Do You Really Need Eye Cream? Dermatologists Debate

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One question I’ve been asked countless times by family and friends over the years: Do I really need an eye cream? Those unsure often wonder why they can’t just shimmy their moisturizer up a little higher and call it a day. I don’t blame them. After all, it’s one less step and one less product to buy. However, many dermatologists and skin-care experts would argue against that logic, and I understand why. Here, top doctors weigh in on the hotly debated topic of whether or not we really need an eye cream after all.

Yes, Eye Cream Is Necessary for a Well-Rounded Skin-Care Routine

“Eye creams are different than other skin-care products, as they are formulated specifically for the concerns of the delicate skin around the eye,” says Beverly Hills, CA dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD. “They also prevent migration of the product into the eyes. As such, they tend to be thicker and contain more lipids or oil than a regular lotion or cream for the face or body. They also have a series of active ingredients that are most effective to benefit the thin skin surrounding the ocular region.”

New York dermatologist Blair Murphy-Rose, MD agrees, saying the reason she recommends eye cream is because the skin around the eyes is thinner, more prone to dehydration and more sensitive than the rest of the face. “It is also generally less prone to breakouts, so it can tolerate the heavier moisturizer that it craves,” she explains. “Look for a hypoallergenic and fragrance-free under-eye product to reduce risk of skin irritation. The under-eye skin can certainly benefit from using a product tailored to this area.” 

These are a few of the eye products Dr. Murphy-Rose recommends. Skinbetter Science EyeMax AlphaRet Overnight Cream ($120) “combines a patented retinoid and alphahydroxy acid in a gentler formulation for the delicate eye area. Rich moisturizers and antioxidants provide additional skin benefits to protect from environmental stressors. This helps to prevent signs of aging.” Another option is Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Gel-Cream ($20). “This budget-friendly choice is rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C. It also contains hyaluronic acid, dimethicone and glycerin to powerfully hydrate and plump under-eye skin,” says Dr. Murphy Rose. “It is oil-free, dye-free, paraben-free, and fragrance-free so it’s a great choice for sensitive skin, too.” 

No, Most People Don’t Need Eye Cream

“For most people, eye creams aren’t necessary,” says Ocean Springs, MS dermatologist Lindsey Zubritsky, MD. “If you are looking for general hydration without any specific issues, you can get by using your facial moisturizer. Also, there are many different under-eye concerns that can’t be fixed with eye creams, including volume loss. So, using eye creams in this case won’t make a difference.”

With that being said, Dr. Zubritsky notes that if you do use an eye cream and find it helpful, “by all means, continue doing so! Most eye creams are formulated specifically for the delicate eyelid skin, which is a bonus. However, you can get most of the benefits you need from just simply extending your regular skin care to your under-eye area. This is only if the products are safe for the eye area.”

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