The Science Behind Eye Serums: Are They As Good As Everyone Says?

Written by: Rebecca Eaton



Time to read 7 min

In the expansive realm of skincare, one product has quietly claimed its place in the spotlight: the much-loved, and widely talked about eye serum. These power-packed wonders promise to turn back the clock on your delicate eye area, reducing wrinkles, banishing dark circles, and rejuvenating tired eyes. But with so many products competing for your attention, the question remains: are eye serums truly worth the investment or are they yet another hyped up marketing spiel not worth the price tag? 

From benefits to application and everything in between, this blog will delve into the nitty gritty of eye serums and whether or not they deserve a spot in your skincare routine. 

The quick guide:

What is an Eye Serum?

Similarly to other facial serums, an eye serum is intentionally formulated to help target issues specific to the eye region. From unwanted puffiness and fine lines to dark under-eye circles, eye serums generally contain an elixir of potent ingredients with low molecular weights to ensure your skin can quickly and efficiently absorb the goodness and get to work immediately. 

While formulas will vary from brand to brand, you may find the following ingredients in your eye serum:

  • Caffeine
  • Vitamin E
  • Lactic Acid
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Niacinamide
  • Ceramide
  • Vitamin A 

Why Do People Use Eye Serums?

If you’re thinking, “For the same reason people use any skincare products: to feel and look more youthful, vibrant, and glowing,” you’re absolutely correct. However, there’s a little more to understand when it comes to eye serums.

As aforementioned, eye serums are explicitly designed to target concerns generally isolated to the eye area, like puffy under eyes, dark circles, and crow’s feet. 

But why might this matter, potentially more, than any other area of your body? Simply put, the skin around your eyes is the thinnest skin found on your body, meaning it’s the most delicate and susceptible to premature ageing and damage. Generally speaking, skin is naturally thinner under our eyes anyway. However, additional common causes can contribute to its fragility, including ageing, sun damage, smoking, diet, genetics, medication, and poor sleep quality. Therefore, if you don’t take extra precautions to safeguard your eyes, they’re sadly more likely to show the first signs of ageing and poor health choices. 

A woman applying eye serum around her eyes

What Are The Benefits of Eye Serums?

1. They’re designed to target eye-specific concerns

Much like face serums, eye serums contain high concentrations of quality ingredients (generally two or more active ingredients) that are carefully chosen to target specific concerns. Unlike moisturisers that are thicker in consistency and designed to keep the skin hydrated and moisture locked in to prevent dryness, eye serums work below the skin’s surface to incite change. Generally speaking, eye serums are formulated to correct one or more of the following concerns: wrinkles and fine lines, puffiness, or dark under-eye circles. 

Given the skin on this area of your face is so thin, it’s important to use more than just a skin barrier-protecting cream (i.e. moisturiser) if your goal is to preserve or restore youthfulness to the eyes. 

For example, you may find that your eye serum contains one or more of the following ingredients, which all work seamlessly to offer varying benefits:

  • Vitamin E moisturises and soothes the eye area.
  • Niacinamide brightens and hydrates the eye area while also helping control excess sebum production. 
  • AHAs (i.e., lactic acid, glycolic acid, and mandelic acid): help treat hyperpigmentation.
  • Peptides: support collagen production and may help reduce the appearance of fine lines. 
  • Vitamin C offers powerful antioxidant benefits that help protect your skin from the sun while providing skin-brightening properties.
  • Caffeine reduces dark undereye circles and eye puffiness. 
  • Retinol (Vitamin A) reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It is best used in the evening due to its sensitivity to the sun.

2. They are rapidly absorbed and utilised 

The primary defining characteristic of a serum is its thin, weightless consistency. Due to a serum’s low molecular weight, it can easily penetrate the skin’s surface and get to work quickly. What exactly does this mean, and why is it such a bonus? (in addition to working quickly, of course!):

  • The more lightweight your skincare, the more likely it is to play friendly with other skincare products and make-up. Unlike moisturiser, which can often conflict with make-up due to its thick consistency, a lightweight serum absorbs easily into your skin, making it the perfect base layer for other products to blend with seamlessly (more on this point shortly)
  • Just about all skin types can benefit from an eye serum due to its fast absorption rate. This is particularly beneficial for people with oily skin who struggle to find the right moisturiser due to the heavyweight or those with more mature skin needing additional moisture and skin support. 

3. They layer easily with other products 

Eye serums are generally water or gel-based formulas, which usually offer a non-greasy consistency that allows them to seamlessly slot in with the rest of your skincare and make-up ritual. 

As you’ll likely know from experience, some skincare products — generally thicker creams or sunscreens — can be a little heavy or dense, resulting in your make-up pilling or looking excessively oily. An eye serum is an excellent preventative and corrective treatment that will effortlessly fit into your AM or PM ritual. 

How and When to Apply Eye Serum

As a general rule that’s easy to follow and remember, skincare products should be layered from thinnest to thickest. This allows characteristically lightweight serums to deeply penetrate the skin to deliver active ingredients to deeper layers of the skin. At the same time, more viscous products, like moisturisers, can sit on the skin’s surface to seal in moisture. 

Here is a simple step-by-step guide to effectively add an eye serum to your routine:

  • Face wash — Use a good quality face wash (we love our Miracle Cream Cleanser). When cleansing at night, we recommend doing a double cleanse to ensure the day’s make-up and bacteria are adequately removed. 
  • Face Serum — Using the serum applicator, place a few drops on your fingertips or onto your face and gently massage it into the skin. Give your serum a few minutes to absorb before starting your next step. If your serum takes quite a while to absorb, it may mean you need to exfoliate more regularly to remove dead skin buildup or that you’re applying too much serum. We recommend the Dr Tanya Holy Basil Serum for everyday use, or for something a little more targeted, opt for the Dr Tanya Night Repair Serum
  • Eye Serum — Apply a premium quality eye serum like Dr Tanya Eye Lift Tightening Serum once your face serum has been absorbed. 
  • Moisturiser — Apply a good quality moisturiser (our go-to is Dr Tanya Day and Night Cream). 
  • Sunscreen — Apply a broad-spectrum SPF50+ sunscreen (during the day only).

[Read Full Article: Serum Layering Guide: How, What & When?]

A close up photo of a lady

The Weigh Up: Are Eye Serums Really Worth the Money?

The short answer: Yes. Now, let us explain… 

The skin underneath your eyes and on your eyelids is dissimilar to the rest of the skin on your body. It is the thinnest skin on your body, making it much more delicate and far more susceptible to damage and ageing. As such, it requires a unique skincare protocol that other skincare products cannot simply mask. 

For instance, have you ever wondered why your facial moisturisers and serums often warn you not to use these products on or around your eyes? Well, most often, other skincare products – particularly serums – are tailored to suit the body part they’re addressed to target. This means the ingredients most suitable for the skin on your face may be far too harsh for the skin around your eyes. Hence, a targeted solution specific to your eyes is needed to reap the full reward.

But why not just use an eye cream over an eye serum? Much like the standard facial serum vs. moisturiser debate, the same answer applies here. Simply put, moisturisers and serums are cousins, not twins. While they have similarities and work well together, they are not the same and shouldn’t be substituted. Of course, using one is better than none, but it is essential to recognise that they both offer unique benefits. A serum is lightweight and designed to efficiently absorb and penetrate your skin to get to work beneath the surface. A moisturiser is designed to seal in moisture; hence, it’s often thicker and heavier in texture. 

If your goal is to reduce or prevent the appearance of aged or damaged eyes, an eye serum is well worth the investment. It is as simple as that. 

Choosing the Right Eye Serum: Our Top Pick

The Dr Tanya Eye Lift Tightening Serum

We know what you’re thinking, “Well, of course, you’d choose your own product when recommending an eye serum.” But there’s a good reason for it: It’s one of the best on the market and suitable for a range of skin types. 

Known as our anti-ageing formula, the Dr Tanya Eye Lift Tightening Serum is carefully formulated to treat deep wrinkles and the appearance of dark, tired-looking eyes, thanks to a few potent ingredients: 

  • Snap-8™ — this world-renowned anti-wrinkle peptide solution helps relax expression lines and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. 
  • Yerba Mate — Re-energises, stimulates and brightens the eye area.
  • Vitamin E Acetate — Helps prevent premature ageing by reducing transepidermal water loss.

[Read Full Article: How to Choose the Best Skin Serum for Your Skin Concerns]