Caring for the under-eye area is incredibly nuanced. There are myriad factors that cause changes in this area (like bags and dark circles, which are not synonymous, by the way), such as genetics, facial structure, and lifestyle choices, so it’s impossible to recommend a blanket solution to cover all these bases. Instead you need to search for ingredients that target the factors you’re hoping to influence. For me, that’s thin under-eye skin that gives way to a more “hollow” appearance and showcases fine lines. According to Dr. Michele Farber, M.D., of Schweiger Dermatology Group in Philadelphia, PA, one of the best ingredients to help plump under-eye skin is retinol.
“Retinol/retinoids are the gold standards for stimulating collagen, evening out skin tone, and reducing wrinkles,” Farber explains. “The under-eyes can be tricky, so various treatments can be combined to address concerns.” These treatments can include peptides (which help firm the skin), as well as hyaluronic acid for a temporary plumping effect. However, if your skin is quick to react to actives (like mine), then a pro-retinol may be your best bet.
While not touted as often as plain old retinol, it doesn’t actually contain any retinol. Both are in the retinoid family, but pro-retinol refers to retinoic acid, or a precursor ingredient that becomes active after it’s applied to the skin, explains Farber. In other words, if you’re new to retinols or know that you react unfavorably to them, pro-retinol is the way to go, especially when treating an area as delicate as the undereyes.
Knowing this, I came across Josie Maran’s new Argan Pro-Retinol Eye Cream. Along with pro-retinol, it has encapsulated hyaluronic acid to help hydrate and plump the skin, green coffee extract to help de-puff, as well as the brand’s hero product—sustainably sourced argan oil—to lock in moisture and strengthen the skin barrier. When I asked Farber how to use it, she recommended starting out at two to three nights a week. “This particular formulation is likely to be more tolerable because it has hydrating ingredients like argan oil,” she notes.
The first night of my trial, I was immediately excited by the consistency of the eye cream. It feels like fancy butter and melts on contact. The brand recommends you apply it 360, so I tapped some on my lids and along the sides of my eyes, which is genius because, of course, these areas also degrade as you age. My skin reacted so well to the formula that I ended up applying it consecutively every night and was pleasantly surprised at how refreshed I looked each morning—some eye creams actually make me look puffy when I wake up (a result of the cream either wandering into your eyes while you sleep or reacting negatively with your skin). The hydrating effects also made my fine lines much less noticeable.
While I’ve had many different reactions to eye creams (read: milia, puffiness, a somehow increased translucency), I can honestly say that this eye cream has caused no adverse reactions and has made my under-eyes look fresher and dare I say… bouncier? I’m excited to continue using this product for the next several months to give it an even better test run and to continue to build upon my already-apparent results.