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You may not need to buy an eye cream

Today's drugstore and department store shelves are overflowing with eye creams that promise to do everything from deflate puffiness and brighten dark circles to erase fine lines. Finding a product that lives up to its claims is a different story.

Despite marketing hype, most experts say moisturizing eye creams aren't necessary. Ellen Marmur, dermatologist and vice chair of dermatologic and cosmetic surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York says, "The basic moisturizers individuals use on their face often have the same formulation -- and many of the same ingredients of general eye creams."

Paula Begoun, skin-care expert and author of "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me," says the only differences between facial moisturizers and eye creams are often the price and size of the container. In general, the only time a separate eye moisturizer is needed is when the eye area has a different skin type or is experiencing a different ailment than the rest of the face, she explains.

If you're trying to treat dark circles or puffiness around the eyes, some experts say using a specialized product can help, but others disagree. Begoun points out that no research shows ingredients like vitamin K and caffeine to be effective when applied topically. What's more, user reviews are often split: Some say specialized eye creams work well, while others see no results at all.

Ultimately, there's no conclusive evidence that these treatments are effective, but there's no evidence to the contrary, either. Caffeine, vitamin K and kojic acid aren't harmful in any way, so experts say you can safely use eye creams that contain these ingredients. That said, while many products can diminish the appearance of dark circles and puffiness, they aren't a cure-all. For complete eradication of these problems, skin-care professionals suggest surgical intervention.

To find the best eye creams, we analyze reviews from beauty magazines, professional evaluations from PaulasChoice.com, Good Housekeeping and ConsumerReports.org, plus user reviews at TotalBeauty.com, MakeupAlley.com, Amazon.com and Drugstore.com.

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