You may wonder what precipitated this current flurry - nay, frenzy - of research. And actually there was a reason, though I also had to dig quite deep to figure it out. Firstly, the recent business with my finger meant I lost out on over two weeks' work, so had time to twiddle my thumbs, which luckily have full mobility. Though to be fair, doing the washing up without getting the affected finger wet is taking up a ridiculous amount of my day, and all chores are proving more tricky and time-consuming indeed. But I suddenly had a tract of time I was not expecting, and which I could devote to research.
As for why I chose to go mad on this particular topic, it was prompted by a casual comment from my local pharmacist to the effect that I may need to have a medication review with the doctor's surgery to which I recently switched, before I can be prescribed further supplies of antibiotics for my rosacea- and acne-prone skin.
So the mere thought that my customary safety net of 'big gun medication' might be removed - and having some sympathy for that decision, for who knows what decimation the drugs may be wreaking on the delicate ecosystem that is my gut flora ;) - I decided to investigate the very best regimes that could help me look after my skin in the absence of a more heavyweight solution.
It wasn't easy, I should say, right off the bat. I have googled and googled - deep into pages 4 or 5 on any given search term, and studied each citation with interest. I have watched endless videos by Sali Hughes and Lisa Eldridge (who are both fab); I have read posts galore by other beauty bloggers, including the formidable Caroline Hirons. Following a tip off from Olfactoria I have browsed the highly scientific website of Paula Begoun, a veritable Oprah Winfrey of the US skincare scene. Then I also had an email exchange with Katie Puckrik, who gave me the topline on her own skincare MO, and mentioned a couple of her favourite products. I also read the famous book by Leslie Baumann, 'The Skin Type Solution', which reader AnnieA commended to me in a comment on an earlier Bonkers post. It didn't take long to establish that I am an OSPW type (Oily, Sensitive, Pigmented & Wrinkled). Arrggh!
None of which is directly related to eyes, I hear you say. Which is true, and if I ever go on to write about suitable cleansers and moisturisers for OSPWs, anyone with fundamentally different skin characteristics may wish to skip that post. Though some of the best products I found are in fact 'broad spectrum' in their benefits, to borrow an antibiotic term for a moment. One thing led to another, basically, and the discoveries about eye care were pretty startling! To someone like me anyway, who has clearly been living under a rock.
And the most striking thing about my inquiries generally was the sheer, dizzying, hyper-segmented diversity of the skincare market. It has exploded beyond all recognition since my childhood, when an opaque tub of Nivea or Astral and the iconic green and white pot of Pond's Cold Cream were the mainstay of our mothers' beauty regimes. It is so deeply, bafflingly scientific nowadays, and the Internet is rife with conflicting information. If you are the sort of person who is likely to find inconclusive research a stressful waste of time, I would counsel you not to undertake any in the skincare sphere, for it nearly drove me over the edge....
You need toner; you don't need toner...fragrance is pleasant and soothing; fragrance is a sneaky way to disguise shoddy ingredients...'you get what you pay for', or cheap doesn't have to mean 'cheap and nasty'...SPF50 is the gold standard sunscreen; SPF30 is better because the sun is a good source of Vitamin D...moisturisers with SPF built-in are a good idea - or a lazy, inferior choice... facial oils make oily skins oily, or oils are good for everyone......foaming gels are good for acne, or they dry the skin out unduly....splash your face with cold water; splash your face with tepid water...you need a separate eye cream; eye creams are a waste of money (see below). If I had a quid for every flagrant contradiction I encountered in my reading, I could afford a resident dermatologist. And someone to do the washing up!
'Orbital "eye bypass" cream'
The biggest paradox I stumbled upon was to do with eye creams. In the past I have often noticed on pots of day cream the warning 'avoid the eye area'**. For the longest time I thought that was synonymous with 'avoid contact with eyes', as in 'don't get this stuff in your eye', but it is only relatively recently that I learnt that in the case of day creams, the whole area in and around the eye should be given a wide berth, and that specially formulated eye creams were designed to be more suited to the thin and ultra-sensitive skin here. Though that premise is disputed by some beauty experts in a YDMMV (Your Dermatological Mileage May Vary) kind of a way, including by Sali Hughes herself.
"I'm not convinced that eye cream is anything more than a tiny pot of anti-ageing moisturiser (which I like, by the way), and I don't think all skins need the extra product and considerable financial outlay."
And whether you believe they are more marketing hype than not, who knew eye creams ALSO shouldn't actually be used in the eye area?! Well, most of it, anyway. This bombshell has yet to 'sink in' in fact. I had not twigged that according to 'lid hydration best practice' - which I didn't even know existed as a concept either till this week - you should never put eye serums or moisturisers on your actual eyelids, or the crepey stretchy bit just above (which some readers may know as their 'upper eyelids'). Or, for that matter, on the skin immediately below the eyelashes, but rather follow the orbital bone structure of your eye socket and bypass the eye itself completely.
The idea is that if you dot the cream or serum on the bone well away from the eye itself the cream will migrate to where it needs to go. You need to use your weakest finger for the purpose (typically your ring finger), and blend the dots in in a clockwise motion for the right eye and an anti-clockwise one for the left. This is in order to avoid stretching the super thin skin around the eye, thereby completely negating the effects of using a restorative product in the first place. Too rough a touch, and you might even precipitate the creation of new wrinkles. Actually, the idea of blending is also hotly contested. Some people say that dotting and tapping only is the way to go.
Now I am sure that to the vast majority of readers, especially those in the US who have recourse to dermatologists - an all but unknown breed of healthcare professionals over here, outside of Harley Street, maybe - none of this is news, but it was a staggering revelation to me! For when you buy a mass or mid-market moisturiser completely unaided by a sales assistant, the information on the pack simply does not clarify this point about the correct deployment of eye cream. No indeedy. It was only in the act of buying an expensive eye serum in Boots that the Estee Lauder sales consultant happened to volunteer this nugget of information about the orbital blobbing technique - I wouldn't have had the first clue where to put the serum otherwise, and would doubtless have slapped it all over my eyelids, as I have done with pretty much everything else that looks remotely emollient. Though not SPF-containing products anymore, thanks to a recent tip off from Undina in a comment on my post about Aldi's Lacura range.
|Some of my motley collection of day creams - pre-research|
Yes, I gather now that if the cream gets applied directly to the eyelid and immediate vicinity, it may irritate for starters, and there was some (admittedly rather apocalyptic) talk about eye creams transferring to the eyeball, singleblobbedly forming under-eye bags and taking up permanent residence - and causing swelling - in eyelids. Plastic surgeons performing eyelift surgery were said to have discovered gunky deposits of eye cream in the course of doing their procedures. This could be true or scaremongering by the manufacturers, fearful of claims from people who have stung their eyes on account of creams having been applied so close to the eye itself. Me, I am going to avoid the eyelids from now on and see how I go, if it is not too late to reform my ways. And eye cream in my view should be renamed: 'Orbital "eye bypass" cream'.
(**So I just reread the instructions on some of the many day creams I have accumulated in recent years. Two say 'avoiding the eye area', while a further three say 'avoid contact with eyes', which as I have established above, is not the same thing at all. One was more explicit, with 'avoid direct application into the eye'. FOUR just say 'apply to face and neck'. Well, hey - are eyes not part of one's face? They were the last time I looked in the mirror. One - Astral (which appears to have missed the photo shoot) - calls itself an 'all over moisturiser' and claims to provide 'all the intense moisturing care your skin needs'. So just based on that small straw poll, you can see why I might have been confused.)
|My shameful stash of facial wipes|
Wiping wipes off the face of the earth
And here is the other area of skin maintenance where I have been going wrong all my life - using wipes to remove make up from the delicate eye area. Wipes - with their often harsh formulae, rough textures, resultant pulling and incomplete cleansing action - are the abomination of make up artists and beauty experts, for all but emergency and in-flight scenarios. Yup, I am afraid that my own chronic use of wipes to take off eye makeup has been so cavalier and rufty tufty as to be tantamount to dragging my face through a hedge backwards. Moreover I have stockpiled a load of packets of wipes that were on offer - probably at least 3-4 months' worth! They are mostly by the brand Simple, whose products are generally well regarded in the budget category, but they remain wipes and hence are still off-limits. I do also possess a Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish set, and should be using that for makeup removal as well as my morning cleanse it seems. At least I was doing something right! The watchword generally on the beauty blogs is to use a gentle product - even for oily skins - and to take makeup / dirt off with a hot muslin cloth or impregnated cotton wool pads. And to do so in such as way as to minimize tugging of any kind...
|Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish|
Now I haven't tried all the products for eyes which my research threw up, but here is a tiny(!) list of products I have ordered or am already using, plus a few promising-sounding things to investigate. Though I must use up some of those wipes first!
Eye serum (day / night) - Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Serum Synchronized Complex II (currently using).
Eye cream (day / night) - at the moment I only possess sundry Crème de la Mer samples Blacknall kindly gave me in a swap package (eg Baume de la Mer, Emulsion de la Mer), so I will carry on using these all up. Additionally I do have my eye on Boots Botanics 80% Organic Hydrating Eye Cream - which Lisa Eldridge cites as a cheaper alternative to Kiehl's Eye Treatment with Avocado - and I have also come across multiple recommendations for Eucerin Hyaluron Filler Eye Treatment and Eyes It's Potent! by Benefit. I would be very open to further suggestions here, as I haven't properly eyeballed this category by any means. ;)
Cleansers suitable for the eye area (also to take off makeup) - Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish, Bioderma Sensibio (a Lisa Eldridge recommendation which I have ordered), Clinique Take The Day Off Balm Cleanser (recommended by a friend, and also well rated on blogs).
There is one eye-related procedural conundrum I haven't cracked yet. Short of wearing prescription sunglasses - as Katie Puckrik favours - I don't know how to go about applying SPF protection to the eye area without provoking another stinging episode. And I am also not sure I would be brave enough to use a retinol cream near the eye without medical supervision!
|My hotchpotch collection of skincare samples|
Yes, this post has been more about my methodological epiphany than about recommending the perfect skincare products for eyes, not least because everyone is different. And I may in fact be the only person in the world who didn't know that you should put dots of cream around your eye and give wipes a miss. But if anyone would like to share their favourite eyecare finds, that would actually advance the cause of skincare wisdom - or eye lore...a bit further. That's 'eye lore' as opposed to 'Eyelure', which, as everyone knows, is the world's favourite eyelash brand.
Oh, and the picture at the top of this post reminds me that I also learnt you shouldn't stand with your head under the shower, not even in the interests of hydration - the skin around the eyes isn't robust enough to withstand powerful jets of hot water. So there you go.
It is good to know I am not the only individual on the planet that is going through this endless search for 'THE' skincare products best for me!
I will surely try some of your recommendations and leave a couple. My skin is dry/sensitive/pigmented and aging and I have so far found that the Eminence line's Neroli Age Corrective Eye Serum at night and Arcona's Eye Dew during the day are keeping my eye area hydrated and looking rather good.
Best wishes fellow skincare quest traveler, please keep us posted on your finds.
Good grief. You have been busy. I use MAC makeup remover wipes and have been doing so for years and they work fine for me on my whole physog, including eye area. I am gentle there. I use a Clarins moisturizer everywhere, although I do dot the bone under the eye with it and gently work it in. I find eye cream bothers my eyes. Hmmmmm. xxx CQ
" If I had a quid for every flagrant contradiction I encountered in my reading, I could afford a resident dermatologist. And someone to do the washing up!" Hahaha :-D Exactly! I have extremely dry skin, and all the dos and don't I've come across... I think what I learned is that no two skins are alike, when I think I'm safe with a recommendation from a fellow-dry-skin'er/ or even a 'beauty-guru', I might be completely off, and skin worse than ever. The things that have worked so far are MD formulations (also in the eye area) and cheapo Embryolisse creme concentre, that still beats all expensive dry skin formula moisturisers I ever tried.
Nice to hear from you again and to learn that I am not alone in my frantic hunt for the Holy Grail of skincare products! So far I can recommend the Estee Lauder serum (have also heard good things of the EL Advanced Night Repair serum that is *not* specifically for eyes) and the Liz Earle Cleansing system - both of which are suited to all skin types I believe - but I have yet to catch up with the rest.
I am not familiar with the brands you mention, but anything smelling of neroli appeals. Will look those up, thanks...;)
Hi Val, my partner in grime!
Glad to know that I am not the only person using facial wipes. I thought that as a compromise I would continue to use the packs I have got in on my face generally and something more gentle on my eyes - like the Bioderma stuff I ordered from Escentual. That's a cotton wool pad job.
Well done for doing the dot routine. ;) The crazy thing is...I didn't use eye cream / moisturiser *for decades* because it used to get in my eyes. Looking back that may have had as much to do with where I was applying it as the quality of the cream itself, even twenty years ago when I had a brief flutter with the category. Maybe I would have got into skincare much younger if I had had more of a clue about what I was doing at the time!
You have totally hit the nail on the head when you say that even recommendations from people ostensibly with the same skin type as you - or 'beauty gurus' - are not necessarily foolproof, because everyone is a composite of different issues. Most of the day creams I own are purchases born of kneejerk reactions to top ten lists in women's magazines, advertising, or recommendations by noted make up experts, and many look like a big oil slick on my skin. That is the other key lesson from my research - it is very much a suck it and see exercise. I love this quote from Lisa Eldridge:
"Moisturisers are a bit like jeans – if the brand that makes your bum look best happens to be Gap rather than Gucci, then you're winning."
To this end - and more by luck than design - the one facial moisturiser that doesn't make my skin greasy is a light one from Nivea that costs under a fiver. I have, however, ordered one from Paula Begoun that purports to be light but with all the requisite anti-ageing properties.
Once again those brands you mention are not ones I have come across, but I will check them out...Good to know you have found some 'hero' products of your own.
I use Cetaphil to cleanse my face and remove makeup - with or without water. There are directions for both methods on the bottle. The *&^$#(@* bottle doesn't tell me what to do with my eyes. Go figure.
PS - Those directions without water save money because I don't have to buy wipes.
Vicious circle this is.....
I knew/read most of the things (I won't call them "facts") you mentioned but I don't follow all of the advices. I use eye creams everywhere but lightly. I never use wipes (unless on a plane - but then I do not have eye make-up on). As to the sunscreen, for daily use I have tinted moisturizer Laura Mercier that doesn't bother my eyes and I'm sure was intended to be used under eyes as well - otherwise the tinted part would be a little strange if I were to stop at the bone level ;-) For hiking or beach vacation I tried Shiseido Sun Protection Eye Cream - it worked and didn't bother my eyes. But recently I switched to Kiehl's Since 1851 'Activated Sun Protector' Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 for Face and use it all over my face including the eye area and it works.
Busy, indeed. Great post to read with my first morning coffee. I think I started to look after my skin 2 or 3 years ago. Before that it was Nivea moisturiser and that was it. I also went through a long research phase which I quite enjoyed, but since then I have calmed down. I haver a few staples and I do like French pharmacy brands a lot, but my regime isn't strict. Due to a medication change my skin is terrible at the moment, oily and dehydrated, difficult to balance.
Are there really no dermatologists in the UK?
What a fantastic LE quote. For me then the skin situation is at least in part a winner, whereas unfortunately the jeans situation is an armani jeans only... I think the md formulations are great, but you'll need advise using them at first.
I only use facial wipes if traveling for a short period of time and that seems like the most efficient thing to take. Otherwise I don't trust them. :)
As for eye serums, I just finished Clinique's All about eyes roll-on and I quite liked it.
I got criticized by a beautician some time ago for not using anything around the eyes so now I do. :) Also for not using the toner as well. So now I do that too.
Thanks for dropping in! I was dimly aware of Cetaphil, and having just looked it up, it seems like it would suit my oily skin too - sounds gentle. In America there is a cleanser called Cerave that I kept coming across, which may or may not be related.
Was amused to hear that the bottle gives you no instructions for tackling the eye area, and also chuckled at your parting comment...;)
Was looking forward to your comment as I do look up to you as a bit of a skincare guru on a par with Sali Hughes et al any day!
Especially of interest was the point about using eye creams everywhere. I feel great retrospective relief that I may not have mucked up my skin as much as I was afraid of, though I have been wayward on the wipes front, certainly. ;)
I also appreciated hearing about your sun protection regime. In a bid to reverse decades of wanton sunworshipping, I have just invested in a tube of Skinceuticals Ultra Facial Defense SPF 50+, which seems to have received a good press. It is super light and blends in easily. I think I could even wear it *as* moisturiser. But since doing my research I haven't dared take it - or any of my other day creams - up to the eye area if they don't say eye on them. Which is crazy, having spent so long doing just that with only the occasional mishap. I guess with sun protection and irritation it is also a question of trial and error. Maybe I could try this latest acquisition there. It only says: 'In case of contact with eyes, rinse them immediately and thoroughly.' Well, it is hardly likely to get in my eyes if I stop half way up my cheeks, hehe.
I am greatly heartened to hear that you are only a recent convert to concerted skincare. I am sorry you are experiencing skin problems at the moment - hope it all settles down. You were certainly looking good on the years of Nivea when I caught up with you! Which one was it exactly, may I inquire? I feel a fondness for Nivea because of its German Herkunft - indeed I have interviewed Beiersdorf once in Hamburg on a job to do with surfactants or emollients or some such.
La Roche-Posay is a French pharma brand I got into thanks to Birgit, and which I use specifically for controlling my skin problems - highly recommended for that. This Bioderma cleanser that is on its way is another French brand, I gather.
I know my skin is oily, but haven't decided if it is dehydrated as well. Certainly if I didn't moisturise, even for one day, it would feel tight and uncomfortable, so maybe it does straddle that contradictory line...
I am sure there are dermatologists knocking around somewhere, but they are not in your face, I'd say. They are under a rock too, in Harley Street or London somewhere...
Good for you for observing the wipe avoidance rule! How did that nugget of eye lore pass me by all this time...?
I wouldn't have thought to use toner around the eyes - I'd have imagined that would sting. But it may depend how strong that skin is in your particular case. Mine is pretty thin and delicate these days. I do use an astringent toner on my oily areas and have a mild one I occasionally use all over my face (except eyes) - also Nivea in fact, for 'mature skin'. ;)
LOL at your expensive jeans situation! I am lucky with jeans - some combo of Zara and Gap seems to crack it. ;)
Thanks again for the MD Formulations tip off - right off my radar till now.
I loved this post, V. I commiserate with the conflicting information out there. I know for a thorough researcher like you those inconclusive findings must have been frustrating.
I did learn some things too. I also didn't know about the oribital "eye bypass" technique! Does it go up and just under the eyebrow?
I've used a Boots No.7 eye cream for a while but gotten out of the habit of using it lately. It is in the dreaded jar packaging which I know Paula Begoun is anti.
Bioderma Sensibio is really good for taking off eye make-up. I think it's too drying for me to use every day but should be great for you.
Oops I posted yesterday but Blogger must have been hungry.
I love the way your research, Bonks. For skin care, especially eye care - I hardly do anything. I used to use face stuff with salicylic acid for years, but those creams are expensive usually, so I have been just using whatever samples I have on hand, or this carrot oil I bought for two bucks, or sometimes just plain olive oil. Eye!? hmmm, not much that is for sure. Thanks for all this information!
I am so glad you found 'The Skin Type Solution' useful! Being an OSNT myself, the book let me off the hook to not use the toners or vicious scrubs I didn't like anyway. There is such tosh talked about a lot of skin care, so a no-nonsense book is appreciated --AnnieA
I have forgotten which Nivea it was, something super moisturiser? The LRP ranges are great, and you can find something for every condition. Whenever I'm in France I go mental in pharmacies. LRP do a gentle retinol cream/serum which I have been suing for a year now. There is a special eye version, but I can't be bothered tbh. But having some sort of taking care regime is making me feel all grown up :)
Carol, if you're still interested in salicylic acid creams, there is a very inexpensive Neutrogena one that Paula Begoun highly recommends as one of the few that is the correct ph to actually work. It's from their Acne Stress Control line and is called 3-in-1 Hydrating Acne treatment (and is found in the acne products section of drugstores or supermarkets). I still get the occasional breakout, but if I use this once a day it's "clear sailing."
Wow, thanks so much Lindaloo!! I'll definitely look for it. You rock!
Haha, there are quite a lot of Niveas, it's true. I have just picked up a tube of the oil-free one to compare with the light moisturiser + SPF15 that works quite well. At £4 a pop you can afford to experiment. I am a relative newcomer to LRP, but it is incredibly effective on my skin, and the great Paula rates the range too - and she is quite stingy with her praise of other brands. When I am out of serum that is a definite contender as I have such a good experience of the other products.
As you rightly surmise, it was - and is - really stressful for me to keep reading and reading and have the Internet continually throw up all these contradictions. Today I came across a scientific-based defence by an aesthetician of mineral oil, which gets quite a bad press on a lot of the blogs. It convinced me it is not the total bad guy it's cracked up to be.
Re the orbital eye bypass business, that's right - a few dots just below the brow on the bone, then a few underneath the eye, again well clear of the socket, on the bone. Maybe a dot to the side of it, but not too many apparently. I have read conflicting info also about whether to go above the eye or just do dots below, in addition to the divergence of opinion on dotting vs rubbing in, however gently. Sigh...!
'Gotten' - there you go again, as with your 'oftentimes' earlier. ;)
LOL at the 'dreaded jar packaging' - I had read that about Paula. She is very tube-oriented, isn't she?
My Bioderma Sensibio has come - the smallest size they do in case I don't get on with it. Paula rates that one too, I see!
Sorry about the Blogger comment gobbling. I tell you, it's so unpredictable that I copy every single reply to people's comments on here before attempting to hit publish. I just don't trust the blessed thing. It tends to lose the comment the first time, then behave after that.
I am also grateful to Lindaloo for that Neutrogena tip - especially with an endorsement from Paula. La Roche-Posay is about £11 an item, so not super cheap, though some of the bottles / tubes are on the large side. The truly magic stuff is their gel (Effaclar Duo). Put it on at night and the spots are gone in the morning.
I must say I have a lot of assorted samples to be using uptoo, and they are always handy for travelling, as long as you don't go away and find that particular one irritates your skin. ;(
I am making a note of that Neutrogena product - it is always good to have a fall back, especially one on the cheaper end of the spectrum. Personal testimonials count for so much in these matters, especially given all the advertorial on beauty blogs and general puffery passing itself off as reviews.
Haha - glad you were happy with your diagnosis. It was a revelation to me that oily skin needs to be treated more gently, because aggressive toners that strip out the oil just prompt the skin to produce more to replace it. A mild cleanser is what keeps it on an even keel. You can even use facial oils!
Yes, cutting through the tosh is a nightmare. Sali Hughes has just brought out a book called 'Pretty Honest', another down-to-earth self-help book on skincare etc. Very tempted, I must say. Is skincare the new perfume obsession?? ;)
And, you may now be shocked and appalled to find out that I apply it under my eyes (right to the lash line) AND on my eyelids -- a testimony to its gentleness and my laziness.
Haha, I am indeed - though also relieved. I think it is such a trial and error thing, this whole skincare lark. I am also unclear on quantities to apply - that's another murky variable. ;)
The story of your finger injury really made me cringe! I hope you heal completely, and as quickly as possible.
This article has been a real eye-opener (pun intended) because previously I disregarded any advice or instruction given and just guessed that I knew better. But I will now do otherwise!
Thanks for your concern about my finger. Two and a half weeks on, it is still surprisingly painful, but then these sorts of injuries always take longer than you think.
I admire your cavalier attitude towards instructions on skincare products. I am sure a degree of latitude and customisation is in order, but it is knowing where you should stick to the rules and where you can play fast and loose with them that's the kicker. I went out in the sun today without sunscreen (am experimenting at the moment with wearing different permutations of facial creams), and I felt very reckless, I must say. Though I wouldn't have thought so till the other week!
Oh, for the toner I meant generally. It was missing from my beauty routine all together. :)
Ah, thanks, Ines - that makes perfect sense!
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