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I think it's fair to say that I have a... complicated relationship with eye creams and treatments (as documented here and here). The vast majority simply can't live up to the bold claims made of them and given the price-point most of these products come in at, I've sometimes wondered if they're worth the fuss at all. However, over the past couple of months I've tried two new products that I feel have delivered some noticeable improvements and allowed me to get actives that will genuinely help address my eye concerns around that delicate area. With realistic expectations, I can also recommend them to you, so let's dive into the formulas...
First up, let's talk about the Dr Sam Bunting Flawless Nightly Eye Serum* | £37. I did actually review a few products from this brand and give a bit of an overview of it generally here, but in short: Dr Sam is a dermatologist with a Harley Street clinic and does a lot of skin education on YouTube and Instagram. The product line is simple but packed full of effective actives blended together in a way that's gentle on the skin and streamlines your routine. I also appreciate that cosmetic elegance and giving us a product that's nice to use and looks good on your shelf isn't overlooked, because you're not going to get the benefits of amazing ingredients if you aren't reaching for your products. It's the brand I'd push someone in the direction of if they don't mind investing a little but just want proven ingredients without having to worry about mixing and matching and wondering if this single-ingredient serum can be used with that single-ingredient serum. I personally do believe that with caution and a lot of consideration, you can find ways to use your facial retinoid around the eyes, but for a lot of people: it's a bit risky and a lot of effort, so I understand the place for a multi-active formula like this that's been created specifically for that delicate area where the skin is thinner.
This serum actually has more of a cream texture, so you don't need to put moisturiser or an eye cream over the top of it, but I guess it's just making it clear that this is an active and not just a moisturising cream and it also serves as a reminder on which stage you want to apply this for maximum efficacy (before your moisturiser). The texture is light and the product absorbs effortlessly (you really only need a pea-sized amount applied with the ring finger, focusing under the eyes but also taking whatever's left onto the lid) so I really don't think it's likely this is going to aggravate milia or anything like that. It's fragrance-free, which is my preference, as someone with very sensitive eyes.
In terms of the superstar actives: we have 2% granactive retinoid, which is one of these next-generation retinoids that's much gentler that retinol. Retinoids - on the off chance you don't already know - are Vitamin A derivatives AKA, the one group of topicals we have tons of research on in terms of actually reversing signs of photodamage. Whilst many ingredients can slow down the signs of ageing, retinoids can actually improve damage already done. In the context of an eye treatment, their secondary advantage would be to help improve discolouration. Don't freak out at the '2%', which would be a very high concentration if this was retinol: the way in which this is delivered to your skin is what makes it a lot less intense than this percentage sounds. This also makes it easier to formulate it alongside other actives. Niacinamide is in the mix too at 5%: that sweet spot of delivering you all the benefits but avoiding potential irritation. It helps strengthen the skin barrier by boosting up ceramide production and also helps prevent discolouration transferring through the skin, so can have some benefits for pigmentation under the eyes. Then we have 2% ascorbyl glucoside, which is a gentle Vitamin C derivative. Vitamin C is great for brightening but also has antioxidant benefits which can remain active in the skin even the next morning, protecting it from free radical damage.
Then we also have moisturisers like squalane (a plant-derived skin-identical oil) and shea butter for nourishment. That's why I don't find it necessary to also go in with a moisturiser or cream over the top: this is a great all-rounder, moisturising without causing greasiness or overloading my eye area with rich product. Has my eye area been totally transformed?! No, my eye concerns are complex: whilst some of the darkness in this area is pigmentation, I do also believe some of it is just the structure of my eye. However, I feel this improved the overall look of my eyes so they look a little bit less dark, a little bit less baggy and a little bit less creased. It also works extremely well for dry and dehydrated eyes, which can also be a cause of that crepey appearance. It brings together lightweight moisture and actives that will actually make a dent in some of the underlying causes of eye concerns. I've used this every night since I got it and don't see myself reaching for anything else as part of my evening routine; a big deal when reviewing skincare products is what I do!
During the daytime, I've been reaching for the Dermalogica Awaken Peptide Eye Gel* | £55. Dermalogica is one of those brands that's just continually impressed me more and more with each launch. I won't lie: a lot of their classic products like the exfoliating powder aren't necessarily my cup of tea, but over the past couple of years, they seem to just keep hitting the mark. Despite being one of the OG brands you can find at beauty counters, I feel they're still thriving because they've adapted over the years.
The gel texture of this product is pretty ideal because there's no risk of it causing milia or messing up your makeup, but if you feel you want a little extra something, it's super easy to just layer your facial moisturiser over the top of it. It melts into the skin and has a lovely cooling effect on tired morning eyes, especially if you pop it in the fridge or use it alongside a cool metal tool.
In terms of ingredients, its namesake is of course the Palmitoyle Tripeptide-7, a key component of Matrixyl 3000. Peptides are short-chain amino acids that have hydrating and plumping properties but can also help slow down collagen degradation in the skin. Collagen depletes with age and is what gives the skin that plumpness and bounce; under the eyes, the skin is naturally thinner, which is why they're one of the first places you notice signs of ageing and the sins of a late night or too much to drink... They're a gentle but powerful active in your well-ageing arsenal. There are other beneficial ingredients in the mix too: rosemary extract can be soothing and acts as an antioxidant, glycerin draws water into the skin to plump and hydrate, the hydrolysed jojoba esters moisturise the skin in a really lightweight way and caffeine. The benefits of caffeine in an eye treatment are twofold: firstly, it's a great antioxidant, but secondly, it can act as a vasoconstrictor so minimises the visibility of blood vessels under the thin eye skin so the area looks less dark.
I love this product; the antioxidants protect, the peptide helps maintain collagen and in terms of more immediate, observable results: this is hydrating and plumping. One of the major differences I've observed since using this is that I get less of that multi-fold creasing and bunching up of the skin under my eyes that makes me look tired even when I'm truly not.
All in all: this is my eye care dream team and I don't plan on switching things up any time soon. Sometimes as a creator, it gets a bit lost that if something is working for you, it's a good idea to stick with it. However, the amount of disappointing eye treatments I've tried over the years has made me really appreciate how great these two have been for my skin. You don't have to use an eye cream but if you choose to, it's important to be realistic in your expectations. But as someone who had become a little indifferent to them: these formulas have knocked my socks off!
Are you team eye cream or team no eye cream?