Eye Cream vs Moisturizer: What's the Difference?
With so many steps in our grooming, skin care, and beauty routines, it’s no wonder that we sometimes worry that we are doing (and spending) more than necessary. Is it really essential that we include a separate eye cream on top of our regular facial moisturizer? What’s the difference between the two? Are both necessary?
First it’s necessary to understand what makes the skin beneath the eyes different than the skin on the rest of the face.
The Fragile Skin Beneath Our Eyes
Compared to the rest of the face, the skin beneath the eyes is significantly thinner. It’s lacking in several strengthening elements compared to other areas. The flesh under the eyes has very little fat reserves or muscle, making that area much more vulnerable to collapsing. On top of that is the fact that the skin there is actually stretched over the hollow part of the eye socket, which becomes more and more visible as we age.
The skin beneath and around our eyes is also very vulnerable to showing puffiness and dark circles as a result of a lack of sleep, stress, and simple aging. Our eyes are highly expressive, meaning the tiny muscles in the eye area get a significant workout throughout all the interactions of our day. Even the nearly 30,000 blinks we average per day can cause wear and tear on the fragile skin around our eyes.
Because the skin near our eyes, and the entire under eye area itself is unique, it requires a unique product to better protect it, preserve it, and keep it looking its healthiest best.
What Happens When You Use Regular Moisturizer Around Your Eyes
While it’s generally okay to moisturize your entire face with a face cream, you may find it irritating to the fragile skin below the eyes. Unlike typical moisturizers, eye cream is usually fragrance free in order to be less irritating to delicate skin. Many ingredients included in facial moisturizers are too harsh for the under eye area and when applied will cause stinging, burning and often redness and irritation.
Moisturizers have wonderful emollients to moisturize and hydrate the skin. While keeping up a good level of moisture is helpful to prevent the development of wrinkles and fine lines, it does not correct the damage that has already been done to your face both from natural aging effects, and from photoaging—the environmental effect of sun and pollution. Therefore, putting a typical moisturizer around your eyes will only have a limited hydration effect. And if you use a moisturizer with anti-aging ingredients, such as retinol, the concentrations will be too strong for the more delicate under-eye area, possibly causing irritation, which does more harm than good.
Eye creams are specifically formulated to deliver the precise amount of necessary ingredients to be absorbed by the unique skin in that sensitive area.
Eye creams are also often tested by ophthalmologists as well as dermatologists so you know they are safe for use around the eyes.
Eye Cream Specific Ingredients
Eye creams are often formulated with ingredients specific to targeting eye-specific problems such as dark circles and puffiness. Many have skin-tightening benefits to make the under eye area tighter and smoother. They may contain anti-inflammatory ingredients such as caffeine and green tea to diminish puffiness and decrease under-eye bagginess.
Most eye creams are formulated with longer-lasting emollients because there are less oil glands in the under eye area than in the rest of the face, so staying moisturized below the eye is important.
Most eye creams contain collagen-building ingredients. Collagen is a protein found in connective tissue and it’s critical in maintaining skin’s elasticity and structural integrity. Unfortunately, the skin makes less of it as we get older. Eye cream often contains peptides and other ingredients to stimulate collagen production to help the skin near the eyes function more like younger skin.
In general, moisturizers and eye creams have similar ingredients, but in different proportions, with eye cream being much more specific to the unique requirements of the sensitive skin below the eyes.