Time to erase all signs of sleep deprivation...
It’s a debate as old as eyeliner: do you really need an eye cream? Despite being packaged in the tiniest of pots, the answer, it seems, is a resounding yes.
While your regular serum or cream may work wonders rejuvenating the rest of your face, it’s not necessarily formulated for the fragile skin below your lower lash line. It can be too rich and clog pores, causing small white bumps to appear under the skin.
What’s more, none of us are clocking up enough sleep (a third of Brits are surviving on less than the desired 7 hours a night). The eyes are the first to broadcast that fact with dark circles that scream, ‘I’ve been dancing on tables until 3am’.
According to Lee Etheridge, education director at bareMinerals, we should be taking every precaution to treat the eye area. ‘The skin here is thinner and made up of less collagen and elastin compared to the rest of the face. When you consider the average person blinks 23,000 times, it’s not surprising that the eye area is susceptible to wrinkling.’
How to apply eye cream
The eye area being so delicate also means you want to avoid any vigorous rubbing. ‘Put a small amount of product on your ring finger (your weakest finger in terms of exerting pressure) and smooth below the eye, over the crow’s feet area and pat onto the brow bone just below your eyebrows,’ says Consultant Dermatologist Dr Justine Kluk.
‘I wouldn’t apply any cream with active ingredients directly to the upper eyelid as there is a high risk of irritation.’
Finally, apply eye cream straight after cleansing and before moisturiser. This allows it to form a barrier against heavier emollients, which can, in themselves, cause puffiness.
What ingredients should you look for in an eye cream?
Sadly there is no one-size-fits-all product to tackle puffiness, lines and shadows, so consider applying two different eye creams daily.
‘In the morning, your main issue is puffiness caused by water retention from lying flat all night,’ explains Etheridge. Look for a gel with a slight nip to it as the cooling sensation will instantly de-puff. ‘It should also be high in antioxidants to fight free radical damage from pollution and blue light from computer screens and mobiles.’
At night your skin is in recovery mode so switch to a richer cream to ramp up hydration. ‘One with a high concentration of peptides and skin-smoothing eyebright extract will help to soften the appearance of expression lines,’ she adds.
If you’ve spent your day sitting under air-conditioning or central heating, tackle crêpeyness around the eyes with a humectant like hyaluronic acid, which draws water into the skin.
Just avoid overly oily formulas at all costs, especially those based on mineral oils and petroleum, which can swamp the skin and easily travel up into the eye.
What are dark under eye circles? How can I treat them?
Because the skin beneath your eyes is so thin, it’s especially prone to sun-induced pigmentation. This is especially true of Asian and black skin. Use a sunscreen designed specifically for the eye area like Ultrasun Eye Protection Cream High SPF30, as it has a non-irritating and non-drip formula.
Retinol-based creams can also help with dark under-eye circles. The vitamin A derivative will fade pigment and increase collagen production to thicken the skin here. ‘Translucency under the eyes is often a feature of skin ageing, although it can also be hereditary,’ says Kluk. ‘Retinol can make skin less transparent so dark circles and hollowing are less noticeable.’
Other brightening ingredients to look out for are kojic acid, licorice and vitamin C, which interfere with the production of pigment while vitamin K oxide can help reduce the purplish discolouration from blood vessels.
Also worth noting: rubbing your skin when removing mascara and eye liner can cause capillary damage, which leads to bruised-looking under eyes. Use a micellar water or cleansing oil and gently swipe away your eye make-up.
Now you know how to up your eye cream game, keep scrolling to see our edit of the best formulas to set your sights on…
Best anti ageing eye cream
This pink gel cream is packed with eye-opening ingredients: a hydrating algae extract, brightening red vine, vitamin E to protect against the ageing effects of pollution and, of course, rose to give skin a naturally smooth appearance. The cooling pen applicator is pretty addictive, too, for gently ironing out the appearance of wrinkles.
Best eye cream for dark circles
If dark under eye circles are the result of lifestyle factors like lack of sleep or a poor diet (rather than pigmentation or skin structure), then the good news is you can do something about them with Sunday Riley’s first eye cream. It nourishes thanks to cocoa butter while caffeine and Brazilian ginseng root smooth the skin, making it easier for light to bounce off it. Bright eyes, ahoy.
Best eye cream for wrinkles
When it comes to skincare ingredients that really count, retinol tops the list for legitimate wrinkle-fighting powers. Alongside extracts of skin-firming kelp and swetia flower, this is still gentle enough to use every day.
Best eye cream for bags
This cushiony water-gel refreshes and debloats in a matter of minutes. The moisturising molecules are much smaller in this type of formula, too – meaning it sinks in fast and won’t sit on top of your eye socket, exacerbating any post-sleep puffiness.
If you’re still looking for ‘the one’, keep scrolling for some of our other favourites…
Reworked to include nine new ingredients, including anti-inflammatory hops and skin-tightening Butcher’s Broom, these concentrated capsules replenish hydrating lipids and keep working long after the serum has absorbed.
Founded by cosmetic surgeon and skin expert Dr Marco Lens, this smoothing eye cream targets crow's feet, fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes with a potent, botanical-enriched formula containing marine collagen and hyaluronic acid.
The ultimate powerhouse for eyes, this serum contains souped-up age-defying ingredients including a vitamin A derivative to plump skin, visibly fade fine lines and help with dark circles.
Ever since CeraVe hit UK shores, it has been a favourite among the beauty elite. It's a brand developed by dermatologists at low prices. This eye cream is non-sticky, fast absorbing and moisture-boosting, while also not riling sensitive skin.
These dual-action eye masks are plumping powerhouses, working their hydrating magic to revitalise and de-puff the eye area after just one use. The pack of 8 masks comes with a tube of EGF Eye Concentrate, a potent serum that’s lightly smoothed directly on to the eye area, before applying the cooling under eye mask. Leave on for 15 minutes, and you’ll basically never need sleep again. Maybe.
Technically not an eye cream per se, but the benefits are so good we had to shout about it. Roll this cooling little gel stick across your under-eye area and the whole thing will be noticeably smoother and less puffy. Keep it in your bag to stave off tired eyes.
Sometimes you'd happily take a wrinkle, a couple of fine lines and shadows under your eyes, if it means you can just have a bit of relief from sore skin. We completely understand and that's why you should look no further than Avène for all your sensitive skin needs.
This eye cream is the real deal, tackling both crow's feet and dark circles in the process. Unlike most cream formulas, it manages to be refreshing to boot.
Channel your inner millennial with this avocado-based eye cream, which is rich in hydrating fatty acids.
You are going to love this night eye cream. It not only bolsters skin after exposure to pollution, UV and lack of sleep, but it also has special repair technology to tackle the effects of blue light from your phone and computer screen. Proof that the best eye cream isn't a myth.
By day, extract of eye bright and pearlescent pink particles illuminate and play nicely underneath make-up. Meanwhile the night cream, housed in the same pot, is a concentrated dose of night blooming cactus for a serious hydration hit.