me that I was pretty excited to discover.

How to Apply Eye Cream

The old protocol to apply eye cream with a gentle circular motion that starts at the outer eye, travels under the eye towards the nose and then over the lid has been deemed outdated. Now the idea is to promote lymphatic drainage by starting at the side of the nose and sweeping under the eye to the outer corner and then back along the lid.

  • December 7, 2014

    by Tiffany

    HI there, I just turned 40. I have milla, dark circles (blue / purple in color) and puffy eyes. Do you have any recommendations for an eye cream/treatment that might address all 3? I have combo skin & luckily I don't look my age yet and don't have much in the way of wrinkles. I would like to keep it this way as long as possible.

  • January 25, 2013

    by Asya


    I would also like to try Arcona's eye cream . I am in my mid-thirties and have always had puffy eyes, but now with my second child and being constantly sleep deprived the problem has worsened.

  • January 23, 2013

    by Jan

    Airless pump is what keeps me from purchasing Correct. It's too expensive to waiste and I've yet to get a fault-free pump. I've tried the paper clip and still can't get all the costly product, plus is seems qutie unsanitary.

  • January 23, 2013

    by JustD

    I'm still stuck on Osmosis Refresh PM Eye Repair Serum. It's worked wonders for me and now I'm alternating using it with the AQ Serum and I see hardly any evidence of what others see I cannot tell you, but nobody's said anything to me. On the other note, I was taught to use the application method for eye creams when I was a teenager by Way Bandy at an appearance he was at in my hometown and I've never stopped. He was monumental in the way I approached everything about makeup and skincare.

    Marta, you always say a lot of great things about YBFs Correct, no doubt it must be good, but it's still too far out of my range, so I'll stick with these lovelies for now until I'm.....80ish LOL.

    Thanks for another great source of info Marta as always.

  • January 23, 2013

    by Liz


    I would love to try the Arcona peptide eye serum. I'm in my mid 30s and have always had a problem with puffy eyes! I've tried several creams/serums/etc but most are focused on dark circles, which is not my problem. I'd love to try it and write up a thorough review with before and after pictures. Thanks

  • January 23, 2013

    by Naheed

    Thanks Marta for informative article and breaking down it into "concern specific" treatments. I would love to give a try to Peptide Eye Serum, since I have bag under my eyes and nothing seems to make them atleast less noticeable. Thanks.

  • January 27, 2012

    by Marta

    Hi Deb, the bottles are airless pumps and the technology is far from perfect. I too have the same issue. There are a couple of tricks that help. One is to tap the base firmly a couple of times on a hard surface. Or straighten out a paper clip and insert it into the small hole in the base of the bottle.

  • January 27, 2012

    by Deb

    I too cannot go a day without Correct. But am I the only one who ends up with the faulty pump? This is my third bottle that has quit on me. After there is only about an inch of the product left in the container the pump stops working. Then I have to physicaly remove the top each time and remove the product with a Qtip. I noticed with this last bottle (after I peeled off the label to see how much was left) that there were several rather large air bubbles in the product. Perhaps this is why the pump fails. It is frustrating because I also feel that I am introducing air and other outside influences into the product that defeats the purpose of the pump. But at the price I do not want to toss the container and start a new one.

  • January 26, 2012

    by VickyL

    Thanks so much for your response. I appreciate your commitment to quality and safety in the ingredients you use in your products and your willingness to communicate with your consumers.

    I've been introduced to many wonderful products at TIA. ybf Correct is "the one" that I haven't been without for over 2 years. It's definitely made the transition from 50s to 60s so much more graceful. Thanks a lot for that!

  • January 26, 2012

    by Oksana

    Evan Healy's Chamomile Cream is hydrating without being greasy, plays well with makeup and noticeably improves the texture of the skin. Other than such wonderful botanicals, as borage,seabuckthorn, and tamanu oils, it also has Syn-Coll.

  • January 25, 2012

    by Darrell

    Hi Vicky, Julie and Marta!

    Thank you and Vicky, replacing triethanolamine is something I would love to do in our formulas -- if for no other reason than to provide reassurance -- and it is indeed on my radar.

    The role of triethanolamine (TEA) in our products is to trigger the formation of the gel portion of the formula. We use it in extremely small amounts; and the form we use is called triethanolamine NF.

    Traditional triethanolamines raised concerns based on data where TEA's containing the potential nitrosamine-forming compound, diethanolamine (DEA), contaminated the ingredient and posed risks when the TEA was ill-formulated.

    The form of TEA we have always used is triethanolamine NF and is lab assayed to contain 0.00% DEA.

    All of this aside though, we are looking for an alternative to use of TEA NF. To-date, the only alkali alternatives I have found are quite unpleasant in my opinion.

    Thank you and while I don't have an answer yet for you as to a TEA NF alternative we could move to in the future -- I am looking.

    All my best,
    Darrell (here at Your best Face Skincare)

  • January 25, 2012

    by VickyL

    I have to agree with Marta and Julie Kay - an effective eye cream is absolutely essential to protect, treat, and repair delicate eye skin. Protect and nourish in the 20s and 30s. Treat and repair in 40s and up (read peptides). I'm in my 60s and couldn't go without ybf Correct. I also use La Vie Celeste eye cream as a complimentary product.

    I wonder if we can get YBF to consider replacing the triethanolamine in Correct with one of the new natural preservatives (just not phenoxyethanol).

  • January 25, 2012

    by Julie Kay

    Marta- This is an ESSENTIAL article and advice! There is a movie It's Complicated (w Meryl Streep) with a scene where she goes to a cosmetic surgeon specifically to see what can be done for the skin of her eyelids that has gone lax and droopy. The answer is "scary!" I had seen such effects coming years ago, but I've used YBF Correct for a long time and believe (without ANY doubt) it has "corrected" that issue as well as density and wrinkles around my entire orbital area. I may try other eye treatments, but I never stop using Correct.

    I would say after 40 it is essential to begin a good eye care regimen. After 50 to step it up, and by 60 (that's me) to feel so good about how your eyes look compared to those who read such (drivvle) articles such as this in Allure and dropped the ball.

    Peace ~jk

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