Ask a Beauty Editor: Can Eye Cream Double as Moisturizer (and Vice Versa)?

Yes, there is a difference!

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We all know skincare isn't cheap—especially eye cream. But what makes eye cream different from regular moisturizer and why are we doing our eyes a disservice if we use regular moisturizer as eye cream?

What Is Eye Cream?

It's true that eye creams contain the same types of ingredients found in many face creams; however, they're also meant to address hyper-specific skincare issues.

Not only does the skin underneath your eyes require more targeted TLC (e.g., retinol for wrinkles, caffeine for puffiness, and niacinamide for dark circles, for example), but it's also a lot thinner than other areas of the face—in fact, it's the thinnest skin on the body. In other words, it's a lot more sensitive.

Now, let's say you were to use a regular anti-wrinkle face cream with the same targeted ingredients on your undereyes. That anti-wrinkle cream probably contains a much greater concentration of active ingredients to combat fine lines (somewhat ironic considering that eye creams usually cost more than facial moisturizers). This isn't bad for your face, but it might not be so great for your undereyes.

Why Use Eye Creams

"Eye creams tend to be gentler, less irritating, and more moisturizing than regular creams because the delicate skin around the eyes is particularly prone to irritation, fine lines, dark circles, and puffiness," says Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.

That being said, you might be able to tolerate regular anti-wrinkle creams on the eye area if your skin isn't very sensitive and the formulation isn't very irritating (read: no fragrances). But proceed with caution.

Can You Use Eye Cream All Over Your Face?

Even though Beyoncé's makeup artist swears by it, it would be an expensive affair, which might not be practical for daily use. Plus, you're actually better off not using an eye cream for your whole face because your face can tolerate (and will benefit from) much higher proportions of active ingredients.

However, it can be helpful if your skin is super dry or sensitive. "Many eye creams contain lower concentrations of active ingredients as compared to their face cream counterparts," says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. "They also may be richer formulations (in terms of hydration) because of the thin skin in this area." That means people with sensitive skin can benefit from applying anti-aging and moisturizing eye creams on other areas of the face because these formulations are likely to be gentler, less irritating, and more moisturizing.

In short, no harm will come from applying an eye cream on your whole face, except maybe to your bank account. It can be beneficial when your skin is going through an especially temperamental or parched period (e.g., you experienced a negative reaction to a new skincare product). Then you can apply eye cream all over your face until your complexion chills out.

Conversely, you can apply your regular moisturizer on your undereyes, so long as your skin can handle it. Start slowly and limit yourself to once or twice a week to give your undereyes time to adjust.

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  1. Colvan L, Fleck T, Vega VL. Global periorbital skin rejuvenation by a topical eye cream containing low molecular weight heparan sulfate (LMW-HS) and a blend of naturally derived extracts. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2019;18(2):530-538. doi:10.1111/jocd.12857

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