moisturiser (face): eyes and lips

Also, some bonus special treats at the end.
Well now. Eye creams are a debatable issue. Herewith therefore some debate. Not too much, juste a smidge. Questions of whether or not they are needed, with schools of though against lining up the following arguments:

  • eyes don’t need anything different from the rest of the face
  • eye creams are just face creams repackaged in smaller containers and sold for a lot more money
  • they’re just unscented face creams
  • any decent face cream should be usable around the eyes without irritating them (or otherwise causing grief): and shame on any company that makes face stuff that isn’t sufficiently sensitive-friendly to use around the eyes…
  • there’s nothing you can do to the eye area anyway, apart from ensuring it doesn’t get so dried out the skin cracks and flakes and tears (and apart from surgical interventions)
  • most of the stuff in eye creams, just as is the case for other skincare, is pointless rubbish. Stuff and nonsense. Blinding people with rhetorically-cunning empty marketing claims and pseudo-science, banking on scientific ignorance, desire to believe, and willingness to associate quality and results with cost. (There will be more on this. Oh yes. Being one of my biggest beefs and rant-inspirers of all time.)
Those in favour of eye creams would postulate:
  • that eye creams are necessary, as the skin around the eyes is indeed different, and that furthermore the skin on the eyelid is different from that above it, going up to the brow-bone; and those are in turn different from skin under the eye nearer the nose, in the baggy bits under the whole of the eye, and from the corners where crows plant their feet
  • another difference being ability of skin to moisturise itself, i.e. produce sebum
  • that (some) eye creams are formulated differently, specifically to address these different kinds of skin and their needs
  • and that there are certain actives that are useful
I’m generally in favour of a tempered version of the former approach, tempered, that is, by the fact–hard, incontrovertible, evidentially-demonstrable fact–that the skin all over me is different in different places. Including variation from one part of the head to another, and a range of skin types in the are around my eyes. (See images on the lash-tinting post for further details.)
As with other skincare, I’m willing to try anything, within reason, and taking my skin’s limitations into account. That means (following trial and error, dramatic and dire error) none of those nice fancy actives, or at least, none yet invented: retinaldehyde, AHAs, peptides, niacinamide.



  • Morning:
    • rosehip seed oil (all over face, inc. eye area)
    • a cream of just the right texture–which has sometimes been known to be a cream with “eye” in its name; currently it doesn’t: ShiKai Borage Dry Skin Remedy Facial 24-hour Repair Cream (their nice eye cream feels very similar)
    • and sunscreen: a moister one than rest of face; see sunscreens post
  • Evening:
    • rosehip oil
    • shea butter or lip-balm on any dry areas


  • Morning:
    • Weleda Everon
    • lip-balm with sunscreen: see sunscreens post
  • Evening:
    • Weleda Everon


  • A-Derma Sensiphase eye cream: decent, mild, not very moisturising
  • Alaffia unscented raw shea butter (not fussy about brand, but this happened to be available in Whole Foods, decently-priced, and Fair Trade): not as good, on me, as refined–the start of minor irritation
  • Allergenics emollient cream
  • Aubreys Organics Lumessence and their men’s eye cream (same stuff)
  • Avène Soothing Eye Contour Cream: one of the best I’ve had the pleasure of using
  • Avène Tolérance extrême cream
  • Badger unscented unflavoured basic lip-balm: mainly olive oil, beeswax, and castor oil
  • Beauty Without Cruelty: used one of theirs about 10 years or so ago, was jolly decent, but it’s now overloaded with lavender and I sneeze.
  • The Body Shop Aloe sensitive, Organic, Vitamin E, and Wise Woman eye creams
  • AnneMarie Börlind LL Regeneration eye cream
  • Boots Fragrance Free Sensitive Hydrating Eye Cream: cheap as chips but quite watery, doesn’t last for long, and needs to be reapplied
  • Boots Expert Sensitive Hydrating Eye Cream: feels the same as the FF. Having got rid of the Skin Friendly, it looks like Boots is in process of discontinuing its excellent replacement, the Fragrance Free line, and replacing both with the Expert Sensitive one. Identical or near-identical formulae (plus aloe vera in everything, as far as I can tell, which is not always a good idea on my skin), for increased prices. Hmmm.
  • Clarins Baume contour des yeux (used in 20s), Baume “Spécial” for dry eyes, and (tester)
  • Clinique All About Eyes: a mainstay through my 20s; the Rich resulted in reactions
  • Derma E pycnogenol & hyaluronic acid eye cream: very like Avène Soothing, as a basic
  • Dr.Hauschka daily revitalizing eye cream (in the tube)
  • Dr.Hauschka eye contour day cream (in the pot): Yes, that one, the crap in the little round pot, solid waxy balm, that looks like lip balm but is massively more expensive. Yes, I am probably an idiot. But for some weird reason which I cannot figure out or otherwise fathom, the damn stuff works. Their lip-balm might work too, but for the excess of scents.
  • Kiss My Face: another company who used to make a decent unscented eye cream, now full of EOs of a sort incompatible with some combination of my eyes, skin, and nose
  • Lavera Neutral Face Cream
  • L’Occitane shea butter, in the tin (refined): undereye only, in winter, on drier bits. I’ve found my skin tends to be better with the refined sort of shea.
  • Nuxe Contour des yeux prodigieux: light but effective; Nirvanesque and the new Bio ones are fine too, but over-scented to my nose
  • Paula’s Choice Hydrating Treatment Cream: really nice and bargainaceous if used as an eye cream, less so as a face cream
  • Paula’s Choice Antioxidant Concentrate: on its own, mixed with or underneath eye cream or moisturiser
  • shea butter: various sorts, had mild irritation with all the unrefined squeaky-clean ones, but decent results in winter with refined
  • ShiKai Borage Dry Skin Remedy: the Facial 24-hour Repair Cream (my current eye cream), the eye cream is also good–same stuff, minus avocado and plus cucumber
  • Simple Kind to Eyes eye cream: OK, not moist enough; tested out their two richer ones, which were fine. Good solution if you’re in the UK.
  • Trilogy rosehip oil eye contour cream
  • Weleda Wild Rose eye cream: in two minds, but basically in most circumstances probably overall verdict is “OK”
  • Zia eye cream: used many years ago, was in a jar, can’t recall name 😦
  • various lip balms, unscented. Badger was one of the best. In colder weather, on drier skin, etc.

Criteria: must go on and sink in fast, be lightweight and moisturising, not need to be reapplied within hours due to dryness, be compatible with contact lenses and sensitive eyes, not irritate or cause eyes to close tight shut when migration occurs, and makeup should sit well on top. Trying to get off mineral-oil-based creams, for sustainability/ethical reasons, but I recently had a Grump with Trilogy. I may be cursed: on the other hand, I have *reduced* my consumption of mineral oil dramatically if only using a teeny bit in eye cream. And, for heaven’s sake, I don’t drive or run a car, I do walk or use public transport everywhere, eat vegetarian, use long-life lightbulbs, keep the heating down and wear extra cardigans at home, recycle, reuse bags (and carry bags with me – haven’t had a new plastic one in years), mend clothes, buy second-hand (not food obviously – but buy local as far as possible), swap stuff, and so on. Am still willing to experiment, though, especially given renewed access to the larger North American market of “greener” beauty products.
Application: Dotted on and patted in, softly softly, and left to sink in properly before the Application of Made-Up Eyes. Must moisturise, and not sting if it migrates into eyes. Often with something lighter on the lids, something heavier in the corners.

I made the dreadful mistake of playing around with Retin-stuff and AHA, being the two things that seem to have some effect on wrinkles, as per actual scientific research rather than witch-doctery, marketing, and The Misogynist Conspiracy of the beauty industry. Now, being an optimist, sometimes a little silly, but not a complete fool, I did my research here on MUA and reckoned that the safest concoction to try would be Avène‘s Ysthéal+ Contour des Yeux or their Éluage eye cream. Disaster: burning, redness, irritation. Wrinkles deepened, skin like paper, flaking; now, yes, for many people that’s supposed to be part of The Process. But when it worsens, skin peels off, it’s raw, and *hurts*: that’s just wrong. Cool compresses helped. Tried again, with teeny tiny quantity. Crept into eyes overnight, could hardly open them the next morning. More cold compresses. So I did the sensible thing I should have done to start with (rather than being over-optimistic, a little silly): tried it out on back of hand. Yup, reaction again. Tested out several sorts of product: same again.  Went to see pharmacist. We conclude that this skin is unhappy with those lovely top-notch anti-aging ingredients, and should stick to the simpler things in life.

Played around with using some plain old regular face creams, serums, and lip balms, of a milder nature. When not applying cosmetics or writing about them, what I do involves the gentle art of rhetoric. Usually its dissection. I am a professional skeptic. And I would like to be able to identify myself as a feminist, as far as I am able to deserve the distinction. I try. It’s often hard. So it was only a matter of time before the issue of eye-cream would come up: necessary? do they even work? another bit of exploitation of women? Especially with the expensive creams coinciding with the time when many women’s careers feature high disposable income + long hours, late nights, and responsibility/stress. Hmmm. Call me a cynic now. So I decided that I wasn’t going to fork out any more for I started experimenting with what I had at home already, and doing some research c/o MUA’s reviews and boards, supplemented by, The Beauty Brains, Wikipedia, Paula’s Choice, and sundry others (links, links to links, thus on to further inter-linkage, etc., etc.; reviews, articles, even some science journals – yay for me the notorious non-scientist). I tested out various things, and the better results from them made it into The Success List higher up.


  • Badger unscented and the Rose Chai
  • BalmBalm: unscented and the rose/geranium one
  • The Body Shop‘s old honey lipbalm; not used in ages
  • Burt’s Bees: honey lip balm: gone downhill in the last decade, though
  • Dr.Hauschka
  • Figs & Rouge 
  • Lavera Basis
  • Nivea (the blue one)
  • Nuxe Rêve de miel
  • L’Occitane shea butter (the tin)
  • Trilogy: the lip balm was perfectly all right but an outrageous price; their Everything Balm was much better, plus a useful multi-tasker
  • Weleda Everon


  • if very puffy and grim: frozen peas. In the bag.
  • cotton-wool pads (or homemade reusable version, or other cloths) soaked in
    • cool water
    • or milk 
    • or witch-hazel. 
    • If you can get hold of it, cornflower aqueous decoction solution stuff. Last found in a postapocalyptic duckpond homeopathic pharmacy.
    • Or eyebright. Can be brewed up in tea, tea left to cool, strained, and resulting liquid used. If you make up a large batch–let’s face it, makes sense to make more than a spoonful–you can freeze it. In an ice-cube tray, get one of those silicone ones, or cupcake-tray, same thing, to make very small cubes. Then thaw one cube at a time and use it for soaking your cloth or sim.
  • the big bonus: TEA BAGS.
    (First posted up as a product review on MUA; see all the product reviews, as ever, for the full picture and for the full benefit of collective wisdom.)A 100-lippie cheap trick that works! Excellent eye-treatment on even very sensitive skin.All you need is cold water, and the same number of hands and tea bags as you have eyes (I use black, green, chamomile, or rose-hip tea – many others work too). Or borrow someone else’s hands. Or loose tea in reusable muslin bags. Re-using bags previously used to make tea, or using fresh ones.However you’re setting things up – soak teabags in cold water, squeeze, and apply one to each (closed) eye. Press down gently. Keep them there for a good minute. For a more in-depth treatment, do this for about 5 minutes. Any shape of tea bag works well.I use black tea bags first thing in the morning, just for a minute or so, standing in the kitchen while the first coffee or tea of the day is brewing. I’ve found this is the best treatment ever for puffy eyes, and soothing in allergy season. Then onto shower and rest of a.m. beauty routine (and, importantly, drinking that first coffee or tea).You’ll notice that many, many, many eye creams contain caffeine, especially those targeting under-eye puffiness and dark shadows. And many have black, green, red, or white tea in the ingredients (a.k.a. camellia sinensis*).Other tried and tested tricks are to use cold teaspoons, cold compresses, cucumber slices, or indeed ice cubes to reduce inflammation (including eye-area puffiness – ice-cubes more for first aid elsewhere). Some eye treatments try to replicate this, with cooling gels (like the Body Shop elderflower eye gel, St Ives’ cucumber and elastin eye/face gel, or Clinique’s moisture surge line).Cold wet tea bags combine these two elements, and in a much cheaper and faster way of getting more caffeine into the area than any eye cream on the market.I often repeat this later in the day if eyes are somewhat dry, itchy, and feel swollen. Usually from too much computer work. I can also strongly recommend green tea or some caffeine-free herbal brews for this, and general soothing: love chamomile or rose-hip tea. I do this a bit more gently than in the morning, but no issues with make-up as using waterproof mascara. =D) Perfect multi-tasking: make a small pot of tea with two bags, remove them, soak in cold water, find comfy chair, and relax by drinking tea and treating your eyes at the same time. Bliss.Very adaptable trick. Also suitable for use with organic etc. teas. Or soaking in cold milk of some sort – another good thing on human skin (but rinse eye area afterwards). Even cheaper if using loose tea, and more environmentally friendly: just put the tea into 2 small reusable muslin bags. These can be bought from health food and cookery stores–they’re often sold for making up your own bouquet garni – or you can make your own very easily, out of any retired and reused fine cotton garment. Obviously, empty out and clean after use, sterilise with boiling water, etc.*In brief–different forms of the same beast, camellia sinensis–the difference being processing, degree of oxidation, and caffeine content.


  1. Katie

    I’m sorry but you sound absolutely fucking insane. You must have some weird OCD with this stuff. You should just /stop/ using anything for a few months and let your skin take a well-needed break.

    • gingerama

      Hi Katie–You’re absolutely right, taking breaks from skincare when skin goes bonkers (and sometimes the person inside the skin too) is often a good idea and good advice. Been there, done that, many times over the years.

      You will observe, by the way, that you are commenting on a blog-post from more than four years ago; no longer current or necessarily relevant.

      I am currently just using a plain bland moisturiser as eye cream, morning and evening, the same stuff I’m using on the rest of my face. And, during the day, the same sunscreen as on the rest of my face; applied once, rapidly, in the morning. Go minimalism!

      That post was originally intended as a general information post, a compendium collecting together lots of possible ideas (and products tried and/or used for longer over 20+ years) of which one (or some) might help someone, somewhere. It should be a matter of common sense not to do all these things at once, nor indeed everything in the several hundred posts on this blog: that would indeed be foolish!

      Thank you also for your concern about my mental health. It’s fine, but I agree with you–I take it this is your message, anyway?–that we should all be aware and mutually supportive, online, on OCD and other conditions.

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