retinol near the eyes

retinol around the eye Source: FashionStock.com/Shutterstock

Retinol is considered to be the holy grail of skincare ingredients by derms, estheticians, and beauty bloggers alike due to its ability to virtually transform your face overnight! But while we know it should be a part of our weekly skincare regime, sometimes it can be kinda confusing knowing when and how to use it. Also, because it’s such a potent ingredient, the fear that it’ll mess up your skin is real, especially around the eye area.

When used correctly and carefully on the eye area, however, retinol can reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and lessen the appearance of dark circles, which is why it’s crucial you know how to use it. To save you the trouble, we contacted the experts; Here’s the derm’s guide to using retinol around the eyes.

Why you need to use retinol…

“Retinol helps with skin smoothing, the evening of pigmentation, enhancing of collagen production, and many other benefits,” says Joie Tavernise, esthetician and founder of JTAV Clinical Skincare. With every miracle worker product there are sometimes downsides, however, and Tavernise is quick to point out “drying and flakiness can occur when you initially start using it, although with consistent applications these side effects reduce and the benefits will start to show.”

…Especially around the eyes

And speaking of benefits, using retinoids around the eyes can have an effect on “dark circles, brown spots, and fine lines and wrinkles, such as crows feet,” says Tavernise. It can also help boost collagen production and we could all use a little more of that around the peepers, since the skin around the eye is the most delicate and takes a toll earlier than the rest of your visage. But before you go slathering on any ol’ retinoid you have lying around, just hold up. There’s a reason more and more eye-specific formulas are hitting beauty counters and drugstore shelves and that’s because you need to be cautious when using the high-potency stuff near this sensitive area.

eye cream

Retinol eye creams

“The area of the eyes is extremely reactive and therefore I always recommend that when using an eye cream, lotion, or gel, it be one that is manufactured and formulated specifically for use around the eyes,” explains celebrity dermatologist Dr. Francesca Fusco. “It helps if it’s labeled as having been tested by ophthalmologists as well.” BRB, checking every retinol label to triple check this right now. Fusco also suggests being light-handed with your application in the form of a “less is better” approach. “Follow the instructions and try not to apply it very close to bedtime (or too close to the lash line), as this puts you at an increased risk of the product migrating into the eyes and causing irritation,” she adds.

Post-retinol 101

Another heads up you should know about is after-care the next day. Because retinol essentially sheds dead layers of skin so you can grow new ones, you’re left extra exposed. Which means SPF (especially around the eyes) is critical, as are sunglasses according to Fusco. “I recommend that individuals begin by using it once or twice a week and if it’s well tolerated, slowly increase the use to every day. Some individuals cannot tolerate it every day and get dry and flaky and in those cases, I recommend to use it the number of days your skin can tolerate it.”

A retinol alternative for more sensitive skin

Still scared of retinol near your eyeballs? We get it and New York-based facial plastic surgeon Dr. Michelle Yagoda has an alternative solution. She prefers glycolic acid products that are non-neutralized, like GlyDerm Hydrating Eye Cream, $35. “For a glycolic acid to be effective, it must be in the pH range of 1.9 to 2.2 and Glyderm products range in pH from 1.9 to 2.0 (close to the free acid’s pH),” she says. “This means that in contrast to retinols, glycolic products are quite emollient and provide anti-aging benefits, without harshness and without drying.”

If you are down to try a retinol eye product, here are a few of Dr. Fusco’s favorites:

retinol_eye_creams_Source: First Aid Beauty, Elizabeth Arden, Peter Thomas

Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum, $48: These lightweight capsules contains a serum that combines retinol and ceramides to minimize wrinkles and improve the texture and tone of the skin. The retinol in the capsules is proven to be 76% more potent than unencapsulated retinol.

Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM Eye Cream, $55: Formulated with shea butter, vitamin C, E, and of course the hero ingredient; retinol, this eye cream will rejuvenate and restore the eye area leaving you with bright, youthful under eyes.

First Aid Beauty Eye Duty Triple Remedy, $36: This 3-in-1 treatment will brighten, depuff, and smooth the skin. It also has a peach undertone so it can be used as a light coverage concealer for fairer skin tones or as a primer underneath your concealer.

Have you guys ever tried using retinol around your eyes? Let us know in the comments below.