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While applying moisturizer is an obvious part of most people’s skin-care routines, caring for the fragile skin under your eyes is a whole other ball game — a good reason to consider using a dedicated eye cream. “The skin on our lower eyelids is the thinnest in the entire body,” explains Amanda Doyle, a board-certified dermatologist at Russak Dermatology Clinic. And according to dermatologist Karan Lal, this skin gets “lax and crepey” over time and is vulnerable to a whole host of skin issues, including dark circles, bags, and wrinkles.
To find the best eye creams that will actually give you results, we consulted Doyle, Lal, and seven other experts (including an aesthetician). Below, find their picks for the best eye creams to banish dark circles, reduce puffiness, and even brighten and moisturize.
Eye creams are one of those skin-care products that are tailored to treat specific concerns, and the ingredients should reflect that. An eye cream designed to brighten might have ingredients like vitamin C and niacinamide, while an eye cream aimed at reducing puffiness will likely be packed with caffeine. With that said, some eye creams (like our top pick) include a host of actives that target different concerns simultaneously and help with everything from wrinkles to puffiness to dark circles.
The word cream is used loosely here, as our picks include a range of thick creams, lightweight lotions, and serums. Texture is important depending on your skin type and needs. A drier under-eye area would benefit from a thicker consistency, while an oilier skin type would do well with a gel-cream or serum.
Eye creams are available at just about every price point, ranging from under $20 to over $100 per jar or tube. But it’s important to pay attention to how much product you’re getting for the price you’re paying, so we’ve noted the size, as well as the cost per ounce, to help you decide what works best with your budget.
Active ingredients: Peptides, goji fruit extract | Texture: Lightweight cream | Size: 0.5 ounce (Approx. $218/ounce)
Five of the dermatologists we spoke with had high praise for Revision Skincare’s D.E.J. Eye Cream for its ability to treat a variety of under-eye concerns. “This is a favorite in my office,” says Melissa Doft, founder of Doft Plastic Surgery, who recommends it for patients dealing with wrinkles, sagging skin, puffiness, and dark circles. According to Hadley King, clinical instructor of dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, “This cream contains dipalmitoyl hydroxyproline and sunflower-seed oil for moisturizing, vitamin C for brightening, and peptides for reducing fine lines and wrinkles.” It also contains goji fruit, which provides additional antioxidant benefits, and cucumber fruit water, which calms the skin, she explains. While it is on the expensive side, it’s a multitasking product that will treat just about any skin problem you may be experiencing in your eye area. Case in point: Doyle says it can also be used on the upper eyelids “to strengthen the thin skin and help with crepiness, premature aging, and even hooding.” Board-certified dermatologist and founder of RVL Skincare Rita Linkner is also a fan and has been using it twice a day for years. She uses it all over her eye area, including her upper-eyelid skin, and says she has seen “a big improvement in crepe-ing.”
Active ingredients: Retinol, hyaluronic acid | Texture: Lightweight cream | Size: 0.5 ounce (Approx. $36/ounce)
If you don’t want to splurge on Revision’s eye cream, this one from RoC is a great option at a more affordable price. It helps with a host of under-eye concerns, including crow’s-feet, fine lines, wrinkles, dark circles, uneven texture, and puffiness. Its hero ingredient is retinol, a derivative of vitamin A that works by stimulating collagen production to strengthen the skin’s foundation and minimize the appearance of lines. If you’re familiar with the ingredient, then you know it has a reputation for being sensitizing and irritating — but since this cream uses a vitamin-A derivative that is less strong than prescription-strength retinol, you’re less likely to experience irritation. Dermatologist Joshua Zeichner and Doft are both fans, with Doft noting the inclusion of hyaluronic acid, which attracts water and locks in moisture. This is essential because the dryer the under eye is, the more wrinkled it will look. Because this eye cream contains retinol, it’s best to use it at night and follow up with sunscreen in the morning, because retinol makes skin more sensitive to the sun.
Active ingredients: ceramides, collagen, peptides, gatuline, cytobiol | Texture: lightweight cream | Size: 0.57 ounces (Approx: $737/ounce)
If you’re willing to invest a bit more, celebrity esthetician Sarah Akram, whose clientele includes Abbott Elementary creator Quinta Brunson, actress Angela Bassett, and Mindy Kaling, recommends this eye cream from Auteur, which she says her clients are constantly asking her about. “It’s the eye cream of all eye creams,” she says, noting that it’s worth the money if your under-eye area is a big concern. “It depuffs, targets dark circles, and helps to fight signs of aging.” To do this, it uses ingredients like peptides, ceramides, and collagen along with some lesser-known actives like Gatuline and Cytobiol. Gatuline is derived from the paracress plant and is known for its numbing effect. In this eye cream, it reduces micro-muscle contractions, which can create fine lines, while also smoothing the skin. Cytobiol is a blend of ash-tree bark (a natural anti-inflammatory also present in the Epara eye cream), vitamin B3, and organic silicon, which work together to increase circulation under the eyes and reduce dark circles and under-eye puffiness.
Active ingredients: Vitamin C, ferulic acid, phloretin, caffeine | Texture: Gel cream | Size: 0.5 ounce (Approx. $190/ounce)
According to King, “There are many causes of dark circles under the eyes.” Genetics, dehydration, lack of sleep, allergies, nasal congestion, smoking, and anemia can all play a part in contributing to tired-looking eyes. She suggests finding an eye product containing antioxidants, such as SkinCeuticals AOX+ Eye Gel, to treat this particular problem. This gel contains potent vitamin C, which she says “interferes with the production of pigment and will therefore brighten dark circles, improve pigmentation, and prevent free-radical damage from UV-light exposure.” She also has a few lifestyle recommendations that will help minimize dark circles: “Make sure you are getting enough sleep and that you are well hydrated. Treat allergies with oral antihistamines. Eat a well-balanced diet and make sure you are not anemic. Stop smoking!” And when all else fails, “concealers are also helpful for improving the appearance of dark circles.” Meanwhile, if you want the powerhouse ingredients of the AOX+ Eye Gel but with a creamier texture, Doyle suggests theA.G.E. Eye Complex from SkinCeuticals (which is also our eye cream pick for mature skin, below).
Active ingredients: Niacinamide, pumpkin-seed extract, sodium hyaluronate, caffeine | Texture: Lightweight cream | Size: 0.5 ounce (Approx. $64/ounce)
Dermatologist Caroline Robinson of Tone Dermatology uses this eye cream from First Aid Beauty, which she says instantly illuminates the under-eye area using peach micro-pearls, while working to lighten dark circles over time. “It blends niacinamide, caffeine, and sodium hyaluronate in a beautiful brightening formula,” she says. Note that if you have a deeper skin tone, you may want to test this one out before committing to a full-size jar, as reviewers have mentioned it may show up pale on dark skin.
Active ingredients: Niacinamide, plankton extract, ash-tree bark | Texture: Lightweight serum | Size: 0.5 ounce (Approx. $294/ounce)
Epara Eye Serum also comes recommended by Robinson, who likes that it was crafted with darker skin tones in mind. It reduces hyperpigmentation using ingredients like niacinamide and plankton extract, and also contains ash-tree bark, a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient that helps with bags and dark circles. It’s mostly made up of hydrating oils like apricot and ylang-ylang, which work together to hydrate without feeling greasy.
Active ingredients: Vitamin A, lactic acid / Texture: Gel / Size: 0.5 (Approx: $108/ounce)
As skin ages, it loses laxity, so a firming eye cream can be helpful for tightening the area. While a cream won’t give you the same results as filler, with consistent use it can improve over time. This one is a favorite of Akram. “It helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes,” she says. One of its main ingredients is vitamin A, or retinol. Because it’s meant for the thin skin around the eyes, it contains a low concentration of retinol, but it’s still effective and delivers the same benefits. Retinol, particularly when used under the eyes, increases cell turnover, reduces fine lines, and thickens the delicate under-eye skin by boosting collagen production, which makes the area appear more plump and lifted. Akram likes that it contains lactic acid, which she says also helps with cell turnover and exfoliating the skin. Even with all the actives, Akram says it’s very moisturizing, which is key to making sure the under eye doesn’t look more wrinkled than it is.
Active ingredients: PSP growth factors, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants | Texture: Cream | Size: 0.5 ounce (Approx. $194/ounce)
“I would swim in this product if I could,” says facial plastic surgeon Dara Liotta. Many Neocutis products were developed out of wound-healing research, and Liotta says the brand’s Lumière eye cream works to build collagen and smooth fine lines and wrinkles while hydrating the delicate eye skin. “I’ve found that regular use of this product around the eyes prevents the fine lines that trap makeup and make the eye skin look crepey and dry.” It is also fragrance-free, making it suitable for sensitive skin types.
Active ingredients: Blueberry extract, proxylane, peptides | Texture: Rich cream | Size: 0.5 ounce (Approx. $200/ounce)
“For mature patients who suffer from severe dryness and lack of elasticity, you can’t beat SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex,” says dermatologist Corey L. Hartman of Skin Wellness Dermatology. In addition to being “intensely moisturizing,” Hartman likes that it contains proxylane and blueberry extracts, antioxidants that help combat puffiness and dryness. It also has both short- and long-term benefits. “While the long-term effects are younger-looking skin, it also gives an immediate radiance upon application,” he says. Doyle also recommends it for its pleasing texture, and Michael Somenek, a facial plastic surgeon, has been personally using it nightly for three years. “This product has all the ‘right stuff,’” says Somenek. “It’s infused with peptides, antioxidants, and sunscreen. The creamy consistency is featherweight and melts right into skin.”
Active ingredients: Green coffee, algae, and sodium hyaluronate | Texture: Gel | Size: 0.5 ounce (Approx. $190/ounce)
According to King, “Puffy under-eye bags can either be from fluid or a fat pad.” If you notice that the puffiness is worse in the morning and better by evening, then your eye bags are most likely the result of fluid buildup — and in that case her advice is to “drink more water, eat less salt, and sleep propped up on a couple of pillows,” so fluid does not collect in the under-eye area. She also suggests using an eye cream containing caffeine, since it constricts blood vessels and can prevent fluid from accumulating. Several of the dermatologists we spoke to were in agreement that caffeine is the No. 1 ingredient to look for if you want to tighten bags and reduce puffiness. Doyle likes this one from SkinBetter, which contains green coffee, algae, and sodium hyaluronate, an extraction of hyaluronic acid. “This is a caffeine-based eye serum that is used to instantly tighten the delicate skin around the eyes, reducing bags and puffiness,” says Doyle.
Eye bags are also generally caused by the skin losing elasticity over time and sagging. “Cold tea-bag compresses can also be helpful, because both the caffeine and the cold can constrict blood vessels,” Doyle says. However, she notes that if your eye bags are pretty much constant, it is more likely the result of the fat pads under the eyes drooping as you age. If that is the case, the only permanent solution is surgery.
Photo: Reid, Hilary
Active ingredients: Caffeine, epigallocatechin gallatyl glucosid | Texture: Serum | Size: 1 ounce (Approx. $8/ounce)
For a more affordable eye cream with caffeine, Somenek recommends this one from the Ordinary. It’s made with highly soluble caffeine and EGCG, an ingredient that’s made from green-tea leaves and has both calming and anti-aging properties. He likes its lightweight consistency, which he says makes application effortless. It also dries quickly, so other products, like foundation and concealer, can be applied over it.
Active ingredients: Caffeine, ginseng root, horse chestnut extract, acmella oleracea extract, black cumin–seed oil | Texture: Lightweight cream | Size: 0.5 ounce (Approx. $130/ounce)
Unlike under-eye bags — which can be caused by a combination of fluid, drooping fat pads, and loss of skin elasticity — puffiness is usually from fluid retention alone. According to Doft, this eye cream is chock-full of caffeine and ginseng, which will reduce puffiness and make eyes look less tired. It also contains lutein, a powerful antioxidant, which adds a glow, as well as cocoa and shea butter to smooth and plump the skin.
Active ingredients: Peptide, sodium hyaluronate | Texture: Lightweight gel | Size: 0.5 ounce (Approx. $122/ounce)
Skin does the bulk of its healing and regenerating while you sleep, so the right nighttime eye cream can do wonders for your under-eye skin. This one from Estée Lauder is favored by Lal, who likes that it contains both hyaluronic acid and peptides: “They hydrate the skin and help to reduce crepiness, which is due to a lack of structural support and loss of those proteins that need to be rebuilt. These ingredients help with that.”
Active ingredients: Silk extract, Japanese white peony, hadasei-3 complex | Texture: Cream | Size: 0.5 ounce (Approx. $124/ounce)
Tatcha’s The Silk Peony eye cream contains silk and white peony extract to pump skin full of moisture. “Silk extract forms a protective seal over the skin to enhance barrier function, improve hydration, and protect the skin from the environment,” says Zeichner. It also doubles as a primer and helps makeup apply more smoothly and stay put throughout the day.
Active ingredients: Peptides, buckwheat wax, safflower oleosomes | Texture: Cream | Size: 0.5 ounce (Approx. $240/ounce)
If you prefer an all-natural skin-care routine, Zeichner loves this eye cream from Tata Harper that “contains naturally derived emollients and antioxidants from ingredients like olive oil and mango-seed butter, which hydrate, protect, and brighten under-eye skin.” This product is also vegan and cruelty-free, with recyclable packaging.
• Dr. Melissa Doft, founder of Doft Plastic Surgery
• Dr. Amanda Doyle, dermatologist at Russak Dermatology Clinic
• Dr. Corey L. Hartman, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology
• Dr. Hadley King, clinical instructor of dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University
• Dr. Karan Lal, dermatologist
• Dr. Rita Linkner, dermatologist and founder of RVL Skincare
• Dr. Dara Liotta, facial plastic surgeon
• Dr. Caroline Robinson, founder of Tone Dermatology
• Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mt. Sinai
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