One day in my late 20s, I woke up, and boom: my under-eyes were darkened and crepey. It was like a lifetime of sleep deprivation and stress hit me all at once, manifesting specifically on my lower eyelids. I didn’t know much about skincare at the time, so I reached for whatever sounded like it would work. My pick? A “reverse aging” eye cream that cost $80 for less than an ounce. And while it had deeply hydrating ingredients that plumped up the skin around my eyes, it didn’t do anything else. In other words, nothing was getting “reversed.” My dark circles stayed put and my creases became fine lines.
Now I’m older and wiser, and I know that, without a time machine, reverse aging isn’t possible. But after hanging around the Curology medical providers, I learned that a few ingredients can make a big difference: vitamin C, caffeine, and retinoids (like retinol). And, of course, practicing sun safety is crucial to your skin’s health (and, by extension, its appearance).
Vitamin C helps repair fine lines and wrinkles by stimulating collagen production. It also helps improve dark spots while neutralizing free radicals.
Caffeine may help improve dark circles and puffiness. This is because, when applied to the skin, it constricts the blood vessels directly beneath.
Retinoids help minimize the appearance of fine lines by increasing cell turnover and helping to support the normal structure of the skin. Retinol is often found in over-the-counter eye creams — you’ll need a prescription for stronger retinoids like tretinoin.
While it often makes sense to use eye-specific products, you don’t necessarily need them. For example, if you already have a caffeine serum that you love, rubbing the excess into your dark circles might help to temporarily brighten your under-eyes. But sometimes, the skin around our eyes is more sensitive, and doesn’t react to active ingredients the same way the rest of our face does.
This was the case for me, so I picked up extra products for my AM/PM routines. When I used a caffeine eye mask, my dark circles improved immediately upon application. And the fine lines under my eyes started to fill in after about a month of consistently using a retinol eye cream.
If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably made up your mind on getting some eye care products, so let’s get to the recommendations.
Eye creams tend to have a thick, creamy consistency, much like a rich facial moisturizer. They’re usually emollient, which means they help soften skin. There are a lot of eye creams out there, so I suggest choosing less expensive ones that have some (or all) of the ingredients listed above.
Eye serums are similar to creams. The difference is that serums tend to be more light-weight, with a gel or water consistency. People with oily or combination skin might prefer the texture of serums.
You’ll find the most variation in application when it comes to eye masks: some are peel-and-stick sheet masks while others are ampoules you apply with your fingers. Either way, eye masks tend to be the heaviest. They’re normally meant to be washed off after a certain period of time and might not absorb fully into the skin.
Of course, these aren’t hard-and-fast “rules” for skincare products. There’s nothing saying a product labeled “eye serum” can’t be thick and heavy, or that you can’t use a leave-on eye mask like a cream. At the end of the day, all that matters is that the product works for you.
Start your free trial (plus shipping and handling)
If over-the-counter isn’t cutting it, then prescription skincare might be the way to go. Customized prescription skincare has never been more affordable or accessible than when you sign up for a free trial of Curology. You’ll be paired with one of our in-house medical providers who will prescribe you a customized cream with a mix of 3 active ingredients for your unique skin concerns. Your first box costs just $4.95 (plus tax) to cover the cost of shipping/handling, and you can add on other products (like the Curology cleanser and moisturizer) for no extra cost.