Running our store in downtown Bend gives me a lot of one-on-one time with people and a question I frequently hear is, "Do I really need an eye cream or gel? I haven't found one that actually works." After asking several questions, I find that most people don't really know how or why to use eye products.
Over the last 30+ years, I've spent a lot of time researching and creating formulas to solve specific skin problems and I definitely have some opinions on the efficacy of eye creams and gels. In this journal entry, I’ll share whether or not I think these products really work and if you should be using one.
Do Eye Creams Really Work?
I'll begin by saying that I've spent so much time formulating our eye cream and gel and that they really do work! Beware though- if you're looking for a quick fix, something to erase lines and wrinkles, you'll be sorely disappointed. Cosmetic procedures like Botox offer instant results and topical products take time. Every day, people in their late 30's and older come into our store and ask some version of the question, "What do you have to make me look twenty-six again?" We always have a little laugh and then talk about how we can moisturize, prevent the signs of premature aging, and keep the eye area looking younger when used over time.
The Importance of Moisturizing Around the Eyes
The skin around the eyes is 10 times thinner than that of the rest of the face, and it has very few oil glands. Plus we blink an average of 10,000 times a day. We also squint and smile, especially here in our "outdoorsy" town where we're all playing outside so much. It’s no wonder that the eyes the first to show signs of aging. Moisturizing the area with a properly formulated eye product will help maintain healthy water levels, strengthen the skin’s structure, and help it function properly. The result? Collagen and elastin are preserved and fewer premature lines and wrinkles appear.
That’s just from moisturization alone. It’s also important to consider that many eye moisturizers contain active ingredients that can create other positive changes in the skin. For example, many eye products contain firming peptides or brightening antioxidants (but more on that in a minute).
5 Mistakes to Avoid When Using Eye Moisturizer
If you’ve used eye creams in the past and felt like they didn’t work, you may have been making one of these five mistakes.
1. You're Applying It Too Close to Your Lash Line
Eye products should be applied to the skin over the orbital bone. You should avoid applying it any closer, because when you blink, product can stick to your lashes and then get into your eyes. Any product in your eyes can be irritating, which can cause redness and puffiness especially while you sleep. Over time, that can lead to a loss of skin elasticity and actually make under eye bags and wrinkles even worse.
2. You Use the Wrong Finger to Apply Your Eye Product
This might seem silly, but using your ring finger really does make a difference. Dotting the eye cream around the orbital bone and then gently tapping it into place, rather than rubbing it in, protects the delicate tissue under and around the eyes. The ring finger is the weakest and thus, the most gentle- you'll be less likely to stretch the skin around your eyes too aggressively. Since we apply eye product every day, it definitely makes a difference over time in preventing even more wrinkles from forming.
3. Your Eye Cream is Too Heavy or Irritating
The skin under our eyes is thin and delicate and many of us, myself especially, have sensitive eyes so we need to choose our products carefully. Many people tell me that they're afraid to try an eye cream or gel because all the products they've tried in the past have irritated their eyes. I believe that this is because a lot of products are poorly formulated.
Most importantly, you want to find a product that doesn't contain irritating ingredients, especially perfume. Synthetic fragrances are well known to cause skin and eye irritation. You'll also want to avoid products that are loaded with heavy oils that can migrate into the eyes and cause the dreaded puffiness. The connective tissue that attaches our skin to the orbital bone can break down over time, stretching and causing permanent under eye "bags" that hold fluid.
Many essential oils can cause irritation, even rashes or eczema. We use select essential oils in our eye products, chosen carefully for their ability to be calming and soothing to the skin. When formulating any facial product with essential oils, we follow the well accepted rule of adding a total of less than 1% to the recipe.
Essential oils are powerful enough that only a tiny amount is needed to produce the effects we're looking for. For example, in our Geranium & Lupine Eye Cream, we add Egyptian geranium essential oil because it's known to help move fluid which seems to really help with puffiness.
4. Your Eye Product Doesn't Contain Firming Ingredients
Since the skin around the eyes is so thin and gets so much wear and tear from squinting, smiling, and rubbing, you need to make sure you’re using an eye cream with firming ingredients to help keep the skin intact. I really like eye products that use peptides, which are short- or long-chain amino acids. They penetrate through the skin’s barrier and can help send a signal to your skin to create more collagen.
There are many different types of peptides. I formulated the Youth in Bloom Firming Eye Gel with a blend of 55% Argireline® and 45% Matrixyl™ 3000. Argireline® is a hexapeptide composed of amino acids. It works through a unique mechanism which relaxes facial tension leading to a reduction in superficial facial lines and wrinkles with regular use. Matrixyl™ 3000 contains two matrikines, Pal-GHK and Pal-GQPR. Acting as messengers of cutaneous restructuration and repair, these two peptides work synergistically to restore and maintain the skin's youthful appearance. Our combined formulation offers the potential for short and long term improvement in the appearance of wrinkles.
Instant firming ingredients like sweet lupine and pulullan (made with a combination of algae and mushroom extracts) give us immediate gratification while other ingredients like Chinese mushroom extract (poria cocos) and sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid) work over time to lift sagging skin and plump up fine lines and wrinkles.
We also load up all of our eye products with antioxidant rich ingredients like green tea, white peony tea, meadowfoam seed oil, goji berry extract.
5. You Don’t Exfoliate Your Eye Area
Moisturizing is key, but your moisturizer will mostly be wasted if you have a build up of dead skin that it ends up sitting on top of. You need to remove that dead skin barrier to really receive the benefits of any of your skin products. When I talk about exfoliating the "eye area", remember that you don't want to get any closer to the eyes than the orbital bone. Exfoliation brings younger skin cells to the surface and allows your eye products to penetrate more effectively. I love how simple exfoliating is- you remove dead skin and the newly exposed cells send signals deeper into the dermis to start making more cells and you literally get younger!
I recommend the Coconut Lactic Peel. It’s formulated with sugar-based lactic acid to gently resurface the skin. I love lactic acid for delicate skin because it's one of the more gentle chemical exfoliators and it simultaneously hydrates the skin. It also contains coconut milk and aloe vera to calm and soothe sensitive skin.
The Bottom Line
Trust me, eye creams and gels work! I personally alternate between the two, using one at night and the other in the morning. Do I still have some wrinkles around my eyes? Yes. I've spent my life happily running around outside, squinting and smiling. I’m 48, and this is normal. But I’ve always practiced a consistent skincare routine. I'm scared of the thought of getting Botox and have decided to rely exclusively on plants as my allies in aging gracefully.
I also indulge in microcurrent facials. Microcurrent is the best non-invasive treatment I've seen to reduce fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin. You'll find estheticians who specialize in this painless treatment and it was one of our most popular facials in the several years our spa was open. You can find an esthetician in almost every town who offers microcurrent and I highly recommend it!
Angelina Swanson is the founder and chief formulator at aos [ angelina organic skincare ]. A self-described plant chemistry nerd, she's spent more than thirty years researching and developing skincare formulas that keep our skin healthy and radiant.
PRODUCTS TO TRY:
GERANIUM & LUPINE EYE CREAM
YOUTH IN BLOOM FIRMING EYE GEL
CALMING EYE OIL
COCONUT LACTIC PEEL