Who Needs An Eye Cream Anyway?


Is there anything more confusing than eye cream? Nuclear physics, of course, but right behind that is eye cream. Year after year, it’s one of Google’s most-searched beauty categories (it’s remarkable SEO catnip), but it’s also one of the most bewildering. It seems that people either think eye creams don’t work at all, or they are searching for the mystical one. The one that, with the whoosh of a ring finger, deflates their bags, lightens up their circles, and irons out any emerging creases. But an eye cream can’t do all of that. It can’t, right? [Small voice] Can it?

ITG tapped Dr. Chaneve Jeanniton to find out. Dr. Jeanniton is an ocular plastic surgeon, which is a very particular kind of eye doctor that specializes in cosmetic and reconstructive procedures in the eye area. Only around 20 people specialize in this field each year, so Dr. Jeanniton is one of a mere few who are truly experts in this arena. She knows everything there is to know about eye skin! And she walked us through four questions to ask yourself when deciding if eye cream is for you.

Question #1: What Kind Of Results Am I Looking For?

Overall, a person needs eye cream like a person needs a phone case. It’s not going to change your day or maybe even your year. But, just like a phone that hasn’t benefited from a protective buffer over time, eyes, little by little, will show signs of wear and tear. (Wear and tear is a funny way to talk about skin, but let’s stick with this analogy for a tiny bit longer.) The tricky thing is, if an eye cream is doing its job, then you’ll hardly notice anything at all—when it comes to preventing fine lines, it’s the absence of their development that’ll tell you it’s working. The immediate benefits of eye cream are subtle—depending on the formulation, you might notice less puffiness, or a slight brightness or smoothing thanks to caffeine, reflective pigments, and vitamins. “Realistically, eye creams can help address the appearance of dry, crepey skin, fine lines and dark circles due to pigment,” explains Dr. Jeanniton. “Outside of that, eye creams tend to overpromise.” If an eye cream promises to do any more, then that is a giant red flag! And if you are looking for more than that, then it’s time to consult an MD, friend.

Question #2: Seriously, Should I Just Use A Moisturizer?

OK this is tough because the answer is you absolutely can use a regular face moisturizer, but only if the moisturizer and you meet very specific conditions. On the moisturizer front, it needs to be a boring, unfussy one. “Eye creams tend to be distinguished by what they leave out,” Dr. Jeanniton tells us. “Many people have sensitivities to fragrances and preservatives that are doubly problematic around the sensitive eye area. Active ingredients that are suitable for use on the face may be too stimulating for delicate eyelid skin.” And you should also make sure that your moisturizer isn’t too thick with heavy, occlusive ingredients. “These may be fine around the face but can be problematic for those prone to developing milia, the small white or yellow-colored bumps that sometimes develop around the eye area,” Dr. Jeanniton adds. And also, if you’re using a face moisturizer as eye cream, make sure to steer clear of your eyelids. More on that in…

Question #3: Can I Use It All Around My Eye?

Because if you can’t, then why bother? The reasons you’re contemplating an eye cream at all—dark circles, puffiness, lines—don’t just magically disappear when you work your way up, and around your eye area. But not all eye creams are specifically formulated for all-around-eye use! So make sure to read the label. “Ultimately, you should be following the brand’s guidelines,” Dr. Jeanniton emphasizes. Your skin is thinnest around eyelids in particular, and unwieldy creams can make its way onto your eyeball (!!) from there. So try to use a cream that’s eyelid safe, OK?

Question #4: Can I Afford It?

Eye creams are expensive. “Speaking from my experience creating epi.logic’s formulations, our costs for Eye Contact were 110% higher on an ounce for ounce basis compared to our facial products,” Dr. Jeanniton reveals. But in the end, the best eye cream is the one you wear every day—consistency, more than anything is key here. So if you’re going to get an eye cream, your best bet is to get one you know that your budget will allow you to repurchase every three to six months. And if you’re quite young, maybe don’t worry about eye cream at all. “I think there are better ways to spend your skincare dollars in your teens and early twenties,” says Dr. Jeanniton.

—Photo via ITG

Still eye cream curious? A deep dive into specific eye area concerns and eye cream ingredients here.