Preparation H for the eye contour? Dr. Polla doesn't recommend it!

Being in the skin care industry, I love to hear about people’s skin care routines, beauty tips and tricks, and product use and mis-use. One of the strange things that I have heard on more than one occasion has to do with the use of Preparation H in the eye contour area to alleviate puffiness. I heard this one too many times this past week, and had to research this. Does Preparation-H really help the eye contour area? Here is what I found out.

Of the Preparation H family of products, I have really ever heard of two being used for “anti-aging” and “beautifying” purposes in the eye contour area: Preparation H Cooling Gel, and Preparation H Ointment. Here are the ingredients:

PREPARATION H COOLING GEL

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS Phenylephrine HCl 0.25% Witch hazel 50.0%.

INACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Aloe barbadensis leaf juice, edetate disodium, hydroxyethyl cellulose, methylparaben, polysorbate 80, propylene glycol, propylparaben, purified water, sodium citrate, sulisobenzone, vitamin E acetate.

PREPARATION H OINTMENT

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Mineral oil 14% Petrolatum 74.9% Phenylephrine HCl 0.25%.

INACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Benzoic acid, butylated hydroxyanisole, corn oil, glycerin, lanolin, lanolin alcohols, methylparaben, mineral oil, paraffin, propylparaben, purified water, thymus vulgaris (thyme) flower/leaf oil, tocopherols excipient, white wax.

Dr. Polla’s comments?

When in doubt about anything skin related, I turn to my dad. What does he think of this? I asked him first about the Phenylephrine HCl ingredient. “It is an adrenergic derivative known for its decongestant and vaso-constricting properties.” Translation into lay speak, this means this ingredient may indeed reduce swelling or puffiness. However, my father cautions: “This is a temporary effect, and when it subsides you often see the opposite, i.e. vaso-dilation of the capillaries, which increases the look of redness” (think darker under-eye circles in the eye area).

The cooling gel contains witch-hazel, which is known to also have decongesting properties. This ingredient is actually often used in facial skin care formulations, so no concerns there.

The ointment contains ingredients that, well, make it an ointment: mineral oil, glycerin, paraffin, wax. “These ingredients are meant to sit on top of the skin,” my father explains, “rather than penetrate. They are thick, oily ingredients that can clog pores.” Imagine putting Vaseline on your face. Possibly beneficial if you suffer from serious dry patches, but not recommended on a daily basis.

Other than not being ideally formulated for the eye contour area, I finally ask, would using this product in this way potentially be nefarious? “There are a couple ingredients that may over time irritate the eyes,” replies my father, “including sulisobenzone in the cooling gel, and various alcohol-derived ingredients in the ointment.”

Conclusion: using Preparation H products in the eye contour area won’t kill you – but it is not “Dr. Polla-recommended.”

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