Right off the bat, we have to ding philosophy for putting the ultimate miracle worker eye SPF 15 in a jar. That means many of its good ingredients (the ones you're paying big bucks for—this product hardly qualifies as inexpensive!) aren't likely to remain stable or potent for very long after opening. That aside, there are other issues with this formula that hold it back, despite the fact that it contains some beneficial anti-aging ingredients.
Let's start with the SPF. If you didn't realize this contains sunscreen until reading this review, you're not alone. For whatever reason, philosophy didn't include "SPF 15" in the product name or anywhere on the front of the jar, for that matter. Regardless, this does indeed contain broad spectrum sun-protection which is a major plus for daytime wear, but we're disappointed that it's only SPF 15. Today's recommended standard by dermatologists around the world is SPF 30 or higher.
The fact that philosophy used non-mineral sunscreen actives is also a bit disappointing because for most people, the eye area is more prone to being sensitive towards those actives. Not everyone will experience issues with that, but it is something to be aware of nonetheless.
The fragrant plant extracts that the ultimate miracle worker eye SPF 15 contains are another point of contention due to their potential to irritate skin. Fortunately, they're present in low amounts and only faintly detectable by smell so we aren't overly concerned. Still, this combo may prove troublesome if you have sensitive skin.
What about the good ingredients? Moisturizing emollients make up the bulk of the rich cream formula, followed by other beneficial ingredients such as antioxidant-rich plant extracts, vitamin C, retinol, etc. but again, the jar packaging inhibits the effectiveness of the formula's anti-aging properties which is a terrible waste. (See More Info for the full scoop on why jar packaging is a problem.)
In terms of philosophy's claims that the ultimate miracle worker eye SPF 15 can help improve puffiness, there is no research indicating topically applied caffeine (or any of the other ingredients this formula contains) can reduce that. However, caffeine does have potential as an antioxidant, so it has some purpose in the formula.
The bottom line is that despite the fact that the ultimate miracle worker eye SPF 15 offers rich moisture, it isn't money well spent due to its compromising packaging and mixed bag formula. Your eye area will benefit far more from the options on our list of Best Eye Moisturizers, or if your facial moisturizer is well formulated, you may want to just use that (see More Info for additional details on why not everyone needs a separate eye cream).
Jar Packaging: The fact that this eye cream is packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, almost all vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air. Therefore, once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also are unsanitary because you're dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria that further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients.
The vast majority of ingredients that are most beneficial for your skin are not stable in the presence of light and air, which is exactly what happens when you take the lid off a jar (Pharmacology Review, 2013 & Journal of Biophotonics, 2010).
One of the critical factors in any anti-aging or skin-healing formula is the amount and variety of antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and skin-repairing ingredients, and the more the better. These function in a variety of ways to reduce the effects of the constant environmental stresses your skin experiences (Dermatology Research and Practice, 2012 & The Journal of Pathology, 2007).
Once you open that jar you bought, you immediately compromise the stability of the anti-aging superstars it contains. (You can visualize their benefits disappearing like puffs of air each time you open up that lid!)
Why You May Not Need an Eye Cream: There is much you can do to improve signs of aging around your eyes, but this doesn't have to include using an eye-area product. Any product loaded with antioxidants, emollients, skin-repairing and anti-inflammatory ingredients will work wonders when used around the eye area. Those ingredients don't have to come from a product labeled as an eye cream or gel or serum or balm—they can come from any well-formulated moisturizer or serum.
Most eye-area products aren't necessary because so many are poorly formulated, contain nothing special for the eye area, or come in packaging that won't keep key ingredients stable. Just because the product is labeled as a special eye-area treatment doesn't mean it's good for the eye area or any part of the face; in fact, many can actually make matters worse.
You would be shocked how many eye-area products lack even the most basic ingredients to help skin. For example, most eye-area products don't contain sunscreen. During the day, that is a serious problem if you aren't wearing it under a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 30+ as it leaves the skin around your eyes vulnerable to sun damage—and that absolutely will make dark circles, puffiness, and wrinkles worse. Of course, for nighttime use, eye-area products without sun protection are just fine.
Whatever product you put around your eye area, regardless of what it is labeled, must be well formulated and appropriate for the skin type you have around your eyes. You may prefer using a specially labelled eye cream, but you may also do just as well applying your regular facial moisturizer and/or serum around your eyes.
Active: Avobenzone (2.7%), Homosalate (2%), Octinoxate (5%), Octocrylene (2.16%) Inactive: Water, Glycerin, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Isononyl Isononanoate, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Tribehenin PEG-20 Esters, Cetyl Alcohol, Isostearyl Isostearate, Trisiloxane, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Cetyl Stearate, Stearic Acid, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Caffeine, Chlorphenesin, Propylene Glycol, Carbomer, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Squalane, Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil, Iris Pallida Root Extract, Ruby Powder, Disodium EDTA, Alcohol, Algae Extract, Mica, Lecithin, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Adenosine, Cellulose Gum, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Retinol, PEG-8, Polysorbate 20, Polysorbate 60, Calcium Sodium Phosphosilicate, BHT, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Chitosan, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glycolic Acid, Sorbitan Oleate, Tocopherol, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Seed Extract, Glucose, Lactic Acid, Behentrimonium Chloride, Glycyrrhiza Uralensis (Licorice) Root Extract, Sodium Benzoate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Potassium Phosphate, Potassium Sorbate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Coffea Arabica (Coffee) Seed Extract, Pongamia Pinnata Seed Extract, Isopropyl Alcohol, Acetic Acid, Angelica Archangelica Root Extract, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Peel Extract, Maltodextrin, Citric Acid, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Xanthan Gum, Ascorbic Acid, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Rhizome/Root Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Caprylyl Glycol, Sclerotium Gum, BHA, Sorbic Acid, Titanium Dioxide.
Strengths: Relatively inexpensive; some of the best products are fragrance-free; very good retinol products; selection of state-of-the-art moisturizers; innovative skin-lightening product.
Weaknesses: Irritating and/or drying cleansers; average to problematic scrubs; at-home peel kits far more gimmicky than helpful; several products contain lavender oil; several products include irritating essential oils; the majority of makeup items do not rise above average status.
Believe in miracles. That's the "lifestyle" branding statement philosophy makes, which is an approach that is decidedly different from their former positioning, which encompassed family values and spirituality along with a dash of department-store élan and endearingly clever quips. The miracle angle may grab your attention, but the company is also quick to point out that its history is steeped in providing products to dermatologists and plastic surgeons worldwide (so, in addition to miracles, philosophy has a serious side, too). Although its heritage may have included providing clinically oriented products to doctors, we have yet to see or hear of any medical professional retailing philosophy products. And that's a good thing because, by and large, most of philosophy products are resounding disappointments. Moreover, several products, including almost all of their sunscreens, contain one or more known skin irritants. We would be extremely suspicious of a dermatologist or plastic surgeon who recommended such products to their patients, and even more so if they actually believed some of the more farfetched claims philosophy makes.
Interestingly, when you shop this line at department stores or at the cosmetics boutique Sephora, what you'll notice is the preponderance of food- and drink-scented bath products, all in vivid colors or cutely boxed for gift-giving. It seems that somewhere along the way, the company decided to promote these nose-appeal products while downplaying their more serious-minded, simply packaged skin care. Perhaps the body lotions and bubble baths have become philosophy's bread and butter. Given the hit-or-miss nature of their facial-care products, that's not surprising. Then again, they've also heavily promoted their anti-aging-themed Miracle Worker products...
So what's to like if you're into the vibe philosophy puts out? Well, this is still a line with some well-formulated staples, including an AHA product, some retinol options, and a handful of state-of-the-art moisturizers. The products that get the most promotion at the counter are the ones you should avoid, such as the at-home peels, scrubs, pads, and anti-acne products. However, the somewhat confusing, conflicting image philosophy presents shouldn't keep you from considering their best products—but it's not a lifestyle brand in the sense that using the entire line will somehow bring you a more joyful existence, or significantly improved skin. The philosophy line is now owned Coty, a cosmetics brand primarily known for their fragrances. Their acquisition of philosophy is their first major foray into a widely-distributed skin care brand.
For more information about philosophy, call (800) 568-3151 or visit www.philosophy.com.
Note: philosophy opts to use lowercase letters for every product they sell, so the listings below are simply following suit.
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