Do you need eye cream?
I don’t use one. Well, most of the time…
I do use an eye cream if I get a gift set that happens to have one, or a PR sends me a sample – I don’t like to waste good product. But, actually go out and buy a full-size jar of eye cream with my own money?
When I was young, I’d tell myself I didn’t need it and would think about buying one when the first few lines would appear (which is SO wrong, because by then it’s usually too late). And, when they appeared , I already knew enough about skincare to know 99% of the time, you don’t need an eye cream.
Forget about what brands say. If eye creams could really get rid of dark circles and saggy skin, no one would be dealing with them anymore. Eliminate that, they don’t really look that different from a facial moisturiser, right? Most people can get away with just using their face cream.
And yet, every rule has its exception. There are cases when an eye cream can come in handy. So, do YOU need an eye cream? Let’s find out:
- What Is Eye Cream?
- Eye Area VS Face: What’s The Difference?
- The Truth About Eye Creams
- Eye Cream Benefits: What Does It Do?
- Do You Need Eye Cream?
- Who Should Use An Eye Cream?
- What Are The Best Eye Creams?
- The Bottom Line
What Is Eye Cream?
An eye cream is a cream specifically formulated for application onto the skin around the eyelid to target underage concerns, like crow’s feet and dark circles (that’s the intent anyway – most eye creams can’t do that). While they contain the same ingredients used in facial moisturisers, they’re usually present in smaller amounts so the delicate eye area can better tolerate them.
Eye Area VS Face: What’s The Difference?
The skin around your eyes is different from the rest of your face:
- It’s thinner: At only 0.5 mm thick, the eyelids and under-eyes have the thinnest skin on the entire body!
- It’s drier: There are no oil glands in the eye area. Without sebum to moisturise it, the eye area tends to be more prone to dryness.
- It’s the first area to show signs of aging: Squinting, facial expression, and sun exposure, and lack of oil glands means that wrinkles form earlier than they do on the rest of your face.
- It’s more sensitive: Because it’s thinner, the skin here tends to be irritated more easily.
- It’s prone to milia: A.k.a. “milk spots”, milia are hard white bumps made of keratin. They’re harmless, but unsightly, and are often caused by heavy eye creams.
- It gets puffy: As the skin is thinner, you can see fluid retention and blood pooling underneath.
The Truth About Eye Creams
Here are a few myths about eye creams and why you do NOT need them in your skincare routine:
Myth 1: Eye Creams Contain Special Ingredients For The Eye Area
The skin around your eyes is thinner and super delicate, so there must be some special ingredients just for it, right?
Wrong. Take a look at your fave moisturizers and eye creams. Their formulas are almost identical: same moisturizing ingredients, same antioxidants, some sunscreen actives…. Truth is, the ingredients that provide these benefits are the same for all types of skincare products.
What about ingredients for dark circles and puffy eyes, I hear you ask? Surely, they’re just for eye creams. Caffeine and co aren’t usually found in facial moisturisers. But, have you ever found an eye cream that can really get rid of puffy eyes or undereye bags?
Me neither. Sure, some can help. You know how? They have light-reflective particles and silicones that fill in wrinkles and make them look smaller. The same light-reflective particles and silicones that are used in facial moisturizers. Need I say more, girls?
Related: Can Vitamin K Treat Dark Circles?
Don’t know which skincare products you can mix and match together and which ones deactivate each other? Download your FREE “How To Layer Actives Like A Pro” cheat sheet to get the most out of your skincare products:
Myth #2: Eye Creams Are More Gentle
The skin on the eye area is thinner than then skin on the rest of your face, so it gets irritated more easily. Anything you apply on this area must be free of irritants, like fragrances, essential oils, and high doses of retinol and exfoliating acids.
And yet… you’d be surprised how many eye creams contain fragrance, alcohol, and lots of other stuff that’s irritating for the thicker skin of your face, let alone the delicate skin of your eyes.
Just because it is labelled EYE cream, it doesn’t mean it is suitable for the eye area. Always check the label to make sure there’s nothing in it that could cause an irritation.
Eye Cream Benefits: What Does It Do?
Now you know the truth about eye creams, it’s time to find out what they can (and can’t) do for your skin. “No amount of eye cream will improve age-related sagging or puffy eyes regardless of what the product promises you,” says Dr Mahto. “The skin around the eyes is vulnerable to damage from the sun’s radiation and while an eye cream will moisturise, plump the skin and temporarily improve fine lines, wearing SPF around the eyes is absolutely vital if premature ageing is a concern.”
Can Eye Creams Help With Dark Circles?
Short answer: it depends. If eye creams could make dark circles disappear like brands claim, no one would have dark circles anymore. The right eye cream may help lessen the look of dark circles, but you need to have realistic expectations.
First off, not all dark circles are created equal. Different types of dark circles have different causes. Eye creams can help with some of them, but not others:
- Aging: Thin, translucent skin around your eyes is the result of sagginess as you get older. Eye creams don’t work for this type of dark circles. Either use concealer or go under the knife.
- Low microcirculation: The combination of low microcirculation and thin skin means the blood vessels underneath show, giving your undereye area a bluish hue. Again, this isn’t something eye creams can fix.
- Hyperpigmentation: These dark patches of skin are usually due to unprotected sun exposure or hormonal imbalance. Using skin-lightening ingredients, like vitamin C and niacinamide, can help lighten them.
“Creams that claim to treat dark circles are often going to end up disappointing,” says Dr Jason Thomson. “This is because dark circles are usually caused by multiple factors including your genetics and your skin tone, which no cream will be able to influence.”
Can Eye Creams Help With Dryness?
Yes, yes, yes! Eye creams are moisturisers and moisturisers are designed to treat dryness. They contain ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and natural oils, that attract and bind moisture into your skin to plump up fine lines and wrinkles and soften the complexion. The catch? “Eye creams designed to hydrate and brighten the skin around the eyes usually contain the exact same ingredients, in the same proportions as a face cream,” says Dr Jason.
Can Eye Creams Treat Crow’s Feet?
Only if they contain retinol (or another form of Vitamin A). It fights wrinkles in three ways: it boosts the production of skin-firming collagen, neutralises free radicals before they can destroy elastin and give you wrinkles, and speeds up the skin’s natural exfoliating process to smoothen out the complexion.
The catch? Like all forms of Vitamin A, retinol can be irritating and drying. Eye creams tend to contain smaller doses of retinol than face creams, so they’re better tolerated by the delicate eye area. However, if you don’t want to use a separate retinol eye serum, you can apply your retinol face serum all over your face on top of moisturiser. It’ll dilute it a little, so you get results without the irritation.
Can Eye Creams Treat Puffy Eyes?
It depends. The jury’s still out there on whether caffeine has what it takes to reduce puffy eyes. What works is cold. Some eye creams have a cooling effect that can temporarily reduce puffy eyes. Cucumbers have the same effects – and are cheaper. Just saying…
Do You Need Eye Cream?
99% of the time, eye creams are just facial moisturisers packaged in a smaller jar and sold at double the price. “Many facial moisturisers are suitable to use around the under-eye area and you do not necessarily need a separate product, contrary to popular belief,” says consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto. “Generally speaking, if a product is suitable for the face, it should be fine to use around the eyes.”
Who Should Use An Eye Cream?
Eye creams are facial moisturisers in a smaller jar sold at a higher price tag. 90% of you don’t need one. But, every rule has an exception. This one has two. Using a separate eye cream may be worth it in two cases:
1. When Your Facial Moisturiser Isn’t Suitable For The Eye Area.
If your facial moisturiser contains alcohol, fragrance, or any irritating ingredients, it may be best not to use it on the eye area. But, in this case, why not switch to a formula you can use all over? These ingredients may not be as irritating on the rest of your face, but they’re not the best thing to use either and have no place in a properly formulated product.
2. Your Eye Area Has Different Needs
If your skin is drier under your eyes and oilier everywhere else, for example, then using two separate products makes sense. But, they don’t need to be a face cream and an eye cream. It could be two face creams. Just look at the formula, not the label.
What Are The Best Eye Creams?
If you’re read this far and decided you do need an eye cream or serum after all, here are the best picks:
- CeraVe Skin Renewing Eye Cream ($24.99): A super moisturising eye cream for dry and sensitive skin. Enriched with ceramides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid, it strengthens the skin’s protective barrier and plumps up crow’s feet, so they look smaller to the naked eye. Available at Dermstore and Ulta.
- Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Triple Correction Eye Serum ($71.00): A retinol serum with ferulic acid to prevent and treat crow’s feet. Retinol can be drying, so use it no more than 3 times a week. Available at Cult Beauty, Dermstore, Selfridges, and SpaceNK.
- Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream ($64.00): This lightweight cream contains 5 different types of Vitamin C to brighten skin and prevent wrinkles. Available at Boots, Cult Beauty, Sephora, SpaceNK, and Ulta.
- First Aid Beauty FAB Skin Lab Retinol Eye Cream with Triple Hyaluronic Acid ($44.00): Retinol is the only thing that can really reduce crow’s feet, but it’s irritating. Here, it’s paired with soothing ingredients that counteract its irritating effects. Available at Dermstore, Nordstrom, Sephora and Ulta.
- Paula’s Choice Paula’s Choice RESIST Anti-Aging Eye Cream ($37.00): A very moisturising cream for dry skin. Enriched with antioxidants to prevent premature aging. Available at Dermstore and Paula’s Choice.
The Bottom Line
Your under-eye area needs just what your face needs: a well-formulated moisturizer that hydrates, helps fight premature aging, and provides sun protection. Save yourself some money, and buy yourself a good facial moisturiser you can use all over, eye area included.
Nice article. Once, I used the same face cream for my eyes and got tiny little scales around my eyelids. I switched to the regular eye cream and it took time for the scales to fade away. Theoretically, if your facial moisturizer is light-weight and scent-free, you can use it as your eye cream but I learned my lesson 🙂
Dao, I’m sorry that you had a bad experience when you tried to use your face moisturizer on your eye area. I do think it depends on the product as there are some face moisturizers that won’t work on the eye area, just like there are face moisturizers that cause havoc on the skin. Some products work, others don’t. But even if your usual face moisturizer doesn’t work, you can always buy one that is scent-free and lightweight and use it on the eyes as that’ll probably cost you less than using a separate eye cream but work just as well.
YAY! i knew it….thanks Gio!
Hi! Another nice article! You are lucky you can do this. I never had much luck using my face cream in the eye contour, I usually get little red bumps that are quite annoying. However I never had much luck with eye creams either as my upper eyelid is quite oily and my lower lid area is dry. Though it seems the last one I bought is performing better than all previous ones (which included high end and pharmacy brands). The fine lines I had under my eyes from dehydration are getting better and my under eye circles too (although the packaging says nothing about circles and no cream had ever improved their condition). It was a good surprise and I was just expecting it to be moisturizing. Also, my upper eyelid is no more oily than it was before and that’s good. For reference it’s Bioderma Sensibio eye contour cream.
Sandra, it can be really hard to find a good moisturizer for the eye area when different parts have different needs. I am glad to hear the Bioderma cream is working well for you. I think people should just use the products that work best for them, it’s just that I don’t agree with the concept that you need a separate eye cream. The eye area needs a moisturizer, but whether the label states eye or face doesn’t really matter as they are pretty much the same thing really.
I confess: every time I buy something beauty-related, I ask for a sample of eye cream “to test because I have very sensitive eyes” – I survive on samples… 😉
(and eye cream samples are quite generous, compared to the size of the actual cream!)
Leo, lol, but good for you. Eye cream samples are generous indeed and they last quite a while. 🙂
I think your point about whether a moisturiser is suitable for use in the eye area is key. I use an eye cream for two reasons: 1-my face cream has SPF and can irritate my eyes. 2-in middle age, my eye area is much thinner and drier than my facial skin, so I use a rich eye cream.
In general, though, your observations are absolutely right!
Jamilla, I think it depends on a product really. Some are well-formulated, others aren’t. It’s just a matter of finding what works for you and better suits your needs. If the skin of the eye area and that of the face have different needs, then it is obviously best to use different products but they could just be two face moisturizers and not necessarily a face moisturizer and an eye cream. They are all just moisturizers really and if you find a product that works, you should stick to it despite on how it is labelled. I just disagree that only eye creams are suitable for the eye area cos they are just expensive facial moisturizer in smaller jars.
i found that subversive apothecary’s serum works for everything, and has made my (emerging) fine lines under my eyes much more moisturized and not as pronounced. WAY better than any drugstore purchase.
Ali, I’m glad you found something that works well for you and it is multi-tasking too.
But isn’t it also important to use sunscreen around your eyes as well? Possibly in a facial moisturizer made for sensitive skin if the eye cream is too harsh?
Sophie, yes, it’s important to wear sunscreen around the eyes too. I just use my regular face sunscreen, but you could use a moisturizer with SPF that’s not too rich as well.
I use eyecream since a couple of years. When I was in high school I use my moisturizer on eye area too, I was scared when I read that it shouldn’t be used there. To be honest I never had problems but I prefer to use eyecream since my eye contour is dryer than my face.
La Bisbetica, there really is no reason why face moisturizers can’t be used on the eye area, unless they contain harsh and irritating ingredients. But if a product irritates my eye area, I just wouldn’t wanna use it anywhere else. In that case, a separate cream for the eyes is necessary, but it doesn’t have to be labelled as an eye cream. A richer facial moisturizer would do but if you’ve found a good eye cream that works well for you, by all means keep using it.
I do apply some of my lighter face moisturizer around my eye area.
But generally, I do use a dedicated eye cream (or two) for my eyes. Before I used only one type of eye cream for day and night.
Now I use Lancome Neuroshield eye cream with SPF 15 for day time, and Lancome Renergie Yeux for night time. The Renergie eye cream really works for the developing fine lines around my eyes.
Vonvon, I’m glad you found an eye cream that works well for you. I wish eye creams were cheaper though since they are just regular moisturizers but in a smaller packaging.
Ladies, I was wondering too why eye creams are more expensive. I look at ingredients list and found the same as the ingredients in a moisturiser. So I rarely use eye creams, except for those sample sizes that were given with purchase of other products. Before, when I was not into reading a lot of intelligent beauty blogs (like Gio’s), my belief is that the more expensive the item, the more effective it is. So in my 20s, my wish was to be able to buy an eye cream when I am earning a lot. But it changed one decade and six wrinkles later, when I realized that it’s not always price = quality. Still, to this date, the price of eye creams are unacceptable for me. lol.
Thank you, Lys. I hear ya! When I was a teen and just started to get into skincare, I really coveted those expensive eye creams I saw in the magazines (hey, there was no internet back then). But as soon as you delve deeper into the science, it’s appalling what they charge for a bit of a moisturiser in a smaller jar!
Oh just wait til you are in your fifties!! I didn’t use eye cream until I turned 50 and then I became addicted. I don’t find moisturizer is the same.
MarciaF, I just think it is a matter of finding a good moisturizer for mature skin though. I really can’t bring myself to splurge on eye creams knowing they don’t contain any special ingredients for the eye area. But maybe in my 50s I’ll change my mind, who knows?
I love eye creams and I use them regularly! I’ve seen huge effects on my eyes base on photos from last year and this year 😀
Nikki, I’m glad they work well for you. I don’t have anything against eye creams, I just don’t understand why they have to be so expensive when they don’t contain any special ingredients but come in a smaller packaging. But if they work for you, that’s great. 🙂
I really need a cream to target the fine lines under my eyes. Im 26 and the lines make me look 46! Help! I have tried Estee Lauder advanced night repair and now im using Avon Dermafull….i just dont know what ingredients to look for…
Roxann, to reduce fine lines the only ingredients that work overtime are Retinoids. They can be irritating at first so use them carefully. Other ingredients that will prevent new fine lines from forming or existing ones getting worse are antioxidants like Vitamins C and E and sunscreen. I hope this helps.
I don’t use eye creams because I have dry skin and use a really thick and hydrating moisturizer on my whole face – including my eye area. And usually eye creams are twice the price for half the product. I sometimes use the Clinique All About Eyes that I see you have in your “how to apply eye cream” post, but I only use that because it was a free-with-purchase product.
Jeni, I agree with you. Your face moisturizer will do, no need to spend extra money on eye creams which are expensive but come in small packaging. That Clinique cream was part of a travel-size set and I thought it worked well even though it’s a shame that comes in a jar instead of a tube.
Thank you for the useful article.
Someone told me before that eye cream doesn’t make anything different than the face cream.I beleive that too but it just makes me feel good to use the eye cream LOL
Adia, if it makes you feel good then keeping using eye creams lol. But yes, they really aren’t that different from face creams.
I haven’t bought eye cream in years! I’m oily, but the skin under my eyes is really dry. I just use my regular moisturizer, then slather on a thin layer of Aquaphor under my eyes. It works great, and it’s cheap!
Tammy, I’m glad you found a cheap moisturizer that works for you. I don’t think you really need an eye cream. They are so expensive that, if you a different skin type in different areas, buying two face moisturizers will be less expensive than buying a face moisturizer and an eye cream. And work just as well.
I agree, I’ve come to realize after getting older, that I’m only throwing my money away when I purchase a separate eye cream, even experts, the honest ones, who aren’t trying to make a buck, will agree too.
If my moisturizer, and or sunscreen can’t cover my entire face, including around my eyes, I won’t purchase it. I also, won’t purchase anything in a jar, if it states it has antioxidants in it.
fluthergirlraggedyme, I agree with everything you said. You are a smart shopper. I too think it’s not worth it to buy a moisturizer that’s not good for your entire face and antioxidants in a jar are a big no-no indeed.
I really think that is nice you have an article so interesting such as, eye care creams my addition to this topic is that hope people make research about the products they use since with the new technology people can post whatever they want, believe that not necessarly true. In my experience I have seen people when they get little bumps on the around under eye area. Those bumps are not easy to eradicate therefore, for the amount of cream that I need to take care of my eyes I rather to pay the price and listen the dermatologist knowledge rather than somebody just post whatever she or he thinks.
Jose, that’s a good point. I believe that bloggers’ reviews can be helpful as they tell you how thin/thick the texture is, how it smells, if the packaging dispenses too much product or not… But then how well a product works depends on the ingredients and to learn how those work requires a lot of study and research. The opinion of a blogger can’t substitute that of a dermatologist of course (I always recommend you go see one, especially if you have serious skincare problems, for a proper skincare routine and treatment that will suit your needs), but can enrich it by pointing out all the little bits that dermatologists may not take into consideration such as a bad scent.
I’m sorry but this is not true especially for aging skin. There is a reason you are supposed to use products that are formulated for your eye area specifically.
People are leaving comments above telling you how they have had a reaction from using their face creme on their eyes and you are saying “Dao, I’m sorry that you had a bad experience when you tried to use your face moisturizer on your eye area. I do think it depends on the product as there are some face moisturizers that won’t work on the eye area, just like there are face moisturizers that cause havoc on the skin.” but still saying it is fine to use your face creme. More often than not your face creme is too strong for the eye area.
There are significant differences between eye cremes and facial cremes. If you buy them from a good company and do your research, you will be able to see the difference in your skin. I am a Beauti Control rep and our company is very open with the research and development of our products and every ingredient that goes into each products. Just because you buy something from the mall does not make it a good product. Lancome and other brands sold at malls across America still have lead in their products. Avon and Mary Kay have also been found to have lead in their products.
You are flip flopping in every reply to each person.
Tarron, thank you for your comment. If I am flip flopping is because there isn’t a definite answer. My point is that the eye area needs a good moisturizer capable of providing to its needs without side effects, but whether that moisturizer is marketed as eye or face cream is irrelevant. There are many face creams that work well on the eye areas and others that don’t, just like that are many eye creams that work for the same areas and many that don’t.
I don’t doubt there are companies that do their best to create eye creams that are suitable for the eye area and that work well for it, but there are also many others that just repackage their face moisturizers (sometimes just tweaking them a bit) in smaller containers so you’re paying for the same thing twice.
My point is: use what works for you. If your face moisturizer works well for you eye area, why not use that? If your area has different needs from the rest of your face, or your facial moisturizer doesn’t work for it, then buy a separate cream.
Can I use sleep and peel night cream from filorga around my eyes at night and day time use Jojoba oil on my face and eye.
Angelina, if they work well for you, and don’t cause any irritations or breakouts, then yes, you can.
I’ve always used an eye cream because it’s always been drummed into our heads that you are supposed to and I never thought to question I guess. Right now I am not wearing any because I have purchased so many over the years and they never really did anything for me other than a temporary or superficial lift. I would like the next one that I do buy actually DO something for dark circles and my hollow, sunken undereyes!
Do you know if I can wear the Olay Total Effects 7 in One Moisturizer with SPF 15 for face as an eye cream too? It’s fragrance-free. I bought it after you wrote about it on this blog and I like what it’s doing for my skin so far, and would like to wear it under my eyes as well.
Amanda, yes, you can. I do it all the time, it’s one of my fave moisturizers for the entire face, eye area included.
I wish the same. The day someone will come up with it, I will be the first to buy it. Until then, let’s stick to our facial moisturizers.
I’ve used some of the “best” pricey eye creams from Saks, Barneys, & plastic surgeons ….I used the SOmaluxe Triple Collage Eye Gel for the last week and I saw notable improvement in skin texture around my eyes. Dark circles show marked improved also after waking up from 1 single application.
Paulette, glad you found something that works so well for you.
Hi Gio! I have a very problematic dark circle and eye bags. It getting worsen and I dont know how to get rid of them even tho i tried all the hacks. Do eye cream would help?
J, it really depends on what causes your dark circles. For some types, eye creams can help. For others, the only cure is concealer. Do you need what causes yours?
No, I don’t use an eye cream. I have a fragrance allergy and sensitive skin, so my regular face moisturizer is gentle enough for around my eyes. There are so many moisturizers out there that have fragrance and irritants, I’m not surprised you have comments that state they needed a separate eye cream. And in other news, Beauticontrol went out of business recently.
SherryG, I agree. You’d think that irritating ingredients would be left out of creams but nope. 🙁 I’m all about using formulas that work for you, regardless of whether they’re labelled eye cream or face cream.
I have dark circle issue. I haven’t use any eye cream and was not following any proper skin care routine. But now I have started. I just want to know the order of eye cream that we need to follow ?
Right now I am following –
4. Eye Cream
5. Suns cream
Same as night only suns cream replaced by night cream.
Let me know if am following correct order of products.
Kanchan, use eye cream before moisturiser. Everything else is fine.
What does one do if you want to moisturise under your eyes, but that tends to produce milia? I can’t find an answer anywhere. I have used tretinoin and chemical exfoliators successfully for the milia, but what do I do for wirinkling and “firming?”
Judith, for wrinkling and firming, you extend your facial routine to the eye area. If that’s too irritating, cut back on exfoliation/retinol etc and use them less often. If they give you milia, look for products with lightweight textures.