Awhile ago, I was perusing the aisles of Sephora looking for a more affordable alternative to the wonder-working YBF Correct eye cream. A very informative salesperson suggested I check out two products: Skyn’s Icelandic Relief Eye Cream and MD Skincare’s Lift & Lighten Eye Cream.

I bought them both, and will be testing them out for the next few weeks on each eye for a side-by-side comparison. In the meantime, while I’m waiting for the results, I’m going to be examining the active ingredients of both products.

Skyn’s eye cream has some really interesting, and at times downright peculiar, ingredients—some of which are irritants. My first night home from Sephora, I went a little overboard with my new purchases and applied a few too many to my face. The results of which were extreme eye and sinus irritation. Since one of the products I used was the Skyn eye cream, I immediately became suspicious. However, there were a few other variables going on that I would like to identify. 1) I was using this product in combination with a Dr. Brandt product, which may have been a contributing factor; and 2) I applied a very liberal dose of the eye cream, probably more than required, and got a bit in my eye.

So, it’s necessary to say that in times since—when I have applied the Skyn eye cream alone, and with a more conservative application—I have not experienced the same reaction.

Now on to the ingredients…

When conducting my research, I found little to support Skyn’s marketing claims for rice peptides, which maintain that they help destroy the enzymes that break down collagen and elastin. But what I did find was positive. Apparently rice bran and its products contain a unique antioxidant called y-oryzanol, which has a powerful UV absorbency effect.

Perfluorodecalin is interesting because it helps to dissolve and deliver oxygen to the skin. Results from clinical studies show that cosmetic preparations that include perflurodecalin improve the skin’s barrier function resulting in increased moisturizing efficacy.

Phytonadione, or vitamin K, is one of the main active ingredients found in nearly all under eye creams. Naturally found in the body, vitamin K helps ensure proper blood clotting. Because under eye circles and bags are linked to poor vascular conditions, vitamin K has been offered up as a viable antidote.  But does it work? Maybe… According to a 2004 study published by the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 47% of participants noticed a “fair to moderate” improvement in their dark circles after applying a preparation of 2% vitamin K + 0.1% retinol, vitamin E, and vitamin C for eight weeks.

While I’ve yet to see any clinical studies out there to support the efficacy of buckwheat seed extract, there is some suggestion that this phytosterol-rich ingredient works to reduce the appearance of under eye bags because of its lipogenesis inhibiting (fat synthesis) effects.

Now there are a few ingredients that I’m skeptical about. Apparently, Skyn includes cotton (gossypium herbaceum) for its purported optical diffusion effects and to fill in fine lines, but I don’t see much evidence out there to substantiate this. And then there is the obscure Buddleja Davidii extract, which is, according to a Swiss R&D company specializing in the development of Alpine active ingredients for cosmetics, apparently an antioxidant.

Most interesting in this ingredient lineup is the inclusion of gold and silver, which—believe-it-or-not—are sometime used to promote the regeneration of the skin. It all sounds a bit hokey though. According to Dr. Hauschka, there is a corresponding relationship between the moon, the metal silver, and the 28-day rhythm of skin cell renewal. However, both gold and silver can be very irritating to skin, and there is little to no clinical research showing that either has any benefit when applied topically to the skin.

Besides gold and silver, there are a bunch of other irritants in this product that make me think twice. There’s triethanolamine, a known irritant that runs a good chance of being contaminated with the highly potent carcinogen nitrosamine. There’s the preservative phenoxyethanol, a possible toxin. And then there’s propylene glycol, a known skin irritant, and potassium chloride — the same stuff that is given in lethal injections to inmates on death row.

Add to all this a few PEGs—PEG-6 Isostearate and PEG-75 Shea Butter Glycerides—and there begins to be a problem. As I wrote about earlier, PEGs have a proven skin penetration enhancing effect that makes it easier for the very same toxins listed above to get that much deeper into your skin.

These are just a few of the ingredients I’ve pulled out, and I’m not too impressed. If it weren’t for the glowing reviews, I think I’d be tossing it right about now. However, I’m going to give it another week to see how it compares to MD Skincare’s eye cream.


Aqua (Water), Isocetyl Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Glycerin, Hydrolyzed Rice Bran Protein, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Stearic Acid, Angelica Archangelica Root Water, Decyl Oleate, Dimethicone, PEG-6 Isostearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Triethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Gossypium Herbaceum (Cotton), Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Disodium EDTA, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Buddleja Davidii Extract, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Extract, Menthyl Lactate, Hesperetin Laurate, Polygonum Fagopyrum Seed Extract, Propylene Glycol, Perfluorodecalin, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Linoleic Acid, Alpha-Linolenic Acid, Copper Sulfate, Oleic Acid, Calcium Carbonate, Magnesium Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Gold, Silver, Silica, PEG-75 Shea Butter Glycerides, Glycosphingolipids, Ascophyllum Nodosum Extract, Phytonadione, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Rubus Chamaemorus Seed Oil, Xanthan Gum, Tocopherol, Tocotrienols, Carotenoids Fragrance-free