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Do You Really Need An Eye Cream?

Saving it for later? It's the one product you should've started using yesterday. Here's how to play catch-up...

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IT'S TRUE "The eye area ages five to 10 years faster than the rest of your face," says dermatologist Dr Neal Schultz. Blame the lack of collagen, responsible for keeping skin plump, and the fact that its elastin, which keeps everything tight, is being constantly tested. "Every time you squint or smile, the fibres break down," says Dr Schultz.

WHY A SEPARATE CREAM?

Eye skin is tissue-thin, dry, and folds on itself—factors that increase absorption and therefore sensitivity, says dermatologist Dr Heidi Waldorf. Because of this, face creams may be too harsh and they aren't always ophthalmologist-tested (i.e. safe for the eyes); most eye creams are. The eyes also have different issues than the rest of your face, so a specialised cream is key, says Frauke Neuser, Principal Scientist for Olay. Hardly one-size-fits-all, the latest formulas use carefully chosen ingredients to address a variety of concerns. We mapped out the biggest ones so you can find your perfect fix.

YOUR ISSUE: DEHYDRATION

The eye area has very few oil glands, making it one of the driest areas in the body. Plus, most of us regularly apply concealer and foundation around the eyes and all these products (especially matte formulas) can dehydrate the area further. To tackle this, look for formulas made with humectants— ingredients that draw in water from the air—such as hyaluronic acid (in Shiseido's cream), manuka honey or glycerine.

YOUR ISSUE: DARK CIRCLES

If yours are brownish, it's likely an overproduction of melanin. Bruised-looking? "You're seeing your blood vessels through your skin," says Neuser, who believes the problem is largely genetic. And the older you get, the more pronounced they will become. "Around age 25, many women start losing bone and fat in their face, so the hollows deepen," says Dr Waldorf. And experts agree that it's the most difficult issue to fix topically. Charlotte Tilbury's eye cream uses rice and soy peptides plus yeast protein to help brighten dark circles. For a dramatic fix, derms can inject a filler like JUVÉDERM. Also, don't underestimate the power of a concealer.

YOUR ISSUE: PUFFY EYES

A lot of things can cause you to retain fluid—salty foods or just the way you sleep. For some, it's also genetic. "Massage moves stagnant fluid," Neuser says. (Clinique's peptide-infused formula boosts micro-circulation too.) Pop one into the fridge: the coolness has extra de-puffing powers. So do creams that have caffeine in them, even without the coolness.

YOUR ISSUE: AGEING

Everything from UV exposure to squinting to your genes can affect the number of crow's feet you have. To the rescue: the well-proven wrinkle smoother, retinol (find it in La Roche-Posay and ASAP). You can also talk to a derm about IPL (Intense Pulsed Light). "The five-minute treatment gently warms the skin, leaving it tighter and younger looking," says Dr Schultz.