Face value: the thing about eye creams

Written by Bea Taylor

The ticket to eternal youth or a small, expensive pot of moisturiser? We investigate.

If, like me, your fresh, youthful face is something you took for granted in your teens and, if like me, you’re now trying desperately to slow down the inevitable ageing process (without taking any drastic measures) — then you, too, might have stumbled across the baffling — and very expensive — aisle of eye creams.

The skin around our eyes is delicate and much more prone to early signs of ageing than the rest of our face. It’s also the area that gets the biggest workout. Every time we smile, squint, talk, cry or laugh (hopefully more of the latter), we’re using the muscles around our eyes. Over time, factors such as dryness and loss of collagen and elasticity lead to the formation of small wrinkles around our eyes (crow’s feet) and make us forget about the days of youthful, un-lined ignorance. Smoking and sun exposure can also accelerate this.

So, this brings us back to eye creams — you know, those pricey little pottles that promise eternal youth? Last week, after dabbing my own expenny pottle of cream (pea-sized portions, of course) on my eye area, I was listening to a podcast with founder of Go-To skincare and all-round boss, Zoe Foster-Blake, and almost spat my tea out when she uttered the words; “I don’t believe in eye creams… they’re just expensive little pots of moisturiser.” What she was referring to were the ‘eye creams’ that have the label, but not the ingredients to do the work; she says, “eye concentrates and products with retinol, though, they will do something.”

Not all bad news then. Let’s be real, things such as puffy under eyes and dark circles are caused by hyperpigmentation and dilated blood vessels, both of which are hereditary and are going to be hard to get rid of entirely. Wrinkles too are caused by movement and sun exposure — so moisturising isn’t going to magically get rid of them.

However, this isn’t to say we shouldn’t chuck away our small pottles of eye cream just yet. The right formula applied consistently can help prevent future damage and is essential in helping maintain a good skin structure.

Linda Sharrem, Caci skincare trainer, says, “eye creams are made specifically for the thin, delicate skin around the eye area, which can be 10 times thinner than the skin on the face.” A regular moisturiser, no matter how great the formula, is not made for this delicate eye area. Linda warns, “it will be too heavy for the eye area and drag and cause milias” (these are little bumps that appear just under the skin’s surface).

She suggests looking for formulas packed with goodies such as Vitamin C (to strengthen collagen and blood vessels) or chamomile, cucumber and caffeine (to de-puff and freshen the eye area and, of course, those packed with antioxidants and SPF.

“The earlier you start using an eye cream, the better,” says Linda. “We would recommend starting from at least your mid-20s, but it’s never really too late to start — especially these days as we do a lot of squinting at our cellphones.”

So, where should this little golden ticket to youth sit in our beauty regime? “When you’re younger, incorporating your eye cream into your nighttime beauty regime is enough. But, by the time you’re in your early 30s, you should be applying it morning and night,” says Linda. She also suggests applying your serums and treatment products first (avoiding the eye area), then patting in your eye cream, followed by your moisturiser (avoiding the eye area).

Did you hear me mention serums? Yeah, so it turns out you can also get eye serums (as well as your normal skin serums). Linda says, “an eye serum is usually formulated to deliver antioxidants and vitamins. Eye creams are more moisturising and deliver hydration to the area.” However — in case you needed to be more confused — there are some hydrating ingredients in serums and some high impact ingredients in eye creams.

The takeaway? Get to know the ingredients in the products you’re buying and what your area of treatment actually needs.

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