The best eye cream to combat dark circles, fine lines and puffiness

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  • Trust us when we say that eye cream is NOT a step worth skipping

    It’s a debate as old as time: do you really need an eye cream? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Despite being packaged in the tiniest of pots, what’s inside is worth it. Sure, it’s another step in your skincare routine, but they work like a soft-focus lens for crow’s feet and erases dark circles that scream, ‘I’ve had the worst night sleep imaginable’.

    Your regular serum and face cream won’t do either. Neither are necessarily formulated for the fragile skin below your lower lash line. Even the best face serum may have actives that could sensitise this delicate area while creams are often too rich and clog pores, causing small white bumps to appear under the skin.

    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,’ she says. ‘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 goes into the best 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. Combine it with a tool like a jade roller and you’ll only help matters. ‘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.

    best eye cream

    What are dark circles? How do 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 SPF 30+ Eye Cream, 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.

    Now you know how to up your eye cream game, here’s our pick of the best…

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