Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Eye Creams and Magical Thinking

“The eyes indicate the antiquity of the soul”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oh Ralphy, you know: there are mornings when I wake up and it’s clear that I not only had one hell of a good time the night before, but over the last few lifetimes. If my eyes are any indication, my soul is most definitely antiquated.

I’ve had a couple requests to recommend products for the eye area, and there are few beauty products on which ladies hang more hope than eye creams. We know that lipstick isn’t going to change our lives, and we maintain a kind of cautious optimism about most skincare preparations, but when it comes to eyes, we’re willing to believe just about anything in our quest to firm, tighten, de-puff, brighten, or otherwise improve that tiny bit of real estate around our peepers. Cosmetic companies know this and exploit it. They use marketing words that aren’t words at all (usually some play on “botox”), make scientific promises that are about as far away from actual science as a thing can get, tell us a product is made with something wonderful and then give us the merest “fairy dusting” in the actual ingredients list—and charge us all top dollar for believing their gross misrepresentations.

My number one recommendation then, is simple: manage your expectations. No matter what the packaging or advertising suggests, a topically applied product isn’t going to completely counteract your genetics and undo the effects of time and gravity. If such a product existed, forget my eyes—I’d be rubbing it on my tits. Realistically, with a good formula, you can hope for a slightly more even skintone, a small reduction in lines and wrinkles along with a smoother and softer feeling, perhaps a temporary tightening of the skin around the eyes, and a delay in the accumulation of further damage.

Paula Begoun, with whom I don’t always agree (but I love her website and respect her research), posits that we don’t need an eye cream at all. If a product is well-formulated, she reasons, why wouldn’t you be able to use it around the eyes? She maintains the area is not more sensitive or in “need of special care”. However, my eyeballs are about as delicate as can be, so products that work great on my face (such as SPFs, retinol, and alpha-hydroxy acids) would turn me into a weepy Tammy-Faye Baker mess. But if you like your regular face creams, give it a try—you might save some money, which you can then use to buy me a beer!

While we’re talking about Paula, I suggest you read some of her information about useful cosmetic ingredients. Knowing what to look for—and what to avoid—has been really helpful for me. Many of us read our food ingredients obsessively but have no idea what we’re putting on our skin, so taking a few minutes to find out what some of that stuff actually is, and what it does, can save you lots of money and trial and error in the long run.

Speaking of saving your money: I’d like to caution you against the latest trend in eye creams, which are those pen-like products with the roller-balls or the fancy metal applicators. I haven’t had much success with these, although I’ve only tried a few. Some of them contain film-forming agents that can temporarily tighten skin, or in my case, make my eyes water and burn, thereby defeating its purpose and making me look puffier, or they contain ingredients that “cool” the skin. Problem is, these things are usually irritants, like peppermint and menthol, or they contain a lot of alcohol, which does feel cool and delicious—too bad that sensation is the alcohol evaporating and pulling your skin’s moisture out with it. Dryness and irritation are the opposite of what most of us are going for. So, if you really want that cool feeling, buy quality products and store them in the refrigerator.

Other things you can do to improve your eyes:

Protect your eyes from the sun. Put yer sunglasses on, and try an eye cream with a sunscreen if you’re going to be spending a lot of time outdoors. It’s crazy how few eye creams contain sun protection, but Elizabeth Arden makes a great one.

Clean your face properly. Sleeping in your makeup is not doing you any favours. If you’re looking for a good eye cream, and you’re not even washing your face at night, GIRL, what is your problem?

Stop rubbing your eyes. Yanking on your skin to apply or remove makeup might not seem like a big deal, but if you do it every day, it’s gonna add up—especially if you also rub your eyes when you’re tired or itchy. Quit it.

Eat fat. My optometrist told me this, so consider it legit. I have very dry and irritated eyes, and my eye doc says it’s because there’s not enough FAT in my TEARS. That seems like such a supermodel problem that I kind of love it. But for real: make sure you’re getting enough healthy fat in your diet: the good stuff like fish oil, nuts, avocado…

Be virtuous. I know, I hate this one too, but getting adequate sleep, drinking lots of water, and watching your intake of booze and salt can really help cut down on the under-eye bags and general bedraggled appearance. My mother, rest her soul, used to describe my morning-after eyes as “two piss-holes in the snow.” Yeah, she was a real treat.

The old “spoon trick”. Everyone knows about the DIY eye “masks”: cucumber slices, or tea bags, or those gel masques from the drugstore, but who has the time or inclination to actually do any of that shit? Here’s my thirty-second solution: keep two teaspoons in your freezer all the time. When you’re getting ready to go out or you need a little pick-me-up, pull those spoons out, wave ‘em around for a second or two so you don’t stick to them, and then just gently press the spoons around your eye sockets. So cool! So refreshing! Seriously, it works. Cuts down on puffiness and redness and feels almost as good as a nap. I can’t use most eye drops, so this trick really makes a difference.

So, you’re thinking, what eye cream does this bitch use? Well, I try different ones, but right now I’m loving my ROC Complete Lift eye cream (but the Canadian version is in a jar, not a tube as the site shows). Yes, it promises all the things I told you not to believe: firming, tightening, depuffing, and so on. What it actually does is feels nice, doesn’t pill or glom up when I put makeup over it, and has yet to give me any sensitivity. Lowered expectations for the win!

1 comment:

  1. I do the spoon thing when necessary and use my regular moisturizer around my eyes. It's all hype!