Unusually, for a beauty journalist, I am an eye-cream skeptic. The reason is twofold: Firstly, things like dark circles and puffiness are often genetic and therefore incredibly hard to shift, and secondly, the eye area is so delicate, there’s a very low limit to how much of an active ingredient you can put in an eye cream before it becomes irritating. What are you left with? Usually something nice and hydrating.
However, there are exceptions to every rule, and my exception is Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Cream. This eye cream launched in 2017, and despite my skepticism, I found it almost impossible to avoid. I saw it in magazines, in countless “best of beauty” lists and on Instagram, all from people I trust, like the queen of radiance, Nam Vo (and the Strategist’s own Rio Viera-Newton).
Finally, last year, while mooching around Sephora, jet-lagged, grey-faced, and perhaps more susceptible to a promising tagline than usual, I bought a pot. I tried it for the first time at 12,000 feet on my flight back to London. Even in the poor cabin lighting, I could see an immediate difference in the shadow under my eyes, and my eyes seemed perkier. By the time we reached the tarmac at Heathrow, only my plane ticket told the world I’d been on the red eye.
What makes this eye cream special is the tint: It’s a sort of orangey-yellow hue. It operates on the same principle as “banana powder”, which is a yellow powder makeup artists have long used to cancel out greyness and sallowness under the eyes. I like to use it as a base for makeup, because it sort of pre-conceals the area and immediately makes me look more awake. It’s a nice creamy texture that absorbs quickly, but still has the area feeling soft and supple hours later. It has Vitamin E, glycerin, and vegetable collagen, which all add great surface hydration (which in turn, helps smooth the appearance of fine lines), and it also has a small amount of Vitamin C to help brighten the area.
The texture is so rich that I’ve only just recently needed to buy a second pot — the first one lasted me twice-daily use for over six months. Plus, given that I’ve seen beauty influencers like Dana Alexia and Nikita Baffour sharing their love for it on Instagram, it’s demonstrably good for a wide range of skin tones.
It would be false to say it converted me from an eye-cream skeptic (because it’s almost more of a concealer in some ways than any eye cream), but in ten years of looking for something to soften my dark circles, it’s been my only re-purchase.
Some other Strategist-recommended eye creams
If you’re dealing with raccoon eyes, Dr. Noelani Gonzalez, a dermatology specialist at Mount Sinai Health System, recommends this option from La Roche Posay. “This cream has caffeine, which helps constrict blood vessels and diminish the appearance of dark under-eye circles,” she explains. The caffeine works almost immediately to reduce the appearance of dark circles for the day. According to celebrity aesthetician Jordan Mattioli, the best general application method is to dab a few dots of cream under the eye and tap it in gently to avoid pulling or tugging on the skin. “Apply to the area under the eye and the sides of the eye but avoid your upper eyelid,” she adds.
“This is a fragrance-free eye cream loaded with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and niacinamide — a great combination of ingredients to treat signs of aging, even on those with extremely sensitive skin,” says Mattioli. Dr. Karen Hammerman of Schweiger Dermatology Group agrees and adds that not only are those ingredients extremely gentle for people with sensitive skin but they also “restore and maintain the skin’s natural protective barrier and help to keep the eye area hydrated and smooth.” Plus, the formula is non-greasy and noncomedogenic — meaning it won’t clog your pores — making it a good bet for those with oily or acne-prone skin, too.
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