The skin around your eyes is like that honorable, hopelessly honest friend: It simply doesn't lie. Thus it's the first place where men begin to show unwanted signs of aging – dark circles, crows feet, sagging. And it's where evidence of poor lifestyle habits quickly make themselves known (need we list them?). There's no shortage of men's eye care products to help, but navigating the profusion typically makes it a non-starter for most guys.
When it comes to puffiness and dark circles, there are causes you can manage with varying degrees of ease, including lack of sleep, consuming excess alcohol, smoking, allowing yourself to get dehydrated, and a high sodium diet. But Board Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Whitney Bowe, says that less in your control are sources like heredity, and the simple fact of getting older. "As we age, the pockets of fat under our eyes starts to sag, creating a depression that can lead to dark shadows," she explains.
But to drag out a timeworn bit of aphoristic wisdom, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. "Eye care should start in the 20s," says Dr. Howard Sobel, director of the New York Institute of Aesthetic Dermatology and Laser Surgery. "Eye creams with caffeine or vitamin K will constrict the blood vessels under the eyes and help with dark circles too." He also recommends using an eye cream with protective SPF during the day and one with reparative antioxidants or retinol for night. Dr. Bowe emphasizes the importance of sun protection. "The sun is the biggest factor that contributes to fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes," she says, "so the earlier you start wearing sunscreen around the eyes and wearing UV-protective sunglasses, the better."
So how does one make sense of the aisles and rows of products? Here's a cheat sheet, courtesy of Dr Bowe: Gels are best for bags and creams are best for fine lines and wrinkles. Serums, which penetrate deepest and contain nutrients, are made to boost the effectiveness of both. Any lotion applied to your eyes should be gently tapped in and cover the area from just below the tear duct to the start of your eyebrow. (And your mother was right: Rubbing is bad for your eyes, period.)
Obviously, a healthy lifestyle will go a long way to slowing the onset of the inevitable, but a consistent use of eye creams will help you look your best. We've tested the range, from the best anti-aging creams to hangover-neutralizing gels and pulled together our short list of the most effective (we also included runner-ups for each category). But if you just can't bring yourself into the game (those bottles are kinda small and dainty), Dr. Sobel suggests an easy cheat: "You can use the same eye care products as your girlfriend or wife," he says. "Just make sure there's no 'girlie' fragrance first."
Best for While You Sleep: RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream
Retinol is a powerful form of vitamin A that has been shown to reduce wrinkles, boost collagen production, and even out discoloration. Retinol degrades in light, and so should never be used during the day – especially as doing so can actually damage your skin. As such, put this on before bed and wash it off in the morning. We like this particular cream because it comes in an aluminum tube, which keeps the Retinol away from the light. [$22 for .5 oz; target.com]
Also try: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream [$20.99 for .5 oz; neutrogena.com]