Expert Advice on Picking the Perfect Eye Cream

Leah Faye Cooper
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Eye cream

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Nobody is going to stop you from buying an eye cream without first getting an expert opinion, but in a perfect world, someone would. The number of products on the market is dizzying, and they’re not all created equal. We learned this firsthand from Dr. Linda Honet, a board certified dermatologist based in Bloomfield Hills, MI. Our conversation touched on everything from combating puffiness to preventative use, and Dr. Honet shared some of her favorite products. Here’s to learning how to pick eye cream like a pro.

Why is eye cream so important?
Dr. Linda Honet:
The eye area is a very specialized area. It’s thinner skin so it tends to be more sensitive. It dries out more, it wrinkles more, and it’s more susceptible to the elements. It’s important to go with a cream that’s specifically for the eyes, because if you use something for the face, it will be way too strong.

What causes puffiness, and what’s the best way to address it?
Puffiness can be caused by a lot of things. If a person has seasonal allergies, the eyes can puff up, and genetics plays a huge role in puffiness of the eyelids. The number one thing you want to look for for puffiness is caffeine. People think of it as revving the system up, but when it’s applied topically, it reduces puffiness quite a bit. You also want to look for anti-inflammatory agents or antioxidants such as soy, vitamin E, green or red tea, and fruit extracts. Pomegramnenat is very good for antioxidation.

Recommendations for puffy eyes:
Replenix Eye Repair Cream ($60, lovelyskin.com), which boasts antioxidant-rich green tea.
SkinMedica TNS Eye Repair (available on Amazon), which has vitamin E to fight inflammation.
Glytone Anti-Aging Eye Cream (available on Amazon), which is formulated with caffeine extract and red tea.

How do you tackle fine lines?
Fine lines are primarily attributed to genetics, sun damage, and smoking. Exfoliants that gently remove dead skin cells and vitamin A derivatives [retinol and retinoids], which pump up the skin, are great for them. Peptides are a newer player on the market; they increase collagen and elastin.

Recommendations for fine lines:
Restorsea Revitalizing Eye Cream
(available on Amazon), which has Aquabeautine XL for gentle exfoliation.
NIA24 Eye Repair Complex ($71, nia24.com), which diminishes lines via peptides.
AmorePacific Time Response Eye Renewal Cream ($260, us.amorepacific.com), which is chocked full of collagen-boosting green tea stem cells.

What about dark circles?
Dark circles and discoloration are probably the toughest thing to deal with, especially since some people are predisposed to under-eye darkness. One of the things [dermatologists] use is vitamin K, which promotes blood vessel health and blood flow. A lot of newer products have licorice extract, which is known to improves darkening of the skin.

Recommendation for dark circles:
Revision Teamine Eye Complex (available on Amazon), which has vitamin K to improve blood vessel function.

What else that should be keep in mind when buying an eye cream?
Make sure the extra ingredients also take care of hydration, because again, the eye area dries out very easily. Look for a cream that has hyaluronic acid or ceramides—they really hold on to water and attract water molecules from the environment to hydrate the skin.

A lot of eye creams are fairly pricey. Why is that?
Many of the ingredients are very, very refined. Because they’re for the eye area, they have to be approved by opthamologists and dermatologists, and they go through more rigorous testing than face creams. They have to be safe if they inadvertently get in the eye, so the regulations are pretty stringent. When they’re effective they tend to be expensive, but you don’t have to use a lot, so they go a long way.

When should you start using an eye cream?
There are many schools of thought about this. Some dermatologists think anyone of adult age should use an eye cream, because it’s never too early to start preventing and treating the area. Then there’s a school of thought that says as long as you’re doing the right things like wearing sunscreen, not smoking, and getting plenty of rest, you don’t have to start until your mid- to late-30s. I tend to look at each patient individually, and if it looks like they should start using an eye cream, I recommend one.

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