Where do you stand on eye cream? Firm fan or non-believer? Depending on who you ask, they’re either an essential skincare component, or the first thing to fall by the wayside in exchange for a slick of your usual face moisturiser. And, with modern skincare routines multiplying to make way for face mists, masks and high-tech gadgets, do we really need to be making room for a separate targeted eye treatment?
One woman firmly on #TeamEyeCream, is skincare expert (and Meghan Markle’s favoured facialist), Sarah Chapman. “When treating concerns around the eye, it is essential to use a product formulated especially for this area,” she says. The reason being, “the delicate skin here is 10 times thinner than the skin on the rest of the face,” which makes it’s more permeable (or likely to absorb product) and shows deep veins more clearly.
Strictly speaking, our eye area has “less sebaceous glands, collagen and elastin fibers compared to the rest of our face,” explains leading oculoplastic surgeon and aesthetic doctor, Dr Maryam Zamani, making it more prone to losing moisture and becoming dryer and showing wrinkles, as well as losing its springy, plump appearance.
Choosing an Eye Cream
But, there’s a second, more unsavory reason why eye creams are necessary (be warned, it’s pretty revolting…) “A build-up of dense creams around the eye can cause puffiness in the under eye area,” explains Chapman. In fact, eye bags are often the result of leftover moisturiser, foundation and concealer collecting into squishy deposits. “This is the reason why many oculoplastic surgeons frequently find excess eye creams in the eye bags,” reveals Zamani.
So, what’s needed? Effective eye creams will use “delivery systems that are suited to the thinner and delicate skin,” notes Zamani, so as to avoid a heavy build-up. Application is important, too, since rough motions can encourage wrinkles. “Try to focus on lifting movements when applying your eye creams [which should be applied both under eyes and around the brown bone and eyelids] – don’t drag the skin down or stretch the skin in the eye area,” says Chapman. “Use gentle movements and tap your product into the skin using your fingertips to maintain good elasticity.”
And, “targeted actives are required to treat the specific concerns in this area,” Chapman confirms. For instance, caffeine will help to combat puffiness by reducing the build-up of lipids that lead to eye bags, hyaluronic acid will help to hydrate (which in turn will help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles), vitamin c will help to brighten and counter the signs of fatigue and albizia julibrissin bark extract strengthens capillaries to reduce the appearance of dark circles.
But (and it’s a big but), note the use of the word ‘reduce’. One of the main reasons for eye cream’s divisive reputation is misleading marketing claims that over-promise and under deliver. And, as well as espousing it’s benefits, it’s important to note its limitations, too. Take dark circles for instance. They can be caused by anything from genetics to “hyperpigmentation, poor circulation, hollowness or the sunken appearance of eyelids,” says Zamani. While some ingredients can disguise and deflect (with the help of luminous pigments), no amount of eye cream will eradicate the problem entirely. Any brand promising otherwise is not being fully transparent.
Instead, that’s where concealer comes in. “Shadows caused by pigment are usually brown, so using a slightly peachy of yellow concealer will help counteract them,” says Zamani. Just be careful not to overdo it – too much as with moisturiser, too much can build up and lead to puffiness. Instead, stick to thin layers and pat in the product gently.
Here are five of our favourite eye creams (and a bonus tool) that will really help to make a difference
Best for plumping: Sarah Chapman Skinesis Eye Recovery, £48
A cocktail of skin plumping antioxidants, peptides, hyaluronic spheres and optical diffusers, this is the answer to energised looking eyes.
Best for fine lines: Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Eye Serum, £65
The gold standard in firming, this is packed with wrinkle smoothing retinol.
Best for disguising dark circles: Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Cream, £30
A hybrid of skincare and make-up, this eye cream works wonder for disguising dark circles, with brightening vitamin c and colour correcting pigments.
Best for reducing puffiness: The Body Shop Precision Eye Massager, £12
Technically not an eye cream, but, if you really want to go the extra mile, try The Body Shop’s Precision Eye Massager. The metal ball on the end provides instant cooling relief (bonus points if you stick it in the fridge) and the manual rolling motion helps to disperse a build-up of product and puffiness.