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Some product manufacturers have a tendency to stretch the truth to the limitations of the law. However, eye cream might be the longest-running hoax in the beauty and cosmetics market. According to New York City-based dermatologist Fayne Frey, MD, those dainty and expensive eye creams don’t contain anything special, just the same ingredients as facial moisturizers.

Most eye creams are made with water, humectants (like glycerin and emollients, which keep the skin feeling silky smooth), and occlusives (typically petrolatum or dimethicone), which keep the area moisturized. Manufacturers sometimes add thickeners to eye cream, giving it a slightly thicker texture than other kinds of moisturizers.

Although the skin around the eyes might seem thin and delicate, Frey says that a skin pathologist cannot tell the difference between the skin around the top of the cheekbone and the skin around the eyes. Some manufacturers have given their products a twist by adding collagen, caffeine, and peptides and touting them as “anti-aging” ingredients in order to increase sales. However, there’s no scientific study verifying that these additives have age-reversing effects.

These kinds of claims just skirt guidelines of The Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). Eye cream manufacturers can say that their product improves your complexion, but they can’t legally state that the cream will actually change the skin’s structure, because doing so would require FDA review and approval.

Manufacturers cash in from eye cream sales. Prices range from $13 to $100 for a half-an-ounce jar. If you’re concerned about puffy eyes or dry skin but don’t want to break the bank, try a cucumber mask or hazelnut or avocado oil. Propping up your head while you sleep increases elevation, which is beneficial for your skin. Also consider changing your diet, processed foods with lots of salt can cause the body to retain extra fluid, resulting in puffy eyes. 

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