It's not that I don't use my eye cream religiously—I just do it because of habit. But out of all the skin-care products I slather on, it's my eye cream that I don't really notice any effects from. I'm not the only one who's wary, either. "I personally don't use eye cream," says Shirley Chi, MD, a California-based dermatologist. "I know some people swear by them, but there's nothing in an eye cream ingredient-wise that's different than a facial moisturizer." Mind. Blown.
"There's nothing in an eye cream ingredient-wise that's different than a facial moisturizer." —Shirley Chi, MD
So, do eye creams even really work? According to Dr. Chi, it's not that they don't work—but you can be using other things for the same (if not better) effect. It really comes down to marketing. "If you're using a good facial moisturizer, an antioxidant serum, and sunscreen, they're going to do the same thing as an eye cream—eye cream is just marketed differently," she says. "They're usually water-based and have glycerin or hyaluronic acid, which is the same as a moisturizer." Not to mention that sometimes they cost even more.
If you're dealing with dark circles, she says it depends on what the cause is—if it's genetics, an eye cream won't do anything. "If you have dark circles from rubbing your eyes a lot or hyperpigmentation, then you'd use an eye cream with a brightening antioxidant in it, like vitamin C or kojic acid—but regular face creams can have that too," says Dr. Chi. In terms of puffiness, she recommends under-eye masks over creams. "Those are good for temporary de-puffing and to temporarily tighten the skin—but they are temporary," she says.
The absolute most important thing for preserving your delicate eye area? It's sunscreen. "What's most sensitive to your eye area is sun exposure and sun damage, but eye creams don't have SPF in them," says Dr. Chi. "What's most important around your eyes is sunscreen, because that area has thinner skin and doesn't have oil glands so it gets drier and is really sensitive." She also recommends retinol in the area, for anti-aging purposes—it's just important to use a tiny amount due to sensitivity. Other than that? Your moisturizer will do just fine, thank you very much.
For the sake of your eyes, here are the best natural and moisturizing face sunscreens. And this is exactly how much sunscreen you should be using on your face.
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