In the immortal words of Ice Cube, today was a good day. Why you ask? I actually remembered to put on eye cream. Admittedly, I’m still a skeptic in recovery. Less than a year ago, you couldn’t convince me it was anything but an unnecessary purchase that added some benefit to the face but ultimately didn’t have to be in my routine. Do eye creams work? I guess it depends on your expectations. If it’s to make those dark circles disappear in a few short days, you’ll be disappointed fast. If it’s to completely reverse the effects of bad habits that take years to die, well, don’t kill the messenger. You know the answer isn’t good either.
There is, however, an art to putting on eye cream which may sound a bit pretentious, but considering just how complex our skin is, I would argue that I’m not saying enough. But since I know time is money and you want to know if this stuff is actually worth the extra couple dollars in your budget, let’s get into why eye cream is made in the first place, what does the best job of addressing those setbacks and how we should be applying them to our face.
Why Do We Need Them?
If our skin is a work of art, some maintenance is required, right? Masterpieces in the MoMA are guarded with a lock and key, so we should be treating our face the same, especially the skin around our eye which happens to be thinnest and consequentially, the most damage-prone. It’s an easy enough concept to understand, but we usually don’t grasp it until we’re older and wiser with the fine lines and sunspots to show for it. (I seriously wish younger me wore sunscreen as much as she wore tanning oil.)
Like a painting or carefully constructed bungalow in the Californian desert, three very specific factors affect the luminosity of skin around the eye: color, reflection and shape.
As far as color is concerned, light changes and reveals the skin. Specifically, it’s a kaleidoscope of chromatic undertones that can cause a slew of visible changes to the eye area. “The red and violet chromatic disturbances are particularly visible under the eyes,” says Dr. Jacqueline Hill, Director of Strategic Innovation and Science for La Prairie. “Leakage of blood from the capillaries to the surrounding tissues, followed by oxidation of the blood, also adds to the under-eye darkness.”
If you really want to geek out, here’s a breakdown of how and why each color becomes visible in the under-eye area according to Dr. Hill:
- Grey: as a result of pollution particles accumulating on the skin surface. This gives a dull and sad look to the expression.
- Brown: due to the accumulation of the brown pigment melanin in the epidermis. This leads to irregular pigmentation and age spots.
- Yellow: due to the accumulation of glycated collagen fibers in the dermis. This gives a sallow, unhealthy look to the skin.
- Red: as a result of blood capillaries dilated by chronic silent inflammation. This leads to irregular diffuse redness.
- Violet: dark under-eye-shadows are mainly the result of both oxygenated and especially de-oxygenated hemoglobin from blood capillaries. The de-oxygenated blood appearing bluish because it is low in oxygen. This gives a tired and sad look to the face.
Reflection and Shape
Uneven texture, sagging and fine lines are common complaints about aging skin, all of which can be boiled down to one word: shape. It’s a part of life, but let’s be real: it’s not always fun to come to terms with, especially if you know you could’ve taken better care of your skin beforehand.
According to Dr. Hill, the rough surface is caused by dehydration (aka not enough moisture), poor skin barrier (aka not enough sunscreen and antioxidants) and irregular desquamation (aka peeling). As a result, the “skin looks dry and dull, feels uncomfortable and generally, processes are slowed down due to lack of water.”
Like a ripple effect, this loosens the density and thickness of that skin as protein fibers break down and take longer to renew themselves. Over time, those fine lines start to settle in, the skin starts sagging beyond its natural pace and loses its luminosity, otherwise known as reflection.
Eye bags can also form prematurely “due to the accumulation of fluids and fat under the eyes caused by poor drainage and lack of microcirculation. Sunscreen and eye cream sounds a lot more appealing now, huh?
Stick with me here—help is on the way, in the form of active ingredients. There is a lot to choose from, but according to Dr. Hill, the most effective ones are…
For Color: peptides, age spot inhibitors and antioxidants for a brighter complexion
The peptides specifically address those red and violet chromatic disturbances I already mentioned, while antioxidants protect the skin barrier from the elements and inhibitors prevent the overproduction of melanin, thus leading to dark spots.
For Reflection and Shape: ingredients packed with ceramides, omega fatty acids and amino acids for firmness and suppleness.
Again, there are plenty of eye cream options, both expensive and affordable, that claim to provide the benefits of these ingredients which are admittedly pretty common. So what sets a brand like La Prairie apart? Simply put, a lot of research, some clinical trials and patented innovations that take benefits to a whole other level.
For instance, La Prairie’s White Caviar Eye Extraordinaire is made with Lumidose, a highly potent active (with 90 patents!) that fights age spots and was developed over 15 years of research and 50,000 ingredient screenings before going public. There’s also the brand’s signature luxe ingredient, golden caviar extract renewably sourced from Acipenser gueldenstaedtii, a type of fish found in the Caspian Sea.
According to Dr. Hill, it’s “rich in lipids such as omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, as well as sugars, amino acids and minerals, and helps increase the formation of ceramides in epidermal cells and collagen in dermal cells.” All of these improve the smoothness of the skin as well as luminosity and firmness. Lastly, at the heart of every La Prairie skincare product is an exclusive cellular complex that uses cutting-edge research to put life and energy back into the cells that make up our skin by targeting the most essential skin cells.
And of course, all of these ingredients are clinically tested once combined to create a product.
Generally speaking, eye cream should be applied every morning and night around the eye, but not too close to it. After cleansing your face, gently apply cream around the eye, starting at the inner corner and moving toward the temple. From the temple, continue the gesture back along the brow bone to the inner corner. Most experts recommend dabbing with your ring finger since it applies the least amount of pressure, though you can do the same thing with a fancy took like the ceramic pearl applicator on La Prairie’s White Caviar Eye Extraordinaire.
Once the cream is distributed and sitting on top of your skin–whether you’re using a tool or not–start under the eye at the inner corner, dab or roll toward the temples and then above the brow bone and back to the crease between the eyes. “Once you reach the bridge of the nose, continue the gesture back towards the outer corner by rolling the ceramic pearl along the lower brow line. Continue along the upper cheekbone to the inner corner of the eye to finally return up to the crease between the eyes,” says Dr. Hill. “Stroke the crease in an up-and-down movement three times. One last time, roll the ceramic pearl along the upper line of the brow to the temple. Press gently and release. Repeat the entire circuit twice more.”
If you’re a visual learner, make sure you screenshot this chart, especially if your eye cream of choice is La Prairie’s:
All in all, eye cream is worth the investment. Just make it worth your while by using it correctly, whether you prefer something from the department store or drugstore.
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