Angel eyes

Cleanse, tone, moisturize
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It's never too soon to start looking after the skin round your peepers with eye gel (to soothe) and cream (to nourish)

PEOPLE ARE FUNNY about skincare. If you give them something to test and ask how they're getting on, the first thing they will say - especially if it's all new to them - is "nothing's happened yet". This happens without fail when eyecreams are involved. It's as if, because the area of skin is small, the results should be immediate.

Eyecream is a vitally important part of any routine. I started using an eyecream when I was 14. All my friends had boyfriends, I had eyecream. The skin around the eyes is the thinnest on the body and the first to show signs of ageing. Crow's feet, puffiness, dark circles, are all things we want to avoid. But eyecreams, like any creams (and the only real difference from a face cream is that eyecreams are lighter in formulation) can only diminish the appearance of fine lines and the like, and they are to be seen as a preventative measure rather than restorative.

Lancome do the very best eyecreams in my opinion. They have a good fair few in their range, and the only one I'm not mad keen on is their Renergie Yeux, pounds 27.50, which I find a tad too thick for my eyes. I think it would be better on an older skin, but have a go at the counter and see for yourselves. My favourite of theirs, and therefore my favourite eyecream of all, is Lancome's Primordiale Yeux, pounds 23. This is a pinky cream that is really light, easily absorbed and simply perfect. It (like all posh eyecreams) is stuffed full of fancy ingredients which photostabilise, decongest and soothe but all that interests me is that I like it. Their Expressive eyecream, pounds 23, is particularly good for those with really sensitive eyes because the pump dispenser means that each application is untouched by germs. For those that prefer it, Lancome do a gel, Bienfait Yeux, pounds 19.50 which is a refreshing transparent sea-blue colour and is nice kept in the fridge.

There is confusing advice about whether to use a gel or a cream and, if so, when to use either; it doesn't really matter. If I find the skin around my eyes feeling puffy (usually the morning) I apply a gel; if they feel like they need nourishing (usually before bed) then I apply a cream, so do whatever suits.

Another favourite is Remede's Eyebright, pounds 34, but the price may be too high for most (although remember that you only need apply the tiniest amount of eyecream, and so a pot should last you a good few months). Also, it comes in a glass pot which may be ecologically sound but is very impractical for travelling. Lancaster do an eyecream in their Oxygen Supply range which costs pounds 26, comes in a little pump bottle and is said to supply your skin with oxygen. Whatever, it feels incredibly light and does the job to jobsworth standards. E'spa's 24 hour Eye Complex suffers the opposite problem to Lancome's Renergie: it is a little too runny, but other than that it's fresh and cooling, and feels full of minerals and good things. Two makes which I usually rave about, Aveda and Jo Malone, also do eyeproducts. But again, I found Aveda's Pure Vital Moisture Eyecream, pounds 23, a little too thick for me, although it is otherwise a terrific little cream. Jo Malone don't do an eyecream which I think is a dreadful shame, but they do do a gel in apricot and aloe, pounds 12. In terms of gels this is probably one of my favourites because it's just what you want from a gel - light, not too sticky but refreshing.

Guerlain's Anti-Age 12M time responsive eye contour care, pounds 26 (why don't they just call it eyecream?), came in a plastic bottle pump thing that I hated - therefore I never looked forward to using it (packaging matters a lot), which is a shame because Guerlain make very good products, and their badly dressed white eyecream was no exception: it was Angel Delight light, and sank into the skin like a treat. Estee Lauder's Uncircle Eye Treatment for dark circles, pounds 21, is a mixture of cream and gel and feels more refreshing than moisturising, so would be good for younger skins, whilst older ones would enjoy Estee Lauder's Re-Nutriv Intensive Lifting Eye Cream, pounds 55, which the tester loved. Another of my testers, a dreadful non-believer in skincare, converted to cries of "hallelujah" after trying Elizabeth Arden's Ceramide Time Complex Eye Capsules, pounds 33. Ditto the tester of RoC's Melibiose Anti-age Action Eye contour cream, pounds 14.95, which the (male) tester called his "make up" and proclaimed miraculous. Another man, this time in his fifties and someone who had never used eyecream, very much liked his Clinique Daily Eye Saver, pounds 16.50, which he applied after staring at his computer all day, and found "most refreshing".

Yves Saint Laurent do dead posh skincare in space age looking packaging which I rather liked. There was a Firming Lip and Eye Creme, pounds 30, the idea of which appealed to me: you pump out one tiny drop and apply it to your eye and lip area before retiring at night; this is excellent for those that are troubled with fine lines around the mouth as well. The YSL Smoothing Eye Contour Gel, pounds 27, is a clear gel with tiny flecks of silver in it: impressive but expensive.

Eyecream should be applied with the third finger of each hand and gently tapped around the eyesocket area but not on the actual eyelid itself and not too much! If you're a teenager, there's no need to spend loads on eyecream and neither should you use anything that is too heavy. But using a specially formulated eyecream really is a good thing to get into doing quite early on.

Stockists: Aveda: 0171 410 1600; Clinique: 0171 409 6951; E'spa: 01252 741600; Estee Lauder: 0800 525501; Guerlain: 0181 998 1646; Jo Malone: 0171 720 0202; Remede: 0171 734 1234; RoC: 01628 822222; Yves Saint Laurent: 01444 255722. Lancome and Elizabeth Arden are available from major department stores.