Updated 1/8/18. One time I was flipping through a magazine when I read a quote from a top beauty editor, “I never use eye cream because I haven’t found one that actually worked.” So it got me thinking. If a top editor at a major publication, who is given lots of free skincare products from beauty brands around the world and who has surely tried many of them is saying this, certainly consumers must be feeling this, too.
As someone who has 30+ years of hands-on skincare experience as an esthetician, I have some opinions on the efficacy of eye creams. In this post, I’ll share my thoughts to give you some insight into whether or not eye creams really work and if you should be using one.
Do I really need to use an eye cream? What do they really do?
Let me start by saying that eye creams and other skin care products will not work miracles, even though many cosmetic companies and their salespeople say they do. We are under the impression that eye creams will remove all lines and wrinkles and make the skin under the eyes smooth and youthful again. If you’re using an eye cream thinking it’s a quick fix, unfortunately, I have bad news. They just don’t work like this. However, more invasive treatments, such as Botox, can dramatically smooth eye wrinkles away quickly and effectively. An eye cream simply cannot do this. BUT can eye creams help to prevent wrinkles and keep this area moist and younger-looking? Absolutely yes…
The skin around the eyes is ten times thinner than that of the face, and it has very few oil glands. Plus, we blink 10,000 times a day, squint and smile, so this area is the first to show signs of aging. It’s important to treat this tender area by using an eye cream every single night. Skin cells are like fish and they need water to live so you need to keep hydration levels up to prevent moisture evaporation. Moisture loss = premature skin cell death. Not good.
For an example of the powerful effects of topical moisturization, I always refer back to a study done on stretch marks in pregnant women. It showed that women who applied lotion to their stomachs several times a day (any kind of lotion, no specific magic ingredient) had fewer stretch marks than those who rarely moisturized. When the skin is hydrated topically, it keeps the skin’s structure intact. This, in turn, keeps it supple so there is less wear and tear. The bottom line is, moisturizing definitely works. With regards to the eye area, since this skin is constantly moving from smiling, squinting and rubbing, an eye cream definitely prevents collagen and elasticity breakdown. The result is fewer premature lines and wrinkles.
There have been many breakthroughs in the science of moisture retention. When choosing an eye cream, it’s important to use one that is well-formulated and doesn’t use petrolatum or mineral oil. Instead, choose eye creams that use good emollients and barrier-repairing oils like sunflower or jojoba oils. These natural oils are much better for repairing the skin and preventing trans-epidermal water loss. This keeps the skin moist and supple—the way it should be to prevent visible aging. Recommended eye creams: Total Eye Repair Cream and/or Vitamin C Eye Brightener. They offer other benefits in addition to hydration and are both very powerful formulas.
One missing piece that people aren’t totally aware of is the importance of exfoliating under the eyes. You must use a gentle exfoliant around the eye area to actually remove the dryness and crepiness so fresher, plumper cells come to the surface of the skin and your eye cream can give better results. Trying to moisturize cells that are already expired won’t get you very far, trust me on this one. While it’s important to use eye cream, people hardly have ever been told that gentle exfoliation around the eyes can make a significant improvement in reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles and smoothing away surface dryness. Recommended under-eye exfoliator: Overnight Eye Serum
Trust me, eye creams do work. I swear by them; I personally use them every single day and night. Do I still have wrinkles around my eyes? Yes. I’m getting close to age 50 and this is normal. But when I look at my siblings and parents to see how they are aging under their eyes, by comparison, I feel that I’m doing much better because I take better care of my skin. (Here is a recent picture of me and my oldest sister. I often get mistaken for her daughter.)
I do also use a retinol serum called Advanced Resurfacing Serum. When used long-term, this can really help build up collagen and smooth the skin both on the face and under the eyes. Using a performance ingredient like retinol in your routine makes for a great complement to eye cream. If you’re not using a retinol product and you want your skin to look smoother, you should really try it.
Note: Eye creams do not have to be heavy and greasy to work. In fact, if an eye cream is too greasy, it can migrate into the eyes and cause under eye puffiness. This then unnecessarily stretches out the skin, causing a weakening in elasticity. Not good at all!
Bottom line, invest in a good eye cream along with an under-eye exfoliator and commit to using them faithfully.
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Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”