Do We Really Need Eye Cream?
While I am not at war with my age lines, I find that keeping my eye area hydrated gives me a more lifted, rested appearance. Also, the moisture keeps my eye makeup from looking cakey and poorly applied. Therefore, I am pretty diligent about protecting the area surrounding my eyes with products that are specifically formulated to deliver visible benefits.
The first skincare tip I remember reading in a beauty magazine—Glamour Italia, about 25 years ago—was to use an eye cream. Looking back, I now understand why: the skin around our eyes is so thin that it is almost translucent, and there isn’t a gland near the eyes that produces sebum. This is why we have to apply moisturizing ingredients to nourish and restore.
If you have ever wondered whether eye creams are just a marketing strategy to get you to buy more skincare products—well, it depends. While some eye cream formulas don’t differ much from face moisturizers, many contain active ingredients that specifically target the eye area (and leave out potentially aggravating ingredients). In fact, many eye creams are tested by ophthalmologists to ensure their safety for sensitive eyes.
Whether you should use an eye cream or other products to protect the eye area depends on your specific needs and preferences. For example, a moisturizer with purifying ingredients or other strong actives may feel too harsh for the eye area, while a simple face oil could work just fine. I find that humectant-rich, lightweight eye gels and creams work great in the daytime to boost hydration. For the evening, I rely on oil-based treatments to optimize nighttime repair.
AM Eye Care
Eye creams and gels help shield delicate skin from environmental aggressors like wind and pollution while replenishing dryness. They soothe and refresh sleepy eyes, preventing the makeup applied around them from settling into fine lines. I like to keep my eye gels in the fridge so that when I wake up with undereye bags, I can let the coolness depuff.
The Indie Lee I-Waken Eye Serum has a soothing, lightweight texture that feels incredibly refreshing—somewhere in between a gel and a lotion. It contains hyaluronic acid, an ingredient that does not penetrate into the skin, but rather stays on the surface and attracts water from the atmosphere, keeping skin hydrated and supple. It also contains comforting plant extracts, such as chamomile.
The Pai Echium & Argan Gentle Eye Cream is one I have used for many years. It is also very light in texture, but makes my eye area feel bouncy and supple. It contains echium seed extract, which is rich in fatty acids and helps to protect the skin barrier. It has a cosmetically elegant finish and works beautifully under makeup—no shininess, pilling, or emphasized creasing. This eye cream and the previous one by Indie Lee are my favorite picks for sensitive eyes.
The 100% Pure Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream is another lightweight eye cream with soothing benefits. It is particularly helpful at combatting puffiness due to its caffeine content, which has a temporary constricting effect that reduces the appearance of eye bags. It also has a delicious, subtle vanilla scent.
A new, outstanding eye product I have been testing recently is the Agent Nateur Holi (Glow) Ageless Eye Serum. This lush, intensively hydrating formula feels like a shot of fresh cucumber juice on my thirsty skin. It features some of the key ingredients I mentioned for the previous products, including hyaluronic acid, plus calming plant extracts like dragon fruit, chamomile, and calendula. It also contains caffeine to shrink the appearance of eye bags.
AM Tip: Incorporate Eye Massage
One of my favorite morning practices that I do every time I can afford an extra 60 seconds in the mirror is massaging my face—specifically around my eyes. I find it helps depuff the skin and helps my products absorb better.
Face rollers also come in handy for this because they do all the work for you (watch this video to see how to use a roller). Whether using a tool or your fingers, the simplest way to get stagnant fluid moving and reduce the appearance of puffiness is by applying gentle pressure for a few seconds, moving around the eyes starting from the tear duct toward the brow bone and then continuing in a circular direction back toward the tear duct.
PM Eye Care
Due to my predisposition to puffiness, I avoid humectant-rich creams at night. Instead, I opt for light, oil-based formulas. Water-based creams tend to make me look more puffy, so I use an oil applied directly onto damp (not wet) skin. The occlusive properties of the oil seal in moisture and keep skin balanced. If you don’t love the feel of a traditional cream, an oil can be a great replacement.
My go-to evening eye oil is the Maya Chia The Eye Achiever. It contains an array of beneficial ingredients including algae. Algae have the ability to retain water and they are also rich in antioxidants. The cherry on the cake is the applicator, which delivers the oil with a cooling (and extremely soothing) steel rollerball. It’s so relaxing that I often get carried away and roll longer than necessary!
PM Tip: Sleep On Your Back
If you, too, tend to wake up puffy, try sleeping on your back with your head elevated on pillows. This is a simple but very effective way to prevent excess puffiness. It may take some getting used to, but it is totally worth it.
Eye Care SOS
Unexpected things happen: late nights, allergic reactions, a good cry, sleeping with our faces smushed into our pillow. Here are my go-to remedies for these unforeseen circumstances.
When I wake up with heavy bags under my eyes and I have to be presentable in as little time as possible, cold eye masks are my go-to. I can wear them while making breakfast, getting dressed, or writing down my list for the day. The 100% Pure Bright Eyes Mask comes with two disposable gels that are easy to use and contain specific ingredients designed to counteract puffiness and darkness, including caffeine, cucumber, hyaluronic acid, and aloe.
Another good method that requires a little more effort is, once again, face rolling (I keep my face rollers in the fridge for this specific reason!). After cleansing my face, I apply some cool eye gel and then I roll under and around my eye area with gentle pressure to promote drainage.
When the area around my eyes is extremely dry to the point of looking flaky, I use a very gentle exfoliator. The Odacité Bioactive Rose Gommage has been my favorite for this purpose because it both exfoliates with fruit enzymes and hydrates the skin with hyaluronic acid. I like to use it as an under eye mask and rinse it off with warm water. It leaves my eye area looking so much more refreshed and youthful. The gel texture feels cooling and comfortable, and despite being an exfoliating product, it does not aggravate my skin.
Dark circles can be caused by many things, including genetic predisposition, facial bone structure (as in my case), allergies, and even thin skin, which are all things best addressed by a doctor and/or dermatologist. However, when dark circles appear as a result of a late night or feeling a bit under the weather, a brightening eye cream paired with a good concealer can do the trick. For example, the Naturopathica Vitamin K Brightening Eye Serum contains light-reflecting mica that helps lighten the look of shadows. It also features a long-lasting texture that “grips” the makeup and keeps it in place. I like to apply the eye serum by patting it gently until fully absorbed. Once it has set on the skin, I add some concealer where I want coverage, and I press it (rather than rubbing it) until it looks well blended. My favorite concealer for disguising dark circles is the W3LL People Bio Correct Multi-Action Concealer (in the shade Light, for light to medium skin tones) because it has a peachy undertone that counteracts blue shadows.