Can Eye Creams Cause Milia?

Have you experienced a spot that persisted for months? One that came to a head but never quite broke? If so, you likely had a milium.

If you've seen milia around your eyes, you may be pondering whether a new eye cream is to blame. Rich moisturisers can provoke acneic spots and pimples, so it seems likely that moisturisers could provoke milia too.

Is this a skincare myth or fact? Can eye creams cause milia? We investigate.

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What are Milia?

Often mistaken for traditional spots, milia seeds are small white nodules commonly seen around the eye area. Although similar in appearance to whiteheads, milia have a different composition and cause.

Acneic spots and pimples are collections of sebum, bacteria, and dead skin. On the other hand, milia comprise a concentrated growth of keratin.

Keratin is a protein the body makes naturally. A protein responsible for strength and resilience, it's the main component of our topmost skin cells. So milia ARE trapped collections of dead skin cells. However, unlike spots, milia need not form from a pore.

What causes Milia? Can eye cream cause Milia?

Milia are somewhat understudied fixtures of the skincare world. Although scientists know what milia are, they don't yet understand the biological processes that trigger them.

Years of dermatological practice have revealed some common factors in the formation of milia:

  • Genetics

  • Sun damage

  • Skin damage from rashes, abrasions, or other injuries

  • Blister-inducing skin conditions such as porphyria cutanea tarda (If you have such a condition, you'll already have identified this by the extreme accompanying symptoms.)

  • Rich, occlusive moisturisers

Clinical acne is unrelated to the use of cosmetics, but it's true that cosmetics can, in some cases, worsen the condition. In the same way, although eye cream is unlikely to be the sole cause of milia, there are several accounts of occlusive creams provoking these blemishes.

Occlusive ingredients are those that moisturise skin by preventing hydration loss. Occlusives form an additional barrier on top of your existing skin barrier. This may provoke milia by hindering skin's natural exfoliation process.

If you have a skin type prone to milia, avoid creams with the following ingredients or labelling:

  • Mineral oil

  • Beeswax or vegetable wax

  • Lanolin

  • Any product named a 'balm'

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How can I treat existing Milia?

While appearing stubborn, milia can be effectively treated with exfoliation. Milia seeds are best tackled by chemical exfoliation. It's best to avoid physical exfoliation techniques for risk of abrading skin, a known trigger of milia.

Chemical exfoliants are absorbed by skin and so can treat several layers simultaneously. This action is very effective at preventing new milia cysts from forming.

The two chemical exfoliants found most effective for milia treatment as well as prevention are Glycolic acid and Retinol. Both ingredients are known to speed up skin's natural exfoliation rate, the likely reason for their positive treatment outcome.

If you're prone to milia, try integrating one of Adore Beauty's best-selling chemical exfoliants:

One thing to keep in mind though is to be very careful with how you apply these exfoliants, and if you're already using a chemical exfoliant, be sure to keep in mind that the skin around the eyes is much thinner than everywhere else. So - introduce chemical exfoliants into your routine extremely slowly, and be immensely careful with how you apply these products. 

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Best Eye Creams to Prevent Milia

So, you're prone to milia and need the best eye cream that will keep your eye area free from imperfections. Try introducing a lightweight eye cream that boosts cellular exfoliation with AHAs or retinol, such as: 

  • Lonvitalite C8 Collagen Crystal Eye Sheet Masks - 6 Pack- under eye masks are gently plumping and hydrating while targeting dark circles and fine lines under the eye.  

  • Dermalogica Age Reversal Eye Complex - a lightweight gel-cream that contains a gentle formulation of retinol, combined with Vitamin C and AGE Smart technology for a brighter, smoother under eye area.

  • Vanessa Megan Triple Action Eye Lift Serum- a powerful, quick absorbing eye serum with a barely-there feel. With all organic, vegan and cruelty-free ingredients.

You can also visit our exfoliant shop section, where you'll find the complete selection of exfoliants we stock, or discover other lightweight eye creams and serums through Adore Beauty's Eye Care selection. A great place to visit if you're loyal to a particular brand of skincare!

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