The allure of eyes is dimmed somewhat by dark circles, puffing and wrinkled contours so it is no wonder we are exhorted to keep the delicate skin around them in optimum condition.
This comes as much from within as from without - a decent night's sleep for starters and watching what you eat and drink - but you can help by avoiding too much squinting and rubbing and by applying a little cosmetic care.
I admit to being lazy about eye creams, but judging by the number out there, others are more meticulous. Eye serums are the latest thing to layer on with eye creams, adding to the offering.
The theory is that the serum is more of a treatment, whereas the cream is more of a moisturiser, but often the latter comes with a plethora of anti-ageing claims as well, leaving you to determine if you want to double up or alternate one for day and one for night.
In picking an eye product consider what you want to address. Is it illumination, firming or simply a little precautionary moisture?
Dark circles are most easily addressed by disguise. Wear concealer and/or an illuminating product. I've been convinced that this is applied best over a light eye cream or, if you prefer, a gel formula. Having this moisturising layer underneath means your concealer will brush on smoothly, thus avoiding drag on the skin and making build-up less likely in any creases.
If you are looking to target fine lines and deter these from deepening then you should look to a more intense cream and serums with firming agents. Don't dollop it on, however, because too much rich cream can build up overnight in the tear ducts making eyes appear puffy. Apply whatever you use in gentle pats around the eye contour area.
To encourage spoonfeeding your skin, several prestige products are sold with little smooth applicators that allow you to apply a measured amount of cream on the offending area. Avoid using scratchy plastic trowels that come with cheaper products. Instead, apply with your ring or pinky finger in preference to the stronger index or middle ones. Runnier serums often come with medicinal-style droppers, ensuring you get a measured dose of this latest pricey skincare trick to try.
1. Lancome Genifique 20ml Light Pearl - $128
Genifique has been a big hit for Lancome for several years, with the skin serum joined by face and eye creams and most recently this "eye illuminating youth activator". The range's story is about boosting proteins that are characteristic of young skin. The eye serum's dispenser or "light pearl" is a metal teardrop-shape, which has a pleasantly cooling effect when used for a massaging application of this fine-textured clear fluid which is meant to be followed by use of the Genifique eye cream.
2. Elemis Pro-Collagen 15ml Advanced Eye Treatment - $119
This serum comes from a salon-specialist English company's anti-ageing range, which aims to support the collagen underpinning healthy skin structure. It contains plant active pavonica and linseed to smooth and firm, with humectants to help moisture levels, dispensed from a glass dropper. A good dual purpose option with a nice, light, fluid feel.
3. YSL Forever Youth Liberator 15ml Eye Zone Serum - $135
Part of the much-touted Forever Youth Liberator line, which draws on research into the actions of complex sugars called glycans in skin structure. YSL worked with a leading chemist to understand their role and why they decline with age. It has developed a patented synthesised glycan combination, which is said to boost glycan levels, leaving skin more luminous and less lined. The clear, thick, fragranced serum with a dropper is meant to be used twice daily in addition to a moisturising eye cream.
4. La Mer The Eye Concentrate - $390
More cream than serum, this qualifies for inclusion due to its triple dose of La Mer's Miracle Broth, the mix of marine extracts at the heart of the range and its skin transforming claims. This concentrate also includes hematite, a magnetically charged mineral said to help dispel surface discolouration and darkness.
A metal applicator ball allows for a soothing spread and helps boost micro-circulation. (La Mer also offers an intensive balm, targeted for eyes where puffiness is a concern.) The company recommends that the original Creme de la Mer is used for moisturising afterwards.
5. Guerlain 15ml Super Aqua-Eye Serum - $184
Offers immediate non-oily hydration and is said to reduce wrinkles, puffiness and dark circles over time. Guerlain's original Super Aqua Serum, launched in 1987, was founded on the wrinkle-plumping effect of sound skin hydration and its research since has focused on improving product absorption and quality water retention within the cells. This eye serum contains yeast and plant extracts, with one pump yielding enough of the light cream to apply around both eyes. I'd use this in preference to a heavier eye cream and like that it has a very mild fragrance.
6. Prevage Clinical Lash + Brow Enhancing Serum - $190
The odd one out, this certainly isn't for slathering around the eyes unless you want those tiny facial hairs to suddenly sprout. Instead, apply it carefully along the lash line and on the brow to encourage hair growth where you want it. Seeing we're in the vicinity and because it's called a serum, we've added this to our eye product rundown, partly because, as a lash-growth stimulant, it stands out in coming from Elizabeth Arden's premium anti-ageing line Prevage and being developed in conjunction with a renowned eye institute. It is suitable for contact lens wearers to use and has rated highly in consumer tests, with 100 per cent of users noting results within two weeks. The serum treats lash and brow breakage and brittleness with a peptide complex and antioxidants to support and promote hair growth.
Stockists: Brand counters at selected department stores and pharmacies, with Guerlain and La Mer exclusive in the upper North Island to Smith & Caughey's (Guerlain at Queen St store only). Elemis from East Day spas, eastdayspa.co.nz