Caring for the skin around the eyes is a delicate process. Not only does it tend to be the first place to show signs of aging because it’s thinner, but it’s also more sensitive than the rest of the skin. Therefore, extra care needs to be considered when choosing an eye cream for this delicate area. Best eye creams? We’re glad you asked.
The skin around the eyes is approximately ten times thinner than the skin on the face. As we age, skin loses its elasticity and thins due to collagen breakdown, which can be further exacerbated by smoking and environmental aggressors.
Not to worry. Budget eye creams, cult favorites, and even luxury splurges can hydrate and protect the fragile eye area. Dermatologist-recommended eye cream? We’ve got you covered there, too. Also, it’s a misconception that you need a specific eye cream for women and men. It’s what’s inside the packaging that counts.
Don’t have time to sift through all of the best eye creams to find the right one? We’ve done your homework for you. Here at the Derm Review, we’ve reviewed hundreds of products with a scientific lens to ensure you’re creating a skincare regimen that’s safe and effective. Ahead, 12 best eye creams to help you fight the signs of age that plague the thin, delicate skin around the orbital area.
Related: Best Eye Cream for Wrinkles
Best Eye Creams: The List
Best Eye Cream Overall:Carrot & Stick: The Moisturizer, $50
Best Anti-Aging Eye Cream: Formulyst Anti-Aging Eye Cream, $85
Best Affordable Eye Cream: The Ordinary Caffeine Solution, $6.70
Best Eye Cream for Dark Circles: No7 Laboratories Dark Circle Corrector, $27
Best Drugstore Eye Cream: RoC Retinol Correxion Anti-Aging Eye Cream, $17
Best Eye Cream for Puffiness: Origins GinZing Eye Cream, $34
Best Retinol Eye Cream: Murad Essential-C Eye Cream SPF 15 PA++, $70
Best Under-Eye Cream for Wrinkles: Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Intensive Eye Contour Cream, $64
Best Brightening Eye Cream: Drunk Elephant C Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream, $64
Best Firming Eye Cream: StriVectin Peptight 360° Tightening Eye Serum, $69
Best Hydrating Eye Cream: CeraVe Eye Repair Cream, $11
Best Night Eye Cream: Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex, $64
Best Eye Cream for Mature Skin: Skinceuticals Eye Balm, $82
How to Choose the Best Under-Eye Cream for You
Changes to the skin around the eyes can have cosmetic and psychological ramifications — especially since the eyes are the focal point of the face.
However, proper care — including using an eye cream — can provide long-term benefits. Here’s what to look for when shopping for the best eye creams.
Related: Best Retinol Eye Creams
The top under-eye skin concerns are fine lines, wrinkles, crepiness, puffiness, dark circles, and discoloration. Start by identifying which bothers you the most — you may even have a combination of these woes. In this case, you may want to use a different eye cream for day and night.
For example, choose a lighter gel formulated with caffeine to combat morning puffiness and a thicker cream with retinol to target wrinkles while you sleep.
Related: Best Eye Creams for Puffiness
The eyes have fewer sebaceous (oil) glands than other areas of the face, which is why it’s vital to apply moisture. However, you need to select the correct weight and texture, just as you would when choosing a moisturizer for your face. So, gels and light creams for normal to oily skin and mid-weight and heavy creams for dry and mature skin types.
Be it a change in seasons, the area of the country (or world) you’re living in, or simply taking a vacation to a different climate, you may find the need to adjust the formula you’re currently using because it’s too light or too heavy.
As with any skincare product, you’ll have to adjust the formula over time to address the current — and new — signs of age. For example:
- 20s: You may not be thinking about aging too much (yet), so look for a formula with ingredients like caffeine, vitamin K, and antioxidants to address puffiness and dark circles (those late nights!) and the first signs of fine lines.
- 30s: In your 30s, initial bone loss can occur, and you produce less collagen, leading to a loss of tone and elasticity. It’s time to introduce anti-aging ingredients such as retinol, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and niacinamide.
- 40s: Fine lines and crow’s feet become more prominent, and your skin starts to lose even more elasticity, and consequently, moisture. All of the ingredients mentioned above still apply. Still, you may want to up the strength of retinol and add in a few more anti-aging fighters like coenzyme Q10 (and other peptides), glycerin, ceramides, and vitamin E.
- 50s: Deeper wrinkles and more pronounced bags and dark circles characterize under-eyes in your 50s. While all of the ingredients noted above still apply, retinol is perhaps the best eye cream ingredient you can use as it addresses all three concerns, along with texture and tone. If dryness is a significant concern, plant oils and butters can provide additional moisture.
Related: Best Eye Creams for Dark Circles
How to Apply an Eye Cream
Eye cream should be applied twice a day, in the morning and at night. If your eyes aren’t too dry, you may opt for an antioxidant-rich lightweight gel or light during the day to protect against environmental stressors and switch to a thicker eye cream at night — perhaps one that is formulated with retinol to tackle the signs of aging.
- With clean hands, apply eye cream in a gentle tapping motion, preferably using your ring finger as it has the lightest touch.
- Eye creams should be applied below the eye, around the crow’s feet area, and the brow bone area just below your eyebrows.
- Unless directions say otherwise, you may want to avoid applying eye creams with active ingredients (such as retinol) to the upper eyelid, as it could cause irritation.
- Try an eye cream with a metal applicator tip if you’re worried about pulling and tugging on the skin. The metal has an instant cooling effect on the skin. For extra “chill” to help with depuffing tired eyes, try storing your eye cream in the fridge.
Tips for Keeping the Skin Around the Eyes Healthy
Even if best eye creams are a part of your routine, lifestyle habits also play an essential role in the health of your eyes. For example:
- Stay Hydrated: Drinking water plays a crucial role in maintaining the skin’s elasticity and making fine lines less prominent.
- Limit Sun Exposure: Overexposure to ultraviolet rays causes melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells, to mature abnormally. This results in age spots, uneven pigmentation, and fine lines and wrinkles due to a breakdown in collagen and elastin. Also, always wear SPF — some eye creams are even formulated with it. Also, wear sunglasses (ideally, with lenses that protect against the sun’s rays) to avoid squinting.
- Smoking: Cigarettes contain more than 4,000 chemicals that damage collagen and elastin. The nicotine in cigarettes causes the blood vessels to constrict in the skin’s outer layers, which impairs blood flow. Decreased blood flow means your skin isn’t getting as much oxygen or vital nutrients like vitamin A.
- Quit Smoking: Nicotine constricts blood vessels under the eyes (and in the face), making it difficult for vital nutrients to be absorbed, leading to collagen breakdown.
- Get Enough Sleep: Fatigue exacerbates dark circles and puffiness.
- Limit Alcohol and Caffeine Intake: Both beverages cause dehydration, leading to more prominent fine lines, wrinkles, and dark circles. Alcohol also leads to puffiness — primarily upon waking up the following day.
- Cleanse Gently: Use cotton and an effective eye makeup remover to avoid pulling and tugging, leading to a breakdown in collagen.
- Treat Your Allergies: Speak to your doctor about taking an antihistamine. Puffiness and dark circles go hand-in-hand with allergies.
- Eat a Well-Balanced: What you put into your body shows on the outside of your skin — including the eye area.
Best Eye Creams
Best Eye Cream Overall
While it’s impossible to choose just one cream to be deemed as “the best” (even with the categories below), at the Derm Review, the best means a product that’s formulated with a mix of safe synthetics and evidence ingredients and is void of harmful chemicals — like the “toxic twelve.” The best is also suitable for most skin types and doesn’t test on animals.
Carrot & Stick: The Moisturizer, $50
This revolutionary treatment uses highly effective botanical extracts to reduce signs of stress and fatigue, including eye bags and dark circles. The Persian silk tree (Albizia julibrissin) has an anti-glycation effect that helps delicate skin around the lids feel tighter. St. Paul’s wort (Sigesbeckia Orientalis) boosts the appearance of collagen and elastin, restoring vitality.
Best Anti-Aging Eye Cream
When it comes to aging, prevention is critical. Cell renewal slows down during the aging process, the skin thins, and collagen and elastin production reduces. The result? Fine lines, wrinkles, and dryness. While you can’t completely stop intrinsic (chronological) aging around the eyes, you can soften the effects of Father Time with an anti-aging eye cream.
Formulyst Anti-Aging Eye Cream, $85
A breakthrough anti-aging treatment specifically developed to target the delicate skin around your eyes, Formulyst’s Anti-Aging Eye Cream blurs away dark circles, puffiness, and even stubborn crow’s feet.
Formulated with clarifying concentrate and moisture-rich complexes that stimulate, strengthen and hydrate, this lightweight formula delivers five anti-aging actions in one. It’s enriched with hyaluronic acid to help restore your skin’s natural suppleness and elasticity while visibly smoothing away wrinkles. This advanced eye treatment leaves skin feeling smoother and tighter and dramatically reduces the appearance of dark circles, fine lines, and puffiness.
Best Affordable Eye Cream
Best eye creams don’t have to put a dent in your bank account. Budget eye creams may be cheaper, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less effective. The key is finding a well-formulated under-eye cream that contains quality ingredients — and at a high enough strength to effectively address under-eye concerns.
The Ordinary Caffeine Solution, $6.70
Thanks to a combination of powerful antioxidants, The Ordinary Caffeine Solution is a great affordable option for those who would like to reduce the look of puffiness and dark circles underneath their eyes. This light-textured formula contains a high 5% concentration of caffeine and an antioxidant that tightens and firms the skin while reducing the amount of blood that accumulates under the eyes — a significant factor contributing to dark circles.
Best Eye Cream for Dark Circles
Several factors cause dark circles, including chronological aging, sun exposure, genetics, ethnicity, allergies, eye strain, lack of sleep, poor diet, dehydration, alcohol consumption, and smoking. With that said, even the best under-eye cream for dark circles can’t completely get rid of shadowy rings if you’re not considering lifestyle changes.
No7 Laboratories Dark Circle Corrector, $27
This under-eye cream targets dark circles immediately and over time. It’s slightly tinted and formulated with light-diffusing particles and color-correcting pigments, so it camouflages and brightens discoloration on contact.
Soothing Algae Extract and the brand’s proprietary lightening technology target the three causes of dark circles. Under-eye skin becomes more revitalized for a more wide-awake, bright look. The formula is clinically proven to reduce the appearance of dark circles in 2 weeks for all skin tones from fair to very dark.
Check out all of our top eye creams that banish under-eye darkness.
Best Drugstore Eye Cream
While not all drugstore eye creams are complete bargain busters these days, many are priced at a more tangible price than department store brands. As with the affordable eye cream category, it’s not so much about the price as it is the quality and efficacy of the product.
RoC Retinol Correxion Anti-Aging Eye Cream, $17
For under $20, this popular dermatologist-recommended drugstore eye cream addresses every under-eye concern including, fine lines, wrinkles, crow’s feet, puffiness, dark circles, and uneven texture. Slow, time-released retinol provides all of these incredible anti-aging benefits minus the irritation.
Even so, if you’re new to retinol, start by using the cream a couple of times a week — and only at night since this active ingredient can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
Love a good drugstore find? Us, too. Check out the rest of our favorite drugstore eye creams.
Best Eye Cream for Puffiness
Puffy bags under the eyes appear when the skin relaxes and sags with age, creating a pouch-like appearance. Due to lifestyle habits, excess fluid can also build up there, which makes the lower lids look even puffier.
Origins GinZing Eye Cream, $34
This soothing, refreshing formula harnesses the power of caffeine to help depuff swollen eyes. The caffeine comes from Ethiopian coffee, as well as green tea leaf extract. Other vital ingredients include ginseng root extract and magnolia extract to condition skin for a softer look that helps reduce the appearance of eye wrinkles.
We all deal with puffy eyes from time to time — check out these other effective eye creams for bags.
Best Retinol Eye Cream
Because retinol is composed of smaller molecules, it can penetrate the skin deeply and more effectively than other anti-aging ingredients. It’s highly effective in encouraging collagen production, softening and preventing fine lines and wrinkles, lessening the appearance of brown spots, increasing cell turnover, and improving skin texture. Retinol also brightens and depuffs, so it’s genuinely a powerhouse ingredient that addresses all under-eye concerns.
Murad Essential-C Eye Cream SPF 15 PA++, $70
While most skincare experts suggest you apply a retinol-based eye cream at night (more on that in a bit), this formula contains an SPF to protect against the skin-damaging effects of harmful UVA/UVB rays. Along with providing protection, retinol reduces the signs of aging, caffeine banishes puffiness, and avocado oil and shorea stenoptera butter deeply hydrate.
There are few ingredients more effective against under-eye wrinkles than retinol — check out our other top retinol eye cream picks.
Best Under-Eye Cream for Wrinkles
Under-eye wrinkles are an inevitable part of aging, but you can slow down this process a bit with the best under-eye cream for wrinkles. While anti-aging eye cream is always a good idea, one formulated for stubborn, deep wrinkles is an excellent choice for someone in their 50s — and beyond.
Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Intensive Eye Contour Cream, $64
This anti-aging eye cream addresses multiple eye wrinkles, including crow’s feet, under-eye wrinkles, corner creases, and lid creases.
Key ingredients include green and brown algae, turmeric extract, aqua peptides, and the brand’s proprietary KOMBU-Bounce Complex to help address the causes of wrinkle formation while serving as a natural wrinkle inner-filler. This potent, newly reformulated, anti-wrinkle eye cream reveals visible results in as little as one week.
If you’re looking to defy the signs of age under your eyes, check out our other top wrinkle-fighting creams for the eyes.
Best Brightening Eye Cream
Discoloration under the eyes isn’t just associated with dark circles. It’s also linked to hyperpigmentation caused by sun exposure, the natural signs of aging, rubbing and scratching of skin around the eyes, and accumulation of fluid due to allergy, as in atopic dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis.
Drunk Elephant C Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream, $64
The brand developed this famous cream to brighten hyperpigmented skin around the eyes while moisturizing at the same time. It features a combination of eight peptides, five forms of vitamins C, vitamin E, superoxide dismutase, ubiquinone, and several more antioxidants. These ingredients work together to promote brighter, firmer, stronger-looking skin around the eye area.
Best Firming Eye Cream
Loose, crepey skin under the eyes is caused by a combination of genetics, sun exposure, and the natural aging process. Over time, the collagen and elastin — the proteins responsible for keeping the skin taut — break down and aren’t repaired as easily (or as quickly) as in the past.
Related: Best Firming Eye Creams
StriVectin Peptight 360° Tightening Eye Serum, $69
Thanks to a cooling applicator, this lightweight serum visibly tightens and firms the entire eye area while providing instant depuffing effects. StriVectin’s number one selling eye serum has been clinically proven to improve firmness, elasticity, fine lines, wrinkles, under-eye bags, and puffiness, so it’s genuinely an all-encompassing treatment product.
Best Hydrating Eye Cream
Considering the under-eye area produces less oil than other parts of the face (and it’s significantly thinner), everyone can benefit from a hydrating under-eye cream regardless of age and skin type. Hydration is the key to protecting the skin’s natural protective barrier while imparting a healthy, youthful glow.
CeraVe Eye Repair Cream, $11
This popular eye cream is chock-full of ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide, all of which work to restore and maintain the skin’s natural protective barrier while softening the appearance of under-eye wrinkles. CeraVe developed an MVE Delivery Technology to deliver ceramides to the skin in a time-release manner for a continuous rather than burst effect.
The formula is fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, and contains nourishing ingredients suitable for sensitive skin.
Best Night Eye Cream
Nighttime eye creams are formulated with specific ingredients that work in tandem with the skin’s reparative process that occurs while you sleep. This is why you must use a different formula for the day (the protective period) and night to reap the best benefits of an under-eye cream.
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex, $64
This cult eye cream is truly all that it’s cracked up to be. It’s formulated with 10X “concentrated repair technology” to restore the adverse effects of a lack of sleep, UV rays, and pollution. It’s been clinically proven to reduce dark circles’ appearance in just three weeks and keeps the eye area hydrated for 24 hours, thanks to a hydration booster. Caffeine reduces puffiness to boot.
Best Eye Cream for Mature Skin
Contrary to what you may have been conditioned to believe, mature skin (extra dry, rough in texture, deep-set wrinkles, etc.) isn’t just associated with those aged 50-plus. Skin aging depends upon genetics, lifestyle habits, and of course, age. While mature skin can’t be avoided, it can come later in life with preventative measures, like an eye cream.
Skinceuticals Eye Balm, $82
This anti-wrinkle eye cream is designed specifically for mature skin. It’s formulated for dry aging skin and features a synergistic combination of powerful yet gentle plant-based ingredients to nourish and smooth skin around the eye.
This rich, hydrating crème explicitly targets three prime visible signs of aging — moisture loss, skin laxity, and free radical damage — as well as puffiness, fine lines, and wrinkles.
Eye Cream: The Bottom Line
What is the best eye cream? While it’s impossible to choose just one cream to be deemed as “the best,” at the Derm Review, the best means a product that’s formulated with a mix of safe synthetics and evidence ingredients and is void of harmful chemicals.
Our pick is Carrot & Stick The Moisturizer, a revolutionary treatment that uses highly effective botanical extracts to reduce signs of stress and fatigue, including eye bags and dark circles.
When shopping for an eye cream, consider your skin type, under-eye concerns, age, and the climate where you live — or are traveling to. Remember, being more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better. It’s the quality and strength of ingredients that truly matters.
What’s the best eye cream, in your opinion? Let us know in the comments below!
Ideally, yes. Opt for a lighter antioxidant-rich formula during the day (vitamins C and E are two top picks) to protect against harmful free radicals such as sun exposure and pollution. Perhaps even a cooling eye cream with ingredients like caffeine to combat puffiness and dark circles that often plague our eyes first thing in the morning.
Nighttime is when your skin goes into repair mode, so an eye cream with anti-aging ingredients like retinol (best worn at night as it causes sun sensitivity), peptides, and hyaluronic acid, among countless others, is more advantageous.
Considering that the skin around the eye is the thinnest and most delicate on the entire body, the earlier, the better. Many people start using eye cream in their 30s, but subtle signs of age such as wrinkling (or subtle crow’s feet) can appear as early as your 20s
While the best arsenal against age is prevention, you’ll have to adapt your eye cream as you age to ensure it’s formulated with the best ingredients to address the intrinsic (chronological) and extrinsic (lifestyle factors) aging.
Evaluation of the Clinical Efficacy and Safety of an Eye Counter Pad,” National Library of Medicine National Center for Biology.
“Is it True That Smoking Causes Wrinkles?,” Mayo Clinic.
“The Top Twelve Toxic Chemicals in Cosmetics,” EWG.