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Ask The Makeup Diva
Welcome to Ask The Makeup Diva™! Our resident expert, The Makeup Diva, answers makeup and skin care questions sent in by readers just like you.

Q: What's the best eye cream or gel for smoothing fine lines under and around the eye area?

A: The eye area is one of first places on your face to show stress, aging, fatigue - all of the things you'd rather not reveal! The effects come in the form of puffiness, dark circles, fine lines, and crow's feet (those charming lines and creases in the outer corners). Is there anything we can do?

Before we attempt to treat any damage that's already there, it's important to make a commitment to reducing the chance of new damage. This means protection from the sun, and it needs to be a year-round part of your regular skin care. Whether in an eye cream or a regular moisturizer, choose at least an SPF 15 product with a broad spectrum protection sunscreen ingredient like Parsol 1789, titanium dioxide, or avobenzone. Apply it every day as your final skin care step before your makeup to help prevent lines and wrinkles from sun damage.

Now that you are on the right track to protecting your skin, what can you use for the fine lines you have now? A moisturizing eye cream with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, propylene or butylene glycol, or glycerin that trap water in your skin can plump up the lines temporarily, so they look less pronounced. The key word here, however, is "temporarily", because eye creams only make the eye area look better when you are wearing them. To actually diminish the lines, you enter into the realm of Retin-A, alpha hydroxy acids, and vitamin A (retinol) creams, which can be irritating and costly. Try to get samples of these types of products when you can to see if it might make a difference for you.

To reduce puffiness, your best bet is to treat the affected area with a lightweight eye gel containing chamomile, green tea, cucumber, or aloe. I would also recommend drinking plenty of fluids, using a cool compress or some cucumber slices if you can, and getting enough rest (easier said than done, I know).

You know what kind of product you need, now comes the fun part - shopping! Here are a few of my personal favorites to consider:

L'Oreal Revitalift Eye (around $10) moisturizes the eye area, and absorbs quickly and completely without feeling greasy or heavy. Revitalift Eye easily compares in quality to more expensive creams from Clarins (Extra Firming Eye Contour Cream $42.50), Bobbi Brown (Eye Cream $32.50) or Lancome (Primordiale Yeux $40) - all without the sticker shock. Remember: price does not always equal quality. Just because an eye cream costs $50 and claims to erase years from your face doesn't mean it will.

Avon Anew Perfect Eye Care Cream SPF 15 ($12.50) includes sun protection, which helps prevent wrinkles from sun damage, and its lightweight texture absorbs quickly, perfect for under makeup.

If ever an eye treatment could pass for a slice of real cucumber, Pond's Soothing Cucumber Eye Treatments (around $8 for jar of 24) can! With cucumber, green tea, chamomile, cornflower, orange peel, and rose hip extracts, plus aloe vera gel and vitamin E, these pads feel heavenly after a long day, or while soaking in the tub. Keep them in the fridge for the ultimate cooling sensation.

Clinique All About Eyes ($25) is, in my opinion, the best of Clinique's selection of eye creams. It successfully combines the benefits of a gel (reduces puffiness, feels cooling and soothing on the skin) with the moisturizing and smoothing properties of a cream. The texture is very silky and makes a fantastic base for eye makeup without crumbling or creasing.

I saved my advice about dark circles for last because they are the trickiest concern of all. Creams and gels won't really change the discoloration, and some cases of dark circles are hereditary, meaning no amount of sleep or proper nutrition will make a difference. The best weapon is a good concealer and careful application to hide the shadows. Choose a medium weight cream or stick concealer that matches your overall skin tone and has some yellow in it to counteract the bluish purple of the shadow. Apply it with a small brush and gently tap it into the skin with your finger (don't rub).

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