Your Complete Guide to Choosing & Using Eye Cream

eye cream shopping

Trying to zero in on the perfect skin-care products for your specific needs can be pretty daunting, particularly when it comes to eye creams. It feels like there are endless varieties, each claiming to target a problem you'd really like to erase.

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So how on earth does an everyday gal decipher what she should be using when she has so many options? And once you've zeroed in on an eye cream, how can you apply it for maximum benefits? Settle in; we're here to help.

Check your ingredients.

No two eye creams are created equal -- this we know -- but there is an ingredient that appears to be integral to a good cream: hyaluronic acid. "Eye creams with hyaluronic acid and ceramides are universally popular because of their ability to attract water and maintain moisture in the delicate eyelid skin," says Dr. Christine Choi Kim, MD, a board-certified medical and cosmetic dermatologist in Los Angeles. "Retinols are often a component of eye creams because they minimize fine lines, thicken collagen, and help with pigmentation."

Kate Somerville, creator and director of Kate Somerville Skin Health Experts in Los Angeles, who makes it a point to stay ahead of the curve in terms of anti-aging technology, says all of her products are formulated with the latest anti-aging ingredients and technologies to address each individual skin-care concern, whether that be fine lines, puffiness, or under-eye circles. "In most cases it is the combination of active ingredients plus soothing botanicals that deliver the key benefits of all our products," she says.

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Zone in on specific concerns.

If puffiness is the problem you're trying to squelch, Dr. Kim recommends trying an eye cream containing green tea because of its anti-inflammatory properties or caffeine, which vasoconstricts. There are also a slew of creams on the market with rollerball applicators, like Perfekt Beauty's Eye Perfection Gel, which provide a cooling sensation that may help decrease puffiness. 

In a constant battle with under-eye circles? "Caffeine helps again by vasoconstriction, plus Vitamin C and Vitamin K. Some eye creams contain pearlescent minerals that reflect light and cosmetically brighten the under-eye skin." We like Kate Somerville CytoCell Dark Circle Corrective Eye Cream.

For fine lines, Dr. Kim says a cream formulated with retinol is key but should be used cautiously to avoid irritation. She suggests using it every third night to start because a little goes a long way. We suggest trying Philosophy Miracle Worker Retinoid Eye Repair Cream if you fall under this category.

Know when to switch it up with formulas.

If we're really specific about our skin-care regimen, we'll use a different, perhaps richer moisturizer at night before bed to really get the most bang for our buck while our bodies rest as we sleep. Whether or not you want to change up your eye cream from day to night is a matter of personal preference, according to Somerville. "You can absolutely use the same product both morning and night, but some of my clients prefer to mix it up," she says. "You may want a lighter cream during the day to wear under makeup and a richer cream in the evening to keep the delicate under-eye area well hydrated throughout the night. If you have multiple eye concerns -- puffiness, dark circles, fine lines, etc. -- and can’t find one eye cream that addresses all, you can alternate the creams needed to target every issue."

Additionally, Dr. Kim explains that you might want to consider switching which product you use based on the seasons. "Use a lighter gel-based eye product in the summer," she says. "In the winter you may desire a thicker eye cream. Be careful, because if it's too heavy you could develop pesky milia -- small cysts under the skin."

Get down to business with your application.

Now it's time for the nitty-gritty -- you've chosen your product and are ready to roll, but what's the best way to apply eye cream? "At my Skin Health Experts Clinic in Los Angeles, we apply eye cream after serums and moisturizers but before SPF," says Somerville. "I recommend using your index finger (it’s the most gentle for the delicate eye area) and lightly pressing the eye cream into skin. Do not rub. You don’t need to apply above the orbital bone -- the heat from your skin makes the product pliable and it will naturally move."

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