Kiehl’s Super Corrective Eye-Opening Serum promises to be the next great eye serum. Filled with ingredients like rhamnose, sodium hyaluronate, and silicones, the company promises the product is a 5-in-1 solution to many of the signs of aging found around the eyes:
- Lift, firm, smooth, hydrate, and restore youthful shape of the eye
- Skin around the eye area looks visibly firmer, lifted and skin texture looks more refined in less than one week*
- 95% of women showed a significant improvement in eye opening**
- Paraben-free, mineral-oil-free, fragrance-free, colorant-free, and suitable for sensitive eyes
* Based on consumer evaluations after 4 days of use ** Based on consumer evaluations after 4 weeks of use
Based on this information, Kiehl’s Super Corrective Eye-Opening Serum could be a godsend, but what does the science say? For more, read on:
In an exclusive interview with dermatologist Dr. David Bank, M.D., “Rhamnose works similar to retinol but is gentler on the skin. Instead of generating cell turnover like retinol, it works by signaling the current cells to act younger thus boosting collagen, elastin and protein production.”
This is also verified in many notable journals, including the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, in which it is shown that rhamnose prevents cells from undergoing glycation. Normally, when you consume too much sugar, the skin cells can produce a new, hardened state of collagen, called glucosepane. Amongst other things, glucosepane is responsible for the lack of elasticity you see in elderly persons’ skin, as the skin no longer bounces back and has lost all elasticity. But when you use ingredients like retinol or rhamnose, the glycation process has been shown to slow significantly, or not to occur altogether.
One of my favorite skincare ingredients is sodium hyaluronate, which is one of the natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) found in the skin. Other notable NMFs include glycerin, urea, alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid, propylene glycol, and hyaluronic acid, which all prevent evaporation of products in the bottle. Natural NMFs maintain moisture in the skin, even under low humidity, and provide an optimal environment for enzymatic functions (Baumann).
All of these NMFs are humectants, meaning that they are able to attract water from the atmosphere if atmospheric humidity is greater than 80 percent. However, when atmospheric humidity is low, NMFs may actually cause dryness, as they extract water from the deeper layers of the skin; for this reason, NMFs work best when they are combined with occlusives like dimethicone or paraffin, as they are in Kiehl’s Super Corrective Eye-Opening Serum and most skincare formulations.
That said, sodium hyaluronate is a little different from other NMFs, in that sodium hyaluronate is a particularly effective humectant because it is effective in both high and low humidity conditions. In other words, sodium hyaluronate is hydrating alone or with occlusive agents, in high and low humidity, unlike glycerin, urea, alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid, and propylene glycol, which require occlusive agents to be hydrating at low humidity.
And yes, there is a difference between sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid: Sodium hyaluronate, with similar water-binding abilities, is commonly used instead of hyaluronic acid in skincare products due to its greater chemical stability (Kewpie).
In skincare products like Kiehl’s Super Corrective Eye-Opening Serum, sodium hyaluronate draws water into the skin, reducing trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), and creating a slight swelling of the skin that reduces the appearance of wrinkles. Sodium hyaluronate also helps to temporarily stabilize and maintain the complex intercellular-skin matrix, which is the “glue” that holds the skin together. This temporarily gives the skin a smoother appearance The water retention and stabilization of the skin are the likely reasons that the press release for Kiehl’s Super Corrective Eye-Opening Serum says “90% of women said the skin around the eye area looks visibly firmer, lifted and skin texture looks more refined in less than one week.” The rhamnose is the slow-and-steady ingredient, which will likely not show results for 6-12 weeks, whereas the sodium hyaluronate gives almost-instant benefits.
Is there long-term benefit to sodium hyaluronate? Maybe. Despite their lack of long-term anti-aging benefits, NMFs may still be important for anti-aging prevention, according to Dr. Howard Murad, He states that hydration of the skin with NMFs allows the skin to operate at optimum capacity, and provides a better defense against environmental assaults. Therefore, sodium hyaluronate and other NMFs are often included in “anti-wrinkle” and “anti-aging” products, but they improve the appearance of the skin on a temporary basis more than they provide actual long-term correction of the skin, like retinoids.
Kiehl’s Super Corrective Eye-Opening Serum contains titanium dioxide, a physical sunscreen. Kiehl’s doesn’t quantify the amount of sunscreen on the label, most likely because the SPF is 5 or less. A quick perusal of the ingredients list leads me to believe it’s 1% or less, correlating to about an SPF protection of 5 or less, if I had to make a guess. Probably not worth their time or money to quantify.
Physical sunscreens include both titanium and zinc oxide. Some skin experts like oxides better than all of the other sunscreens (i.e., oxybenzone, avobenzone) because zinc and titanium oxides form a topical layer that prevents UV light from hitting the skin altogether. Think of them as a physical barrier, hence oxides are “physical” sunscreens.
On the other hand, the rest of the sunscreen active ingredients out there, like avobenzone, oxybenzone, and Mexoryl, are “chemical sunscreens.” The big difference is that chemical sunscreens allow your skin to absorb UV light but very quickly dissipate it as a different form of energy, like small quantities of heat or non-damaging light. Some dermatologists use both chemical and physical sunscreens for extra protection, making sure to apply the chemical sunscreens first and to let them absorb into the skin to activate for at least 30 minutes first.
It is a little-known fact that zinc oxide (the one NOT found in Kiehl’s Super Corrective Eye-Opening Serum) is better as a physical block than titanium oxide. This is because UVA and UVB rays are separated into longer UVA (UV-aging) and shorter UVB (UV-burning), and zinc oxide blocks a significantly longer portion of UVA rays. (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2005)
The best sunscreens with oxides also have the ingredient micronized, unlike Kiehl’s Super Corrective Eye-Opening Serum. Some scientists argue that micronized is bad because small oxides can get into your skin and cause oxidation, yet the vast majority argue that the benefit of a micronized zinc oxide in preventing UV-induced oxidation is greater than the risk of oxide-induced oxidation. What’s more, very precise studies [with electron microscopy] have shown only very minimal levels of micronized oxides penetrate the uppermost layer of the skin (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2007). Besides, let’s face it – many men and women still tan to look better. The cosmetic advantage afforded by micronizing oxides is magnificent – no telltale white streaks, fast absorption, easy make-up application afterwards.
However, the point of Kiehl’s Super Corrective Eye-Opening Serum isn’t to provide UV protection. Even if UV light is the number one cause of the visible signs of aging, your best bet is to apply this product underneath a sunscreen with actual quantified UVB protection (and UVA, if you’re lucky enough to find one with the five-star rating).
Personal Use and Opinions
Kiehl’s Super Corrective Eye-Opening Serum has a lightweight to medium, slightly hydrating, texture that is characteristic of a serum with silicones. It glides over the skin and then drinks into the skin in under a minute. It feels slightly cooling on the skin. When it dries, it is slightly light-reflective, owing to the mica particles therein. It is great to apply makeup over, and should not present a problem for even the most oily of skin types. (The eye region contains less oil glands than the rest of the face).
Let me give it to you straight: Kiehl’s Super Corrective Eye-Opening Serum is absolutely fantastic for fine lines and wrinkles and sagging around the eyes. It will instantly plump up and lift the skin, with ample amounts of sodium hyaluronate and occlusive agents, and the high concentration of rhamnose therein will cause your skin to produce more collagen over time. (Think months, not days, on the latter point).
On the other hand, if you have dark circles or puffiness, Kiehl’s Super Corrective Eye-Opening Serum isn’t the right eye treatment for you. Dark circles are either caused by hyperpigmentation or blood pooling in the region. In the case of hyperpigmentation, you want to think hydroquinone, kojic acid, retinol + vitamin K together, glycolic acid, vitamin C in high concentrations, and certain peptides like Lumixyl. On the other hand, with blood pooling in the region, you want to look at sleeping on more than one pillow for eight=plus hour (if you’re lucky!) head elevation, and certain peptides like Haloxyl. Rhamnose and sodium hyaluronate aren’t going to cut it as your actives for dark circles or puffiness.
So, depending on your gripe, Kiehl’s Super Corrective Eye-Opening Serum could be the eye cream for you!
Got a question? Let me know in comments!
Ingredients: Aqua/Water, Rhamnose, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Dimethicone, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Octyldodecanol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Mica, Phenoxyethanol, Ammonium Polyacryldimethyltauramide/Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, CI 77891/Titanium Dioxide, Chlorphenesin, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Triethanolamine, Xanthan Gum, PEG-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Disodium EDTA, Adenosine, Salicyloyl Phytosphingosine, Fmla 685683 4 F.I.L. Code D165265/3