When you get paid to test beauty products for a living, what do you actually pay to use? ELLE's Beauty Director Katy Young comes clean.
Forgive me, reader, for I have sinned. It’s been four weeks since my last confession, but it's been going on a lot longer than that. The truth is, I've never seen the point in eye creams. I've always just taken whatever cream I have been using right up to my lash line, assuming that what was good for the rest of my face would work fine around my eyes. Skin is skin, right?
Well, yes. But also no. It's skin that is 10 times thinner, more sensitive to UV rays, drier, prone to eczema, psoriasis and allergies, and subject to almost-constant micro-movements, blinking 4.2 million times a year. Not to mention the fact that a surprising amount of products have the instruction 'Avoid eye area' written on them, if I'd, er, read the box. So unless you have skin like mine (as hardy and weatherproof as a Barbour jacket) chances are you'll need a separate cream. This is a case of do as I say, not as I do. For most of us, it really does make sense to use a separate, specific, ophthalmologist-tested eye cream.
By that I mean one that's gentle: both lighter in texture - thereby avoiding 'milia' (tiny bumps under the skin) - and free from perfume, so as not to cause any tears. Plus, it should exclude ingredients likely to aggravate delicate skin: titanium dioxide (used in sunscreens), silicon and preservatives are common culprits, while vitamin A, aka retinol, can cause irritation if you have sensitive skin.
What about what you do want? Collagen-boosting peptides, repairing antioxidants, vitamins C and E to brighten and soothe. And hyaluronic acid, which is more than just a couple of words we beauty folk like to brandish around (though by god we do). This is hydration ingredient numero uno, holding onto 1000 times its weight in water.
If you struggle with puffy eyes, a bit of caffeine in your cream has been shown to help revive a stagnant blood flow, often also associated with dark circles. If you don’t, tell me your secret! (Until then, I’ll be relying on Sisley Black Rose Eye Contour Fluid pen for post-Zoom fatigue – a love of which I share with ELLE’s fashion director, who won’t go anywhere without it.)
But don’t stress about getting every single one of those ingredients into one cream. A lot of finding your best buy comes down to your own preferred texture – so if you find a gel that feels instantly soothing on your tired, hot eyes stick with it, even if it just ticks one box. Once you've found your perfect product, there is nothing quite like it taken straight out of the fridge and tapped onto and around the eye area to bookend a long day. Use your ring finger, by the way: it's your weakest digit, and applies exactly the right kind of pressure.
Alternatively, you could use your index finger to click and buy something like the healing and soothing Susanne Kaufmann Eye Roller, which costs an eye-watering £230. But, it did take many dermatologists and pharmacists to develop, as well as blacksmiths and craftsmen to handcut the permanently cool Obsidian stone, nut wood and steel. The alternative? Teaspoons kept in the fridge and cupped over the eyes. Call me sinful, but where’s the fun in that?
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