Under eye cream products are used to decrease puffiness, reduce wrinkles, and diminish dark circles.
The skin under your eye is very fragile compared to the rest of your face and your body. Its fragile state comes from an absence and reduced presence of sebaceous glands, collagen and elastin fibers. Thus, extra care is needed when using products on this sensitive area.
It is also often the first area on the face to show signs of aging, which gives way to popular consumer demand for under eye cream products. And studies have proven the efficiency of some anti-aging creams and products, like under eye creams (1).
In the following sections, this article will explore the benefits of common and specific ingredients in under eye cream products, as well as the possible side effects some of these ingredients may present.
1Retinol helps reproduce cells, decreasing wrinkles or fine lines. A study in the British Journal of Dermatology observed the use of retinoic acid in twenty individuals who had solar damage on their skin. Participants applied the cream for 12 weeks.
Moreover, they noted significant improvements after those 12 weeks, including decreased fine wrinkling around the eyes, reduced crease lines around the mouth and cheeks, and improvements in wrinkling on the hands, as well as reduced discoloration. Researchers even took skin biopsies before and after the 12 weeks. They discovered those that experienced significant improvements had an increased mean epidermal thickness (2).
Another study examined similar consequences and results. The study noted that a number of surgical procedures are available to improve the skin damaged by sun exposure. Yet, topical retinoids are proven to repair and prevent this damage and are a less invasive method (3).
A study in The New England Journal of Medicine also observed retinoids in skin restoration. 26 healthy participants applied a daily dose of cream containing retinoids or cream containing a placebo.
All participants had photodamaged skin. The results showed that there was an 80% increase in collagen formation with the group that used the cream containing retinoids. Researchers concluded by saying that damaged skin may be partially restored by treatment with retinoids, indicating its reason for use in under eye creams (4).
Other more recent studies seem to agree and adhere to these findings, even for aging skin and not strictly sun damaged skin. In fact, retinoids were discovered for possible use in such areas as far back as World War I. Although, it wasn’t until about two decades ago that they gained mainstream use.
What makes it so useful? Scientists and experts agree that the Vitamin A in retinoids is responsible for these effects. Vitamin A cannot be produced in the body. It is via Vitamin A and its function that experts believe these effects come about (5, 6).
2Vitamin C in many popular under eye creams is also considered a major protective entity against skin damage, including ultraviolet radiation. Topical Vitamin C has many functions, including acting as an antioxidant and functioning as a biological co-factor. Topical application of Vitamin C has shown to improve skin damage caused by sun exposure. It was found in one study that Vitamin C levels in the skin became severely depleted after sun damage and exposure.
In fact, it’s partially the reason for the protective properties of the skin. Thus, without it, the skin is exposed to a variety of external factors causing harm and ultimately, damage. Creams, including Vitamin C, were thus concluded to have protective effects against sun damage and aging (7).
Combined Vitamin C and E are thought to have further effects. A 2003 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology examined the effects of Vitamin C, and E combined versus the effects of these two vitamins alone. The study concluded by suggesting that the use of these natural and non-chemical ingredients had more of an impact than either vitamin on their own (8).
Vitamin C may also reduce oxidative stress, giving way to its protective properties. A 2002 study in the Free Radical Biology and Medicine, Volume 33, Issue 10, examined Vitamin C as an oral supplement and its role in skin health. Yet, Vitamin C in supplement form wasn’t determined to be a particularly viable option for improving one’s skin. However, other studies have shown its use as a topical applicator in protecting and reducing skin damage (9, 10).
3Under eye cream may include the ingredient of peptides. Peptides are thought to protect the skin via anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties (11).
Certain peptides may improve damage caused by the sun or age. Specific peptides were shown to have decreased or slowed damage to the skin over time and with regular use (12).
In turn, peptides may have anti-aging effects. They may also strengthen the skin and its functions. Considering the under eye is the most fragile of all skin, this is an essential aspect to have in creams specific to this area.
4Ceramides as an ingredient in under eye cream may help protect the skin and underlying structures. Ceramides are thoughts to provide a protective barrier to the epidermis. They may further offer improvements in the moisture of the skin as ceramides maintain the water permeable barrier of the skin.
It’s been found that many skin disorders and damaged skin incidences have a lower barrier function. Ceramides are thought to be a natural ingredient to promote a healthy and well-functioning skin barrier, preventing and reducing damage to the skin (13).
A 2002 study in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology specifically examined the effects of ceramides on the skin. A topically applied ceramide mixture was involved in the study and measurements included transepidermal water loss and stratum corneum hydration. Researchers found that after just 14 days consisting of two applications per day, ceramides combined with skin lipids improved barrier repair of the skin after damage (14).
5Hyaluronic acid may reduce under eye puffiness or swelling, which is why many skin care companies producing under eye cream products include this ingredient. 50% of hyaluronic acid in the body is found in the skin. It usually works to retain moisture, thus reducing puffiness and damage (15).
A 2014 review examined hyaluronic acid and its use in moisturizing dry skin. The under eyes can become dry due to the climate or other factors. Surprisingly, even ingested hyaluronic acid was found to have moisturizing benefits, as proven by one study in the review (16).
A 2011 study in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences aimed to determine the use of hyaluronic acid in repairing damage in skin cells in vitro. Hyaluronic acid was found to reduce the inflammatory effect supplied by the immune system. In turn, it would possibly reduce wrinkles and especially, inflammation or puffiness (17).
Another study conducted in 2002 showed hyaluronic acid and its role in wound healing. It was found that this ingredient reduces oxidative damage, which has protective properties relating to the skin (18).
In addition, this particular ingredient is thought to help reduce inflammation in wound healing and possibly aid with tissue regeneration. It does this by stimulating the body to build more blood vessels in the area. This allows more blood flow to the area it is applied to which promotes better healing, reduced inflammation, protection against damage, and helps regenerate the skin faster and better (19, 20).
Further, hyaluronic acid was found to improve eye health and reduce dry eyes (21).
This means that it’s not harmful to the eyes themselves, and may actually improve the health of your eyes which makes sense if it’s being used on the under eye skin.
6Vitamin E, as aforementioned, may have individual benefits, without Vitamin C, in protecting the skin and preventing damage to the skin. Experts agree that topical Vitamin E may be effective in protecting the skin from damage from ultraviolet radiation (22).
Vitamin E is a naturally occurring lipid-soluble antioxidant. This means it acts as a protector against oxidative stress and it also fights inflammation, combating photoaging. This information and evidence give way into why Vitamin E is a common ingredient in under eye cream products and why it may work to improve the look of under eye skin (23, 24).
1Burning, scaling, and dermatitis have been associated with retinoid treatments and therapy. However, it is more common in specific retinoids, including tretinoin and tazarotene. Yet, retinaldehyde and retinol are considered less irritating. It’s important before applying any product to your face to read the ingredient list thoroughly, as well as apply a small amount to the skin of the forearm before applying it to more delicate skin, such as that of the under eyes (25).
2Retinoids may also cause aggravation of eczema conditions, especially atopic dermatitis.
3Vitamin E application may worsen the effects and appearance of scar tissue (26).
4Vitamin E allergic reactions are rare, but they may occur in some individuals. Symptoms may include itching, a rash, swelling, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.
5For those with very sensitive skin, Vitamin C may also cause a slight reaction. Again, it is rare. However, symptoms may include mildly irritated skin. Most cases are mild, with no severe effects.
6Ceramides may cause a burning, stinging, itching, or tingling sensation, especially in the first few weeks of use. If any of these reactions are severe, contact your healthcare provider. You may be better off finding under eye cream products that do not contain ceramides.
7Hyaluronic acid in under eye creams may also cause an allergic reaction. If this occurs with any product, discontinue use.
8Under eye cream ingredients may be unsafe during pregnancy or breastfeeding. It’s important to discuss these items with your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Find out from your healthcare provider which products are safe and which are not before using them.
9There is some evidence indicating the hyaluronic acid may cause cancer cells to grow faster. It isn’t advised for people with a history of cancer or with current cancer to use these products (27, 28).
There is no standard dosage for applying eye cream, but most experts recommend to apply as needed. There are no toxic ingredients that will build up and cause harm – unless you are prone to an allergic reaction.
If you apply too much and you don’t like it, you can always wash it off as most ingredients are water soluble.
Are eye creams really necessary? No, eye cream is not always necessary. If you don’t have problems with puffiness, dark circles or need to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, you can skip the eye cream and use a good facial moisturizer, especially if it is formulated for sensitive skin.
Do eye creams help dark circles? Eye cream helps reduce puffiness and dark circles with the help of potent Vitamin C, polyphenol-packed grape-seed extract, and a shot of gentle pro-retinol to improve the skin’s elasticity over time.
Do cucumbers firm up the skin under my eyes? Cucumbers naturally tighten and firm your skin. The juice can also refresh your skin and tighten pores. Use this on puffy under eyes and fine lines around your eyes or anywhere on your face.
Can I use regular moisturizer as eye cream? You can certainly use whatever moisturizer you’re using on the rest of your face to treat your eyes. But eye creams typically differ from regular facial moisturizers in a few key ways. For one, active ingredients such as retinol appear in lower concentrations in order to be less irritating to delicate eye skin. Eye creams are also almost always fragrance-free, which cuts out another possible irritant.
When should you start using eye cream? When it comes to skincare, the earlier the better. Many people start using eye cream in their 30s—when they start noticing the first subtle crease on the outer corner of their eyes—but even before you see a wrinkle, you can start as early as your 20s. That’s because the best results come from prevention.
Does castor oil help with dark circles? The antioxidants in castor oil prevent the skin from getting affected by free radicals. They also help in shrinking blood vessels and reducing fluid retention, which in turn helps in getting rid of dark circles.
Does baking soda reduce dark circles? The most effective face masks contain baking soda. Soda will remove the dark circles and bags under the eyes. Make a solution: a glass of hot water or tea, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda, mix well. Soak cotton pads in the mixture and place them under the eyes for 10-15 minutes.
Can you use under eye cream on your face? Doctors agree that you can use an eye cream to moisturize your entire face, but it’s not any better than using an actual facial moisturizer.
What is the best ingredient for eye cream? For plump skin cells, nothing beats hyaluronic acid, which draws moisture from the air and holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water.
Should I apply eye cream before or after a moisturizer? If your eye cream is richer and heavier than your moisturizer, it should go on top. If it’s lighter than your serum, make sure it goes under your moisturizer. Of course, always check the instructions on your eye cream’s packaging to see whether you should apply it before or after moisturizer.
Under eye cream products contain a variety of ingredients. It’s important, especially if your prone to allergies or have sensitive skin, to read the labels on all skin products, as well as to do your research before using a product. It’s also recommended, as aforementioned, to apply a small amount to your forearm or wrist before using it on your face. If you suffer from allergies, discussing your options with your doctor prior to use may also prove to be beneficial.
Many under eye cream products contain natural ingredients such as retinoids, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid.
Retinoids are a major component in many of these products and have the most evidence and research to back-up beneficial claims. Benefits of retinoids include decreasing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and aiding in skin regeneration.
Vitamin C serves as a major antioxidant. It protects the skin against oxidative stress and thus, damage. Vitamin E is also thought to act protectively, reducing inflammation and skin damage.
Ceramides, on the other hand, help structure and support the protective barrier of the skin itself, while also allowing permeability to substances, such as water. It gives strength to the skin, which reduces damage and improves regeneration.
Lastly, hyaluronic acid is also a common ingredient in under eye cream. It is a moisturizing component in many under eye creams and also acts to reduce inflammation.
It is evident by studies and research that more natural products seem to have fewer side effects (or less severe side effects) and more positive benefits. Many experts recommend seeking out creams for the skin with fewer chemicals in them as these may cause damage as opposed to help. Again, read the labels of under eye cream products before buying them. Only then can you determine whether or not it’s the right product for you and your body.