Tested on animals:Yes
L'Oreal's Age Perfect Eye Renewal Cream claims to improve all the major signs of eye-area aging, but its formula has some drawbacks that, coupled with what research has shown is possible, makes this product's selling points more marketing invention than reality.
Let's begin with the potentially problematic amount of denatured alcohol this eye cream contains. This form of alcohol is best avoided when it's among a skincare product's first few ingredients, as we explain in the More Info section below. Although the amount of alcohol could be considered "not that bad," it's enough that you'll get a whiff of it as you apply this fragrance-free eye cream—and you might feel a cooling sensation as the alcohol evaporates. We wish that cooling sensation meant skin was being refreshed, but in this case it's evidence that irritation is happening, and irritation is pro-aging!
We're happy that this emollient eye cream is packaged to keep its light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable—but disappointed that those beneficial ingredients make up a small portion of the formula. Still, this does contain some well-researched, tried-and-true moisturizing ingredients such as mineral oil, shea butter, and dimethicone.
Regarding those ingredients, we wanted to mention that Age Perfect Eye Renewal Eye Cream shares many of the same ingredients and overall formula that's seen in other eye creams from L'Oreal (and those from Lancome, whom L'Oreal owns), some of which make different claims. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but we're curious—why not diversify a bit? After all, there are hundreds of great ingredients to include in an eye cream, especially when you have the formulary budget of a giant like L'Oreal.
This eye cream contains brightening pigments (tin oxide, titanium dioxide) that add a soft, radiant sheen around the eyes. This effect can "brighten" the undereye area, which may slightly improve the look of dark circles (but if hiding them is your concern, you'll still need to use concealer after this).
Regarding the claims of reducing undereye bags, don't count on this eye cream to make a difference in their appearance. Sadly, this concern is beyond the reach of what skincare can do. That's because in almost all cases, this telltale pouching is caused by fat pads shifting beneath skin. This issue can only be fixed by cosmetic surgery, not a moisturizing eye cream like this.
In the end, Age Perfect Renewal Eye Cream has its strong points, but they're just not strong or distinctive enough to warrant a higher rating from us, plus there are drawbacks. The packaging is great, this eye cream can absolutely moisturize dry skin around the eyes, and its brightening effect is attractive. However, we're concerned about the potentially irritating amount of alcohol and the pro-aging effects it can have—especially given the delicate nature of the skin around the eye area.
See our list of Best Eye Moisturizers for our current top picks, but before you do that, check out the More Info section to find out why you may not need to bother with eye cream at all!
- Fragrance-free formula contains several very good moisturizing ingredients.
- Packaged to keep the light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable during use.
- Cosmetically brightens the undereye area
- Contains a potentially irritating amount of alcohol; you can smell it upon application and feel a cooling sensation as the cream absorbs.
- The tiny amount of antioxidants present cannot tackle every eye-area concern.
- This eye cream cannot improve undereye bags, as this concern almost always requires surgery.
Alcohol-Based Skincare Products: A significant amount of research shows alcohol causes free-radical damage in skin even at low levels (Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 2012). Small amounts of alcohol on skin cells in lab settings (about 3%, but keep in mind skin-care products contain amounts ranging from 5% to 60% or greater) over the course of two days increased cell death by 26%. It also destroyed the substances in cells that reduce inflammation and defend against free radicals—this process actually causes more free-radical damage. If this weren't bad enough, exposure to alcohol actually causes skin cells to self-destruct (Alcohol, 2002).
Research also shows that these destructive, aging effects on skin cells increased the longer skin was exposed to alcohol; for example, two days of exposure was dramatically more harmful than one day, and that's at only a 3% concentration (Alcohol, 2002). In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012 & Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).
For more on alcohol's (as in, ethanol, denatured alcohol, and ethyl alcohol) effects on skin, see the Paula's Choice Research Team's Expert Advice article on the topic, Alcohol in Skin Care: The Facts.
Why You May Not Need an Eye Cream: There is much you can do to improve signs of aging around your eyes, but this doesn't have to include using an eye-area product. Any product loaded with antioxidants, emollients, skin-repairing and anti-inflammatory ingredients will work wonders when used around the eye area. Those ingredients don't have to come from a product labeled as an eye cream or gel or serum or balm—they can come from any well-formulated moisturizer or serum.
Most eye-area products aren't necessary because so many are poorly formulated, contain nothing special for the eye area, or come in packaging that won't keep key ingredients stable. Just because the product is labeled as a special eye-area treatment doesn't mean it's good for the eye area or any part of the face; in fact, many can actually make matters worse.
You would be shocked how many eye-area products lack even the most basic ingredients to help skin. For example, most eye-area products don't contain sunscreen. During the day, that is a serious problem if you aren't wearing it under a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 30+ as it leaves the skin around your eyes vulnerable to sun damage—and that absolutely will make dark circles, puffiness, and wrinkles worse. Of course, for nighttime use, eye-area products without sun protection are just fine.
Whatever product you put around your eye area, regardless of what it is labeled, must be well formulated and appropriate for the skin type you have around your eyes. You may prefer using a specially labelled eye cream, but you may also do just as well applying your regular facial moisturizer and/or serum around your eyes.