Is there anything that’s appropriate for under eye area skin besides a $100 under eye cream?

So many times I’ve purchased a face cream or other product that specifically says, “Avoid under-eye area.” Like, why? This feels like the mattress tag I absolutely cannot cut off until I read the fine print and it actually says I can cut it when I get home. 

So what’s the fine print here? I understand that the under-eye area has sensitive skin and sometimes dry skin too. I also get that a lot of beauty products aren’t tested in that area. But for real? Are you suggesting the only solution is a $100 under-eye cream made just for the purpose, like under-eye under-eye cream cream cream. Ugh! I’m not paying $100. 

Assuming you aren’t either, here are some things you can do if your under-eye area is puffy, dark or wrinkled. I’ve included an ingredient or two that can actually can go under the eye and, oh, eye products that are inexpensive.

 

Dark undereye circles and multi-vitamins

I’ve struggled with dark circles for probably a decade now. While caffeine and vitamin C serums seem to bleach the area temporarily, and in a way that’s not totally desirable, the dark circles come right back the following day. In recent years, I started getting that morning puffiness that was turning into bags. If you didn’t know, a dark or puffy undereye area is one of the first indicators that something might be going wrong with your health, kind of how your hair quality can also tell on your health. 

For whatever reason, I’ve avoided taking a multivitamin, but once I started, both problems went away. Just taking iron alone was not cutting it. My eye area now looks fresh and young. So, yeah, we can chalk that up to malnutrition. I could go into how our soil no longer contains the vitamins and minerals we used to get from our food when we were kids–well, at least when I was a kid. But to save you that lecture, I’ll just tell you which multi I ended up with. 

NOW being a brand from Illinois, and me being from Chicago, I actually remember my mother purchasing NOW brand products when I was a kid. I’ve purchased several as an adult and I like the quality and the price. Of course, you can go with your own brand, but this is one that I trust. Take a look at the back label on these.

Yes, it has everything but the kitchen sink, plus biotin, which is great for the hair. More later on that. I started with only one tablet a day and worked my way up, assuming my body wasn’t going to assimilate all of those heavy percentages at once. Bang! No dark circles. Oh, okay, yeah, here’s the front picture:

Now let’s list the alternatives, in case this doesn’t work for you:

Hyaluronic acid serums

As long as you find a product with a simple formula with glycerin, water and hyaluronic acid, it should be safe for the under-eye area. I would stay away from drying alcohols in the formula, that’s mostly for people who are trying to apply it and run out the door without a greasy or wet under eye. Just apply your natural serum at night, and you won’t have to worry about that.

Hyaluronic acid, as an active ingredient, is going to increase hydration and plump the area which could lead to a lighter appearance. As it so happens, this NOW formula fits the bill. It also contains aloe vera for more moisture, green tea extract for reduced wrinkles and soluble collagen as an emollient that also smooths the area. Soluble collagen is from animals, though, so I haven’t used this product.

Vitamin C creams

Vitamin C is known to be irritating and also unstable. There are plenty of companies that use vitamin C, but it should contain vitamin E and ferulic acid to make low (non-irritating) concentrations more effective. The vitamin C lotion I use for my face is from Pixi. I smooth it right over my eye area with no problem at all. In fact, it was my dark circle lightening cream before I started taking my multivit. As far as serums are concerned, the vitamin C concentration is probably going to be too high for the eye area. I make my own, courtesy of Lab Muffin, but I would never put it on my eye area.

In-office dermatological treatments

Sometimes nothing else works for dark circles under and around the eye, or the issue is simply too far-gone. Your local dermatologist’s office might be able to deal with it. Fillers under the eyes and in the upper cheek area can help bring back the padding that sometimes gets lost with age. When the padding is gone, the under-eye area sinks and becomes darker. 

 

Puffy undereyes and dark circles

If you have a puffy under-eye, it could be a circulation or nutritional issue, similar to dark circles. As mentioned above, a multivitamin got rid of my dark circles and puffiness, but that’s not going to work for everyone, although it might help most people! Vitamin C and caffeine can increase circulation in the tiny blood vessels in the area to remove excess fluid. 

Green or black tea bags

Instead of spending on an under-eye cream with caffeine, you can just take a steeped tea bag and place the warm, moist bag over your under eyes. Press gently for a few minutes and your eye puffiness should be reduced. This works well if you’re puffy because of a lack of sleep.

Eye patches that reduce the appearance of puffiness

These are relatively new products. I have seen a few clips of girls with weird looking things under their eyes while they do their hair. Turns out they were eye patches. I haven’t tried any of these, but some common ingredients to many of them are aloe vera to decrease fluid retention and vitamin C to improve circulation and brighten. Obviously, these are not going to work on the eyelids because they just go under the eyes.

This one from Derma E has the ingredients mentioned above and also caffeine, cucumber extract (always good, right?) and vitamin B3 to brighten.

In-office dermatological treatments

If you’ve got puffiness that has turned into bags and you want a semi-permanent solution for it, check with your dermatologist. She might recommend a gentle chemical peel or laser resurfacing. Both of these will remove the outer layers of skin around the eyes and stimulate collagen so that your new skin is firmer and brighter. Of course, this happens over time. If you want to try a gentler exfoliation, look for an eye patch or cream that contains a very low concentration of retinol, somewhere around 0.05%. 

Wrinkles and collagen

Many eye wrinkle formulas contain soluble collagen, but according to EWG, soluble collagen is animal-based. Sorry vegans. Regular collagen does not absorb into the skin, but soluble collagen does. What the deal with collagen anyway? Well, as we age, actually after we hit the ripe old age of 20 or 25, collagen production starts to slow in the body. This means that, over time, skin elasticity degrades and the appearance of wrinkles begins. For most people, this starts with eye wrinkles. 

The vegetarian version of collagen is marine collagen, and there are a few skincare products that contain marine collagen, but the results of these products are inconclusive. It’s way better to just ingest it. Still, because I love skincare, and the delivery method of Maryann’s marine collagen cream is pretty cool, not to mention high reviews, I’ll probably try it someday soon. Maybe it works!

For right now, though, since my production of collagen is probably pretty low, I’ve beat my undereye wrinkles by ingesting marine collagen. My choice, below, also contains hyaluronic acid and vitamin C within the formula. If you work at a desk all day, as I do, and have developed back problems, as I have, this product can also be indispensable for pain-relief:

In-office dermatological treatments

If the wrinkles keep coming despite all that you’re taking and doing, you can consult a dermatologist. She will probably recommend a laser treatment to increase cell turnover. This combats wrinkles in the delicate skin of the area and can also stimulate collagen. Or maybe he will combine laser therapy with radio-frequency treatment to tighten the skin. 

Sunscreen and skin protection

Although us melanated (melaninated?) folks might be able to get away with only using vitamin C, which helps heal sun damage to a degree, if you are low on melanin, please use a sunscreen. The best wrinkle treatments are preventative. This will help prevent wrinkles in the eye area and everywhere else. I don’t have any suggestions in this area, because vitamin C has been working for me, along with all the other stuff you see here, even though I live in a very sunny climate, the Dominican Republic. I’ve seen what the sun can do to people with lighter skin, though. And harmful UV rays are around wherever you live, so consider a sunscreen regardless of your skin type or color.

Who is iHerb?

I have refrained thus far from doing product ecommerce articles. That’s because I don’t trust some of the affiliate programs out there when it comes to beauty products. I’ve worked in ecommerce before, and I can tell you that many reviews on larger sites are fake and some of the products are fake, too. If I’m going to recommend something, I want to make sure it’s legit before people go slathering it on their skin or putting it in their hair.

I actually first started trying skincare products via iHerb.com and their trial products. That was years ago, but I’ve never received a fake or questionable product from them. During pandemic times, they ship to my door here in the Dominican Republic for less than the normal courier costs to bring shipments from the US. I like iHerb. If you shop with them, I hope you will, too. The links in this article are affiliate links from them, so I’ll earn a small percentage. Many are my personal favorites, but if I haven’t tried the product myself, I mentioned it, so you know.

Can Skincare Products Stop Working?

Photo by Ryan Arya from Pexels

Skincare has made scientific leaps and bounds over the past ten years, at least in terms of what’s available to a wide audience cost-wise. I don’t know, maybe our favorite Hollywood stars from the 90’s always had vitamin C, retinol, and glycolic acid at their disposal. It doesn’t look like it. (Ba-doomp-doomp. Ching.) It’s probably safe to say skincare advancements that help everyone look younger are relatively new.

But what are the long term effects, if any, of using such advanced skincare? I mean, we’re no longer dipping our noses in honey, here, these are raw chemicals. What happens when the jig is up? Can skincare products stop working? And what happens if the skincare you buy is based more in feel-good, smell-good than in actual science? Let’s answer some of these questions.

Are Skincare Products Regulated By the Government, Like Food?

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration is responsible for regulating both food and cosmetics that go on the market. When it comes to cosmetics, however, the FDA is only making sure that the product is labeled accurately. Whether it works as stated or has dangerous quantities of some chemicals is up to the manufacturer.

There are a few ingredients that are restricted by the government. Apart from that, no testing is required for the skincare products you’re using and the industry is largely based on trust.

That said, there are a variety of products that don’t work period, or that stop working quicker than what’s stated on the label.

Do Collagen Creams Work on Lines and Wrinkles?

As a molecule, collagen is too large to be absorbed into the skin topically. So the answer is, “No.” It might provide some hydration benefits, though.

Solution. When taken internally, however, collagen peptides can help improve collagen levels in the body. Eventually, those benefits might make it around to your skin.

Retinol, vitamin C, and glycolic acid do help with collagen production at skin-site. But there are a few problems with these, too.

How Quickly Does Vitamin C Skincare Expire?

First of all, turn the product around and make sure you have the best form of vitamin C for skincare, which is L-ascorbic acid. If your product contains a different form of vitamin C, look on the website to see if they have a good reason behind that.

L-ascorbic acid is the main ingredient in vitamin C skincare that’s worth it salt. It sparks collagen production in the skin, making it very effective at helping to fight signs of aging. But because ascorbic acid is an unstable compound, it becomes ineffective quickly when exposed to oxygen, heat, and light.

Tube packaging that doesn’t permit the entry of light helps keep ascorbic acid active. Otherwise it will oxidize within three months. You can tell by the change in color of the product to yellow or brown.

Solution. If you’re pretty sure that you’re not going to use your vitamin C product within three months, it’s best to buy an ascorbic acid powder. That way you can mix a little with your favorite moisturizer or serum as you go along. The benefits are more potent this way. Just make sure not to use too much.

How Quickly Does Retinol Skincare Expire?

Retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A. They are also known as retinols, isotretinoins, or tretinoins. Retinoid-based skincare reduces inflammation and increases cell turnover. For this reason it works well on acne, acne lesions and signs of aging.

But the problem comes in with the reactivity of retinol with oxygen. Like vitamin C, retinol is an antioxidant. So when it comes into contact with oxygen, it reacts, changes, and becomes less effective at its original job.

Solution. If you’ve purchased a retinol serum that uses a dropper, there’s plenty of oxygen going into that bottle all the time. If you happen to keep it refrigerated, it might last you three months.

Does Glycolic Acid Expire?

Apparently this molecule doesn’t expire, although, naturally the product should be used up before the expiry date. Glycolic acid products tend to come in clear bottles with no special dispensation gadgets. So we could guess that heat, light, and oxygen don’t affect it at all.

Glycolic acid works about as effectively on acne, scarring and signs of aging because it turns over the skin cells. It also stimulates collagen production in the skin. But you’ll find over time that you need to keep increasing the dosage for the glycolic acid to work on your skin.

Solution. As the percentage of glycolic acid in a solution gets higher, it’s recommended to use it less frequently and to have it applied by a professional. Just so you don’t burn your skin off.

Do you really need all of these components in a skincare regimen?

Well, no. You don’t need all of them. It depends on how your skin reacts and what it likes best. Another factor to consider is whether you can get your money’s worth before the product expires.

…And When the Jig Is Up?

When the aging process advances so much that none of this gives you the results you want, it’s time for botox. Sorry. Your skin will age. At 70 you won’t look the same as you did at 20. It just isn’t going to happen like that. So prepare for the day when you will look… old.

All these chemicals produce temporary results. So even if you stop using them for a few days, you will notice the difference. That’s a boon for the companies selling these products, but for the consumer it means you’re basically hooked for life – unless you can get accustomed to seeing wrinkles and age spots in the mirror.

They know just how self-conscious you are about preserving your looks. So new products keep coming out, and percentages of active ingredients keep getting higher until the day finally comes when you can adjust to how you really look as you age.