Milia is amongst those skin conditions that lead to confusion and dilemmas.
Is it acne? Is it the same as zits? Can you treat it the same way as those?
In this article, I share with you:
- what milia are and what causes them;
- some of my top choices for eye creams that don’t cause milia or help to treat it;
- treatments and how to prevent milia from appearing.
Let’s go on this informational journey together.
What are milia?
A lot of people confuse milia for acne. However, they’re an entirely different thing.
Milia has the form of tiny white or yellow beads or seeds around your eyes, most often. They are a mixture of dead skin cells and concentrated keratin growth. They can’t be classified as pimples as pimples are a mix of sebum, dead skin, and bacteria, nested into your pores.
Milia are solid cysts that are most commonly seen around the eye zone, although they can also appear in different parts of the face.
They resemble whiteheads but you can’t squeeze them out, so don’t even try.
They eventually fade away on their own, but it takes a lot of time and patience, given that you take the right measures to prevent their reappearance.
But what causes milia in the first place? Can eye cream cause these white bumps?
What causes milia?
The reasons for milia formation are many. Some of the most popular factors that influence milia:
- Sun damage
- Skin type
- Improper makeup removal
- Skin damage
- Heavy moisturizers and eye creams
Can eye creams cause milia?
Highly occlusive moisturizers can create an extra layer on top of the skin in the eye area. Although this is generally good for preventing moisture loss, it also reduces the natural exfoliation abilities of the skin. As a result, heavy and thick moisturizers can create more dead skin and therefore contribute to the formation of milia in the under-eye area.
What are non-milia eye creams?
So one big question arises from the previous points – do all eye creams cause milia? Does eye cream help with the white bumps in some circumstances?
To understand what non-milia eye creams are, it’s essential to get an idea of what product ingredients are responsible for milia in the first place. As mentioned earlier, it’s all about the occlusives. Some of the most popular occlusive ingredients often used in eye creams include:
- Mineral oil
- Vegetable wax
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
In other words, non-milia eye creams don’t contain a lot of these ingredients. They may contain some occlusives, but definitely not many.
Non-milia eye moisturizers are also ones that are lightweight and easy on the skin. In addition, the presence of AHAs or retinoids is also an advantage as these ingredients promote cellular turnover.
So what is the best eye cream for milia? Let’s find out.
7 Effective eye creams that won’t cause milia
#1: With AHA: BeautyRX Gentle Exfoliating Eye Cream for milia
Earlier I mentioned that AHAs are an amazing ingredient to have in eye creams that don’t cause milia. However, there aren’t that many exfoliating eye moisturizers on the market just yet.
When it comes to the best exfoliating eye cream for milia, I’d definitely recommend the BeautyRX Gentle Exfoliating Eye Cream as a reliable option.
- The cream is pH balanced, which makes it extremely effective, yet non-irritating.
- It uses glycolic acid, which besides exfoliating, also moisturizes the skin.
- It boasts a proprietary complex of six peptides that work to further firm the skin under your eyes.
- Glycolic acid – an alpha hydroxy acid that exfoliates dead skin cells, smooths out the skin, brightens, and reduces signs of tiredness. It also has anti-aging properties, so it will help you deal with those crow’s feet.
- Rice, sesame, and soy proteins – a healthy protein mix that tackles dark circles and puffiness in the eye area.
- Peptides – the cream contains the brand’s unique complex of six peptides that work on smoothing out the skin’s appearance and helping it look much younger.
Things we like:
- One of the few exfoliating eye creams with AHAs on the market. It’s super gentle and non-irritating.
- I love the lightweight, creamy texture that hydrates the skin around the eyes. It soaks in quickly to make room for your makeup application.
- Apart from treating milia, it also brightens the skin and reduces fine lines, which is always a good thing to have in an eye cream.
Things to have in mind:
- The price of the product is a bit higher than other effective creams on my list.
- Although the product description says that the cream can also reduce puffiness, I didn’t see any big difference in mine. However, I specifically tested it as a cream that doesn’t cause milia and it works for this particular problem.
- Remember to follow the instructions on the packaging to see the best results with this product.
#2: Drugstore, Retinol: Skin+Pharmacy Advanced Anti-Aging Therapy Eye Cream
Another eye cream that doesn’t cause milia and has retinol in it is the Skin+Pharmacy Advanced Anti-Aging Therapy. When compared to other drugstore options, this is my personal favorite.
- The cream is described to tackle dark circles and tone up the eye area and it can achieve that with an impressive ingredient list.
- It’s firming and working to diminish the signs of aging.
- Regular use results in reduced wrinkles and fine lines due to the retinol in the formula.
- It hydrates the skin effectively while not being too heavy under your eyes.
- Vitamin K – is an effective ingredient for brightening and discoloration in the eye area, making it one of the most sought-after compounds in eye creams.
- Vitamin C – treats dark circles, fine lines, and wrinkles by boosting collagen production and evening out the skin complexion.
- Vitamin E – in eye creams the ingredient makes the skin around the eyes feel softer and smoother, simultaneously diminishing fine lines. As an antioxidant, it protects the skin from sun damage and environmental stressors.
- Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and aloe vera extract are all powerful moisturizing agents that lock in moisture, offering long-term hydration to your eyes. Aloe vera also has soothing abilities.
Things we like:
- I love the fact that the product description states that it uses 0.5% retinol, which is the perfect amount for beginners, but also for experienced retinol users who are specifically using the product for under the eye area. This is an effective percentage that will bring visible results with consistent use.
- I also appreciate that the moisturizer doesn’t have any fragrance, which means that it won’t cause any stinging or discomfort if the cream gets into your eyes.
- The cream is also free from alcohol, ammonia, and oils.
- When testing it I truly fell in love with its capabilities when it comes to treating and preventing milia. Considering its affordable price, I’d definitely recommend it.
Things to have in mind:
If you haven’t used any retinoids in your under-eye area just yet, you may notice a slight flaking at the beginning of your experience with this one. Don’t worry, just give your skin some time to get used to this new ingredient.
#3: Drugstore, Retinol: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair
Another great eye cream that won’t cause milia is the ever-recommended Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Cream.
As the name suggests, you can expect great anti-aging benefits alongside not triggering (and actually treating) milia.
Here are my thoughts, discoveries, and comments on the product:
- The Neutrogena rapid wrinkle repair cream is anti-aging and tackles all the imperfections related to the under-eye zone. It is yet another retinol-containing product that is specifically designed for the gentle area under your eyes.
- The cream fights wrinkles and fine lines, and reduces dark under-eyes too – it contains the purest form of vitamin C – ascorbic acid.
- It’s a lightweight moisturizer that works to treat crow’s feet.
- Retinol and ascorbic acid to treat milia, boost collagen in the skin, and treat dark circles and signs of aging while protecting from harmful environmental effects.
- Glycerin and sodium hyaluronate for light but effective hydration.
Things we like:
- When testing the cream I instantly noticed that the skin around the eyes feels softer and smoother. It plumps up the skin nicely, giving it a baby-soft feel.
- After a few weeks, I noticed that my under-eyes appeared brighter and younger looking.
- It’s great that the product doesn’t contain any fragrance, alcohol, or essential oils that can potentially aggravate the gentle skin under your eyes.
- A tiny amount of it is enough for both of your eyes, so the cream lasted me for a long time – several months of use, three times a week.
Things to have in mind:
- If you apply this cream under eyeshadow you’ll notice that your makeup won’t last as long as when applying a primer or another moisturizer. I would suggest using it only at PM.
It’s too powerful to use as a daily undereye moisturizer, I suggest that you limit its use to two or three times a week to see a difference with your milia.
- As with any retinol-based product, if you haven’t used the ingredient yet, you need to introduce it slowly into your routine and you may notice some initial peeling or dryness in your eye area until your skin gets used to it.
#4: Clinique Moisture Surge Eye 96-Hour Hydro-Filler Concentrate
Another product from my list of eye creams for white bumps is the Clinique Moisture Surge Eye 96-Hour Hydro-Filler Concentrate. It plumps up the skin under your eyes, making the area look much more youthful and healthy.
- This eye cream is one of the better hydrators for the area around your eyes. It boasts several moisturizing and hydrating ingredients.
- The product is designed with an Auto-Replenishing Lipid-Sphere Technology that supports and restores the lipid barrier of the skin, ultimately preventing moisture loss.
- Offers intense, plumping hydration for the delicate eye zone. It’s super lightweight and is great to use if your goal is to prevent milia.
- Niacinamide – reduces dark or puffy under-eye circles, making milia less visible.
- Caffeine – is a popular eye cream ingredient as it works to reduce dark circles and constricts blood vessels.
- Sucrose – attracts and retains moisture, but also soothes and calms the skin under the eyes.
- Green tea leaf extract – an ingredient known to help with milia treatment as it has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and aloe leaf extract – soothe and plump the skin with hydration, instantly changing its appearance and making it more youthful looking.
Things we like:
- The moisturizer is great for people with sensitive eyes as it soaks in quickly and doesn’t contain any irritating ingredients.
- I loved the extremely light water-gel formula, which feels soft and refreshing around the eyes. Store it in your fridge to get a more intense experience.
- I discovered that you can comfortably wear it under makeup without any problem – no pilling, no going into the skin creases.
Things to have in mind:
The texture can feel a bit heavy and sticky if you apply too much, so make sure to only use a tiny amount for both your eyes – half a pump is enough.
#5: Ole Henriksen Banana Bright+ Eye Crème
Next up on the list is the Ole Henriksen Banana Bright + Eye Creme, which is actually one of the brand’s bestseller products and is a famous eye cream amongst the skinthusiasts out there.
This milia-friendly moisturizer has a good concentration of vitamin C in two proven forms, so it’s very brightening and protective for the undereye area.
- The cream is designed to rejuvenate the delicate skin around the eyes and brighten dark circles which it effectively achieves due to the high concentration of vitamin C.
- It’s efficient for reducing crow’s feet and overall minimizes signs of aging since vitamin C is proven to boost collagen production.
- Besides tackling some of the most popular under-eye area concerns, it also offers excellent hydration while being super lightweight.
- Vitamin C + 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid – the two forms of vitamin C that work in tandem to brighten the eye area, build up collagen, and give antioxidant support.
- Shea butter, Glycerin, Collagen, and Jojoba seed oil moisturize the area while protecting and softening the gentle undereye skin.
- Banana pigments – light-reflecting minerals instantly brighten your dark circles.
Things we like:
- I love that you can find the product in a small travel size, making it convenient to try it out before investing a larger sum of money.
- The formula was changed and is now fragrance-free, which is ideal for application around the eyes.
- When I tested it I noticed that applying concealer after the cream was much easier and it stayed on nicely, which is a bonus.
Things to have in mind:
- The cream is one of the pricier options on this list, costing around $40 for a 0.5 oz jar (15 ml).
- Due to the many moisturizing compounds, this one is more suitable for people who experience dryness under their eyes. I suggest people with oily eyelids try something else because this will feel heavy for them.
#6: CeraVe Eye Repair Cream
CeraVe has created one of the best drugstore eye creams for milia, in my opinion – the Eye Repair Cream. This is a budget-friendly, straightforward option for any of you who look to treat milia while not spending too much.
Unlike the retinol-based products on this list, this moisturizer is suitable for daily use, and I highly recommend you use it that way to see a quicker difference in your undereye area.
This is a staple product in many skin lovers’ collections as it’s proven to work.
- The cream minimizes the appearance of undereye circles thanks to its niacinamide content.
- As with any other CeraVe product, here you’ll find the standard ceramide compounds included in the formulation.
- Regular use results in excellent hydration, smooth skin around the eyes, a bright complexion, and a fresh appearance.
- The formula is enriched with CeraVe’s patented MVE ingredient-delivery technology, which guarantees lasting hydration.
- Niacinamide – brightens the complexion and deals with signs of aging.
- Hyaluronic acid, ceramides, glycerin, and aloe barbadensis leaf extract moisturize the skin while supporting your natural skin barrier. Aloe is also super soothing for your skin and minimizes any irritation you may have in the area.
Things we like:
- This product is one of the most affordable ones on this list. I love the price point and the fact that there’s no compromise with quality. It does what it promises and it doesn’t rip you off for it.
- This is another gentle and light moisturizer that soaks in quickly and doesn’t leave a greasy residue on your skin.
- The cream is perfect both for AM and PM use, making it your go-to daily eye cream.
- A major plus is that the product is also suitable for all skin types. It doesn’t contain fragrance or oils, and it’s non-comedogenic.
Things to have in mind:
Besides good, reliable hydration that doesn’t trigger milia, this is a basic product with no frills in it. If you’re after a more luxurious feel, choose another product from this list.
#7: EltaMD Renew Eye Gel
The final product from my list of best eye creams for milia-prone skin is the EltaMD Renew Eye Gel. This is one of the most loved products for milia-prone under-eyes on the market and rightfully so. EltaMD is known for its effective solutions with many benefits to reap.
On a slightly pricier end, this product deserves every cent and more and is one of those eye creams that I constantly come back to.
- The cream targets dark circles and restores the young and healthy look of the skin around the eyes with the help of niacinamide and vitamin C esters.
- It successfully reduces fine lines and wrinkles, tackling some of the most common age-related issues.
- The moisturizer minimizes the appearance of puffiness under the eyes and is super soothing.
- Acetyl hexapeptide-3 – this peptide, higher on the ingredient list, is known for its “botox-like” effects on the skin – this is the main ingredient that deals with crow’s feet and fine lines in your eye area and makes the skin there look much younger.
- Glycerin, panthenol, and hyaluronic acid hydrate and soothe the skin while not being too heavy for under your eyes.
Things we like:
- The product is oil-free, making it not only a great eye cream but also a solution for milia-prone skin.
- It’s easily absorbed by the skin and doesn’t leave a tacky feeling – I love it under makeup, you don’t need to wait a lot of time to continue with your routine.
- It’s also effective for very sensitive skin, which is a good selling point for milia-prone shoppers.
- I also loved the packaging – it has an airless design that lets the container release just the right amount of product – which helps it preserve its effectiveness for much longer than your standard jars.
Things to have in mind:
The only drawback of this eye gel is the price. It’s noticeably more expensive than other eye creams on the market. However, considering that it’s a good choice for people with milia, I’d say it’s worth the investment.
Will dimethicone in moisturizers cause milia?
There are several silicones commonly used in eye creams, including dimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane, and cyclomethicone. They can increase the thickness of a product and make it more occlusive. If you use a thicker moisturizer under your eyes, this can make your skin flare up with milia.
Can I use an eye cream if I have milia?
Yes, you can opt for lighter eye creams that feature milia-fighting ingredients like AHAs and retinoids. Alternatively, you can apply serums containing these ingredients on your under-eye area to get the needed hydration and avoid milia formation.
How to choose a milia-safe eye cream?
I’ve shared with you my top picks for eye creams for milia-prone skin. But what if you come across an eye cream that’s not in this article? How should you approach its assessment and what factors should you consider?
Product texture, heaviness
The first thing that you should consider when choosing a milia-safe eye cream is the texture of the product.
For the majority of people who suffer from milia, a lighter cream for the delicate under-eye area is enough to avoid the problem.
However, if your milia are severe and you’ve noticed that you’re overly prone to milia formations, it’s better to rely on eye gels instead of creams, and ones that have exfoliating ingredients in their contents.
Another recommendation is to opt for moisturizing serums and avoid eye creams completely.
You can also experiment with oils as a hydrating solution suitable for the zones around the eyes. Two oils that stand out from the rest are rosehip oil and green tea seed oil. They’re especially suitable for milia-prone skin as they promote the skin’s exfoliation capabilities. At the same time, they’re not as thick and greasy as other oils, which makes them easily absorbed.
I highly advise staying away from olive oil, macadamia oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and other heavy, fatty oils, especially if you see more than one type in the ingredient list.
Full of beneficial ingredients for the under-eye area
Next, check the formula and become familiar with the ingredients. Some of the top compounds that you should be looking for in milia-preventing eye creams:
- Caffeine – for brightness and vasoconstriction;
- Niacinamide – for skin brightening, and evening out the tone while providing anti-aging capabilities;
- Vitamin C – an antioxidant, a protector against free radicals, a brightening agent, and a collagen booster;
- Retinoids – promote cell turnover, and improve all signs of aging;
- AHA/PHA – gentle skin exfoliants but not for everyday use. AHAs and PHAs can be used a couple of times a week at most.
Of course, let’s not forget about price as a key factor in shaping a purchase decision.
Although you probably want the best for your eye zone and you’re willing to spend more if it means getting rid of milia, it’s important to choose an adequately priced product.
Expensive doesn’t always mean better.
I always strive to recommend products that are priced at different ends of the spectrum to offer a solution for all budgets and preferences.
When it comes to eye creams that don’t cause milia, you can certainly go for a more budget-friendly option and still get great results.
Amount of product
Finally, think about the amount of product you get in the package.
If you find an expensive eye cream but you know that it will last for several months, it may be worth spending a few extra dollars considering that in return you’ll get a good amount of use.
Also, don’t forget to check how much product you actually need to use per application. Some eye creams work marvelously with a tiny amount, while others need a decent application to deliver results.
How to treat and prevent milia
So what is the best eye treatment for milia?
Overall, milia will eventually diminish over time on its own.
However, a lot of people don’t have the patience to wait and would rather see the problem solved as soon as possible.
If this is the case, you can always visit a dermatologist for a checkup. You can get a milia removal procedure that will offer a temporary solution.
However, the underlying cause of the problem will still be there, and to prevent milia from reappearing, you’ll need to tend to it properly.
I recommend the following tips for getting rid of milia:
- Avoid physical exfoliation under your eyes;
- Never indulge in manual extraction – don’t pick on your milia – not only is it impossible to squeeze anything out but you’ll damage the gentle undereye skin;
- Test mild acid-based products, like an acid toner, on the milia-affected area of the skin. This will partially exfoliate the skin without any aggressive methods. Apply the toner with a cotton swab to the milia. I advise you to use The Ordinary Glycolic Toner for this, as it has a lightweight texture, it’s not heavy, non-sticky, and best of all – it’s easy to apply. It’s a glycolic acid, which is gentle and hydrating.
- In case you have extra sensitive skin and applying an AHA directly negatively affects your skin, try wetting the cotton swab first and then soaking it in the toner. This will help dilute the acid and make the treatment less aggressive.
I hope my recommendations will help you get rid of the inconvenience that milia are. And if you’ve tried some of the suggested products or you’ve discovered other ways for treating your milia that are not on here, I’d love to hear your comments and learn more about your experience.
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thank you, this article was very helpful
Glad you liked it, Christina 🙂