I have a love/hate relationship with eye skincare products.  On the one hand, I love the feeling of plumping up my delicate eye area with moisture and the notion of warding off the signs of aging.  On the other hand, I hate the burning sensation that frequently accompanies the very products that are meant to soothe.  My hyper-sensitive eye skin cannot tolerate even the most innocuous-looking creams, and so it becomes a vigilant process of trial and error to identify a product that does not surround my eyes with a mysterious vapor of pain.

Having always preferred a rich texture to a gelatinous one for my eye area (read about one raw experience with an eye gel here), I really liked the sound of Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment ($24.50) when I bought it about a year ago.  The first few times I took the light green cream out of its little pot and patted it under my eye, I only had a few minor complaints.  Leaving behind an oily wake where it sinks into the skin, the cream is too thick and unwieldy for daytime use.  The greasy slime it leaves behind caused my eyeliner to bleed out and thwarted my concealer from blending in evenly.

Though I knew to stay away from it in the morning, I was perfectly content with relegating Kiehl's eye cream to my nightly regimen and reaping the benefits of the moisturizing avocado oil, that is, until it started to burn.  Though the sensation passed after a while, it was sufficiently uncomfortable for me to discontinue use.  And there were other reasons to distrust this cream.  Besides enveloping my eyes in an irritating vapor, it seemed to form a gooey barrier that suffocated and clogged my pores rather than hydrating them.  Fortunately, I wasn't afflicted with milia, as a number of users have been, which manifests as deep-seeded white bumps that form when skin cells are smothered by heavy skincare products.  I now keep the Kiehl's tub around just in case my eye skin suddenly craves some S&M.

Needless to say, it has been a eye-opening quest to track down an eye formula that suits my sensitive skin.  I believe I have finally met my match in Epionce's Renewal Eye Cream.  Adaptable for day or night use, this cream was actually formulated to complement the use of eye makeup.  You can rub it all over the eye area, including the eyelids, and it prepares a perfect palette for makeup.  I love its subtly spicy smell, which is shared by some of Epionce's other products, and its light, absorbent consistency.

More than just a mine of moisture, this eye cream is wondrously therapeutic.  Rooted in hard science, Epionce's entire line is backed by clinical studies.  In independent, double-blind clinical trials, users of Epionce exhibited results superior to Prevage MD and Renova, both of which require prescriptions from a doctor.  What this means is that Epionce is equally, if not more, effective than those medications at reducing fine lines and wrinkles, without any evidence of irritation.  The cream's proprietary active complexes are charged with strengthening the natural protective barrier of the eye's skin and promoting regeneration of skin cells to reverse the process of thinning.  Its benefits are both long-term, by protecting the skin from damaging elements that visibly age premature skin, and immediate, by reflecting light and illuminating dark areas around the eye to make skin imperfections less noticeable.  After only a week of dabbing on Epionce's eye cream morning and night, I am delighted with the appearance of my eye area and look forward to reporting results from extended use.

When coating your delicate eye skin with a product, what ingredients it comprises becomes more critical than ever.  Below is a breakdown of what makes one cream flop and the other soar.

Ingredients in Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment:

Water, Butyrospermum Parkii/Shea Butter, Butylene Glycol, Tridecyl Stearate, Isodecyl Salicylate, PEG-30 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Tridecyl Trimellitate, Persea Gratissima/Avocado Oil, Isocetyl Stearoyl Stearate, Propylene Glycol, Dipentaerythrityl Hexacaprylate/Hexacaprate, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Magnesium Sulfate, Phenoxyethanol, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sodium PCA, Ozokerite, Methylparaben, Tocopheryl Acetate, Disodium EDTA, Isopropyl Palmitate, Copper PCA, Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Propylparaben, Zea Mays/Corn Oil, CI 75130/Beta-Carotene

The consistency of Kiehl's eye cream is strange, as it leaves an oily residue that does not blend in but also does not actually hydrate the skin.  Though this quality would lend itself to silicone, I cannot find a related ingredient anywhere on the list.  There are two likely chemicals responsible for the stinging sensation inflicted on my eyes.  An unspecified dosage of phenoxyethanol, a pervasive preservative and common irritant, lurks in the mix.  Also, propylene glycol, which allows chemicals to easily penetrate the skin by altering its structure, is known to irritate sensitive skin.  However, what causes me the greatest concern is the formula's incidence of common allergens and potential hormone disruptors.  This cream is jam-packed with parabens (5!)- no wonder it simultaneously suffocates and agitates.  I will never again make the mistake of neglecting to scan the label before buying!

Ingredients in Epionce Renewal Eye Cream:

Distilled Water, Petrolatum, Glycerin, Phenyl Trimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Emulsifying Wax, Cetearyl Alcohol, Steareth-21, Beeswax, C10-30 Cholesterol/Lanosterol Esters, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Bisabolol, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Caprylyl Glycol, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Cyclohexasiloxane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexlglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Laureth-7, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract, Lilnalool, Limonene, Magnesium Stearate, Malic Acid, Manganese Glycerophosphate, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil Unsaponifiables, Phenoxyethanol, Phoenix Dactylifera (Date) Fruit Extract, Phytosphingosine, Polyacrylamide, Polydodecanamideaminium Triazadiphenylethene- sulfonate, Polyvinylalcohol Crosspolymer, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Steareth-2, Zinc Pyrithione, Zinc Stearate

Unlike the chemical-laden Kiehl's cream, this formula is brimming with botanical extracts and active ingredients to protect against signs of aging.  From avocado to safflower to meadowfoam to linseed to lavender, this cream draws on natural oils from a plethora of plant life to provide nutrients to the skin.  Natural extracts from phytonutrient-rich apples and rose hip oil convey antioxidant and soothing properties.  Sodium Hyaluronate, a super moisturizer, is able to squeeze into the dermis layer of the skin due to its small molecular size.  Capable of holding 1000 times its weight in water, sodium hyaluronate both maintains moisture and aids in the absorption of other nutrients in the formula.