Eye cream: How to apply it properly and our top picks

Eye cream: How to apply it properly and our top picks
Photo credit: Getty Images

While we unfortunately cannot turn back time (yet), we do have the next best thing: anti-ageing in a bottle.

I have the utmost admiration for those who wish to age gracefully, but I am not one of those people. If there's a product for it, best believe it's sitting in my bathroom.

Although most of us now know the secret to any successful skincare regimen is SPF (Every. Single. Day), the delicate eye area - which is particularly susceptible to ageing due to its wafer-thin and wrinkle-prone skin - often gets overlooked. The eyes are frequently forgotten in simple and straightforward skincare routines that stress the basics - yes, we're cleansing, toning and moisturising, but our eyes aren't getting a look in.

Signs of ageing aren't the only issues to plague our peepers. The skin around the eyes can also be affected by dark circles, puffiness, dehydration, texture, dullness and uneven skin tone. While most of these do worsen with age, people in their 20s are not immune - just look at yourself in the mirror after a night on the town. Yeah mate, time to cut back.

Of course, the general rule of thumb when it comes to skincare is the earlier, the better. While many people pack on the product as soon as fine lines start showing up to the party, preventing those signs of ageing in the first place often yields the best results. That's why a lot of experts recommend starting a solid skincare routine in your late teens or early 20s. 

Speaking to L'Oréal's Skincare.com, board-certified dermatologist Dr Michael Kaminer agreed that the early 20s is a good time to start slathering on the eye serum to keep those crow's feet at bay.

Mature woman looking at her skin in the mirror
While many people pack on the product as soon as fine lines start showing up to the party, preventing those signs of ageing in the first place often yields the best results. Photo credit: Getty Images

How to apply eye cream

Before reaching for your product, remember the old adage, 'a little goes a long way'. Most experts agree a small amount should suffice for the eye area. For reference, think of a grain of rice - yes, that small.

To apply the product, use your ring finger. As this is the finger with the lightest touch, it's less likely to tug or pull at the delicate skin. Avoid dragging or rubbing it around the eye - instead, lightly tap, dab or pat the product around the orbital bone (essentially your eye socket), moving inwards rather than outwards, and up over the brow bone.

Speaking to Viva last year, oculoplastic specialist Dr Sid Ogra from Auckland Eye reiterated that any rubbing or dragging can stretch the skin, causing premature ageing and accentuating fine lines and wrinkles - exactly what we don't want.

Dr Ogra also recommended keeping the eye cream about half a centimetre away from the eyelashes - "applying close but not right up to the eyelid border" - to prevent the product migrating into the eye.

And regarding the placement in your skincare routine, eye cream is always lucky last. For example, your evening routine may look a little something like this: pre-cleanse, cleanser, toner, facial serum, moisturiser, eye cream.

But with so many products on the market, it can be difficult to know where to start. From eye creams to gels to concentrates to serums, there are a lot of options to consider.

The key difference between an eye serum and cream is essentially the same as the difference between a facial serum and moisturiser. While creams are normally heavier and richer, with a focus on nourishment and hydration, serums are lightweight and typically target specific concerns. While an eye cream will help to nourish the upper layers of the skin and lock in moisturise, a serum will penetrate at a deeper level. A serum may be a better bet for those with a specific concern they wish to combat, or those who are prone to puffiness and milia - a condition that may be exacerbated by heavier lotions.

Stock image of pink pots of eye cream
But knowing where to start can be confronting - there's so many to choose from. Photo credit: Getty Images

Cool, so what product should I go for?

While these magical elixirs may not literally reverse the years, they can help to mitigate or reduce the appearance of wrinkles and other common skin conditions that plague the eye area. Like most skincare products, there are affordable options, and also insanely pricey options. As in most arenas, bigger doesn't always equal better, and there's some great mid-range options that don't make a dent in your bank account. There's no need to spend an eye and a leg, especially for the young'uns who are just getting started on their skincare journeys.

If a specific brand of skincare works for the other areas of your face, their eye cream could be a good place to start. For example, I'm devoted to Dermalogica, so it makes sense for me to pick an eye cream from their range - it will feature a similar formulation and be designed to work in tandem with my other products. 

But if you're not sure where to start, here are a few of our recommendations.

Beauty product ingredients
Eye serums are formulated with active ingredients that target specific concerns. Photo credit: Getty Images

Emma Lewisham Skin Reset Eye Crème, RRP$125

Following two years of research and development (and a 5000+ global waitlist), Emma Lewisham's highly anticipated eye crème debuted last month to rave reviews. Featuring a powerful formula that harnesses the latest in skincare technology, the product has been engineered with 18 scientifically proven, high-performing active ingredients and two pioneering liposomal delivery systems that promise to inject antioxidants and moisture deeper into the epidermis. The delivery systems are based on biomedical technology and designed to enhance the delivery of treatments to target cells, allowing key ingredients to penetrate deeper into the skin. These powerhouse ingredients include CoQ10, a naturally occurring antioxidant; glycosphingolipids, for improved skin barrier protection; hyaluronic acid, for deep hydration; and barley extract, for improved overall skin condition. Plus, the Skin Reset Eye Crème is certified Carbon Positive under Toitū Envirocare’s Climate Positive Product Certification and is 100 percent circular-designed and refillable - making it a great option for the environmentally conscious consumer who loves natural and eco-friendly skincare.

Eye cream: How to apply it properly and our top picks
Photo credit: Supplied

Dermalogica Awaken Peptide Eye Gel, RRP$105

Awaken your swollen, tired and puffy eyes with a literal boost of caffeine from Dermalogica's Awaken Peptide Eye Gel. The cooling gel is designed to gently depuff and energise the eye area with its lightweight and hydrating formula, which also features a suite of powerful ingredients. The caffeine encourages the fluid to vacate the stubborn area, where there isn't effective drainage, while highly active tetrapeptides and soothing rosemary leaf extract minimise puffiness, dark circles and fine lines. A bioengineered succinic acid blend is believed to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while voandzeia subterranea seed extract works to improve smoothness, radiance and luminosity. A powerful blend of palmitoyl tetrapeptide, diosmin and forskolin also helps to combat the appearance of eye bags, and helichrysum italicum extract reduces transepidermal water loss to improve the skin barrier.

Eye cream: How to apply it properly and our top picks
Photo credit: Supplied

Glow Lab Eye Serum, RRP$23, or Age Renew Firming Eye Serum, RRP$35

A more affordable option, Glow Lab's replenishing eye serum is designed to brighten and smooth the delicate eye area. Enriched with the powerful actives Darutoside - a complex of two active ingredients - and asparagopsis armata extract, the water-based serum claims to visibly minimise fine lines and reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness. Vitamin C and E also pack an antioxidant-fuelled punch to help brighten the skin. The vegan and cruelty free formula is also free from parabens, sulphates, silicones, phthalates, mineral oils and SLS, and better yet, no animal testing.

Alternatively, Glow Lab also offers a higher-end product - the Age Renew Firming Eye Serum, that promises to smooth fine lines, reduce dark circles and combat the appearance of under-eye bags. A firming formula designed to plump and repair the delicate eye area, the serum is enriched with asparagopsis armata (marine red algae) extract, African plant extract, chamomile, aloe vera and jojoba oil to soothe and hydrate the skin. Meanwhile, vitamin C, maltodextrin and plant extracts work in tandem to stimulate collagen and smooth the appearance of crow's feet. 

Eye cream: How to apply it properly and our top picks
Photo credit: Supplied

Murad Renewing Eye Cream (RRP$154)

Yes, expensive, but Murad's reputation precedes it. The ultra-nourishing eye cream not only firms and brightens, but also targets the signs of ageing. Advanced peptides and retinol visibly minimise fine lines and wrinkles, mango seed butter increases elasticity. and a powerhouse Eye Brightening Complex works to reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness. Suitable for all skin types, this is a great bet for the more mature among us as it targets those common skin conditions that can contribute to an aged complexion, while increasing the skin's elasticity and firmness.

Eye cream: How to apply it properly and our top picks
Photo credit: Murad

So to make sure you're quite the eyeful for years to come, give this article an eyeball - and for God's sake, dab, don't drag.