I have a million things to say about the under-eye product that changed the way I shop, think, and get ready in the morning. But before I wax poetic about the efficacy of this $7 serum, let’s talk about eye creams, and why you probably haven’t found one that works yet.
Are eye creams a scam?
It’s a well-supported conspiracy in the skincare world that eye creams are nothing more nor less than regular moisturizer with a different consistency. Which is not to say that a retinol-hyaluronic acid-vitamin C eye cream is bad for you, just that a quality facial moisturizer will contain all or some combination of these things already. If you’re investing in a good facial product, you might reconsider doubling down on a redundant under-eye cream.
Sometimes manufacturers will throw expensive additions into these pricey little jars of lotion to justify the high markup, but, unfortunately, there are very few ingredients that can actually tackle our specific under-eye area concerns. Except for one.
Caffeine as a topical ingredient has the ability to constrict blood vessels beneath the skin (which register as blue), reducing the appearance of dark circles and decreasing puffiness. Unfortunately, the leftover grounds from your morning coffee aren’t potent enough to have an effect. If you want to experience the benefits of caffeine on your under-eye area, you’ll need a concentrated source.
What’s a good caffeine-containing product?
The Ordinary’s Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG (which stands for “epigallocatechin gallatyl glucoside,” a scary-sounding antioxidant found in tea) is an excellent source of concentrated caffeine, and a total game changer in my beauty routine.
If you’re familiar with the brand, it may not be for the best reasons. But, whatever drama has unfolded at the corporate level, one thing that has never wavered is the quality of its products.
The Ordinary forever changed the skincare industry by offering potent, effective ingredients at disruptive prices. Case in point: its caffeine serum, which boasts a way-above industry standard 5 percent concentration of caffeine, at an unheard of price of $7.
How much do eye creams cost?
A quick search for eye creams on Sephora.com shows a price range from $260 (for AmorePacific’s Time Response Eye Reserve Crème) to $14 (for Milk Makeup’s Cooling Water). Strangely, The Ordinary’s Caffeine Solution doesn’t populate in this category.
Given these stats, the average price of an under-eye cream is $137. If we look at the middle two pages of results, the median price is around $53. Any which way you want to cut it, this powerful serum is leaps and bounds below the going rate.
Ok, but does it work?
Of course, price point would mean nothing if the product didn’t work. Here’s what I’ve found in my year and change of using it: When I wake up in the morning (groggy, gross) and get around to my AM skincare routine, I’ll cleanse, treat, tone, and moisturize. At that point, I’ll take a teensy scoop of my facial moisturizer and add a drop or two of The Ordinary’s Caffeine Solution, blend the mixture in my palm, and swipe it around my eye area.
I’ll fuss about with other morning errands, and by the time it comes to do my makeup, my dark patches are noticeably less dark. I still dab on some under-eye concealer, because I prefer to, but the overall effect is that I’m having a good under-eye day — fellow genetic dark circle-havers will know the feeling.
Is it worth it?
What this products brings to the table is that any day can be a good under-eye day, with just a droplet of serum. The caveat (there’s always a caveat) is that the effects don’t last. No amount of consistent use will result in a cumulative improvement of the under-eye area — in fact, short of surgery, nothing will.
Still, for my purposes, this serum is perfect. In just 10 seconds, and for a matter of pennies, I’m able to temporarily and convincingly eradicate the purple bags that are otherwise a permanent fixture on my face.