There's a strange parallel between my little arsenal of eye products and the liquor section in my pantry. The husband and I drink very little and not often, yet we keep a well-stocked liquor cabinet that we use liberally for cooking, baking, and entertaining. Similarly, eye creams and any dedicated eye products are not part of my AM/PM skincare routine. I take what I consider a very good care of the skin around my eyes, but I use whatever else goes onto my skin, from hydrating lotions to retinol products. Basically, unless a tube says "Do not use around the eyes" I will most definitely apply it there. Yes, the skin under the eyes and on the upper lid is thinner and more delicate than the rest of my face, but I it requires the same kind of treatment: gentle cleansing, careful chemical exfoliation, ample moisturizing. And an SPF.
That said, I do quite a bit of extra stuff on a very regular basis. I use gentle home peels (lactic, glycolic, mandelic) and I do masks, Many masks. A lot of masks. From sheets to thick goo that needs wiping off to sleep masks (not just for sleeping). That's when I use eye creams and serums, as an extra treatment or a mask.
These are my favorite eye creams (plus), in no particular order:
- Tatcha Deep Hydration Firming Eye Serum. The tube in my photo is not only empty, but has also been sliced open so could reach and use every last drop. I wasn't wowed by the cooling ceramic applicator (why not go metal if that's what they were after?), but the fast absorption and god-for-you feel of the lotion (it's much more creamy than regular serums) won me over, as did the ingredient list (first ten ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Propanediol, Peg-400, Squalane of olive origin, Silk Extract, Green Tea Leaf Extract, Origanum Majorana Leaf Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Honeysuckle Leaf Extract). ($95/0.5oz at tatcha.com and select retailers. A press sample)
- La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense Eyes. This is a repeat purchase because the combination of heavy-duty hydration and mellow price tag are very appealing. It's a lightweight cream that absorbs quickly yet leaves the skin supple for hours, and serves as a great companion to a sheet or a sleep mask. ($33/0.5oz at laroche-posay.us or your favorite French pharmacy).
- Liz Earle Eyebright™ Soothing Eye Lotion is neither an eye cream nor a serum. Technically it's a liquid lotion and it's oil-free. I and other devotees use it on rough mornings, on allergy days, and when soothing is in a dire need. The ingredient list (Aqua (water), Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) water, PEG-60 almond glycerides, Glycerin, Decyl glucoside, Centaurea cyanus (cornflower) flower extract, Aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice, Euphrasia officinalis extract, Phenoxyethanol, Panthenol, Benzoic acid, Dehydroacetic acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citric acid, Sodium benzoate, Potassium sorbate) might be considered questionable, because some people are sensitive t witch hazel. My skin loves it, and so do I. ($25, 5oz, from us.lizearle.com).
- SKINFOOD Royal Honey Eye Cream. This is one of the reasons my beauty routine these days is chock full of Korean products. The cream is intensely moisturizing, yet actually feels and acts like a gel. I've even used it on my lips in a pinch and was impressed with the results. It might have something to do with having honey extract as its second ingredient (after water and before glycerin). Royal jelly extract is the sixth ingredient, an it also contains propolis, shea butter, and various peptides. This cream contains fragrance, so consider your options, but I think it's phenomenal, and not just for the price. ($30, 1oz, on sokoglam.com).
- La Prairie Cellular Radiance Eye Cream. I've been hoarding samples of this Swiss wonder, because the crying and eye-watering caused by the price of a full size jar can undo all the miracles the product itself creates. It's true that the cream stretches beautifully so you only need a little, and I assume that with twice a day use one can expect to be as hydrated as an alpine mountain peak. All kidding aside, La Prairie skincare loads the skin with moisture that seems to have a lasting effect. However, for a cream that contains no active ingredients that actually renew and replenish the skin the price is very very hard to swallow. ($365, 1oz, at OsswaldNYC and select department stores.)
- AmorePacific Time Response Eye Renewal Creme. This is another fabulous Korean product, just from the other side of the price range. As a matter of fact, price/volume is even higher than the Swiss La Prairie, which is one reason I get samples whenever I can and call it a day. The other reason is that this light cream's claim to fame is the hardcore content of antioxidants, which would have been fantastic had it not come in lidded jar that makes all the goodness oxidize quickly. Samples and very frequent usage as a treatment while doing an antioxidant sheet mask on the rest of the face are the way to go, if you ask me. ($260, 0.5oz, at Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus).
- Giorgio Armani Crema Nera Obsidian Mineral Reviving Eye Compact. I originally got it for the husband, whose eye area needs all the help it can get (a blond who spent all his youth in the sun, and discovered skincare and SPF later in life). However, he found this rich cream far too heavy and thick for comfort. I don't blame him. I can only use Crema Nera as an occasional treatment, and must admit that all the minerals in the world still don't convince me it's doing much for me, at least until the next decade or a serious hormonal change. Packaging is so cute with the swiveling mirror in the base that i'm almost willing to forgive all the air exposure. ($180, 0.5oz at most department stores).
- Olay Regenerist Eye Lifting Serum. I don't know if this serum does any actual lifting, but I've emptied one of the tubes I was sent, using it before applying makeup, since it's rice in niacinamide and various peptides, non-greasy, and I've found that it makes many primers and concealers stick even better. (Around $25 for a 0.5oz tube at most drugstores. Press sample).