How to Choose the Best Natural Eye Cream
Choosing a natural eye cream can feel like an overwhelming task. Staring down the aisle of Ulta or Sephora filled with tiny boxes and tubes might lead you to skip the whole thing and lay down with sliced cucumbers on your lids. While those cucumbers might be a great idea from time to time, you can find a high quality, natural eye cream that suits your needs and meets your eco and health requirements.
But first, should you even be using an eye cream? What are the signs that it might be time? What about the benefits? Do eye creams really help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, or is that just marketing hype? Can you prevent wrinkles before they start? What if you have oily lids? We’ll answer all these questions below.
When to Start Using an Eye Cream
It’s never too soon to take good care of your skin, but most eye creams are marketed toward women in their thirties and beyond. When (or if) you want to start using an eye cream is totally up to you, but there are definitely a few things to consider.
Have you spent a lot of time outside without sunscreen over the years? Do you tend toward dry skin or are you closer to the oily side? Are you noticing the beginnings of crow’s feet on the outsides of your eyes? Creases beneath your eyes? Does your makeup catch in the crevices under or around your eyes? Do you wake up with sleepy, puffy eyes? What about dark circles or bags? Do you see yourself as looking tired, even after a full night’s sleep?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then it’s probably time to find one you like.
Most eye treatments are meant to be done at night, so they can really soak in while you sleep, but if your skin is on the dryer side and your lids don’t sweat off your makeup throughout the day, you might be able to do morning and night treatments without a problem. In general, you’ll likely have an easier time finding something highly moisturizing that will work for you.
Some eye serums are formulated specifically to be used as a morning treatment (namely the ones that contain ingredients that constrict the blood vessels like coffee bean extract or plant stem cells, which tighten and awaken the skin around your eyes).
If your eyes are on the oilier side, you might consider trying a formula like this or restricting your eye treatments to nighttime only to avoid adding too much additional oil into your morning routine while still nourishing the delicate skin around your eyes.
Best Natural Ingredients
Going for a natural or organic eye cream doesn’t mean you have to compromise on effectiveness. There are many naturally derived ingredients that offer healing, protection, and anti-aging properties. Here are the ones that have been shown to be most effective in clinical trials.
Vitamin C and Vitamin E
Ascorbic acid, another term for vitamin C, is known not only for its antioxidant properties, but also for its ability to improve collagen production in the body. It’s been shown in a number of clinical trials to reduce scarring, promote healing and cell turnover, and reduce signs of aging and sun damage with topical use over a period of time.
One study even showed that a combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, and sunscreen had a “greater than additive” protective effect against phototoxic damage (sun damage).
It’s for these reasons that cosmetic companies often call vitamin C a brightening ingredient, something that brings light and youth to your complexion.
In addition to sun damage protection, vitamin E aids your skin in retaining moisture. It helps smooth your skin and promotes healing, in addition to having anti-inflammatory effects.
Vitamin E (in the form of tocopherols) is also used as a preservative in products that prioritize organic and natural ingredients.
Green tea is one of many botanical ingredients found in natural and organic eye creams that’s rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and anticancer properties.
We know that eating and drinking antioxidant-rich foods and beverages helps protect us, but research now supports the notion that topical antioxidants exert their effects by “down‐regulating free radical mediated pathways that damage skin.”
In other words, when applied topically, antioxidants help prevent skin damage. Both green and black tea contain polyphenols, which help reverse the damage UV radiation can cause.
Another well-known plant often used in skin care products is aloe vera. The pure gel in an aloe plant helps relieve burnt or injured skin, but it can also lighten dark circles and skin spots over time due to its antioxidant make up. In India, it’s considered a “miracle worker” plant, due to its many medical and topical uses.
Resveratrol (best known as your excuse to have a glass of red wine every day!) is an antioxidant often derived from the skins of red grapes. It’s shown to be extremely effective at reducing the signs of photoaging (sun spots) and offering preventive protection against sun damage and cancer.
Hyaluronic acid, a chemical naturally occurring in your skin, helps prevent sag and the deepening of wrinkles. Using hyaluronic acid topically boosts anti-aging. Clinical trials show that hyaluronic acid is highly absorbable into the skin. It not only hydrates, but boosts skin elasticity and reduces the depth of wrinkles already present in aging skin.
Other antioxidants and plant-based ingredients that might be included in the best natural eye creams are:
- Grapeseed oil
- Evening primrose (fatty acids)
- Comfrey (or allantoin)
All of these ingredients offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory protection for the thin and delicate skin around your eyes.
Safety First: Avoid These Ingredients Near Your Eyes
Your eyes are not only a window into your soul, but your window into the world. You only get one pair, so it’s important that you avoid using harsh chemicals or anything too irritating near them. Not only do you want to avoid irritating the skin around your eyes, you also don’t want anything too harsh accidentally get into your eye and causing a bigger problem.
Ingredients you might find in a conventional product that aren’t as ideal as they seem include:
- Hydroquinone: a skin lightener that breaks down collagen and elastin in the skin. The problem with hydroquinone is that, in attempting to solve one problem (dark circles, age spots), it cause another (wrinkles, thinning skin).
- Oxybenzone: a very widely-used sunscreen. Oxybenzone is a hormone disruptor that can not only negatively impact human health, it’s also a known killer of coral reefs and marine life. This is one chemical (along with its sister chemical, octocrylene) that you should avoid not only in an eye formula, but in all sunscreens you purchase, especially if you’re going to the beach for vacation.
- Petroleum ingredients: often used to allow your eye cream to glide over your skin. This one might seem obvious if you’re on the hunt for a natural product, but we’d gamble to guess that your grandmother used petroleum jelly on her face as a beauty treatment back in the day. These days, the word petroleum is highly associated with negative environmental impact, but it also contains carcinogen chemicals. Be aware of the words that represent it that might not be so obvious: petrolatum, xylene, toluene, mineral oil, liquid paraffin.
- Artificial fragrances: often used to make the product more appealing. Artificial fragrances are often derived from problematic chemicals that can irritate the sensitive skin around your eyes. If your goal is to de-puff, inflaming the area certainly won’t help things along. Opt for either fragrance-free eye creams.
Should Men Use Eye Creams?
Women aren’t the only ones on the hunt for anti-wrinkle or depuffing products. Forbes reported that men’s anti-aging skincare was among the fastest growing segments of men’s grooming products in 2018.
Turns out, we’re all after the fountain of youth, so yes, men should use (and are already using) eye creams and other products meant to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
In truth, the main difference between anti-aging skin care products for men vs women is marketing, and possibly in the fragrances. Men should be looking for the same beneficial ingredients that we’ve listed here.
Your Eye Care Routine
As we mentioned earlier, most deeply moisturizing eye treatments are meant to be done at night, although not all treatments require religious nightly application. We recommend that you test out your new product at night, just in case you have sensitive eyes and run into any problems. If at any point you feel burning or stinging, flush out the area with cold water and gently pat dry to avoid further irritation or eye puffiness.
If you’re looking for a boost to your overall nightly routine, check out the anitoxidant-packed Super Soft Kit by Feel. The gentle exfoliating face wash will help you bring your best face forward. You might even find that Feel’s Pure Anywhere Balm is the perfect eye treatment for you. It’s meant to go anywhere that could use a little bit of extra TLC, including around the eyes.
We recommend that you start with eye makeup remover, then move on to a gentle cleanser. From there, pat dry, and tone, then apply your general moisturizer. Your eye cream should be your final step in your evening routine.
If you plan to use an eye gel or serum in the morning, make sure your general moisturizer contains an octocrylene/oxybenzone-free sunscreen. You’ll want to apply your serum before applying your sunscreen.
What’s Best for Your Eyes
There’s no single solution for everyone when it comes to how we handle the aging process. The steps you take should make sense for you and make you feel beautiful (or handsome) in your own skin.
Finding a natural eye cream that helps you feel better about what you see in the mirror is a relatively low-risk proposition. We believe in everyone’s inherent beauty, and we want you to love your skin. Take care of your eyes by avoiding harsh chemicals and choosing the natural ingredients that have been shown to make a real difference.