How to find the perfect eye cream
Written by Jess Beech
12 Jul 2023
Eyes are a big giveaway when it comes to our age as well as our all-round vitality. If you don’t want them to spill your secrets, you’ll need to invest in an eye cream for their silence.
Why do I need an eye cream?
The skin around our eyes is quite different from the rest of the skin on our faces. First of all, it’s a lot thinner - and super delicate. Secondly, it doesn’t contain as many sebaceous glands, so there’s less oil on the surface of the skin which means it’s drier and less able to hold onto moisture. The skin cells around the eye area turn over at a slower rate too, which is why the skin here can appear drier and feel rougher to the touch.
We blink up to 15,000 times in a single day, which puts a constant strain on the skin around the eye. You’re also more likely to rub this area due to allergies and be rougher with your makeup removal here...
Given it can be fragile and lacking in some essential oily goodness, you’d think that the skin on the eyes should be doing as little work as possible – but it’s quite the opposite. We blink up to 15,000 times in a single day, which puts a constant strain on the skin around the eye. You’re also more likely to rub this area due to allergies and be rougher with your makeup removal here – especially if you’re trying to persuade waterproof mascara off of your lashes. If that wasn’t enough, the eye area is also more prone to puffiness thanks to influxes of water caused by things like crying or moisture pooling if you sleep either face down or very flat. And all this, of course, is where the right eye cream can come in…
How are eye creams different from moisturisers?
Thought that eye cream was just an expensive moisturiser in a smaller pot? Think again. The key benefit of an eye cream is that it has been specially-formulated for this area, taking all of its USPs we’ve just touched on (like its delicate nature and tendency to be dehydrated) into account. It will also have been made with eye area-centric concerns in mind, like dark circles, crow’s feet, and puffiness. Often eye creams have light-reflecting particles in them too, which instantly blur and brighten the area.
Face moisturisers and serums can often be a bit too much for the delicate eye area. Either they’re too heavy, which can clog our pores and result in things like milia (those little milky spots) or they’re too punchy, with ingredients like Retinol and Vitamin C at higher concentrations than this delicate skin can handle. They’re also more likely to be fragranced, which can cause problems if you have especially sensitive or easily irritated eyes. It’s worth remembering that the skin around our eyes can be more sensitive at certain times of the year – hay fever season, we’re looking at you.
Who will benefit from using an eye cream?
You’ll benefit from using an eye cream if you are concerned about any, all, or a pick-and-mix collection of the following:
Dark circles - When we think of rings beneath the eyes, we think of a lack of sleep, but your genes, age, congestion, and a lack of iron can all contribute to them.
Puffiness - Puffy eyes are caused either by inflammation from allergies or rubbing them, or by an influx of water in the area due to crying or sleeping in a way that doesn’t allow the moisture to drain effectively overnight.
Hyperpigmentation - Is caused by sun exposure, where the melanocytes (the cells that create melanin and give our skin color) go into overdrive and produce more pigment than is needed. It tends to become more prominent as we age and can be more noticeable in some skin tones than others.
Fine lines and crow’s feet - As we age, the levels of collagen in our skin start to deplete, which can lead to a loss of firmness. As our eyes are constantly on the move the lines can be more exaggerated here.
Dryness - The skin around our eyes has fewer sebaceous glands, which means less naturally occurring oil to keep it soft and supple.
Dehydration - No thanks to its lower oil content, the skin around the eyes is less able to seal in hydration.
You’ll notice these are all quite generic and general concerns – the kind that all of us are susceptible to and likely to experience. They may not be at the top of your priority list or visible every day on your skin, but you’ll find that things like changing weather, late nights, periods of stress, crying, or rubbing your eyes will bring them on or amplify them. Making sure you’re using an eye cream rather than an unsuitable moisturiser (or avoiding treating the area altogether) will help to minimize and prevent these eye-area concerns.
What are the different types of eye cream?
Eye creams are normally split into different categories depending on the job they’re aiming to do, which could be…
Brightening the eye area to reduce the appearance of sleepy dark circles and hyperpigmentation.
Hydrating to replenish the moisture the skin has lost through natural dryness. Hydrating the skin will also help to plump out fine lines.
Firming by replenishing lost stocks of collagen and elastin so that the skin feels tighter and wrinkles are less noticeable.
Nourishing dry skin to ensure it has enough oils to keep itself comfortable and avoid flaking, redness, and irritation.
De-puffing by soothing sore eyes with cooling ingredients. Little tips like keeping your eye cream in the fridge and making sure you’re massaging it in lightly with your ring finger to aid lymphatic drainage will make a difference to puffiness too.
Smoothing by making sure the area isn’t holding on to old skin cells for too long. When they outstay their welcome congestion and milia are more common.
Eye creams can be divided by their texture too. Some are more creamy, whereas others are lighter and more akin to a gel. The category is branching out into eye serums too, which can be layered underneath your eye cream to really supercharge its results. Or, eye serums can be used as an alternative, stand-alone product for anyone who’s really averse to the feeling of cream products around their eyes and prefers something lighter and more watery.
What ingredients should I look for in an eye cream?
The key ingredients you should look out for in an eye cream will depend on the particular eye area concern you’re hoping to tackle. Here at Beauty Pie, our favorites include:
Retinol is a gold-star anti-aging ingredient that’s part of the retinoid family. It works to speed up cell turnover (something that this skin needs extra help with) to reveal the fresher skin beneath. It also boosts Collagen production. It’s a great anti-aging ingredient for tackling fine lines and wrinkles but is potent, so may not be suitable for sensitive skin.
Ceramides are lipids that help to form the mortar that holds our skin cells together. With these in place, the skin barrier is boosted and it’s better at holding moisture in the skin. Anyone with dry skin or sensitive skin in particular will really benefit from a Ceramide-rich eye cream.
Peptides are chains of amino acids that make up bigger proteins. In the skin, they can do things like encourage the production of collagen and elastin, carry these elements to where they’re needed in the skin and prevent them from breaking down. They’re more easily tolerated than Retinol, making them a good choice for sensitive skin concerned with fine lines and wrinkles.
Ginseng is an ingredient that has been used in Eastern cultures for centuries and is hailed for its brightening, soothing, and de-puffing qualities. It’s a good choice for anyone who feels their eye area is looking tired.
Hyaluronic Acid is a hero hydrator that can hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water. It’s part of a family of ingredients called humectants and works like a magnet to draw moisture into the skin and hold it there. It’s best suited to anyone who wants to rehydrate thirsty skin.
Is it good to apply an eye cream every day?
Skincare is absolutely brilliant, and has the potential to really transform your skin – but only if you’re willing to commit. To see real results from any of your products, including your eye cream, you’re going to need to be using it every single day.
As we have already mentioned, the skin around our eyes goes through a lot and takes the brunt of a bunch of environmental and mechanical damage. For this reason, it more than deserves a little daily TLC. It’s less hardy than the skin on the rest of your face, so if you ignore it for a couple of days then that neglect is going to show.
If you really want to go above and beyond for the eye area, consider making it a part of both your daytime and evening routines. Depending on your key concerns, you might want to use the same product twice a day, or bookend with different ones. For example, you might use a Ginseng eye cream in the morning to awaken and brighten, and a Retinol eye cream in the evening to smooth fine lines. If you’re only really worried about hydration, then a Hyaluronic Acid eye cream is perfect for AM and PM.