The Most Effective Eye Creams
There’s a reason why the skin around the eyes tends to look older first: That delicate area is sensitive to stretching and sagging, so it matures faster than other parts of your face. Hello, wrinkles.
So if maintaining a youthful complexion is important to you, it’s vital to use an eye cream daily. The thing is, there are thousands of options available, and it can be tough to know what to look for on the ingredients list. Even if you do know what to look for, tracking down something that fits the bill can be exhausting. (Read: near-impossible.)
So we did the work for you and talked to a few dermatologists to find out exactly what should be in an effective eye cream for wrinkles, and the best over-the-counter buys to try.
How to choose the best anti-aging eye cream for wrinkles
What makes an eye cream anti-aging? Tara Rao, M.D., a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group and Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a dermatologist at Mount Sinai Hospital named a few key ingredients to look for regardless of your skin type or tone.
✔️Hyaluronic acid: Found naturally in the skin, hyaluronic acid draws in water, which helps to hydrate and plump the skin. Many times, under-eye wrinkles are a result of dryness, Dr. Rao says, and hyaluronic acid is well-studied and shown to help reduce the signs of aging. (Check out these eye creams for dry skin if hydration is your main problem.)
✔️Peptides: Copper peptides, polypeptides, and oligopeptides are thought to penetrate the skin and help build hyaluronic acid and collagen. These structural proteins hold cells and tissues together like glue, diminishing the look of wrinkles.
✔️Retinol: This vitamin A derivative stimulates collagen production and promotes cell turnover to help reduce the signs of aging. Because the skin under the eyes is so sensitive, the dermatologists we spoke to recommended products with relatively low concentrations of retinol.
✔️Sunscreen: “This one’s a no-brainer,” says Dr. Rao. Without proper protection, UV rays break down collagen and age your skin. (Unfortunately, SPF can be tough to find in eye creams, so supplement with your face sunscreen if necessary!)
✔️Antioxidants: Vitamins C and E, ferulic acid, and berry extracts help reduce oxidative stress due to UV rays or pollutants, explains Dr. Rao. Antioxidants also improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
The best eye creams for wrinkles
Whether you’re looking for something to plump deep-set wrinkles or a product to smooth fine lines and lessen the appearance of dark circles, you’ll find something that will work for you.
SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex✔️ BEST OVERALL
“SkinCeuticals has been around a long time; they have a lot of research behind their products,” says Dr. Rao. This eye cream has a good mix of everything needed to diminish fine lines and wrinkles: antioxidants, peptides, and sunscreen.
Promising review: “I do not have a good track record for staying with products, but I have been using A.G.E Eye Complex for almost a year for two reasons: 1. The creamy texture softens and eases my tired eyes. 2. My ‘mature’ eyes are now brighter and tighter than they were 10 years ago. This is the only treatment I use around my eyes.”
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Gel-Cream✔️ BEST VALUE
This hydrating eye cream is gentle enough for your under-eyes and contains hyaluronic acid to plump and moisturize the skin. “It acts like a sponge to pull in hydration from the deep skin layers and even the air,” says Dr. Zeichner.
Promising review: “For almost two months, I’ve had problems with my eyelids being dry, cracking, itching, and burning like crazy being in a super dry climate. They’ve been red and noticeably marred. Nothing I’ve tried has helped at all. In two days since I’ve had this stuff, it’s improved so much that it hardly hurts and the visible signs of cracking are almost entirely gone.”
RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream
Those who have excessive wrinkling around the eyes may want to consider a retinol eye cream. Dr. Zeichner recommends this moisturizing option because it minimizes dark circles, puffiness, crow’s feet, and wrinkles without being too harsh on the delicate under-eye skin.
Promising review: “If you are willing to apply this daily you WILL see results. I have just began noticing some actual reduction in my fine lines and wrinkles. And even more surprising is that I am noticing that the deeper wrinkle between my eyebrows is fading. Is it gone? No. But the results are truly impressive and I am shocked! I really didn’t think over the counter retinal creams could work, but this cream has proven me wrong.”
Colorescience Total Eye 3-in-1 Renewal Therapy SPF 35
“I like multitasking products, and this is three things: It’s a concealer and a sunscreen, and it has anti-aging properties,” says Mona Gohara, M.D., assistant clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine and co-creator of MELĒ skincare. “Eyes age quickly, so when it is used as a concealer, you’re getting ample SPF in that area.” (That’s why it earned a spot in our 2020 Healthy Beauty Awards!)
Promising review: “Why didn’t I know about this sooner! Not only does it cover my dark circles but it doesn’t crease AND even minimizes the appearance of fine lines!! You do need to apply a little differently (pat in the product) but other than that it’s pretty low maintenance to use.”
OLEHENRIKSEN Banana Bright Eye Crème
This cult-favorite eye cream is infused with vitamin C, an antioxidant that fights cell damage, helps produce collagen to reduce lines, and brightens skin. Boosted with collagen, the hydrating formula instantly revives the face by minimizing the look of dark circles.
Promising review: “I used to wear a full face of makeup daily, but with a new baby I usually just wear mascara and some concealer on blemishes. This stuff is amazing at hiding the sleepless nights! When I put this on in the morning I feel comfortable going out in public without concealer to hide my bags/dark circles.”
Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 MAX Night Eye Cream
The retinol, niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3), and peptide blend in this drugstore eye cream make it a winner for dark circles, fine lines, and dull-looking skin. Just a dot of this rich formula delivers skin-smoothing radiance for a well-rested look.
Promising review: “The product has a great consistency. It absorbs quickly and provides a lot of moisture and hydration to the eye area. My lines looked smoother after using it. The quality is equivalent to much pricier eye creams I have used in the past.”
Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream
This formula also contains retinol to speed up cell turnover and effectively banish fine lines, wrinkles, and crow’s feet. It also contains hyaluronic acid to offer extra moisture and plump the skin, says board-certified dermatologist Debra Jaliman, M.D., author of Skin Rules.
Promising review: “I freaking love this product! I am 54, but everyone guesses I’m in my late 30s to early 40s. The fine lines are magically disappearing! It is the best I’ve ever used. I have used ALL of the expensive products trying to find the perfect one. I’m glad I’m done looking.”
SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50
Even though SPF is so important in an eye cream, it can be tough to find a formula that includes one. This raved-about product from SkinCeuticals contains SPF 50 to prevent sun damage, ceramides to hydrate, and a brightening tint to even skin tone.
Promising review: “This solves so many problems when it comes to sunscreen around the eyes. Before, I would have sunscreen get in my eyes through sweat or misapplication and then dealt with burning for a few hours. This product does not irritate, burn, or aggravate the eye area at all. It goes on like silk— and also offers some light coverage in the eye area. It is just great!”
Fresh Black Tea Age-Delay Eye Concentrate
This rich cream is a dream if you’re prone to dryness in your under-eye area. Your skin will drink up its antioxidants to combat fine lines and texture, puffiness, and dark circles. The heavy-duty formula feels ultra-nourishing and creamy on the skin, making this a great nighttime pick.
Promising review: “This eye cream is a game changer! I’ve used some of the most expensive eye cream out there and this blows them out of the water. You almost see a change the next day. I put a little dab on my hand while I was at the store and it left that spot smooth and tight for the rest of the day.”
Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Eye De-Puffer
The lightweight formula visibly reduces dark circles, fine lines, and bags under the eyes. “The caffeine constricts blood vessels to help remove excess fluid and hydrate fast to minimize the appearance of under-eye puffiness,” Dr. Zeichner explains.
Promising review: “This is a simply amazing little product. So easy to apply, and it really really works. The results are immediately apparent, and it makes tired eyes feel refreshed. It also doesn’t leave a dried-up film like some of those instant-lift gels. The small size is great for travel.”
Supergoop! Bright-Eyed 100% Mineral Eye Cream SPF 40
Enriched with caffeine and broad spectrum SPF, this anti-aging eye cream smooths out fine lines and puffiness while protecting the delicate eye area. No stinging, burning, or irritation required—even for a sunscreen!
Promising review: “I have always avoided sunscreen under eyes until now. Also, there is a little bit of tint, so it is perfect for a day when you want to go a little natural, or for daytime outdoor fun that calls for a less made up look. I can wear less makeup under my eyes now. Fewer layers, less time.”
EltaMD Renew Eye Gel
Dr. Rao is a fan of this dark circle- and wrinkle-fighting eye cream because it contains a mix of antioxidants, peptides, and moisturizing ingredients. “It also has niacinamide, which is a good antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that can be used on any part of the face,” she says.
Promising review: “I don’t think I can say enough good things about this I gel. I’ve been using it for about a month now and I have noticed a difference in the texture of skin underneath my eyes. It really does feel like you are smoothing silk underneath your eyes morning and night.”
NEOCUTIS Lumière Bio-Restorative Eye Cream
This eye cream gets a stamp of approval from Dr. Jaliman. It contains skin-plumping hyaluronic acid, caffeine to fight puffiness, and an ingredient called PSP, a combo of wrinkle-fighting peptides and antioxidants unique to Neocutis.
Promising review: “I actually NOTICED a difference in my appearance after about two weeks of using it. I had not changed anything else, I had not gotten any other treatments, and I was honestly shocked at what a game changer this is. I have always had bags and circles under my eyes despite products and treatments designed to treat this area. This product delivers.”
Aveeno Absolutely Ageless Eye Cream
If you suffer from loose or crepey skin under the eyes, look no further than Aveeno’s eye cream, says Dr. Zeichner. Its antioxidant- and vitamin-rich complex stimulates elastin in the skin to help it stretch and bounce back into shape.
Promising review: “This eye cream is effective in keeping the eye area supple without greasiness and lasts all day. I have had a number of compliments on the condition of my skin with limited wrinkles for a 65-year-old woman. I credit this moisturizer.”
Dermalogica BioLumin-C Eye Serum
If you don’t love the feeling of a thick cream, you’re in luck. Dermalogica’s fragrance-free, silky serum feels lightweight on the skin while delivering a surge of moisture. Their vitamin C complex also contains a unique peptide, so you get double the anti-aging power.
Promising review: “I have sensitive skin prone to redness and had absolutely no reaction at all. I also have some fine lines around my eyes and it seemed to just smooth them out. It goes on nicely under my day moisturizer. Actually didn’t need to wear makeup as my skin looked so fresh and healthy.”
First Aid Beauty Eye Duty Triple Remedy A.M. Gel Cream
Most eye creams are made to be worn at night, but this lightweight formula was created specifically for daytime use under makeup so it can nourish the skin throughout the day. Free of irritants, it contains peptides and plant extracts to help minimize fine lines and hydrate deeply, so your skin is left silky smooth.
Promising review: “After suffering from extreme dryness in my under-eye area, I decided to give this product a try and I’m so glad I did. I used to be unable to wear makeup products like concealer under my eyes because it would cake within minutes and begin to flake off. Within a day of using this product I saw immediate improvement. It’s the right mix of hydration without being too oily.”
Peter Thomas Roth Vital-E Microbiome Age Defense Eye Cream
This eye cream from Peter Thomas Roth contains a special antioxidant blend, ginger root extract, and hyaluronic acid to brighten skin, boost hydration, and protect against harmful free radicals. What’s more, it packs caffeine to reduce puffiness.
Promising review: “You don’t need much for this product to make a BIG difference. I put it on every day and night under my moisturizers and I started seeing results after a week of use. The dark dullness under my eyes has noticeably lightened up and my fine lines aren’t as defined.”
The best way to apply eye cream
Now that you have an effective wrinkle-fighting eye cream, you need to actually use it! Consistency is key, and the way you apply your cream can make a difference in how well it works:
- Do a patch test: “You’d be surprised how often people neglect to read the ingredient list because they’re caught up in the hype of the product,” Dr. Rao says. Before using any new product, test it on a small part of your skin to ensure it doesn’t cause an adverse reaction.
- A pea-sized amount of product should be enough for both of eyes.
- Use your ring or pinky finger to apply your eye cream to ensure you are using a light pressure.
- Do not tug or pull at the skin, which only further promote wrinkles. Use a dabbing motion instead.
- Make sure to apply your eye cream to the under-eye area, eyelids, and outer-corner of your eyes, where wrinkles often begin. Avoid direct contact with your eyes.
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