Eye cream really divides opinion in the beauty world. Some people swear by it (the usual argument being that skin around the eyes is different – thinner – than elsewhere and so you want a dedicated formula to suit) and some people think that you should just use whatever you’re using on your face and take it right up around the eyes. Why spend on a separate product that is going to do virtually the same thing, especially when eye creams are notoriously more expensive per ml than the equivalent face version?
I have now been in both camps. I started off very firmly in the Eye Cream Supporters Team, defected to the other side for a while and then meekly crept on back to my original people hoping they’d never notice I’d left.
I had been a solidly pro-eye cream since my modelling days. I used to love the way that the makeup artists would pat-pat-pat it in, give it a little de-puffing massagery, take it lightly onto the lids, push up the eyebrows to waken you up and give everything a little lift. And of course they could have done this whole routine using a face cream, and often did, but it was notable that they gave such care and attention to the eye area. And that’s because if there’s one place that’s going to look haggard/hungover first then it’s around the eyes.
The skin is thinner, the area is altogether more delicate – prone to puffiness, to circles, to sensitivity. Which brings me onto my next pro-eye cream argument: formulation. The eye needs are significantly different to the face needs, a lot of the time. You can have puffy eyes when the rest of your face looks fine. Why would you de-puff the whole thing with a cooling gel? The eyes will be fine but the face will feel tight and uncomfortable. You might want to blast your face with high-strength retinoid, but that same product under the eyes might be drying or too strong to tolerate.
And so there you have, in a nutshell, my two main reasons for using a dedicated eye cream: application, formulation. If I use a separate product then for some unfathomable reason it does make me pay particular attention to the way that I pat-pat-slide the product on. If I just treat my eye area as another part of my face then I don’t tend to do any sort of special love, I just sweep over it at the same time as my cheeks. It’s a cheek extension.
And if I have an eye cream with the perfect formulation, day in, day out, for my eye area then why would I not use that? Then the rest of my face can do what it wants – be radically exfoliated, be filled to bursting with hyaluronic acid, be self-tanned or retinoided – and my eyes will have a steady, appropriate treatment that tackles whatever the concern might be. For me it’s fine lines and, er, deeper lines. Lines, basically.
The reason I defected to the anti-eye-cream camp, momentarily? Research. And laziness. I was honing my routine (morning: vitamin c serum/moisturiser/SPF, evening: retinoid every other night, or hydrating serum/moisturiser on the “off” days) and the eye cream seemed a step too many. (Never mind all of these mists and essences that are all the rage: I simply cannot see how they could have much more benefit than a good serum and moisturiser combo. Maybe that’s my next bit of research.)
So I started using whatever face stuff I had to hand all over rather than using an eye cream and then the serum, moisturiser, whatever. But I’ll tell you what started happening, and I noticed this after around three months or so: my eyes were significantly more crepey and dry. It was a marked difference. And I realised that not only was I not really taking the products into the eye area with the same thoroughness as I would a separate eye cream (really tired of typing eye cream at this point, please make it stop), if I used a strong retinoid or an exfoliating face product then I was missing out the eye area almost completely!
And so, without really realising it, I had gone from giving my eyes a twice-daily mini-facial of their own to giving them…not much at all. My eye cream routine was a (little ten second) workout, my “eyes as part of a face” routine was the equivalent to doing no exercise whatsoever. Walking to the car from the front door. Some effect, but really, negligible.
I’m back using an eye cream, safe to say. Every night, at the very least. Sometimes in the morning I skip it, because I am far more pressed for time and my eyes tolerate vitamin c serum very well anyway, so it’s not so much of an issue. But in the evening: eye cream ahoy. And it’s almost always one with retinol. Why? Well. It’s pretty much the top rung of the ingredients ladder and, when it comes to eye creams, you can almost guarantee that the retinol will be easily tolerated and the formula gentle. So if you’re seeing fine lines creeping in around the eyes, the skin is starting to crease or go fine and papery, then retinol is your friend. Smoothing, firming, plumping. Won’t help massively if puffiness is your problem, but there are great eye creams for that, too. That’s a whole separate post, when I’ve recovered from having to type out “eye cream” so many times.
Here are three retinol eye products worth the spend:
Olay Retinol Max Eye Cream – £44 but currently £19.55 at Amazon here*: a beautifully formulated, non-greasy eye cream that absolutely does the trick if you want to see a difference in skin texture. Olay test to the high heavens to make sure that products are easy to use and suitable for the mass market so you can be pretty sure you’re not going to make your eyes fall out with this one. Though start carefully – once every few nights – just to ease yourself in.
Beauty Pie Super Retinol Eye Cream, £13 with membership here*: this contains slow-release retinol and loads of hydrating ingredients so it’s a comfortable cream that’s nourishing in feel but – like Olay’s – non-greasy. Use the code RUTHSENTME for money off annual membership – you can find out more on how the membership works here*.
Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum, £82 here*: the priciest option, but Murad really go to town with their retinol range, combining three types of retinol and formulating a product that is as effective as humanly possible whilst minimising adverse reactions. The eye serum (which feels more of a light cream) can be used all around the eyes and on the lids. Seems slightly weird and scary, but I have tested that claim thoroughly and it’s fine and it works. Bravo. It’s a very good investment, if you can make it.
Here’s a video of me saying all of the above:
This isn’t my first time at the rodeo when it comes to writing about Murad’s brilliant Retinol Youth Renewal range. I covered the relaunch at around this time last year (you can read that post here if you fancy) and it’s one of the ranges I refer to by default when people ask me for retinol recommendations. The main reason being that it’s powerful stuff, offering up proper, visible results, yet it seems to be tolerated by all but the most sensitive skin.
I mean you still have to go slow and steady with the range – it tingles, it goes straight to work, it’s not messing around – but if you’re sensible and don’t try to go from Total Retinol Virgin to Nightly Retinol Fiend in the space of a fortnight you’ll be A-OK. My preference, if I haven’t used retinol products for a while, is to start off with every four nights for a couple of weeks, move to every three nights for another couple and then stick to every other night for the duration of however long I manage to keep it up for. (I tend to back off a little during the warmer months.) This tends to keep any dryness or itchiness at bay – if I go straight in with all beauty guns a-blazing then you can guarantee that my face will be falling off by week two!
I digress. I’m supposed to be talking about Murad’s Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum here and the fact that it’s a total game-changer when it comes to using retinol around the eyes. If the rest of the range (a face serum, a sumptuous, buttery night cream) has been sensitively formulated then this eye serum takes things one step further. Not only can it be taken all around the eyes, including the lids, it includes non-greasy moisturisers to provide lightweight hydration for up to twenty-four hours. I love the fact that it’s safe to be used on the lids – every year my eyelids are more and more wrinkly and it would be nice to nip that in the bud for a while, before they start to resemble little testicles.
My eyes are notorious when it comes to overreacting to strong ingredients yet they have no problem with the Murad eye serum even when used nightly. Now you might not be an eye cream sort of person, preferring to use your usual face cream or treatment all over instead. What I will say about strong retinol products is that I find they are sometimes a bit…enthusiastic…to take up to the eye area. Many a time have I woken up to see my little red “burn” patch has reappeared beneath my right eye – a relic from my modelling years when someone changed my eye makeup fourteen times in eight hours and basically took the top eight thousand layers of skin off – and so I try to be careful and relatively discerning when it comes to treating the eye area.
And so, in conclusion, if you are looking to invest in a results-driven eye treatment that has been specifically formulated for the eye area then Youth Renewal Eye Serum is a fine place to start. It is an investment – the eye serum is £72, night cream is £70 – but the firming and plumping benefits are noticeable.
Murad use a three-pronged approach to delivering the retinol, with an “instant”, fast-acting retinoid, a slower release retinol and an ingredient to sort of “prep” the skin for the retinol so it’s a pretty sophisticated formula with a gentle, non-aggressive touch. Powerful enough for tackling the established lines and wrinkles and loss of firmness but also great for preventative measures too.
You can find the whole Youth Renewal range online here – if you use the code RUTH25 then you get 25% off*!
*excludes winter sale items, kits and new product launches.
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I’ve started a little series on Instagram that I hope to keep regularly adding posts to; it’s called 3 Best Beauty Buys, which isn’t the most inventive of feature names, but it’ll do what it says on the tin and that’s what counts! I’ve already done a quick IGTV feature on Maskne products (Maskne is the new, vaguely annoying term for blemishes and outbreaks that have been brought about by the wearing of a facemask) and you can watch that here, but now I’m prepping a video on the best firming eye creams and so I thought I’d take you along for the ride.
I always have to write myself an abundance of notes before I start filming something, otherwise I go off on crazy tangents, talking about parking woes and singing foxes and the complexities of British queueing etiquette. And it makes some sort of sense for me to write those research notes here on the website, so that you all get a handy post out of it, rather than scribbling them on the back of a council tax bill and chucking it all in the recycling afterwards…
And so here are three great firming eye creams that I’ve had noticeable results with. My usual eye cream, for reference, is the Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line-Reducing Serum (find more details in posts here) but after a summer-long love affair with everything antioxidant and Vitamin-C-heavy, I’m turning my attention to the super-firmers.
Let’s go in with a sharp intake of breath and the priciest option – the DCL Peptide Plus Eye Treatment – which is £86 at Cult Beauty here*. DCL burst onto the UK scene a few years ago and the products are so good – really well-formulated and effective – but I haven’t heard that much noise about them since. This powerful eye cream is deeply hydrating but also focuses on helping to increase elasticity around the delicate eye area so that fine lines are smoothed. It mentions dark circles on the marketing material, but I don’t find that anything helps that much with dark circles if you have them severely – this is definitely one for firming and making everything just feel a bit more…robust. I gave it a very lengthy and intense trial last year but my review got pushed to the side when the world fell apart. So here: it’s a good ‘un – I’m on my second bottle.
My next “pick of the bunch” would be Paula’s Choice Clinical Ceramide-Enriched Firming Eye Cream, which is £43 here*. I didn’t realise until quite far down the road that this contained retinol as well as a wheelbarrow-load of ceramides for strengthening delicate, crepey skin. This is the most advanced eye cream available from Paula’s Choice, which excites me; I feel as though their formulas are always really well-considered and offer solid, marketing-bollocks-free options for the crowd who want no-nonsense answers to their skincare complaints. Love the pump-action bottle (DCL’s is the same sort of packaging) and the rich texture of the cream. It feels instantly relieving if your skin is chronically dry around the eyes.
When it comes to Vichy’s Neovadiol Rose Platinum Eye Cream (online here*) I have to admit that I was entirely seduced by the packaging! I’ve really gone off pots of stuff because the cream gets under my nails and annoys me and it just feels less…clean…than tubes and bottles, but this teeny pink pot just felt so unbelievably retro.
As though I had been transported to the 60s and sauntered down to a Parisian pharmacie to pick up a cold cream and some velcro rollers for my hair but thrown un petit creme pour les yeux for good measure. It’s a total trinket of beauty treasure and the eye cream inside is equally as delicious. Rose pink – so nostalgic! – and really very rich and buttery so that it feels nourishing and comforting straight away. I’ve just seen that it targets the signs of ageing caused by the menopause but it seems just as appropriate for signs of ageing caused by the half term holiday. It’s also £18 rather than £27 at Escentual here* until the end of October.
Right, keep a lookout for the video on IGTV – I’m here if you use Instagram but you’re not already following!
Well this is a very joyous revisit; I’ve reviewed Murad’s brilliant Retinol Youth Renewal range before, but they’ve reformulated and relaunched it and it’s now even more of a find.
I say find, but this skincare trio (there’s a serum, an eye serum and a sumptuous night cream) is hardly a secret – the Retinol Youth Renewal Serum is the number one retinol product in the US! Nevertheless, I bring you this news, that two of the products have been reformulated and all three have had an appearance makeover, and I also bring you (why am I writing this like a medieval bard?) an updated review.
Actually two updated reviews, because in an unprecedented feat of spectacular organisation, my Mum and I have been testing the new range at the same time. Yes that’s right; my Mum (seventy next year) and I (forty this year) have been syncing our nightly skincare routines and applying eye serum, serum and night cream every other night and recording our thoughts.
I have to say, before we go any further, that my Mum is meticulous when it comes to researching what she puts on her face. She Googles every ingredient on the list, she looks at other reviews and she reads the instructions on the box twice. How on earth then, she managed to end up applying the serum in the morning instead of the night and the other products twice a day every day for weeks, I have no idea.
It’s surely testament to the quality of the formulations that her face didn’t slowly peel itself off from her head, like in a Tom & Jerry cartoon – I should add that Mum does have quite sensitive skin, and my own (comparatively hardy) face has had bad reactions to far less potent treatments.
Murad do make a point of the formulations being suitable for sensitive skin – they urge caution, obviously, but the newly reformulated eye serum can now even be used on the eyelids. The lids! Imagine. I can tell you that it was something of a leap of faith, patting a retinol serum into my eyelids, but there was no stinging, no irritation whatsoever. The serum was instantly hydrating but not greasy (basically my Mum’s idea of a Holy Grail beauty product) and I did rather like the idea that something might get to work on my lid crepe.
Lid crepe. It sounds like a disease. I’m absolutely not wanting to add any sort of extra skin “concern” to the list of ones we’re already supposed to worry about, but I do quite like it when you use a lid primer and it makes things all smooth and velvety – the Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum makes them feel a little bit like that.
Although obviously there are longer term benefits! In fact, I’ve just realised that this post launched into a whole thing about Murad’s Retinol Youth Renewal Range but didn’t really explain what an earth retinol is, to the uninitiated. My Mum had no clue why retinol was so special, even after she’d done her Google research. Mainly because she’s so sceptical, which is a good thing. But in the case of retinol, you can almost entirely place your scepticism to one side, because this is an ingredient that really and truly delivers.
With the right strength and a good formulation, retinol can help to smooth out fine lines, even skin tone, work on deeper lines and creases and make skin generally look plumper and more elastic. Murad’s range takes things one step further by using their tri-active retinol technology; a retinol booster to kind of prep the skin and make it receptive to the main ingredient, then a time-released retinol to deliver a steady level to the skin and then a fast-acting retinoid, which is much more powerful than the retinol itself.
Triple-whammy effects and boy does it make the products feel racy and exciting! I properly get the tingle with Murad’s range, the sort of tingle that makes you wonder what state your face is going to be in the next day – will I look as though I’ve drunk four litres of rosé and passed out on a Magaluf beach at midday in August? Thankfully not – no irritation, no redness, not even any discernible dryness, perhaps because the super-serums are always followed by the rich and buttery night cream.
The night cream has also been tweaked; still with the tri-active retinol technology, it now contains Niacinamide and Picolinamide to strengthen skin’s protective barrier. I like that it’s not just shooting high-powered and transformative ingredients at your face – it’s looking out for the longterm comfort and quality of the skin.
The Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream was the product my Mum loved the most – she’s always hunting for creams that are incredibly rich and moisturising but that don’t leave a greasy residue. She hates grease. Especially around the eyes. I can’t even count the number of times she’s told me this fact over the years – I sometimes feel as though I should make it into a poem and put it on her birthday cards – but it’s a big issue for her. It goes in her lashes and then into her eyes, it’s all most upsetting, but not, she was delighted to report, with any of the Murad trio.
So yes, the night cream was her favourite – she likes to be able to use one product and be done with it – but she did marvellously well at testing all three. She has noticed a good difference to the firmness of her skin, especially under her chin and on her neck, and in turn the wrinkles there are improved. These are her exact words:
“I LOVE THIS AND IT HAS WORKED A DREAM ON MY NECK AND CHIN (whether it was aided with serum also, not sure)
Yes, it is so lovely and smooth to apply, smells lovely, absorbs well, and it has so, so much improved my neck, jowl and chin wrinkles, both the fine and the deep ones. Thankyou Murad.
Could you tell me whether I can just use night cream alone and get those results? Also can I try on lovely hubby, His face is craggy ?
Lots of love
I need to tell my Mum that the serum increases results by three times when used alongside the cream – in fact, if I had to choose one product from the range on results alone then I’d probably plump for the serum, just because it’s the most potent. This is the one product that hasn’t been reformulated – it’s still maximum tingle, minimal fall-out and a lightweight, easily-absorbed texture that’s a joy to use. Same tri-action deal with the retinol, retinoid and the skin-prepping element for quick and visible results.
Now you may already be a fan of this range, in which case you’ll appreciate the tweaks, I think! If you’re not then prepare to be charmed – the Retinol Youth Renewal range is the sort of skincare line that’ll have you doing double-takes in the mirror, especially if you have (or are starting to get) those vertical lines between your eyebrows and horizontal ones to the sides of your eyes.
It’s been so interesting testing the same products as my Mum – we’re (obviously) at different stages in terms of how our skin is behaving and what we expect from our skincare, yet both of us couldn’t be more pleased with the results. I love a smoother, plumper, fresher-looking face that allows me to use minimal makeup and my Mum appreciates the firmness and feeling of elasticity that using retinol has given to her skin.
If you would like to try Murad’s Retinol Youth Renewal range then you can get 25% off with the code RUTH25 here. In fact this gets you 25% off everything on their website! I can highly recommend their range of sunscreens, especially if you are going to be using retinol, and they have an amazing anti-blemish line.
If you’d like to read my review of the original line then that’s here – you can also take a nifty little skin consultation quiz on the Murad website, that’s here. For some reason I find these online evaluations quite addictive!
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