The jury is still out as to whether or not you need an eye cream—but, boy, can it help your makeup glide right on and blend in patch-free. If you’re looking for a new eye cream to slot into your daily makeup prep routine, cult-favorite clean beauty brand, Ilia, just launched its new Bright Start Activated Eye Cream ($46). According to the brand, the pearlescent eye cream will brighten the under eye area, deliver a heavy dose of moisture, and plump fine lines and wrinkles. It sounds too good to be true, so I put it to the test. Ahead, all the details on the highly anticipated launch, and my honest review.
Although this launch is technically Ilia’s first foray into the skincare category, the brand has been fortifying its makeup products with skin-boosting actives since the get-go. “I would like to believe that our hero product, Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 ($48), was really our first step into skincare,” says Sasha Plavsic, Ilia’s founder. “That product minimizes your morning routine into one step for complexion, with the benefits of makeup, skincare and SPF combined." Plavsic also hints that there's much more skincare to come from the brand.
Ilia offers an array of color cosmetics that work in tandem to complete your makeup routine, like a moisturizing Balmy Gloss Tinted Lip Oil ($26), a high-impact Fullest Volumizing Mascara ($28), and a cheek-and-lip-friendly Multi-Stick ($34)—and they’re all offered in sustainable packaging and are certified cruelty-free.
So, why an eye cream as a first official step into a skincare collection? Plavsic explains: “When I was younger, I had oily skin, and now that I’m in my 40s I have dry skin—but my under eyes always needed moisture before makeup application.” She explains that she would typically reach for a gel to cool her under eyes and then a cream to provide a moisturized finish. “Finding [an eye cream] that could absorb nicely, work with concealer, and deliver skincare was where I saw a gap. This inspired the creation of Bright Start Activated Eye Cream.”
The Bright Start Activated Eye Cream has a lightweight texture that soaks into the skin, while light-reflecting pearl creates a brightening effect that’s perfect for blurring dark circles, fine lines, and wrinkles. What’s cool about this formula is that it uses sea fennel extract, a plant-based retinol alternative that’s safe to use around the eyes. Says Plavsic, “Sea fennel extract, in my eyes, may be the new bakuchiol. It’s sustainably harvested and can be used during the day without the common sunlight concerns that accompany retinols.”
In addition, the Bright Start Activated Eye Cream also includes upcycled avocado extract, a zero-waste active that minimizes the appearance of puffiness and dark circles. Caffeine and peptides both work to brighten tired eyes, while the ceramic applicator provides a cooling sensation that further wakes up your eyes before makeup application.
Of course, you can use this product in the morning before your makeup application, but Plavsic gives her stamp of approval for using this as a nighttime eye cream as well. “The packaging is also essential to this product with a cooling ceramic tip that doubles as a massage tool for a moment of calm as you begin your day before the chaos of life erupts,” she says. “[Still], the feel-good aspect during application makes Bright Start Activated Eye Cream a product you can use day and night as one of the first steps in your routine.”
I have hereditary dark circles that have had a mind of their own for as long as I can remember. (My kindergarten teacher once asked me if I wore mascara that had smeared onto my under eyes—when I say my dark circles were there for as long as I can remember, I mean it.) Sometimes, I wake up with dark circles that are only barely there, and other times I wake up with dark circles that make it look like I haven’t slept for an entire week.
First and foremost, I will note that although the ceramic applicator does a phenomenal job at providing a cooling massage, since it’s ceramic, it doesn’t soak up any excess product. This may sound great at first, but it led me to accidentally apply too much eye cream the first few times—I usually apply more than I need since my fingers soak up some product. Because I applied too much, I experienced some pilling during concealer application. But as soon as I used a smaller amount and let the product soak in for a few minutes before applying concealer, there was no pilling in sight.
As far as the formula goes, I’ve found ways to brighten my under eye area, but they primarily include makeup magic like brightening concealers and light-reflecting highlighters. After trying this product for about three weeks, I noticed an increase in the brightness of my under eye, thanks to the light-reflecting pearls inside, which made me not need as many brightening makeup products. I usually find that most “pearly” eye creams have a gritty texture that can take away from actually moisturizing my skin—this one has a gel-cream consistency that truly moisturizes my skin and provides a plumping effect to my hollow eye area. I’m glad to report that using this product both day and night has led me to an all-around brighter, smoother, and more even under-eye area.
You can shop the Ilia Bright Start Activated Eye Cream for $46 at iliabeauty.com and sephora.com.