Do eye creams really work?

Georgina Smith / 04 July 2016

We take a look at the best eye creams to combat dark circles, puffiness and wrinkles…



In the eye of the beholder

It's not surprising we give so much attention to our under-eye region; when we look in the mirror, it's the first thing our searching, usually over-critical eyes see. 

But remember, whenever we perceive imperfections with our skin – especially as we age – whether that's dark circles, wrinkles or puffiness, the first step should be a step back, away from the mirror. These problems are usually amplified when we're up close and personal with our reflections, and with a bit of perspective, you might be pleasantly surprised.

But, having taken that step back (and realising you actually look pretty fabulous on the whole), you may still be resolved to invest in an eye cream, if you don't use one already. And why not? The skin under our eyes is a lot thinner and more fragile than the rest of our skin. It feels right that we should give it that little bit of extra attention each day.

In which case, we're back to square one. Do eye creams work? And if so, which one is best for you?

The cream of the crop

There's a huge amount of information about eye creams out there. The sheer number available can be overwhelming and it seems everyone has something to say about which one is best. Choosing the one that's ideal for you may feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

To help you on your way, let's look at the most common complaints in the ocular area; key ingredients that might alleviate these problems; and eye creams that contain these all-important ingredients.

Persistent puffiness

As we get older, the already fragile skin under our eyes becomes weaker due to reduced collagen production. As a result, the fat that sits under our skin can bulge out – causing that puffy look.

Key ingredient: Peptides.

Peptides help stimulate collagen production and help strengthen the structure of our skin. Whilst retinol can also be used to help stimulate collagen, an eye cream with peptides may be more suitable if you have sensitive skin.

Try: Eye Wonder Nutri-Active Eye Serum by Oskia. At £48 for 15ml, it's not the cheapest on the market, but it's packed with peptides and delightfully soft and refreshing. 

TryFOM London's Brightening Eye Lift Contour Cream (£58 for 30ml) glides on smoothly and contains a liquid extracted from silk that shields from environmental stresses and is thought to boost collagen production.

Dull dark circles

Periorbital dark circles are usually caused by blood vessels that can be seen through the skin under our eyes. 

They're often an inherited trait, which means that no amount of sleep will help them disappear. And they may become even more pronounced as our skin thins with age.

Key ingredient: Caffeine.

It has been suggested that caffeine, applied topically, can help tighten the fine blood vessels under our skin, and therefore reduce the appearance of dark circles.

Try: Ideal Resource Anti-Dark Circle Eye Illuminator by Darphin. £39 for 15ml. It contains collagen-boosting ingredients, green tea extract and caffeine.

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Dreary dry skin

How well our skin is hydrated can greatly affect its appearance; when our skin is dry, wrinkles can appear deeper and more pronounced.

Key ingredient: Moisture!

Any moisturiser will help to hydrate your skin, but because the skin under your eyes is more delicate, it's wise to use a gentle, dedicated eye cream on the area.

Try: Burt's Bees Intense Hydration Eye Cream. At £19.99 for 10g, this lightweight eye cream absorbs quickly into the skin to provide moisture and softness, and won’t irritate the sensitive under-eye area. 

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Creeping crows' feet and wrinkles

They're an inevitability of growing older and wiser; but why give away your years of experience if you don't have to? There are a number of key ingredients that may help to reduce the appearance of crows' feet and wrinkles. Here are the most commonly used:

Key Ingredient: Retinol. 

Retinol usually comes up number one because of its collagen-boosting properties. 

However, since it can be harsh on sensitive skin, it may be wise to exercise a bit of caution before slathering on a retinol eye cream (you may want to use something with peptides instead).

Try: Redermic [R] Eyes by La Roche-Posay. £24.50 for 15ml. It's mid-priced and even suitable for sensitive skin.

Key Ingredient: Topical vitamin C.

Vitamin C has also been shown to help increase collagen production. And it has been suggested that the L-ascorbic acid form may be the best for wrinkles.

Try: Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Eye-Brightening Concentrate by Kiehl's. For £39 for 15ml, your skin will enjoy a potent potion with 10.5% Vitamin C to help reduce the visibility of lines and even dark circles.

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Best all-rounder

For a little help with everything, Advanced Génifique Eye Cream by Lancôme is our number one all-rounder. At £32 for 15ml it's priced mid-range and gives your eye area a bright and refreshing lift each day.

Now make that step away from the mirror!

Equipped with an eye cream that makes your skin feel great, you can now focus on other ways to feel fabulous this summer. 

Whether that's a nice new lipstick, adding a splash of colour to your wardrobe, or enjoying delicious healthy recipes and exercise, just make sure you don’t spend too much time and energy focusing on the issues you perceive in your under-eye area – it's very unlikely that anyone else has even noticed them!

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.