Q: Does eye cream really prevent wrinkles?
Whether it’s aging, sun exposure, smoking or repetitive squinting, smiling, laughing or frowning, no one is immune to the creases and fine lines that come with the ‘age. And the area around the eyes is especially susceptible to such changes. “The skin under and around the eyes is delicate and thinner,” said Dr. Sara Perkins, assistant professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine. “It’s a place where wrinkles and lines can show up more prominently than other areas of the skin.”
While some people don’t care much about their eye wrinkles, others may want to slow down this aging process and keep their skin looking younger. This may lead them to wonder: Are those expensive little jars of eye cream worth it? Here’s what the experts say.
Can eye cream or other facial skin care products help reduce wrinkles?
Dr Perkins and Dr Zakia Rahman, clinical professor of dermatology at Stanford University, said there is evidence that eye creams – and even regular face moisturizers – can help prevent and repair wrinkles. But there’s a big caveat: they must contain some key active ingredients: retinols (or prescription retinoids) or vitamin C.
“When we talk about the effectiveness of eye creams, it’s not fair to lump all eye creams together,” Dr. Perkins said. “Because some of them may just be glorified moisturizers without any biologically active ingredients.”
Prescription retinols and retinoids are closely related chemical compounds derived from vitamin A. Retinoids are usually prescription products, while retinols are usually found in over-the-counter products. These substances can increase cell turnover, prevent collagen breakdown, produce new collagen, and create more hyaluronic acid (a substance the body produces naturally that helps keep skin hydrated). Experts say there is good evidence that these compounds can help prevent and improve wrinkles. “Every dermatologist I know, including myself, uses them as part of their skincare regimen,” Dr. Rahman said.
Both experts noted that retinols and retinoids — but especially retinoids, which are more potent — can cause skin irritation, although this should lessen over time. If you’re buying an over-the-counter product that contains retinol, Dr. Perkins recommended looking for one that contains at least 0.25% to 1% retinol.
Dr. Perkins also warned that these products can make sunburn worse, so she recommended applying them at night and wearing sunscreen during the day. (She also mentioned that they’re made less effective when exposed to sunlight.) And both experts stressed that if you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t use products that contain retinol or retinoids.
There are also moderate evidence that topical vitamin C helps inhibit and repair wrinkles. “It’s a powerful antioxidant,” Dr. Rahman said, which means vitamin C neutralizes harmful molecules called free radicals that can damage skin. It also helps with collagen production, she said. However, Dr. Perkins noted that while there is “compelling evidence” that topical vitamin C helps reduce wrinkles, the data is stronger for retinols and retinoids. If you choose between the two, both experts recommended using a retinol or retinoid rather than a topical vitamin C. And as with retinols and retinoids, vitamin C can cause skin irritation.
The experts also mentioned that there is evidence that skin care products containing hyaluronic acid can improve the appearance of the skin. This ingredient can plump up the skin, making it look younger. However, both experts noted that these effects were only temporary. “There is data showing that using hyaluronic acid will improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” Dr. Perkins said. But “it works in a different way, delivering water into the skin rather than working at the molecular level” like the other active ingredients mentioned above do.
Are eye creams superior to regular face moisturizers for preventing or repairing wrinkles?
“Eye cream as a category is one of my biggest pet peeves,” Dr. Perkins said, adding that ingredients in eye creams are generally the same as those found in eye creams. facial moisturizers.
Dr. Rahman agreed. Eye creams may be a little thicker or contain fewer active ingredients than other facial skin care products, as they are designed for sensitive eyelid skin. But overall, “they tend to cost a lot more per ounce than regular moisturizers used for the face, and they often don’t have very different ingredients,” Dr. Rahman said. Personally, she uses a regular facial moisturizer for the skin around her eyes.
So, is eye cream worth it?
Unless you prefer using an eye cream, a regular face moisturizer containing the key active ingredients mentioned above should work the same on wrinkles. If you buy an eye cream with these ingredients, you’re probably paying more money for less product that has similar benefits. But with any of these skin care products, you shouldn’t expect a miracle either, and results can take time. The effects “take months, not days,” Dr. Rahman said.
As for the best method of preventing eye wrinkles? Both experts agreed unequivocally: sun protection is essential.
Annie Sneed is a science journalist who contributes regularly to The New York Times. She has also written for Scientific American, Wired, Public Radio International and Fast Company.