Mom was right, all along. It turns out that (s)mothering on eye creams is spot on, even from an earlier age than you might imagine. Using a targeted product as early as your 20s is beneficial to keeping the skin around your eyes taught and wrinkle-free. “It’s important to use eye creams because the eyelid skin lacks oil glands and is very thin,” says celebrity dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman, author of Skin Rules. “It’s the first part of the complexion to show your age." The sad truth is some people notice fine lines popping up around the eyes starting in your 20s. As the skin thins over time, darkness under the eyes can become more apparent.
Scared yet? Don't worry. According to Jaliman, it’s never too late to get started on your eye care regimen. Here's her pro-approved timeline to using eye products in your 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond.
You can skip eye creams, but make sure to always apply sunscreen and wear sunglasses with UV400 protection.
Look for a good moisturizing cream that contains hyaluronic acid or ceramides. Use the product once or twice a day depending on how dry your skin is. Also, make sure to choose a cream that makes sense for your skin type.
Pick an eye cream with vitamin C, green tea, and other antioxidants. “This will help brighten the eye area and helps to speed collagen production,” says Dr. Jaliman. Apply every evening. You can reapply in the morning as well; for that, you might prefer a lighter formulation so your eye makeup doesn’t smear.
This is the time to try a retinol product to improve fine lines, texture, and even skin color. Find a product that also contains hyaluronic acid for moisture. Use your retinol eye cream only at night; if you tend to be dry, you can use a hyaluronic acid eye moisturizer in the day.
Go for a cream with peptides (look for ingredients that contain "peptide" like "polypeptide" or "acetyl hexapeptide-3"). Peptides will help stimulate collagen production and work to improve the fine lines under the eyes. Generally, these products are gentle and non-irritating, so you can use them twice a day.
You need a product with growth factors aka epidermal growth factors (or EGF). Growth factors are like mega-peptides that stimulate the growth of healthy skin cells, and are either plant-based (an example is apple stem cells) or synthetically produced. In helping skin regenerate, products with growth factors improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Use twice daily; if you have dark circles, a product that contains caffeine might help.
Serums vs. creams: “Serums are better for the day or for people with oily skin, because the formulas are lighter,” says Dr. Jaliman. Also note that serums are generally used separately from eye creams, but there are exceptions. For example, if you want to use an anti-aging serum in the evening, you may put an eye cream over it, especially if you’re really dry.
Clinical formulas vs. drugstore vs. department store options: Jaliman says any of these can work, depending on the ingredients you need. “If you're just looking for an eye cream to moisturize your skin, there isn’t a big difference between drugstore and prestige brands,” explains Dr. Jaliman. “If you're looking for a retinol, you can also get an inexpensive option that is quite effective." But when you're looking for products with expensive ingredients like growth factors, for example, then you're going to have to splurge. "Products that are available in doctors’ offices usually have higher concentrations of such ingredients," says Jaliman.