Derms Warn Against This Viral Eye Cream Hack


The latest eye cream hack going viral on TikTok takes an entirely new approach to upper eyelid tightening, but it’s being met with criticism, and there’s also no proof that it’s safe for skin. Philip Cowley, aka @philsmypharmacist who dubs himself a “pharmacist mixmaster extraordinaire” and has 1.4 million followers, took to the platform yesterday to share a hack that “fixes your eye cream in less than a minute.”

The Hack

“Droopy eyelids are the worst,” he says in the video, which has nearly 40,000 likes. “Afrin [nasal spray] has oxymetazoline in it, and oxymetazoline is the same active ingredient in the new drop [Upneeq] that goes in the eye. We’re going to make a cream that goes on the outside of the eye.” In his caption, he writes: “Take 15 ml of eye cream with retinol in it. (I love this eye serum from Murad). Mix it with 7.5 ml of Afrin. Put it back in the bottle and apply at night!”

Why It Doesn’t Work

New York dermatologist Shereene Idris, MD, who has a prescription for Upneeq eyedrops for her mild ptosis, is very familiar with the ingredient and is not impressed with this concoction. “Do not waste your money on this hack,” she says in her reaction video. “When you apply oxymetazoline topically, it does jack sh*t. When you insert oxymetazoline into your eye through an eye drop—I’m not saying put Afrin in your eye—it works differently because it is lipophilic; it is a vasoconstrictor. You have mucus membranes on the whole inner lining of your eye and they’re loaded with blood vessels, so it’s going to get absorbed and constrict the blood vessels. In the process, it constricts your muscles, allowing them to lift.

When you apply it topically, your muscle is not going to contract—it just doesn’t work that way. Plus, the molecular weight of oxy is 260, which is small enough to penetrate the skin, but not small enough to penetrate deep enough to hit the muscle. If it’s as if I said I’m going to apply Botox topically and I’m going to be frozen—it does not work that way. And to make matters worse, he wasted an $89 retinol eye cream because he added the Afrin spray, which might be destabilizing to the retinol. Plus, he put the retinol on his upper eyelids and his eyelids look red and bloodshot toward the end of the video.”