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Do eye creams really work?

Are eye creams worth the money and extra step in your skincare routine? Jodi Ganz, M.D., a dermatologist at Piedmont, shares what to look for and what to avoid when it comes to the delicate skin around your eyes.

First things first: Do eye creams really work?

“I do recommend eye creams,” says Dr. Ganz. “The skin of the undereye area is very sensitive. Many of the products we use elsewhere on the face — such as retinol — would not do well for this area. I usually recommend products that are hydrating without being irritating.”

She adds that you can begin using a good eye cream at any age.

The benefits of eye creams

Depending on the formula you choose, eye creams can address:

  • Dark circles. Choose a formula that contains topical vitamin K to reduce dark shadows.
  • Puffiness. Dr. Ganz recommends an eye cream with topical caffeine to minimize undereye bags.
  • Wrinkles. “Eye creams can be beneficial for wrinkles,” she says. “I especially like eye creams with growth factors and peptides; these products help to stimulate collagen production and minimize the appearance of wrinkles.”

She suggests consulting with your dermatologist about the best brand and formula for your skincare goals.

When and how to apply eye cream

You may choose to apply eye cream in the morning, at night or both:

  • For the a.m. hours, try a lightweight eye cream that contains sunscreen to prevent future wrinkles.
  • At night, choose a richer, more moisturizing, SPF-free formula.

If your skin is very sensitive, look for a fragrance-free eye cream.

To apply:

  • Gently pat a pea-sized amount under your eyes with your ring finger (it’s the weakest finger and won’t apply too much pressure). Avoid pulling or tugging your skin.
  • Resist the urge to pile on more product — too much cream can get into your eyes, causing irritation.
  • Let it absorb for a minute or more before applying makeup.

The ingredient you should never put around your eyes

Retinol is a popular skincare ingredient for combatting facial wrinkles and reducing acne flare-ups, but it can irritate the delicate undereye area.

When eye cream isn’t enough

Eye creams can improve the quality of the skin around your eyes, but they can’t fix every undereye concern. If you aren’t satisfied with the results from regular eye cream use after a few months, your dermatologist may recommend an in-office procedure to tackle the issue.

“If you have deep hollows, heavy lids, or deep wrinkles, then other procedures may be needed,” she says. “Sometimes we will use fillers around the eye and there are some lasers that we can use on the eyelids.”

Note: Using fillers and lasers around the eye area is considered “off label,” meaning the FDA hasn’t yet approved these products for this type of use.

“We also work closely with our oculoplastics surgery colleagues when we think surgery is the most appropriate option,” adds Dr. Ganz.

For more health and wellness tips, check out the Living Better homepage.

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