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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. “The skin on our lower eyelids is the thinnest in the entire body,” explains Amanda Doyle, a board-certified dermatologist at Russak Dermatology Clinic. Which is why it is prone to a whole host of problems, including dark circles, bags, and wrinkles. To find the best creams that will actually give you results, we consulted Doyle and five other experts (including one aesthetician). Below, find their picks for the best eye creams to banish dark circles, reduce puffiness, and even ones that brighten and moisturize.
Best overall eye cream
Three of the dermatologists we spoke with had high praise for the D.E.J. Eye Cream from Revision Skincare for its ability to treat a variety of under-eye concerns. “This is a favorite in my office,” adds 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 is a multitasking product that will treat just about any problem you may be experiencing. 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.”
Best eye cream for dark circles
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. The AOX+ Eye Gel contains potent vitamin C, which “interferes with the production of pigment and will therefore brighten dark circles, improve pigmentation, and also prevent free-radical damage from UV-light exposure.” She also has a few lifestyle recommendations that will help, too: “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.” And if you want all of the powerhouse ingredients but with a creamier texture, Doyle suggests the A.G.E. Complex from SkinCeuticals.
Best (less expensive) eye cream for dark circles
Joshua Zeichner, director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, also loves Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Creme for illuminating the skin under the eyes. The crème contains vitamin C, which “neutralizes free-radical damage, calms inflammation, and blocks the production of abnormal pigmentation to brighten under-eye circles.” This eye cream also works as a primer for concealer and helps makeup apply more smoothly. Rio is a vocal fan as well, and after using the product twice a day for four months, she writes, “I’ve noticed a big change in my dark circles (less corpselike, more French), and it’s become my go-to under-eye prep.”
Best eye cream for deeper wrinkles
According to Zeichner, “Retinol is your go-to ingredient for wrinkles.” Retinol works by stimulating collagen production to strengthen the skin’s foundation and improve the appearance of lines. And since this cream uses a vitamin A derivative that is less strong than prescription-strength retinol, you’re less likely to experience any irritation. Doft agrees and adds, “It also has hyaluronic acid, which attracts water and locks in moisture.”
Best eye cream for sensitive skin
“I would swim in this product if I could,” says Dara Liotta. Since many of the Neocutis products developed out of wound-healing research, they work to build collagen and smooth fine lines and wrinkles while hydrating the delicate eye skin, she explains. “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 crêpey and dry.” It is also fragrance-free, making it suitable for sensitive skin types.
Best eye cream for under-eye bags
Several of the dermatologists we spoke to were all in agreement that caffeine is the No. 1 ingredient to look out for if you want to tighten bags and reduce puffiness. “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.
Best (less expensive) eye cream for under-eye bags
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 from fluid buildup. In which case, her advice is to “drink more water, eat less salt, and sleep propped up on a couple of pillows,” so the fluid does not collect in the under-eye area. She also suggests using an eye cream, like First Aid Beauty Eye Duty Triple Remedy, containing caffeine since it constricts blood vessels and can, therefore, keep the fluid from accumulating. 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.”
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.
Best eye cream for puffiness
Unlike under-eye bags — which can be caused by a combination of fluid, drooping fat pads, and skin elasticity — puffiness is usually just 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.
Best (less expensive) eye cream for puffiness
Best night eye cream
“Biopelle Stem Cell Eye Cream is a rich, nourishing night eye cream ideal for the fragile eye area,” says head aesthetician of La Suite Spa x Union Square Laser Dermatology, Rhea Souhleris Grous. It is also formulated with caffeine, peptides, antioxidants, soothing botanical extracts, brightening agents, and retinol to fight puffiness, as well as wrinkles and dark circles.
Best brightening eye cream
If you’re looking to add radiance and brightness, Zeichner suggests this eye cream from Eve Lom. “Botanical extracts and antioxidants soothe and brighten under-eye skin, while peptides lighten hyperpigmentation.”
Best eye cream that also works as makeup primer
The Tatcha 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. The Silk Peony Melting Eye Cream also doubles as a primer and helps makeup apply more smoothly and stay put throughout the day.
Best all-natural eye cream
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.
Best eye cream for dry under eyes
Best (less expensive) eye cream for dry under eyes
Best drugstore eye cream
And if you just need to pick something up at the drugstore, Zeichner loves Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair, which contains stabilized retinol along with hyaluronic acid to help strengthen and moisturize the skin.
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