Kenneth Mark Tighten & Lighten Eye Cream with Peptides
Dr. Kenneth Mark has a good thing going with his Antioxidant Hydrating Cream. That good thing is called astaxanthin, a formidable antioxidant that leaves other cartenoids in its dust. Emblazoned on the label of Kenneth Mark's cream, astaxanthin is unmistakably his star ingredient. So I was surprised to find it missing from Kenneth Mark M.D. Tighten and Lighten Eye Cream ($64). What ingredients could possibly outstrip the "world's most powerful antioxidant" and its power to diminish both melanin production and collagen breakdown?

Following water and a group of emollients and humectants, the first active substance is algae extract, which is known to normalize the skin's moisture content and increase surface hydration. Though Kenneth Mark doesn't specify which type of algae is the source of his cream's extract, all varieties are very rich in minerals that nurture, soften, and soothe the skin. Next up is pullulan, a film-forming natural sugar produced by black yeast that contains polysaccharides. Pullulan not only has an immediate skin tightening effect, but i also has long-term benefits by protecting skin cells from oxidative stress and strengthening skin's connective tissue through the stimulation of collagen synthesis and tissue cell renewal.

Listed as thiotic acid, the organic compound alpha lipoic acid has amazing antioxidant properties, slowing down aging at the cellular level. In addition to helping increase cellular metabolism, alpha lipoic acid also inactivates a number of damaging free radicals, including singlet oxygen. Naturally converted by the body to vitamin E, tocopheryl acetate can diffuse into skin cells where it protects against UV damage and improves surface moisture. Hesperidin methyl chalcone, a bioflavonoid derived from citrus such as oranges and lemons, helps reduce capillary permeability by preventing the tiny blood vessels in the skin around the eyes from leaking. This leakage is what causes dark bruise-like discoloration underneath the eyes. Also an anti-inflammatory, hesperidin is thought to diminish puffiness and swelling.

Whereas astaxanthin is the hot ticket in Kenneth Mark's face cream, the eye cream boasts the line "with peptides" on its label. Just how many peptides does our good doctor pack in his formula? There are a total of three, each with its own benefits. Dipeptide-2 helps improve lymphatic circulation and detoxifies skin. Like hesperidin, dipeptide-2 improves drainage of under-eye bags. Acetyl hexapeptide-3 (trade name Argireline) targets wrinkle formation resulting from muscular contractions over time, which eventually creates lines in the soft tissue of the skin. Delivering a muscle-relaxing effect within minutes of application, acetyl hexapeptide-3 has shown to reduce wrinkle depth with long-term use.

Another peptide, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7 is a smoothing anti-inflammatory that restores skin elasticity and firmness. By inhibiting the production of interleukin (IL-6), a chemical messenger which accumulates with age, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7 can prevent some of the body's responses to the breakdown of the hormonal regulatory system, such as high levels of inflammatory proteins in the tissues, slow tissue regeneration, and tissue rigidity with a loss of healing potential. Interestingly, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7 is one of the peptides that makes up Matrixyl 3000.

Finishing up the formula is a struggle between good and evil. On the good size, we have sodium hyaluronate, an especially penetrative molecule capable of holding more water than any other natural substance. As one of the natural moisturizing factors in skin, sodium hyaluronate maintains the skin's moisture content and keeps it looking soft and supple. The final three freeloaders (triethanolamine, ethylhexylglycerin, and phenoxyethanol) take Kennth Mark over to the dark side. While triethanolamine is potentially toxic, the preservative phenoxyethanol and its enhancer ethylhexylglycerin can cause irritation.

Even though it peters out towards the end, Kenneth Mark's eye cream features a pretty impressive ingredients list. After dabbing the cream around my eyes every night for the past four weeks, I have noticed a dramatic improvement in dark circles and puffiness. The moment the cream is smoothed over the under-eye area, it has an instant lightening and tightening effect, just as its name promises. Although I don't suspect these effects will last once I stop using Kenneth Mark's cream, I am more than satisfied with my brighter, firmer, and well-protected eye skin right now. I suppose astaxanthin wasn't necessary after all.


Water (Purified), Caprilyc/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Algae Extract, Pullulan, Thioctic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate, Acetyl Hexapeptide-3, Hesperidin Methyl Chalcone, Dipeptide-2, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Cyclomethicone, Steareth-20, Carbomer, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth-20, Sodium Hyaluronate, Lipoic Acid, Triethanolamine, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol.