Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Cheat Sheet - Eye Cream

There are two camps when it come to eye cream:
  • Those that definitely do
  • Those that think its unnecessary and a waste of money
Unsurprisingly I am very much the former. An eye cream has been part of my routine since my 20's. I didn't start earlier because I was pretty healthy - never smoked, didn't really drink per se and was a teenager who didn't particularly think about eye cream one way or another. Once I was pregnant with my first child (at 22) I changed my mind.

The saying 'the eyes are the window to the soul' is derived from similar medical terms meaning the eyes are literally the window to what is going on inside the body - at all times. If you are blessed with youth and spectacular health your eyes are, I'm sure, clear and bright and the skin around the orbicularis oculi (think panda eye) evenly toned and and coloured.
However, for most of us - the above is no longer the case. 

Everything affects your eye area.
All of your internal organs are reflected in them...
Liver problems - yellow eyes
Lymph drainage system - puffy, dark circles
General mild illness - dull 
Medication (especially antibiotics) - discoloured, puffy, dull, dehydrated
Smoking - grey, dehydrated 
Lack of sleep/too much sleep - puffy, dark circles, grey 'tired eyes'
Diet - including too much salt, caffeine and alcohol - puffy, dark circles, dehydrated
Sun damage/ageing - wrinkles, dehydrated

It's a minefield. The bad news is that any cream would be hard pushed to fix the above. If you are unhealthy internally, a topical cream will not magically fix you. What they will do however, especially when used in conjunction with a concealer, is temporarily mask some of the above. While we're on the subject - any ethical retailer will advise you that the effect of a cream will wear off if you discontinue use. 
No cream is a permanent 'fix'.

I like a separate eye cream for a number of reasons but mainly because I am extremely prone to puffy eyelids and really dark circles. Both genetic, both nothing I can do anything about (excluding surgery for the lids) - BUT - some things make them much worse and heavier formulations found in most moisturisers are one of them. I like thin serums and dedicated formulations for eyes for that reason.

A few do's and don'ts:
  • Do NOT use mineral oil around your eye area - don't use it anywhere - but especially the eye area - you'll be puffy like never before
  • Don't be tempted to use more than the advised amount - its unnecessary, could cause irritation and waste your money
  • If you have eczema or psoriasis in the eye area - which is very common - you can use thicker creams on the lids as you'll need them - depending on the severity of your condition they should probably be prescribed by your doctor - although you may find a nice organic balm somewhere - no beauty house should claim to treat those problems
  • Do use only the lightest of serums on the eyelids for the same reason as the mineral oil - puffiness
  • Keep it simple - too much fragrance in a product can really irritate the eye area - your eye cream does not need to smell - of anything
  • Most allergies to eye products and eyeshadows/mineral makeup are caused by an ingredient called Bismuth Oxychloride. It is used to give the shimmer/light reflective 'glow' and is one of the biggest allergens I have witnessed in the industry. If you've previously never been able to use a particular eye cream or eyeshadow and had it blamed on 'your eyes' by a brand - check their inci list. You'll probably see it on there. If you can't use mineral makeup because it itches - you need to use a brand that openly says 'no bismuth oxychloride' when they are talking to you.


  1. Awesome post, as always. Currently, I'm using Bioelements All Things Pure Eye Oil - I had a lot of allergic reactions to eye creams in the past, and I can honestly recommend this one, although it's not breakthrough innovative ingredients or anything. But it does keep my undereye hydrated at night - it's a bit too greasy for me to use under make-up.

  2. I'm with you! Eye creams are a need. I use Elemis. Sometimes I feel they are too heavy, I do without. The day and night cream is ok to use as an eye cream. It's the Pro Collagen range.
    Eye creams DO work. I'm 40 and luckily haven't got any crow's feet..... Yet!
    Everybody's different tho.

  3. Hurry up with the next post!!!!! xxxx

  4. I wish I had started using eye cream earlier but I have been on board for the last year or so. I quite like the Caudalie Premier Cru one, except for the price (gulp). It's a cream but quite light thankfully. Looking forward to seeing your suggestions!

  5. So happy you're doing eye creams; am constantly in a pickle about what ones to use and when and how much and where and generally just stressed by it.

    Currently I'm using the Alpha-H Eye Complex in the morning but I haven't found a good night one yet. Looking forward to your recommendations x

  6. Great post as uual Caroline. Really interesting. I have all those afflictions listed causally except alcohol - lucky me. I use Korres evening primrose eye cream in the morning and Kiehl's avocado cream at night. Adore both. Really want the Darphin eye cream but its £60 eek!

  7. Another superb post. Incidentally, my favourite os Premier Model Eye Cream. This range was developed with the Premier Model Agency, so i tried it, thinkign they'd know what works. And they do!

  8. marvelous i have been waiting for this post, i was really interested to see whether you do or dont use them as i know some people think they are totally unnecessary... now looking forward to the reccomendations :D x

  9. Hi Caroline!

    I suffer from a multitude of allergies and always avoid products with bismuth oxychloride (apparently it also aggravates acne/problem skin). Bare Minerals make up is full of the stuff so I use Lily Lolo. Fantastic stuff! I highly recommend it! x

    1. Aha! This explains why I cannot use Bare Minerals foundation. Oh my word! It makes me itch something terrible.

  10. Lightbulb moment - I could never understand why bare minerals made my skin and neck itch like crazy, and never knew about this awful stuff!!! I gave it away and recently bought Laura Mercier mineral powder to try another one - have used it a couple of times now and no reaction, but going to check the pot to make sure, thank you x

  11. I had a rash in the area around my eyes and , after i read this article, I had an epiphany and thought maybe I should use a natural products mascara and that was it! It's completely gone: no rashes, no dehydration. thank you so much for the tip. In case anyone has the same problem, I chose KORRES Provitamin B5 and
    Rice Bran Mascara. It is opthalmologically Tested ,Mineral Oil Free, Propylene Glycol Free
    Ethanolamine Free. Thank you again....

  12. Thanks so much Caroline. So helpful, as always! Iv got some blackish skin just on the top of my top eye-lashes- probably from pro-longed use of Bismuth Oxychloride? I also have permanent puffiness and dark circles too. Would probably try the Eyeslix cream inspired by your recent posts.

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  14. Hi Caroline,

    Do you have any idea whether Dior eyeshadow has bismuth oxychloride in it? Also chanel and maybelline (all the French ones it seems) - whenever I use these shadows I get really stinging dry lids and my eyes water constantly! It's so annoying.

    I can't seem to find the full ingredients lists on any of these shadows.

    Any help would be appreciated.


  15. Omg now i know why my face itches when i use a certain powder. it contains Bismuth Oxychloride! now i know to stay clear of that ingredient!1 thank you caroline!!

  16. Hey Caroline! Was wondering whether you could suggest good eye creams available in french pharmacies. I think we all know that the french do it best when it comes to skincare but there's such a wide variety I just don't know where to start!

  17. Hi Caroline! I just discovered your blog and I'm in love, you are brilliant! I've learned a ton from you already. I was wondering, I'm only 21 years old but I've been wanting to use an eye cream with spf to protect my skin, and if it had any anti-aging properties that would be a great added bonus because although I don't have wrinkles yet I would like to prevent them any way possible. Do you have any in particular you would recommend?
    Thanks so much:)

  18. Hey Caroline! I just discovered your blog and I'm in love, you are brilliant! I've learned so much from you already. Do you have any particular eye creams that you would recommend? I'm only 21 so I don't have wrinkles yet but I'm really interested in finding a good, non greasy eye cream with SPF and preferably anti-aging ingredients as well.

  19. Hi, Caroline. I know you've posted this for a while now, and you probably won't be reading this anytime soon (or at all) but I have a question and I thought it didn't hurt to try and write it here. I'm a 19-year-old girl with fair acne-prone skin (some freckles and not-so-light-brown hair). I am very interested in skincare and I never miss my morning and night skin routine. The only makeup I wear is mascara. Since I have oily acne-prone skin, my dermatologist has «prescribed» me the following routine:

    - Night:
    1) Wash face with La Roche Posay's Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel. I use a gentle exfoliating sponge from The Body Shop.
    2) Apply benzoyl peroxide (from ISDIN) on my T-zone and alternate the following night with ISDIN's Acniben Balancing Gel-Cream (deep cleans pores and regulates excess sebum).

    - Morning:
    1) Wash face again with La Roche Posay's Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel. I use the same gentle exfoliating sponge from The Body Shop.
    2) Apply La Roche Posay's Effaclar H.
    3) Apply SPF (I use Uriage's Hyseác SPF50+ all year round).

    I'm very conscious about UVA and UVB rays, the damage they do to the skin - both in terms of aging and burning, and in terms of cancer and DNA damage - and have studied the ozone depletion. I take skin cancer very seriously and so I tend to worry about my skin.
    Having said that, I have found that although I try to learn more and improve my skin well-being, my dermatologist doesn't take me seriously. Whenever I ask about a particular product or range of products, my doctor simply laughs and says I'm too young to be using this or that or shouldn't be worrying about such things. I'm naturally anxious and very stressed out and when I go through more harsh periods my skin breaks out insanely. I also have dark bags under my eyes and some wrinkles I'm not fond of! I'd like to start using an eye cream but I have no idea what I should be looking for and I'm too scared of asking my dermatologist. I'd also like to know about serums, but then again, I don't feel like being almost laughed at again.

    Is my dermatologist right and should I just stop caring so much?
    Thank you in advance.

  20. Can you show with pictures the proper way to apply eye cream and where precisely to apply it? As a 30 year old, it's past time I started using the ones in my drawer but I never feel confident dabbing it on. Perhaps you could share the proper way to apply it and also precisely where to apply it? Pictures would help tremendously. Pretty please?

  21. Dear Caroline, I am Ilaria 47 from Italy with panda eyes and Samsonite underbags.
    Would you be so kind to suggest me an eye cream or two (might and day ) or 3 (night day and mask ) to make the problem lighter ? no digestional problem, no smoke and alcohol, alwayis trying to sleep enough, drinking a lot of water but the problem remain.
    thanks a lot for your kind reply

  22. I have recently used sisley new suprema which is £170 a bottle. I thought that at the very least, there would be an improvement in the slight creypiness. Especially since the outlandish claims made for this product! Alas, absolutely no change whatsoever....not even a softening effect. apart from environ products, I have now given up on this malarky!

  23. Hi everyone, I have a huge problem with my eye skin area . It's very dry ,although I use Decleor eye cream ( the yellow one). Can anyone suggest me a better cream that would resolve my problem ? Thank you !

  24. I'm currently in the 'why do i need it?' camp when it comes to eye creams - I get puffiness with certain products so just steer clear of those, but otherwise I'm not particularly puffy/dark/wrinkly (time is on my side at the moment!) But I'm beginning to think maybe I do need to start using one, but I have no idea what I'm doing. I need something that IS affordable for me as I'm still a student and have limited funds, but a few of the drug store ones I've tried don't do a lot/have made my eyes worse. Is it really an essential for everyone, or for some can a light moisturiser suffice?

  25. Hi caroline, I am 19 and have oily/combination skin. I used to have very oily eyelids and get a very occasional dry patch on one eyelid that was very sore and stung whenever I applied anything to it. Now, however I more often than not have very dry patches on the inner third of my eyelids, as well as a small dry patch under my left eye. These are no longer sore or sting when I apply product but will not budge and make my makeup look appalling. I have been using the Vichy eye and lash serum as it was a sample I had laying around and I know Vichy is a nice brand, but would you recommend anything else for them? I don't mind too much about the price, however I am a student so don't want it to cost too much!
    Thanks! Chloe

  26. If Bismuth is listed in the first 4 ingredients, it bothers me. If it's on down the list and there's a lot of ingredients, then it doesn't bother me unless I use it everyday. Alcohol is another no no. I think skincare companies should be ashamed of themselves for putting denatured alcohol or rubbing alcohol in any product. You don't need it even with oily skin. It does nothing but age you. I think it's one of those ingredients they make people think they need it for whatever reason and then by the time the damage is done, you think there's no way it could have been alcohol. I used eye creams all of my life and eye lids still look awful and get dry and irritated. An eye life is most likely in my future in the next five years.

  27. Hi Caroline!

    I'm from Hong Kong and have been a fan of your blog for ages! I really hope you'll be able to help me with a recent problem I've had.

    I've noticed that I have a small brown spot (like a freckle) below my eyes just below my lower lash line (similar to a freckle). I was wondering whether I can use dark spot treatment products such as Clinique Even Better Dark Spot Corrector or Kiehl's Dark spot corrector to get rid of it below my eye cream or should I use an eye cream that combats dark circles instead as I can't seem to find eye creams that gets rid of spots around the eyes. I'm only 22 and I really hope I can get rid of it!

    Thanks so much! Nicole

  28. That's funny with paraffin because almost every eczema cream, baby bath oils, creams, balms which recommended by dermatologists contain paraffin...

  29. That could be because with eczema you don't want the moisture from your skin to evaporate. So, paraffin or mineral oil puts a lipid layer on the skin thus preventing TEWL (trans epidermal water loss). :)

  30. Is there one eye cream you could recommend for puffiness? I have pretty puffy under eyes and I'm not every 30 yet!

  31. L'Occitane. Both the eye care mask and the oil.

  32. caroline, I have a terrible time with sun cream irritating my eyes. LaRoche Posay is about the only one that is ok. Any ideas what it might be?