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Do I Really Really Need an Eye Cream?

By Amalah

Dear Amalah,
I only recently discovered your column, and yet I have managed to spend hours perusing the archives already (and that’s saying a lot considering I have a 3-month-old daughter who keeps me on my toes!). I’ve become a fan overnight. Not only have you thoroughly entertained me, you have also answered a lot of my latent beauty questions, i.e. oh so that’s how you do that! There’s one thing I’m still stumped about, and I promise I searched your archives to see if you might have explained it already. If you did, I couldn’t find it. So here it is:
Do I really need a separate eye cream? And if so, why?
I use my regular facial moisturizer (Aveda All Sensitive – very gentle) for my eye area. I tap it onto the eye area cuz I know that’s what you’re supposed to do. But seriously, after shelling out the money for a good moisturizer, I have serious reservations about spending just as much on a teensie tube of eye cream. I get that the skin in that area is very sensitive and thin, but what difference does that make if I’m not having any problems doing things the way I do now? I don’t get under-eye circles or bags, and I don’t have much in terms of wrinkles (I assume the latter is because I’m only 26). I also never use eyeshadow, so having it stay put is not of concern. So what the hell do I need it for? Aren’t the skin care companies just trying to pump me for more money?
You may be asking why this question is eating at me if I’m happy with my current system, and the answer is that I consistently read and hear experts (who don’t appear to be linked to any product lines) who say you should use a separate eye cream, and that gets me wondering. I also wonder whether ten years from now, I’ll regret that I stuck with using my normal moisturizer for the eye area. But I have yet to hear or read any convincing arguments for why what I’m doing is a no-no and why I need eye cream.
Looking forward to receiving the wisdom,
P.S. In case it’s relevant, I have an olive complexion, combination skin and mild acne, though my skin seems drier postpartum and it’s possible that I’ll have to rethink my whole skincare regiment in the near future, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

Well, honestly, your entire argument AGAINST eye creams fell apart with this sentence: I’m only 26.
And my entire argument FOR eye creams boils down to this sentence: You aren’t always going to be only 26.
A good eye cream can be like an insurance policy for your face. The skin around your eyes is generally the first to show the signs of age — wrinkles, dark circles, excessive dryness. The dreaded “loss of elasticity.” Just because you don’t have those problems right now doesn’t mean you never will, or that applying a separate cream on that skin is a silly frou-frou waste of money. Think about your 30s! Do it for your 40s!
Some of us already need an eye cream to do double or triple duty. We have dryness, shadows or existing lines. Which is why we go to ends of the earth to find the best best BEST eye cream out there and are willing to spend a lot of money on it. (I mean, have you SEEN the prices of some of these creams? Good lord.)
eye%20cream1.jpgSome of us don’t have any of those problems — and we’d like to keep it that way. I’ve been using an anti-wrinkle cream on my hypothetical crow’s feet since I was 24 years old. I used RoC for awhile, until I noticed that giving birth and a chronic lack of sleep was taking its toll on my eyes (thinning skin and fine lines) and the RoC wasn’t cutting it anymore. I switched to Philosophy’s Hope in a Tube Eye & Lip Firming Cream. I’m going to be 30 this year and so far, so good in the wrinkle and dark circle department. (I swear, anyone who has just noticed their first wrinkle should RUN to Sephora and pick that cream up — it actually undoes the damage and firms your skin back up.)
And yes! Dark circles ARE a sign of aging. As you get older the skin around your eyes gets thinner, thus making your blood vessels more visible. Another reason to keep that skin ultra-pampered and moisturized.
As for why normal facial moisturizers shouldn’t be used on the eye area? Well, mostly they just aren’t formulated for skin that delicate OR for the myriad of challenges it faces with age. And there’s also the risk of allergic reactions. Which again, just because you’re fine now doesn’t mean you won’t one day put on that cream and have your eyes swell and rebel and painpainpain.
eye%20cream2.jpgI get SO many emails from women who develop allergies — almost overnight — to various eye shadows and mascaras and creams. It happens. My own eyes are much more sensitive and prone to watering than they were a few years ago. Your Aveda moisturizer probably isn’t a prime candidate for this sort of thing…although I’m not sure ingredients like cardamom and turmeric have any business being that close to your eyeballs. (You’ll notice NONE of those ingredients go into Aveda’s eye creams. That should probably tell you something.)
Oh, and don’t stress out too much about package sizes of eye creams. You’re only dabbing on a teensy bit everyday, so even the teensiest tube will actually last a very long time — probably even longer than your moisturizer. I buy my Philosophy cream about once a year, honestly, and it’s practically the size of a Chapstick.
In the end, eye creams boil down to this: It can’t HURT to use an eye cream, but it definitely can hurt to NOT use an eye cream. And by the time you realize this, the damage could already be done.
(Fear-mongering beauty advice! I rock.)

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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