Start Over Active Eye Cream
1 fl. oz. for $85
Category:Skin Care > Retinol Products > Eye Moisturizers
Last Updated:12.17.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:No
Review Overview

Start Over Active Eye Cream has a thin lotion texture, so its name is misleading, but its ingredients still enable it to moisturize fairly well, as it has a fairly moist finish. However, it's no more "active" than lots of other eye creams or similarly formulated facial moisturizers.

The fragrance-free formula is packaged to keep its light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable during use, which is a rarity in the eye cream category, not to mention that the size of this eye cream is double what most companies typically provide.

Of course, the claims stretch the bounds of what's possible (cannot eliminate dark circles or puffy eyes, nor can it lift skin), but to Sunday Riley's credit, it does contain several proven antioxidants, soothing plant extracts, emollients, and skin-repairing ingredients. These great ingredients aren't special for the eye area (see More Info to find out why you might not need to bother with an eye cream), but since they benefit skin anywhere on the face, it's nice to see them included here.

Although pricey, this ends up being one of the better products from Sunday Riley, though you can certainly consider any of the less expensive options on our list of Best Eye Moisturizers.

Note: Please see the brand summary for Sunday Riley for a discussion of this product's NV-5 Ageless Complex (in short, it is neither complex nor ageless).

  • Fragrance-free.
  • Lightweight yet moisture-rich.
  • Packaged to keep the light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable during use.
  • Contains a very good mix of non-fragrant plant oils plus other antioxidants.
  • Good source of skin-repairing fatty acids (although, sadly, these ingredients cannot fade dark circles).
  • Unlikely to reduce puffy eyes and cannot eliminate dark circles as claimed (though you may see slight improvement).
More Info:

Most eye creams aren't necessary. That's either because they 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 an eye cream doesn't mean it's good for your eye area; in fact, many can actually make matters worse.

There is much you can do to improve signs of aging around your eyes. Any product loaded with antioxidants, skin-repairing ingredients, skin-lightening ingredients, anti-inflammatory ingredients, and effective emollients will work wonders, and those ingredients don't have to come from a product labeled as an eye cream.

You would be shocked how many eye creams lack even the most basic ingredients to help skin. For example, most eye creams don't contain sunscreen. During the day that is a serious problem because it leaves the skin around your eyes vulnerable to sun damage and this absolutely will make dark circles, puffiness, and wrinkles worse!

Whatever product you put around your eye area, regardless of what it is labeled, must be well formulated and appropriate for the skin type around your eyes! That may mean you need an eye cream, but you may also do just as well applying your regular facial moisturizer around your eyes.


Start Over Active Eye Cream repairs, protects, and nourishes the delicate eye area while helping you appear more rested and alert. This lifting, brightening eye cream radically reduces puffiness, erases dark circles, and builds collagen.


NV-5 Ageless Complex (Opuntia Tuna Fruit (Prickly Pear) Extract, Agave Tequilana Leaf (Blue Agave) Extract, Cypripedium Pubescens (Lady’s Slipper Orchid) Extract, Opuntia Tuna Fruit, Opuntia Vulgaris (Cactus) Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract & Saccharmyces Cerevisiae (Yeast) Extract), Squalene and Olea Europea (Olive) Fruit Extract, Rosa Rubiginosa (Rosehip) Seed Oil, Punica Granataum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil, Methysilanol Carboxymethyl Theophylline, Butylene Glycol, PEG-75 Meadowsol, Ammonium Polyacrylate, Isohexadecane, PEG-40 Castor Oil, Hydroxyethyl, Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C Ester) Glucosamine HCL & Algae Extract & Yeast Extract & Urea, Algae Extract, Artemisia Vulgaris (Mugwort) Extract, Glabridine (Licorice) Extract, Lecithin, Cholesterol Oleyl Carbonate & Cholesteryl Nanoate & Cholesteryl Chloride, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil & Astaxanthin & Lycopene & Alpha D-Tocopherol, Methyl Paraben, Propyl Paraben, DMDM Hydantoin

Brand Overview

Strengths: All of the moisturizers are packaged to protect the effectiveness of their air-sensitive ingredients; the serums and moisturizers are rich sources of plant-based antioxidants; the sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection; good body-care products.

Weaknesses: Many highly fragrant products, and fragrance is a strong source of irritation for the skin; very expensive; disappointing cleansers; only one SPF product; limited products for oily or combination skin; lack of products for blemish-prone skin; questionable claims.

Sunday Riley is a brand that has captured the attention of women with its seductive mix of high-priced, luxury-positioned skin-care products and its ties to today’s top fashion designers. This coupling, plus the brand’s cult-like status among beauty editors, has led many of our readers to ask us whether Sunday Riley products are deserving of the hype and worth the cost. The answer: yes and no, but mostly no, because skin care doesn’t have to be this expensive.

Sunday Riley is a real person, born and raised in Houston, Texas. She used her own money to buy her first wrinkle cream at age 12 (she’s now in her mid-30s), stating recently in an article in The Wall Street Journal, “I was interested in makeup and beauty at a young age.”

That article went on to note that Riley studied chemistry at the University of Texas, and, after college, found work in cosmetics labs, although the article doesn’t say exactly what she did in those labs, and it’s not explained on her own website either. Nonetheless, her work apparently involved helping communications between cosmetics chemists and cosmetics company marketing teams. It was during this time that the seeds were planted for Riley to begin her own line, using only top-quality ingredients. (After all, who’d want to start a skin-care line using inferior ingredients, right?)

The product assortment Riley devised for her line consists of skin care and a growing collection of makeup. In this set of reviews, we review only the skin-care products because we get many more questions about them than we do about the makeup products.

A big marketing draw for Riley’s products is the NV-5 Ageless Complex. Despite the number “5” in this trade name, the complex contains a mix of seven plant ingredients: prickly pear extract, blue agave, lady’s slipper orchid extract, opuntia tuna fruit, cactus extract, aloe, and a type of yeast extract (Saccharomyces cerevisiae).

We explored the research on each of the ingredients in the NV-5 Ageless Complex, and we can state up front that this isn’t going to make anyone look ageless! While all of them have some benefit for skin, they’re not miracles in any way, they’re not expensive to include in formulas, and there’s no compelling reason to seek out products that contain them; they’re just some of the dozens of beneficial plant extracts. To repeat: These are not the ultimate answer by any means; it’s a sucker punch to believe otherwise, and it’ll hit you in your pocketbook.

Breaking them down, we found that the research shows prickly pear extract (also listed on the labels as Opuntia fruit and cactus extract) is the most beneficial ingredient in the NV-5 Ageless Complex because it has antioxidant properties and can also stimulate collagen production on sun-damaged skin, thanks to its ferulic acid content.

The lady’s slipper orchid and blue agave extracts have zero research pertaining to any benefit for the skin, but, like all plant extracts (even the fragrant ones), each likely functions as an antioxidant. The cactus extract has documented antioxidant ability when consumed orally, but there’s no research regarding topical application.

Aloe is a decent water-binding agent and a minor source of numerous beneficial compounds for the skin, but it’s certainly not unique to Sunday Riley. Finally, the form of yeast (Latin name Saccharomyces cerevisiae) isn’t all that exciting for skin either, as we discuss in our Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary.

Obtaining accurate ingredient lists for Sunday Riley products proved more challenging than for most products. Not only were we dealing with ingredient lists on their packaging statements that did not fully comply with FDA regulations for ingredient disclosure (for example, “NV5 Ageless Complex” is a trade mix, not an individual ingredient), but also many of the sites that sell this brand do not include accurate ingredient lists. Very frustrating for us, as well as for consumers, who are entitled to the truth about what a product contains, no matter where they shop.

Another wall we ran into: Just when we thought we had stumbled upon accurate lists on a reputable website that retails the brand, we found another trusted online retailer that had completely different lists! Adding all those issues up, and as you might expect, we were thoroughly confused. Emails to the company were ignored when we inquired about the ingredients, but, not surprisingly, we got near-instant replies when we asked about product prices. Despite all this, we’re reasonably confident that the ingredient lists we have assembled (and on which we base our reviews) are as accurate as they can be based on what Sunday Riley has divulged and what is printed on the products themselves.

The bottom line: This brand has some intriguing products and many of them contain beneficial ingredients that are packaged to maintain their effectiveness, but in no way is this the must-have, end-all anti-aging line to invest in. Even the highly rated products are on the pricey side for what you get, but at least if you choose to indulge you’ll know which products are worth buying!

For more information about Sunday Riley, visit www.sundayriley.com. The company currently does not provide a Customer Service phone number.

About the Experts

The new Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!

The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

Member Comments
Summary of Member Comments
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This eye cream really irritated my under-eye area and I definitely don't have sensitive skin, in fact I don't think I've ever had that problem with any other skincare product. I am just wondering what the culprit could be as it's fragrance-free?

Reviewed by
Beautypedia Team Response

Hi there!  We took another look at the ingredient list and there are no common irritants.  However, some people with allergies may have a reaction to the orchid extract.

not moisturizing enough

Mweh, rather disapointing product. Although the amount you get for your money plus the stable packaging are great, the product itself is too drying for my mature skin. I can use it freely on my face and neck BUT not so around my eyes. Alas, the queest for a de-puffing eye cream, one that does NOT accentuate the wrinkles around my eyes, continues. Such a pity.

Reviewed by
M.T. W.

For double the amount of product which is usually sold for eye products, this very light-weight yet moisturising cream-gel is instantly smoothing and brightening, giving the illusion of a 8+ hour sleep. Definite repurchase

Reviewed by
Benjamin D.
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