The Scientist: Shari Lipner, M.D., a dermatologist at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and Ph.D. in molecular genetics
The Answer: The skin around your eyes is the thinnest and most sensitive skin on your whole body. Eye creams are moisturizers that are formulated specifically to be gentle to this area, and often come with ingredients that target eye-specific concerns, such as crow’s feet, puffiness and dark circles. If you want to address these issues head on, or prevent them, and especially if you find regular lotions irritating, then a dedicated eye cream is the way to go.
Eye creams are generally thinner and lighter than face creams, which makes them easier to apply without tugging at the thin skin—and less goopy-feeling, to boot. They also usually exclude perfumes and fragrances, both common irritants. To make them gentler, the active ingredients in eye creams are often less concentrated. For instance, Roc Retinol Correxion Sensitive Eye Cream releases its wrinkle-fighting retinol more slowly compared with regular retinol formulas. Many products also contain ingredients that you wouldn’t normally find in face creams, like niacinamide and hydroquinone to lighten dark circles, and caffeine to reduce puffiness.
Before you start a regimen with a new eye cream, you should dab a little bit on a test spot for a few days, then watch out for tearing, redness, rashes and even blisters that some products cause on such sensitive skin. Once you find one that works, you’ve got to use it every day in order to see the results you hope for. It’s also important to use an SPF 30 eye cream every morning, because skin cancer is really common in the eye area. One final note for the tougher-skinned among us: If you put your current moisturizer and sunscreen around your eyes without any irritation, you’re probably fine doing what you’re already doing.