BEAUTY We all scream for eye cream

BY Trisse Loxley ONE of the most puzzling female rituals has got to be the application of eye creams. Precisely how and when this practice started is a mystery. What is certain is that almost all women do it. No matter if we haven’t brushed our hair, flossed our teeth, put out the cat or the garbage, before we go to bed you can bet we’ve slathered something underneath our eyes.

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We do it to shield our eyes from the aging process. Of course, no one believes that anything in a jar will stop them from getting old. We know that 80 per cent of visible aging is caused by sun exposure and, therefore, safe-sunning and sunscreen are the only prevention. The only proven cure, according to Dr. John Goldhar, head of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, is facial peels (from alpha-hydroxy to phenol), which do not actually remove all wrinkles.

Still, the eye-cream ritual does hold some benefits. For example, Lancome’s just-unveiled Expressive (15 ml, $46) has been created not only to “smooth out lines,” but also to combat bags and dark circles. The formula contains toning ingredients, chosen for their decongestant properties, to increase circulation and reduce puffiness. UV filters are also included, an added advantage.

This June, Clinique will offer Daily Eye Saver. Touted as a pick-me-up, the blue gel has cucumber extract and aloe vera to soothe, red algae extract to stimulate collagen production and thicken the skin (thereby, reducing dark circles), and vitamins E and C to protect against environmental irritants.

Another refreshing twist is Bobbi Brown’s new Eye Cream (15 ml, $43), coming to Holt Renfrew stores in March. Just as the name implies, both the product and the marketing behind it are quite simple. The American makeup artist developed her own formula because she “couldn’t find one that makeup didn’t slide off of.” She believes thatwith the proper products, skin looks smoother.” Her basic Eye Cream is water-based, with avocado and jojoba oil to moisturize, comfrey and witch hazel for relief, and vitamins E and A. To stop makeup from sliding off, the eye cream is matte.

The latest trend, however, is putting a bit of makeup in the eye cream. Launched this month at Estee Lauder counters is Resilience Eye Creme (15 ml, $52). Apart from the now popular use of botanical extracts (elderflower and cucumber) to soothe and reduce puffiness, and vitamin E as an antioxidant, Resilience contains coral, heather and yeast extracts to inhibit the loss of elastin, and “soft-focus technology,” which is lingo referring to ingredients that refract light to take the focus off lines and circles.

This is also true of Prescriptives new Eye Specialist Visible Action Gel (15 ml, $43) and the Body Shop’s Lightening Touch (4 ml, $9.95). Prescriptives’ product is another eye-cream option with botanical extracts, vitamin E, and a “retexturizing polymer” to smoothe out lines, as well as “optical diffusers” to scatter light.

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Lightening Touch, on the other hand, is actually a makeup with humectants. Meant to be used as a concealer or highlighter, its light- reflective ingredients are mixed with glycerine and lecithin to moisturize.

Obviously, the main purpose of all the latest products is to moisturize – which, of course, is also the principle behind the whole eye ritual. It’s something we believe we must do. But, surprisingly, Dr. Goldhar says, “moisturizing the eye area is no more important than any other part of the skin.” However, he does add, “hydrating the skin cuts down the irritant effect of the sun and cold, and makes it more resistant.”