Ask a Beauty Editor: Can Eye Cream Double as Moisturizer (and Vice Versa)?
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To save time, can I use the same anti-wrinkle eye cream for my face and undereyes? - @goldengatelynn
Let's be frank—skincare ain't cheap. Which raises the question: why does moisturizer marketed for your undereyes come in a tiny tube and cost so much more? Is it really that special? And are you doing your eyes a disservice if you use regular moisturizer as eye cream?
Short answer: yes. Now bear with me as we dive into the long answer. 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 (i.e., retinol for wrinkles, caffeine for puffiness, niacinamide for dark circles, etc.), 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 cost way more than facial moisturizers). This isn't a bad thing for your face, which can probably tolerate that, but it might not be so great for your undereyes, which is a more delicate space.
"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.
As for the matter of using eye cream all over your face (Beyoncé's makeup artist even swears by it), there's the obvious answer. Unless you're Beyoncé, it's going to be an expensive affair. For the financial downside alone, I don't recommend it as an everyday practice. 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 (say, 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. Maybe start slow and limit yourself to once or twice a week at first to give your undereyes time to adjust.