Seven Eye Creams That Will Help Disguise How Tired You Are

(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- If the daily stresses of work and family aren’t enough, a hostile political climate and 24-hour news cycle can produce enough anxiety and weariness to take a visible toll on your skin. This is doubly true for the eyes. “The eye area is much thinner and sensitive, so it’s going to show fine lines and wrinkles more than the rest of your face,” says Cindy Kim, co-founder and chief executive officer of Silver Mirror Facial Bar in New York.

New eye creams claim to reduce wrinkles, dark circles, and puffiness with the dab of a finger—part of a move toward multipurpose skin-care products. The trend can be friendly on the wallet but, depending on the expert you talk to, not realistic. “There isn’t magic in a bottle,” says Amy Wechsler, a board-certified dermatologist and psychiatrist. “There are things that go on with people’s lids that can only be fixed with a small operation. Eye creams help with the appearance of wrinkles more than anything else.”

Brands such as Argentum Apothecary and MMXV Infinitude have created face creams that serve double duty, and they argue that eye creams are unnecessary. But dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Dendy Engelman says eye creams are typically thicker and more emollient. “And retinol eye creams combat wrinkling in a different way by building collagen and elastin. If you thicken the skin, the underlying vessels are less noticeable.” She recommends caution: “If it’s formulated for the face, it could be too strong [for the eye] and cause peeling.”

To separate fact from fiction, we assembled a team of wrinkly, puffy journalists to test 24 multi-action eye creams and see which battled fatigue the best.

Perricone MD Essential Fx Smoothing and Brightening Under-Eye Cream
This lightweight formula detoxifies, protects, and repairs, using antioxidants and a vitamin F blend of flaxseed, chia seed, and macadamia seed oils. $122 for 15ml

Fresh Black Tea Firming Eye Serum
Nothing can replace eight hours of sleep, but a jolt of kombucha, black tea extract, and peptides is a solid alternative. $72 for 15ml

Valmont V-Line Lifting Eye Cream
The steep price tag is justified—this peptide-packed cream is blepharoplasty in a jar. $230 for 15ml

Jurlique Herbal Recovery Signature Eye Cream
Its citrus and herbal notes provide a whiff of the spa, while silk-tree extract and antioxidants do the heavy lifting, diminishing puffiness, wrinkles, and discoloration. $50 for 15ml

Dior Capture Youth Age-Delay Advanced Eye Treatment
Crithmum, a natural alternative to retinol found on sea rocks, plumps and smooths skin, while botanicals and antioxidants reduce visible signs of aging. $75 for 15ml

Emma Hardie Midas Touch Revitalising Eye Serum
Using a patented ingredient found in the bark of the Persian silk tree, this serum lightens dark circles, reduces puffiness, and lifts with daily use. $67 for 15ml

Phytoquant Solavie De-Stress Eye Contour Cream
Bovine colostrum—the first milk a cow produces after giving birth—is the heroic ingredient, with its nourishing and healing properties, but the addition of aloe vera, argan oil, lavender, ginger, and cucumber extracts gives it multi-action heft. $45 for 15ml

The Cheat Sheet

We asked Lily Talakoub, a board-certified dermatologist at the McLean Dermatology and Skincare Center to help explain what eye creams can—and cannot—repair.

Hyperpigmentation: This is usually genetic or sun damage. A very gentle lightening cream can improve it, but usually it’s very hard to eliminate.

“Bags”: This is from orbital fat pads that protrude from the under eye area. This happens as we age when the outlet bony eye area shrinks; as the skin thins, the fat pads protrude. No creams will fix this. Surgery is necessary.

Puffiness: This is from too much water under the eyes. This can happen for a number of reasons—allergies, eating too much salt, drinking too much wine, or sleeping face-down. Eye creams can help this if they contain caffeine or green tea, vasoconstrictors that clamp the blood vessels and help decrease blood flow and fluid buildup.

Veins: This causes a dark blue or purple color under the eyes. Lasers can help but not always permanently. Concealers usually do the trick.

Tear Troughs: These are depressions under the eye that happen with age, lack of sleep, dehydration, or just genetics. These we correct with light filler injected under the eyes.

Wrinkles: These are genetic and worsen as you get more sun. For under-eye wrinkles, retinol is the most effective ingredient. However, it can irritate delicate eyelid skin, so I usually recommend a low potency Retin-A or topical retinaldehyde mixed with a deeply hydrating moisturizer.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Rovzar at crovzar@bloomberg.net, James Gaddy

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