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Do I Need an Eye Cream?


Clinique All About Eyes
Question: Do I Need an Eye Cream?
Dear Budget Style Guide,

Do I actually need an eye cream, or am I just wasting my money? I'll be honest, I'm hoping you'll say no. There are a lot of other things I'd rather spend my money on, like plane tickets and tangerines. I think if I had more money for travel and out-of-season fruit, I'd be less wrinkly in general.

What do you think?

Bobbi F.

Answer: Dear Bobbi,

First of all, plane tickets and tangerines are exactly what you should be spending your money on. Here, in exact order, is the idea budget list for every person on earth: basic necessities that stave off death and/or tax collectors; travel and delicious treats; beauty products. You are welcome.

But to your specific question of whether or not you need an eye cream, I have to give you the dreaded answer to all academic questions, which is: It depends. On what? On what's going on with your eyes.

One of the reasons the beauty industry is so varied and confusing is that everyone is different. The other, of course, is that most of us are terribly insecure and therefore susceptible to being told we have a disease and then sold a cure for it. (The disease, in this case, being unsightliness, as determined by a team of marketing consultants who want to sell you things.) Our goal, as consumers, is to figure out what's actually a problem, and what's a made-up reason to sell you something you don't need.

There are a few reasons why you might need an eye cream, but just a few. Two, in fact, that I can think of off the top of my head.

For example, I myself have extremely puffy eyes, due to thyroid problems and extreme hotness. I feel a lot cuter when I use an eye cream with caffeine in it, to shrink that lovely under-eye luggage. My favorite is Clinique All About Eyes, which, while not exactly cheap by my exacting standards, works well and lasts a long time.

Another issue that might call for an eye cream is dark circles. This is literally the only beauty problem I don't have, but fortunately, our Beauty Guide has some great tips for dealing with the issue. (Cliffs Notes version: Vitamin-K based cream, then a good concealer. Or spring for laser surgery . Never my favorite option, as it involves the two things I hate the most: springing for things, and surgery.)

If you don't have either one of these problems, you might not need to spring for an eye cream at all. That's because the standard eye cream is pretty much exactly the same stuff as your regular skin cream, with a few small differences. Plus, as Skin Care Guide Jen Adkins points out, most eye creams don't have SPF, which means that in your attempt to do the "right thing" and use a special product formulated for your eye area, you're actually leaving that extra-thin skin exposed to the sun. Obviously not the ideal situation.

By the way, if you're looking for other skin care products you can skip, add toner and serums to that list. Neither one will hurt you, and either can be a great little add-on sometimes. A lot of people with oily skin and/or large pores like to use a toner, although you should be careful to avoid anything too harsh or drying. And serums can be fantastic for folks with dry or mature skin. But neither one is totally necessary, and you can feel free to save your dollars for other, more exciting skin care purchases.

Basically, the only things you really, absolutely, definitely need for your face are: a good face wash, formulated for your skin type; a moisturizer that works for you; and SPF for the day time. Everything else is optional.

Tangerines and travel, on the other hand, are a necessity.

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