According to Olay, there are seven deadly signs that indicate aging eyes: dullness, skin tone, dark circles, fine lines and wrinkles, dry skin, uneven texture, puffiness. As you would expect, they claim that Total Effects Eye Transforming Cream ($22.99) will eliminate all of them. And as you would expect, I suspected Olay of one of the seven deadly sins. Until I took a closer look.... and in the department of good buys, this isn't at all bad.

What impressed me most is that niacinamide is one of the most dominant ingredients, after water and isohexadecane (an emollient). Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 and a precurser of the co-enzymes NADH and NADPH. These enzymes are essential for cell energy production and lipid synthesis. Unfortunately, levels decline with age. Fortunately, niancinamide is proven to reverse that decline. However, there aren't that many studies that demonstrate that it reverses signs of aging, with the exception of one conducted by Procter & Gamble (owners of Olay).

Niacinamide is also very helpful for moisture retention. According to a study published in the International Journal of Dermatology, it is more effective than petrolatum (which is also in this eye cream and, one assumes, it is without any of the impurities that can make petrolatum carcinogenic). Niacinamide doesn't quite do it all, but it may also lighten the skin. According a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, it "significantly decreased hyperpigmentation and increased skin lightness" after four weeks.

Olay has also added green tea, an antioxidant with an excellent pedigree and aloe vera, which is beginning to emerge as something of a super-extract with antioxidant as well as moisturizing powers. On the other hand, there appears to be no science to back up the homespun remedy for tired, puffy eyes of putting cucumber slices on one's eyes. The humble cucumber has virtually no nutritional value and is made up of 90% water. Still, it will do no evil.

Indeed the same can be said for most of the rest of the ingredients, which are mostly harmless. Apart from, it must be said, a couple of silicones, parabens and oleth-3 phosphate (an emulsifier with a track record of causing contact dermatitis).

Ingredients in Olay Total Effects eye cream

Water, Glycerin, Isohexadecane, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), PPG 15 Stearyl Ether, Stearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Behenyl Alcohol, Petrolatum, Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Cucumis Sativus Fruit Extract (Cucumber), Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract (Green Tea), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Allantoin, Polyacrylamide, Cetyl Alcohol, C13 14 Isoparaffin, Steareth 21, Laureth 7, Dimethiconol, Benzyl Alcohol, Disodium EDTA, Steareth 2, Citric Acid, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Oleth 3 Phosphate, Isopropyl Titanium Triisostearate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Ethylparaben, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Titanium Dioxide, Mica, Iron Oxides, Silica, Zinc Oxide