Do you really need an eye cream?

The Skin Nerd, Jennifer Rock, gives us the skinny on whether or not an eye cream is really necessary.

You know what they say, our eyes are the window to our souls. Being an area that we tend to look at on others all the time, it is no surprise that the eye area is a major concern for the vast majority of hoomans, with dark circles, crow's feet and milia being some of the eye-related issues that folks join the Nerd Network to address.



The Skin Nerd Jennifer Rock

So, why is it that our eyes seem to age a bit faster than the rest of us?

If your eyes are giving the game away, it's down to a number of factors.

The skin around our eyes is much thinner than the rest of our skin, which means that things such as an age-related loss of skin density, lines, wrinkles and puffiness will be more pronounced. Remember that the skin around your eyes is literally encasing a hollow, too.

The periorbital, or under-eye area, actually has a lot less fat and muscle than other areas of the skin. Very little is supporting it compared to, for example, your jowls or your cheeks.

A few cheeky questions for you: When is the last time you brought your SPF up around your eyes? How long throughout the day do you spend squinting at a screen? Do you sleep with your face in the pillow, like a pineapple upside-down cake?

The UV rays that hit our skin every day cause damage to the skin's collagen and elastin, the proteins that keep it firm, plump and taut, over time. If we're not protecting this area with SPF and antioxidants, the effects of this will be so much worse. Mechanical ageing, aka damage to our skin's collagen and elastin through repetitive motions, is only a true worry when it comes to our eyes, too. So, when your parents said "stop making faces or you’ll be stuck like that", they weren't entirely wrong.

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Do eye creams actually help with this?

Considering what we're looking to do with our under-eye is a) encourage collagen production within the skin, b) improve skin density, and c) reduce puffiness, what should we be looking for in an eye cream?

Get ready to be shook, because I don’t believe that you actually need to have a separate eye cream per se. Did you audibly gasp? It is nearly taboo to suggest that eye creams aren't a core part of a skincare regime, but I ain't afraid to break some rules.

When you’re purchasing skincare, you should always be going for ingredients over marketing. The key ingredients you want when it comes to the eye area are as follows:

  • Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate, retinol and other retinoids): helps to improve the density of the skin and repair pigmentation like age spots
  • Vitamin C: fantastic for tackling pigmentation, brightens up dark circles
  • Peptides: peptides are bossy boots ingredients that tell the skin to make more collagen
  • Hyaluronic acid: will hydrate the area and superficially plump it up to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles

Here is my point: these ingredients are found in lots of high-quality serums, so why not lash them onto your eye area, too? Some suggest that anti-ageing serums made for the face will be too harsh or potent for the eye area, but I would tend to disagree. When it comes to vitamin A, the ingredient that may cause irritation in the eye area, I believe in the low and slow approach, of using a low dosage of vitamin A and building up over time.

brighter under eyes

In this respect, I don't believe that anyone really needs an eye cream, but I do believe that from the age of 25 onwards you should be making sure that you’re getting these key protective, anti-ageing ingredients everywhere but the ball… The eyeball, that is.


Do remember: before you put anything near your eye area, double check that it is actually eye-safe. I've seen eye creams literally say "unsuitable for use around the eye are". Where are you supposed to put it, on your bloody cheekbones?

The exceptions: eye creams that we rate

If you are going to have a holy grail eye product, it is the Environ Youth EssentiA Vita-Peptide Eye Gel (€74, exclusive to Nerd Networkers). In this one juicy little gel, you get oodles of potent, collagen-prompting peptides, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and ceramides. Dermatologists drool over it, beauty editors adore it, and we are no exception. If you are in the market for an eye cream that works hard, this is your babe.

Vitamin C, peptides and hyaluronic acid are the focus of the IMAGE Vital C Hydrating Eye Recovery Gel (€49, available for all on The Skin Nerd store). This one is particularly great for those who would experience dryness and dehydration around the eye area and it is great for those with more sensitive, reactive skin.

If you want an eye cream for your dark circles, the Pestle & Mortar Recover Eye Cream (€38, available for all on The Skin Nerd store) was literally created with this in mind. It contains a collagen-prompting peptide, nourishing avocado oil and shea butter, and plumping hyaluronic acid.

So there you have it. There isn't as much of a need to stress over eye creams as you thought there was. In the nerdie opinion, it's much, much more important to be using high quality, high performing cleansers, serums and SPFs, and looking after your skin holistically, taking your lifestyle into consideration. Do note – there are some who eye creams will really benefit, but these hoomans are a minority.

See some of Jennifer's previous posts:

What skincare to use and to avoid using during pregnancy

The universal benefits of mineral makeup and how to apply it

The skin foods to include in your health kick

Why antioxidants are more than just a skincare trend

What to look for in a hydration masque whatever your skin type

What to Look For In Skincare in Your 20s, 30s and 40s

How to Know When To Update Your Routine

The Nerdie Guide to Skincare For Sensitive Skin

Is Your Skin Changing During Pregnancy? Here’s What To Do

How to Change Your Skincare Routine for Autumn

The Skincare Essentials You Need to Pack For a Festival

The Lowdown On Double-Cleansing and Why You Should Be Doing It 

Skincare Myths That Are Actually True


Jennifer Rock is the author of bestselling ‘The Skin Nerd: Your Straight-Talking Guide to Feeding, Protecting & Respecting Your Skin’ and the founder of The Skin Nerd® online skin consultations.

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