How to Find a Great Eye Cream


Eye cream can work wonders on your peepers -- if you choose the right one.
Eye cream can work wonders on your peepers -- if you choose the right one.
Goodshoot/Thinkstock

Skin care has gotten complicated. Remember when a little olive oil slathered on your hands would keep them looking young for hours? Well, maybe you don't, but your mom sure does. Today you need a degree in chemistry to shop for hand lotion -- forget about anything as complicated as sunscreen or night cream. There are so many details involved that it's easy to get overwhelmed.

First, you're confronted with a list of ingredients you've never heard of; then comes the task of sorting through the hype to get at the facts. Do those impossible-to-pronounce ingredients actually do anything more than ratchet up the price? If they're effective, what core products offer the biggest bang for your hard-earned dollar? With all the creams, potions, enhancers, concealers and primers on the market, the prospect of investing in one or two can be bewildering -- and kind of annoying. Eye cream is a good example: If you already wear night cream and moisturizer, why do you need a special product for the area around your eyes? And why is that stuff, in its pitifully miniscule bottles, so darned expensive?

It turns out that your face is, well, complicated, too. It contains oily zones and hair follicles and sweat glands under the skin. It has a plump pillow of collagen for structural support. It also has an oily layer on the surface to help retain moisture. The list goes on and on and on. The more science learns about aging, the more cosmetic scientists use that knowledge to stop, and in some cases reverse, the signs of aging on the most visible part of the human body, the face.

When it comes to taking good care of your aging skin (and it is aging every day), the eye area is at the forefront of the battle. Why? The answer is simple: The skin around your eyes is arguably the most delicate and vulnerable skin on your entire body. Eye cream is so specialized and expensive because it's about as complex as skin care can get.

Types of Eye Creams

There are two basic types of eye creams or gels. One works during the day with your makeup to conceal and protect the area around your eyes. It's typically lightweight and easily absorbed into the skin. It's much less likely to leave an oily residue, too. The other is used at night to repair and moisturize the eye area. It's often more viscous than a day cream or even a generalized night cream. Together they offer 24-hour support for your peepers -- and surrounding environs. This is intensive therapy that works in addition to any generalized moisturizer you may be using on your face.

The skin under and around the eyes is thin and lacks natural lubrication. That makes it dry out quickly and wrinkle faster than other area on your face. With all that smiling and blinking going on, it's also a prime candidate for creases and lines -- the first signs of premature aging. If you neglect your complexion, fail to use sunscreen, smoke, indulge in alcohol regularly or tend to party hard and survive on less sleep than you should, your eye area will be one of the first places to show stress and damage. That's why the eye area presents unique challenges that eye creams are specifically designed to address, like:

  • moisturizing
  • reducing puffiness
  • reversing the signs of aging
  • reducing the appearance of dark circles
  • reducing exposure to damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays
  • firming or filling fine lines and wrinkles

Although this grocery list of benefits looks very appealing, the eye cream formulations on the market are designed to do some chores better than others depending on their target markets. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. As your face ages, you'll be more concerned about one set of problems than another. The trick here is to find the right eye cream or creams to repair and conceal the symptoms you're experiencing at this point in your life.

Finding the Right Eye Cream

If you're a 20-something with a penchant for spending summers on the beach, you'll want a different eye cream than, say, a retired bookkeeper suffering the effects of a couple of decades of eyestrain and squinting. The same goes for a new mom who's spent six months surviving on three hours of sleep a night and has the puffy eyes and dark circles to prove it. Depending on your age and circumstances, these descriptions will help you find the right eye cream to target specific problems:

  • Moisturizing -- Adding moisture to the skin is typically a two-part process that involves adding moisturizing ingredients and then following up with emollients to seal the moisture in place and ensure maximum absorption. Look for ingredients like niacinamide, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, propylene glycol and butylene glycol.
  • Reduce puffiness -- The best products for reducing under-eye puffiness are marketed as having anti-inflammatory properties. Some common anti-inflammatory ingredients are: tea extracts, allantoin and Eyeliss (which contains protein peptides).
  • Reverse the signs of aging -- This can be a challenge, but newer cosmetic ingredients are helping in the fight to turn back the clock. Look for ingredients like retinol, hyaluronic acid and vitamin A, and peptides like palmitoyl oligopeptide and copper peptides. They stimulate collagen production, which in turn helps tighten the skin and improve its natural elasticity. Two other ingredients, coenzyme Q10 and kinetin have shown positive results in reducing lines, wrinkles and tired looking skin. Antioxidants like vitamins C and E can also be effective with regular use.
  • Dark circles -- Some eye creams have ingredients that break down dark blood pigment in under eye skin. The most common ingredient using this technology is sold under the trade name Haloxyl. Another option is brown algae. It acts as a dye that reduces the appearance of dark circles caused by pigmentation irregularities. Vitamin K and hydroquinone work from the inside out, reducing the causes of bruising by strengthening under eye capillaries. They can be effective in combating the dark circles that result from lifestyle factors like smoking.
  • Reduce exposure to damaging ultraviolet rays -- Choose daytime eye creams with broad spectrum SPF ratings of 15 or above. The ingredient coenzyme Q10 will also help protect the skin from sun damage.
  • Fine lines and wrinkles -- Another ingredient sometimes used in daytime eye creams is caffeine. It tightens the skin, reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Continuing to smile throughout the day will reinforce wrinkles after a few hours, so for the best results - no, don't stop using your facial muscles -- but do check your makeup, and reapply eye cream as needed.

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Sources

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  • Crean, Ellen. "The Latest in Eye Creams." 2/11/09. CBS News. (8/7/12). http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500169_162-508979.html
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