If we were to take the advice of every skin guru, then we would require separate creams to moisturise our face, eyes, lips, neck, décolleté, hands, feet and body. With such an exhaustive selection of creams available for use on every conceivable part of our body, it is little wonder why many consumers get so confused with what cream goes where.

One of the most asked questions regarding area-specific products is “Do I need an eye cream?” This common question raises heated debate creating many valid points to support both sides of the argument:

• The eye area is perhaps one of the most delicate areas of skin found on the body. The epidermis (or top layer of the skin) may be as thin as 0.05mm.

• Due to a thinner dermis (the bottom layer of the skin), the support tissue around the eye area is not as dense when compared to the cheeks or chin. The eye area can therefore show signs of ageing (such as thinning or dehydration) faster when compared to the rest of the face.

• When we smile, laugh, frown or blink, these repeated movements create mimic lines (also known as crow’s feet). The thinner skin around the eye area is therefore more prone to creasing, wrinkling and crinkling. Just like the palm of your hand, constant movement of mimic lines can soon turn into static lines. These are lines that are present, even when the skin is not moving.
Whilst wrinkles and ageing can affect skin anywhere on the body, two conditions unique to the eye area include puffiness and dark circles.
Puffiness occurs when fluid builds up around the eye area. As this fluid fills the under eye area, unsightly bags begin to appear. The causes of puffiness include fluid retention, high sodium diets, allergies, fatigue and stretching of the skin. Dark circles appear when the tissue surrounding the eye area is naturally darker in colour. This is more common in darker skin tones or those of Mediterranean, South East Asian or Middle Eastern heritage. Dark circles can also appear when the tiny capillary network in the skin becomes congested creating a blue or grey undertone similarly to a bruise.
No eye cream can prevent the formation or remove mimic lines such as crow’s feet. Anti-wrinkle injections are the only solution to physically stop the muscular contractions that form such lines. No eye cream will have any anti-ageing benefits unless it is used in conjunction with a sunscreen. Today’s modern SPF formulations mean no irritation to the eyes – just ensure product is applied around and not in the eyes. If your standard facial moisturiser is effective in moisturising and plumping the skin, then it will be just as adequate in providing the same effects to the eye area. If your dark circles are due to genetic pigment, then an eye cream will have little effect unless it contains pigment blockers like liquorice, mulberry or vitamin C. A good yellow-based concealer is the best option.
So when will an eye cream truly make a difference? Ingredients such as caffeine, vitamin K or gingko biloba can stimulate sluggish circulation and lighten the appearance of capillary-induced darkness. Light reflecting pigments such as mica or pearl can also optically deflect light, creating the appearance of a refreshed and smooth eye contour. Specialised film formers such as wheat or egg proteins can temporarily ‘tighten’ sagging contours providing an instant smoothing effect. Whilst these ingredients can provide a cosmetically enhanced effect, they are washed away with minimal cumulative results.