Do you really need a different moisturizer for your eyes?

Woman applying moisturizer near eye
Getting Beautiful Skin Image Gallery Are moisturizers designed specially for the eye area any different from regular facial moisturizers? See more pictures of ways to get beautiful skin.
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Sometimes life just happens to you -- one day you may look in the mirror and see an older person staring back at you. What are these crow's feet and fine lines around your eyes? How did they suddenly appear, and more importantly, can you get rid of them?

Taking a walk through any beauty products department can leave you more confused about what sort of eye care you might need. Cosmetics companies have flooded the market with moisturizers, creams, gels and rejuvenating serums, all promising younger-looking skin around your eyes. With prices ranging anywhere from $15 to more than $100, you can feel like you need to spend a fortune to take care of your eyes, but eye cream often is just glorified moisturizer packaged in a tiny bottle. Do you really need a specialized moisturizer for your eyes?


Cosmetics companies claim the reason you need a separate eye cream is because the skin around your eyes is a little different from the rest of your face. First of all, this skin is indeed thinner and shows signs of aging more quickly than other areas of the face do. This thinness makes it more delicate and vulnerable, and it's more prone to allergic reactions than other facial skin. The skin around the eyes also gets a much greater workout; every time you move your eyes, whether you squint, smile or widen them in surprise, you're working out the tiny muscles around your eyes. Over time, this skin dries out and forms small wrinkles, sometimes called crow's feet. Smoking and exposure to the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays can also encourage wrinkles to form.

Skin under the eyes can be prone to puffiness if fluid builds up there -- allergies and sinus problems can also cause the eyes to puff. When the epidermis becomes thinner and the underlying veins become more prominent, dark circles can form. Heredity, lack of sleep, too much sun exposure and aging can all cause dark circles.

Unlike skin on the rest of your face, the eye area does not contain oil glands that can help keep this skin moist. This is part of the reason why beauty companies and experts recommend using a separate eye cream.

Next, we'll discuss what eye creams can and can't do as we examine whether you really do need a separate product just for your eyes.


What Eye Creams Can and Can't Do

Why do beauty experts promote eye cream usage? Eye creams usually contain emollients, or moisturizers, that can help hydrate the drier eye skin and help it to look smoother. To combat the appearance of wrinkles, eye creams can also contain ingredients that help boost collagen. Collagen is a major protein that's found in the fibers of connective tissue, cartilage and bone. It keeps skin strong and helps smooth out wrinkles, but your skin produces less of it as you get older. Eye creams with retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, are marketed to increase collagen production. Antioxidant ingredients, such as vitamin C, and peptides also assist in retaining collagen in the skin [source: Almasi].

Ingredients such as calendula are used to fight under-eye puffiness. Some creams can even contain caffeine, which can help reduce the appearance of bags under the eyes. Eye creams fight dark circles by temporarily puffing up skin so the blood vessels underneath aren't as prevalent. If you have oily skin, you may want to consider using an eye gel because it doesn't contain the same moisturizers, which could increase the oil production in your skin.


Many experts recommend using separate eye creams rather than just facial creams because eye creams are formulated to have more emollients, which cause the skin to swell enough to lessen the appearance of wrinkles. Eye creams also tend to be thicker than facial lotions, and the thicker product will stay on the thin, mobile skin a little better [source: Almasi]. Be sure to apply the cream before you put on your makeup so that your skin absorbs the active ingredients.

If you opt for using an eye cream, don't expect it to be a cure-all. A recent study of 107 people who tried 16 different eye creams found that none of them eliminated wrinkles outright. In fact, several of the changes noted were extremely subtle, and cheaper eye creams performed just as well, if not better, than more expensive products [source: Consumer Reports].

These findings match other expert beliefs that a separate eye cream isn't always absolutely necessary. Because facial moisturizers and eye creams have basically the same ingredients, those who have normal to oily facial skin and don't need a ton of moisturizer to begin with can probably get away with using an emollient-rich facial moisturizer around their eyes [source: Begoun]. However, some experts warn that a separate eye cream is necessary because ingredients in a facial cream, such as certain added sunscreens, can be too powerful for the delicate eye area and cause problems such as stinging or burning [source: Crean]. If you are prone to eye irritation and have very sensitive skin, you may want to consider using a separate eye cream just because it can be gentler.

Learn lots more about eye cream and facial moisturizer products by exploring the links on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Almasi, Mary Rose. "The No-Knife Eye Lift." WebMD (originally published in Good Housekeeping on October 8, 2008). (Accessed December 25, 2009.)
  • Begoun, Paula. "Are Eye Creams Necessary?" CosmeticsCop. (Accessed December 24, 2009.)
  • Consumer Reports. "Do eye creams make a visible difference?" October 2009. (Accessed December 23, 2009.)
  • Crean, Ellen. "The Latest In Eye Creams: Caring For The Tender Skin Around Your Peepers."
  • May 14, 2002. (Accessed December 24, 2009.)
  • Personal Care Products Council. "Rumor: Sunscreen Eye Exposure Causes Blindness."
  • Personal Care Products Council. "Skin Care Products (Creams, Lotions, Powders, and Sprays)." (Accessed December 25, 2009.)
  • Sorgen, Carol. "Grooming Essentials for Women: Skin and Hair Care Products." WebMD. (Accessed December 25, 2009.)