As a natural ginger, I’ve always had a problematic relationship with that big, bright, burning thing that sometimes appears in the sky – though not very often in England, it has to be said.
Even as a teenager in the 70s, when the beauty ideal seemed to be about turning your body into something as thin, hard, dark and shiny as a teak chair leg, I sensed it wasn’t for me, and worked hard to keep my pallor.
Later on I suffered the accidental humiliation of booking a sunshine holiday at the same time and place as a brunette work colleague. But whereas she returned from her fortnight looking tanned and rested, I came back red, sore, swollen and covered with insect bites. I learned my lesson.
And now, it is my turn to laugh. Because after decades of covering up, applying my sunscreen slap, and spending my vacations scuttling from one patch of shade to the next – I have almost no sun damage! Whereas, my brunette colleague’s skin has taken on a distinctly crocodile handbag look.
And yet – maybe I gloated too soon. Because now, dear ladies, I have hit the menopause. And the fact is, however much you exercise, and eat sensibly, and do your breathing exercises, there are profound changes afoot in your body’s hormone regime that, like it or not, are going to affect the elasticity of your skin.
And where that is most noticeable, is in the delicate area around your eyes, so eye care is something I’ve started taking very seriously. In fact, the earlier you tend to it, the better.
Over the years, I’ve tried many eye creams. Yet one tiny pot of elixir can cost as much as a season’s clothes budget.
Fortunately – cavalry to the rescue – I have an Admirer (all redheads have Admirers), and at my request, over the years he’s bought me a whole bunch of expensive little beauty potions, one of which is the classy eye cream that goes with my favourite cleanser. It’s pleasant to apply, and the pot looks great on my dressing table.
But one ingredient it is lacking is SPF protection, and as a lifelong heliophobe, that bothers me.
So I was pleased when the nice people at Murad sent along a bottle of their Essential-C Eye Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 15/PA++ to review from a ginger’s perspective. And in the interests of scientific research, I applied it carefully, to the brow bone and around lower socket of my right eye, whilst continuing to use my normal eye cream in the same manner on my left eye.
Not only does the eye cream contain redheads’ best friend, SPF protection, but it also boasts shea butter for intense hydration, caffeine and retinol to awaken eyes and reduce puffiness, and light diffusers, designed to soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
The result, you ask? After three weeks, both eyes still looked exactly the same – that is, a bit wrinkled, a bit puffy and with dark shadows underneath.
I know this isn’t what you want to hear, so I attempted another test. Instead of testing Murad’s SPF eye cream against one of the most highly scoring products on the market, I decided to compare it to an SPF eye cream. I went out and bought Superdrug’s Vitamin E SPF 15 Radiance Eye Cream.
I’m now a week into the further trial. And can I see a difference? Well, to be honest, the answer is still no.
But I can report – with some relief – that the Superdrug cream is whiter and cake-ier when I apply it, probably because it is more reliant upon a titanium dioxide physical barrier, whereas the Murad (although it has some titanium dioxide) makes more use of chemical screens and is nicer to apply. The Superdrug cream also tends to blob in the inner corner of my eye.
This is where things get technical. The pros and cons of chemical versus physical screens, and the merits of the different sorts of chemical screens (the main ingredients of the Murad are Octinoxate (7.5%), Octisalate (3.0%) and Oxybenzone (2.0%)) are not something I’m remotely qualified to discuss, nor the alleged dangers of parabens, which it also has.
But on the other hand, after four weeks of conscientious use I can verify that for me, there’s been no stinging or irritation with Murad’s product.
The other thing I must put in a good word for is the design of the container. I’m sure we’ve all experienced the over-complicated, high-tech cosmetic delivery system that has jammed up, or fallen to pieces in our hands.
But the Murad Essential-C Eye Cream bottle has so far performed superbly, delivering a tiny amount of expensive product into my palm, so there’s little waste.
In conclusion, I have to say that though the Murad did not have any obvious downsides, and I enjoy the consistency and packaging, my search for the perfect SPF eye cream isn’t over.
I feel there’s no point in parting with shed-loads of money if it’s going to leave me haggard-looking and hollow-eyed from lack of sleep due to worrying about the size of my credit card bill. So next birthday, I’ll probably be making a further appeal to my Admirer.
For us gingers, SPF is a humanitarian need, after all.