There are certain categories of skin care I like in theory but have basically given up on in practice, and eye cream tops the list. It's not that I would describe myself as looking particularly awake on any given day; I have dark circles to match the rest of my colleagues, which naturally look puffier and worse on weeks when I'm not getting enough sleep. Rather, I have come to believe that most eye creams simply don't do more than glorified moisturizing—and if you really want to make a dramatic difference, you should book a dermatologists appointment and request undereye filler instead.
Still, there are certain things I'm powerless to resist, and tiny moisturizers wrapped in fruit-inspired packaging are one of them. So when K-beauty brand Glow Recipe informed me of its latest launch, the Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask, I heard avocado and instantly knew I had to investigate further. (To refresh your memory, this is the same brand that upped my glass-skin game with its Pineapple-C Bright Serum, another adorable and effective invention.)
The first thing I noticed is that this formula contains retinol, and unfortunately that vitamin A derivative has not been my best friend in the past. Luckily I received the eye cream shortly after getting over my longtime fear of the ingredient (thanks to a stellar moisturizer you should definitely try), and I was ready for round two. According to Glow Recipe cofounder and co-CEO Christine Chang, the brand used encapsulated retinol here for gentler, slow-release results that minimize the risk of irritation and sensitivity. The idea is that you get the benefits of retinol (speeding up cellular turnover, smoothing your skin's surface, and spiking collagen production) without the stronger side effects (drying, flaking, and peeling—my unholy trinity). Chang and fellow cofounder and co-CEO Sarah Lee tweaked the delivery system so the retinol gradually penetrates your skin. (It's housed in a polysaccharide, which needs time to break down once it makes contact with your undereye area and doesn't activate instantly.)
Along with retinol, the duo also packed the pale-green cream with plenty of other active ingredients. Avocado provides a brilliant dose of inspiration for the packaging (it's admittedly really cute and 95% of the reason I decided to try this in the first place), while also adding antioxidants and a soothing, anti-inflammatory effect. Additionally, there are two forms of hyaluronic acid (one free, one encapsulated) and squalane, which are two of my favorite ways to receive potent hydration. The lineup also features niacinamide (great for evening skin tone and protecting against environmental stressors) and brightening coffeeberry. What you get in the end is a formula that balances smoothing and brightening effects with plenty of moisture, so there's no risk of dryness or irritation, even with daily use.
To me, there is no point in testing eye cream when all you really need is a gentle moisturizer. I now live in a relatively chill city and don't often hear the words, "Wow, you look tired," a frequent occurrence in my former life. Unfortunately for me—but luckily for the purposes of this experiment—I managed to overschedule myself in true New Yorker style last month. The second my dark circles began reaching their former levels of prominence, I grabbed the avocado retinol concoction and put it straight to work.
The miniature pot comes with an equally small spoon, so you can scoop out perfectly proportioned amounts of the thick mask without contaminating it with whatever's lurking beneath your fingernails. I have never once done anything more with these spoons than take a photo of them for the 'gram, and that's exactly what I did here. (I appreciate the thought and attention to detail, though.) Inside you'll find a thick cream that feels like it melts as you pat it in. It's one of those textures that feels like it might create a layer of residue but then dissipates into nothingness, leaving smoother skin in its wake.
The next morning I noticed my eyes didn't feel quite as puffy as they usually do after a night of minimal sleep. And when I went to look in the mirror, I was delighted to see that while the grumpy expression in my eyes said, "Five more minutes, please," the skin under them was subtly smoother and tighter. The shadows were still present but less severe than expected.
For the full experience, I recommend taking a page out of Chang and Lee's book and pairing it with the soothing Mount Lai De-Puffing Jade Eye Treatment Tool. It won't replace a healthy sleep schedule, but on those select late nights when you don't feel like wearing 20 layers of concealer the next day, a bit of their avocado-inspired invention will go a long way.
Glow Recipe Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask, $42, sephora.com
Sarah Wu is a writer in Berlin. Follow her on Instagram @say.wu.
Originally Appeared on Glamour