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Skincare is a hot topic these days, from viral TikTok videos to the not-so-subtle advice from your mother, best friend, and dermatologist. While most consider sunscreen and moisturizer enough to cover the basics, there are other areas that deserve special attention. Such as: Your eyes. The windows to your soul happen to be protected by some of the most delicate skin you’ve got.
According to Dr. Dendy Engleman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon, the skin around the eyes is extremely thin and needs a bit of extra TLC, especially as you constantly blink, smile, and strain them throughout the day. “Adding an eye cream to your routine replenishes moisture and has many other benefits,” Dr. Engleman says. “No matter what your skin type is, incorporating an eye cream into your skincare routine helps to brighten and smoothen the skin around the eyes.”
How to choose the best eye cream
As with any type of skincare product, it’s not always a one-size-fits-all formula. Dr. Engleman recommends considering your skin’s needs and what you are looking to treat — from fine lines and wrinkles as you age to puffiness, redness, or dark circles from stress, lack of sleep, or genetics. Though many ingredients can improve many concerns, there are a few Dr. Engleman shared as her favorites:
- Hyaluronic acid is soothing and moisturizing, perfect for all skin types if you’re searching for a general eye cream.
- Retinol or peptides are good ingredients to look for if you’re searching for an anti-aging eye cream.
- Vitamins A, C, and E are perfect ingredients if you’re looking to brighten the eyes and reduce under-eye bags.
While you shop our guide, consider your goals when using an eye cream. As always, speak with your trusted dermatologist for recommendations since they know your unique skincare needs.
Our top eye creams picks
Best budget eye cream: Grace & Stella- If Eyes Could Smile Eye Cream
In a cute, petite pink pot, this budget-friendly eye cream is an excellent option for someone looking for an all-around eye cream that doesn’t break the bank. It features brightening and hydrating ingredients, like niacinamide, caffeine, and green tea extract, giving your eyes an extra boost before bed or in the early A.M.
While it seems on the smaller side, a dab of this eye cream goes a long way to moisturize the under-eye area. It’s also a great value if you don’t want to spend a fortune on skincare. That being said, it might not deliver as noticeable results as more expensive formulas. The silky cream texture dries quickly, but if you overdo it, it might create a crease under your eye before applying makeup.
Active ingredients: Niacinamide, Caffeine, Zinc Oxide and Green Tea Extract
Size: .46 fluid ounces
Benefits: Brightens, moisturizes, and decreases dark circles, fine lines and wrinkles.
Best eye cream for puffiness: Collagen Boost peptide eye cream by Tina Alster MD
Whether Taco Tuesday shenanigans persuaded you to have another margarita or you’re a new parent and thus on Team No Sleep, sometimes we all wake up with some unsightly puffiness. In addition to applying a cold compress to your eyes, selecting an eye cream that targets this common complaint can help.
This bright orange pump bottle uses a smart combination of peptides and glycolic acid to reduce lines and puffiness while adding two types of vitamin E for a moisture boost. The cream formula is easy to apply, dries fast, and doesn’t leave any residue.
Active ingredients: Astaxanthin, Coenzyme Q10, vitamin E, two types of Vitamin E, Glycolic acid
Size: 15 milliliters
Benefits: Tightens, tones, brightens and diminishes puffiness, dark circles, fine lines and wrinkles.
Best anti-aging eye cream: Skin by Blair All-in-One Eye Cream
North Carolina-based aesthetician Blair Hayes often felt ‘ridiculous’ advising her clients to buy several eye creams to meet their skincare goals. So, as all entrepreneurs do, she set out on a two-year journey to create a high-quality formula that checked all of the most important boxes.
Celebrities like Emily Maynard now adore her 5-in-1 eye cream, which helps reduce the appearance of fine lines while brightening, hydrating, and protecting. It’s a superstar for anti-aging because it features DDBD, dipeptide diaminobutyroyl benzylamide diacetate, dubbed the ‘topical Botox’ peptide. The unique formulation of this eye cream, which comes with a metal applicator, not only cuts down on bacteria from fingers, but it was explicitly designed for lymphatic drainage. It reduces eye wrinkles by helping the muscles to relax and naturally soften.
Active ingredients: DDBD, Hyaluronic Acid, Tocopherol (vitamin E), Jojoba, Caffeine, Arnica, Ceramides
Size: 15 grams
Benefits: Fights aging, puffiness, dark circles, fine lines and wrinkles, hydrates and brightens.
Best vitamin c eye cream: Kiehls Powerful-Strength Dark Circle Reducing Vitamin C Eye Serum
You probably know vitamin C is powerful for boosting your immune system. But this multi-purpose, hardworking vitamin can also brighten dull or tired skin around your eyes. This eye cream features an impressive 10 percent pure vitamin C, paired with peptides and hyaluronic acid. Because it’s from the cult-followed Kiehl’s brand, it’s not only tested by dermatologists but ophthalmologists, too, making it safe for contact lens users.
In addition to making your eyes pop, the creamy serum reduces the appearance of dark circles, crow’s feet, puffiness, and wrinkles. The small pump bottle is packed with a lightweight potent formula and gently warms as you apply so it absorbs ASAP.
Active ingredients: 10% Pure Vitamin C, Tri-Peptides and Hyaluronic Acid.
Size: 15 milliliters
Benefits: Brightens, smooths, moisturizes, and decreases the appearance of dark circles, puffiness, lines, dark circles and crow’s feet
Best smoothing eye cream: Defying Gravity Eye Lifting Cream
Karissa Bodnar, the founder and CEO of Thrive Causemetics, recently launched a sibling brand, Bigger Than Beauty Skincare, which includes this lifting and brightening cream that creates a plumper-looking under-eye area, making it easier to apply concealer and other products in the morning via a handy squeeze bottle. It uses a proprietary blend of plant emollients that create a silky, absorbent eye cream that helps reduce creases and wrinkles in the delicate skin below your lashes.
The gel-to-cream formula is dermatologist-tested, 100 percent vegan, and sulfate- and paraben-free. Though it might seem like a simple benefit, we appreciate the easy-to-squeeze tube that helps you to get just the tiny amount you need, reducing waste.
Active ingredients: Green Tea and Caffeine, Allantoin, Rooibos Leaf Extract, Probiotics
Size: .5 fluid ounces
Benefits: Softens, soothes, smoothes, moisturizes and plumps
Cruelty-Free: Yes — Leaping Bunny and PETA CertifiedPURCHASE
Best splurge eye cream: Irene Forte Olive Eye Cream
Consider Irene Forte’s cult-followed Olive Eye Cream for a splurge-worthy eye cream investment. From the first time you apply the luxe, heavy-but-not-greasy cream, your skin will brighten and hydrate as it absorbs the formula.
During a clinical study conducted by the brand, this eye cream significantly improved moisture in 28 days. This is thanks to its penta-phyto complex that uses vitamin B, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and upcycled olive seed oil to boost radiance and H20.
If sustainability is important to your values — or you want to give Mother Earth a fighting chance — you’ll also appreciate Irene Forte’s commitment to reducing waste. The glass packaging is refillable, so once you’ve used your last drop, you can order a (less expensive) top-up that doesn’t require another bottle.
Active ingredients: Upcycled Olive Seed Oil, Penta-Phyto Complex, Olive Oil Fractions, B Vitamin Complex (Pro-B5 & B3), Hyaluronic Acid, Aloe Leaf Juice, Jojoba Oil
Fragrance: Allergen-screened natural fragrance
Size: 30 milliliters
Benefits: Hydrates, smoothes, protects and diminishes the appearance of uneven skin tone and dark circles.
Best natural eye cream: Orvos Satin Eye Gel Cream
In your wildest dreams, you’d hop over the Atlantic and book a full spa day at one of the top salons in Europe. In reality, the most important improvements to your skin come from st-home practice and ritual, making the products you choose vital. With this natural eye cream, you benefit from the expertise of a European double-board certified oculofacial plastic surgeon, Dr. Robert Schwarcz. He created his skincare line, Orvos Skin Science, to offer high-performance products that restore the skin. This eye cream is free of parabens, sulfates, toxic preservatives, hydrogenation, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate and palm oil. Plus, it is non-GMO and certified USDA organic.
This eye cream in green packaging features a gold cooling massage applicator, cutting back on bacteria from fingers and making it easy and fast to apply. The hardworking ingredients include green tea extract, coffee seed extract, vitamins, and Bakuchiol, a plant-based retinol alternative. The gel-to-cream formula absorbs fast without leaving a residue behind.
Active ingredients: Green Tea Extract, Coffee Seed Extract, Bakuchiol, Kakadu Plum Extract, Fig Extract
Texture: Gel to cream
Size: .5 ounces
Benefits: Cools, hydrates, reduces inflammation, dark circles and fine lines
Best retinol eye cream: PRIORI DNA Eye Recovery Cream with Retinol
While you can’t bottle the fountain of youth, you can set your sights (and goals) on retinol products. Usually more expensive, it can be worth the investment if you want the benefit of this ingredient. Retinol increases proliferation, which helps to exfoliate and unclog your pores, thus promoting collagen production. Since we lose collagen with age, receiving more makes us look younger and fresher.
This trusted brand offers a recovery eye cream that uses retinol, DNA repair enzymes, and other ingredients to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. The pump bottle dispenses a creamy, absorbent formula that doesn’t leave grease behind. One unique addition to this formula is butterfly bush extract, which helps protect your skin from HEV blue light and environmental factors.
Active ingredients: Retinol, DNA Repair Enzymes, Butterfly Bush Extract, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C & E
Size: .5 ounces
Benefits: Shields, rejuvenates, repairs, protects, hydrates and diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
Cruelty-free: Yes — Leaping Bunny CertifiedPURCHASE
Best eye cream for sensitive skin: Clearstem BRIGHTEYES Eye Gel
When the founders of Clearstem created their product line, they were trying to solve a timeless conundrum that many women face: how to invest in anti-aging…and also fight acne. Often, anti-aging products are creamier and, thus, might not be suitable for very sensitive, zit-prone skin. And acne products work to kill breakouts, often resulting in dry skin, which highlights wrinkles and lines.
To offer the benefits of both camps, Clearstem created a unique formula that hydrates and cuts down on acne. Their star eye cream, BRIGHTEYES, uses caffeine, a potent peptide, and stem cell blend to improve dark circles, cool puffiness, and brightness. Because they care so much about their ingredients and mission, Clearstem made this gel formula safe for all skin types, including the most sensitive. They recommend applying on the eyelid and the undereye for full benefits.
Active ingredients: Argan Stem Cells, Peptides, Aloe Vera
Size: .6 ounces
Best eye cream for dark circles: Onekind Pep Squad Eye Revive Complex
Hands-down (or is it eyes closed?) one of the biggest concerns about the eye area is dark circles. In reality, these rings are sometimes genetic, but they can increase in intensity during periods of stress or little sleep. If you tossed and turned all night and need a pep talk to get out of bed, consider using a powerful eye cream that targets dark circles.
We like this fast-absorbing, lightweight formula that utilizes peptides to decrease dark circles, puffiness, and fine lines. It features marine algae and squalane, which create a smooth finish, concealing any signs of restlessness. The texture is more like a serum than a cream and becomes translucent quickly. Since the first ingredient is water, you can bet it offers killer hydration, too.
Active ingredients: Peptides, Marine Algae, Squalene
Size: .5 ounces
Benefits: Brighten, revives, moistures and improves texture, dark circles and puffiness
Cruelty-free: Yes — Leaping Bunny and PETA CertifiedPURCHASE
How we researched & tested
We analyzed the ingredients, texture, and packaging of all of our products. By fact-checking, personally testing, and scouring hundreds of reviews, we selected our top picks from various retailers. Our comprehensive list covers many common concerns and skincare goals.
The best way to apply eye cream
According to Dr. Engleman, the most important thing to remember when applying eye cream is to be gentle. As she explains, you don’t want to spread it around your eyes harshly, but rather dab a pea-sized amount to the eyelid and under-eye area and gently dab the product into the skin.
“You also want to avoid cross-contamination, so wash your hands before applying eye cream or touching your product,” she says. “It is also important to avoid getting eye cream in your eyes, so ensure you don’t apply it too close to the lash lines.”
It may seem like common sense when applying eye cream, but Dr. Engleman says it is worth checking instructions since some ingredients may pose challenges. For example, an eye cream with caffeine only needs to be applied on the under-eyes to reduce puffiness rather than the eyelid and under-eye.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Do under eye creams really work?
Yes, Dr. Engelman says. As the skin around the eyes is extremely thin— 40% thinner than the rest of the skin on your face — she says this facial region can quickly become inflamed and dehydrated. “Applying a hydrating eye cream with the right concentration of actives and ingredients is important,” she says. “Eye creams can prevent and decrease a variety of skin concerns like puffiness, dark circles and fine lines.”
Is an eye serum or eye cream better?
Dr. Engleman personally prefers eye creams over eye serums. Generally speaking, you will find the main difference in the product’s texture, as eye serums are more liquid-based and eye creams are a much thicker cream-based product.
“I find that eye creams reap the most benefits as the consistency and formulation really help to hydrate the eye area as an eye serum does no more than what a typical moisturizer would do for the eye area,” she says. “Eye serums can be useful as an add-on to an eye cream routine for added target treatment and hydration, but I wouldn’t use one alone.”
Do you put on eye cream before or after moisturizer?
According to Dr. Engleman, you will want to apply eye cream before moisturizer, as this helps to lock in added hydration surrounding the eye area and can keep irritants from your face cream away from the eyes.
Do eye creams cause milia?
Dr. Engleman explains milia forms from a concentrated build-up of keratin, resulting in small, skin-tag-like raised bumps on the face. “Many people are predisposed to developing milia through genetics or sun damage, but certain eye creams can exacerbate milia,” she warns. “If you already experience milia, or want to prevent it, try to steer clear of occlusive eye creams that contain ingredients like mineral oil, beeswax, squalene, or any other ingredient that hinders the skin’s natural exfoliation process.”
Can you use vaseline as an eye cream?
In a pinch, you can use Vaseline as an alternative to eye cream as it is an emollient, which provides the skin with hydration, but Dr. Engleman would not recommend solely using Vaseline as an eye cream — and certainly not for daily use.
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