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In case you haven’t yet heard the news, the eyes are where signs of aging first start to appear. Blame the fact that the skin in this area is the thinnest on the face and is more susceptible to sun damage, dryness, wrinkles, and more. That's why using a dedicated eye cream is so important: “They tend to contain active ingredients in concentrations specifically formulated for thin skin," explains New York-based dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla, MD. "In addition, they're usually more concentrated than regular face creams." Eye creams are also formulated to minimize irritation to the skin around the eyes, which is more prone to sensitivity.
In short, yes, you need a dedicated eye cream in your routine, both to help address existing signs of aging and as a preventative method, too. It's never too late to start.
Read on for the best anti-aging eye creams.
Best Overall: Kate Somerville +Retinol Firming Eye Cream
This all-star formula relies on retinol, the undisputed anti-aging champion, well-known for its proven wrinkle-fighting and skin-firming effects. Upping the ante even further, it pairs retinol with bakuchiol. The plant-based ingredient is similar to retinol, but it won’t cause irritation. Rounding out the mix is hyaluronic acid and a combination of natural oils for hydration. Bonus points for the metal applicator tip that helps you massage in the formula and offers additional de-puffing benefits.
Best Budget: Olay Total Effects Eye Transforming Cream
True to its name, this drugstore standout delivers seven different benefits, addressing peeper problems ranging from dryness and discoloration to fine lines and wrinkles—it gives you some serious bang for your buck. Oil-free, it has a lightweight and fast-absorbing feel and is packed with niacinamide (known for its moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, and brightening effects) along with soothing and antioxidant-rich vitamin E.
Best Drugstore: No7 Youthful Eye Serum
Mariwalla lauds this affordable option for containing both vitamin C and vitamin A (two well-proven anti-aging ingredients), plus hyaluronic acid and soft focus spheres, all of which work together to help make the skin under and around your eyes look better after about a month of use, she says. She adds that it’s an especially good choice for women in their 30s who might be starting to see some noticeable issues around the eyes.
Best Serum: Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum
Those who don’t love thick and heavy creams will appreciate the silky texture of this featherweight serum. It’s chock full of active ingredients to address a litany of issues, including wrinkle-fighting copper peptides, brightening and smoothing black tea ferment, and plant-based stem cells for a powerful dose of protective antioxidants. There’s also niacinamide in the mix, a choice multi-tasker that strengthens the skin barrier and also helps combat discoloration.
Best for Wrinkles: Revision Skincare D.E.J Eye Cream
Thanks to a unique combination of carefully-chosen peptides, this formula yields what Mariwalla calls, “pretty impressive clinical results” when it comes to smoothing and firming skin after just 12 weeks of use. It’s also deeply hydrating and full of antioxidants and can even be used on upper eyelids.
Best for Dark Circles: SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex
The hard truth of the matter is that there’s no magical eye cream that will completely erase the look of dark circles. The causes of this type of bluish-purple discoloration are multiple and tough to target with any kind of topical product. That being said, there are certain eye creams that can definitely help, this one included. Mariwalla notes that it contains pharmaceutical-grade caffeine, one of the best ingredients for constricting blood vessels under the skin and making dark circles less noticeable. It also effectively targets puffiness and wrinkles.
Best For Puffiness: Colorescience Total Eye 3-in-1 Renewal Therapy SPF 35
Bags, be gone. Mariwalla says the metal rollerball applicator on this cream helps massage in the formula and simultaneously promotes lymphatic drainage to quickly de-puff. It’s ideal to reach for on bleary-eyed mornings, particularly given that it also contains a subtle tint to further conceal dark circles and your daily dose of oh-so-important SPF.
Best For Under Makeup: Olay Eye Lifting Serum
Another great serum, this is so non-greasy and fast-absorbing that you could even apply it immediately before you put on makeup and won't have to worry about smearing or creasing. Instead, it delivers just the right amount of hydration, along with youth-boosting peptides and protective antioxidants to shield skin from damaging free radicals caused by exposure to things like sun and pollution.
Best with Vitamin C: BeautyStat Universal C Eye Perfector
Vitamin C is a great ingredient to seek out in any and all of your skincare products—credit its ability to brighten skin, stimulate collagen production to minimize wrinkles, and offer plenty of antioxidant protection— but is especially great to use around the eyes. And given that this brand is the brainchild of a cosmetic chemist, the vitamin C in this product is no ordinary extract. Instead, it’s a 5% concentration of an extra-pure, extra-stable, extra-potent version to ensure maximum efficacy, paired with anti-inflammatory CBD.
Best for Night: RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream
“Despite the affordable price, this cream really delivers,” says Mariwalla, who attributes the effects to the retinol in the formula. (Given the likelihood of irritation that comes along with any retinol, it’s even more imperative to use a formula specially made for use around the eyes, she adds.) Since retinol can be irritating to the skin, reserving it for bedtime use is a must.
If you have sensitive skin, start off using this cream only every other night, and gradually increase the frequency as your skin acclimates.
Best for Morning: Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème
This is a perennial favorite of Byrdie editors and Mariwalla is also a fan. The subtle yellowish-orange tint and built-in light-reflecting particles instantly brighten the undereye area, while vitamin C works overtime to help further even out skin tone and smooth wrinkles. It’s also a great pick for morning use because it actually improves the application and wear-time of concealer. And as Mariwalla points out, a little bit goes a long way—one jar will last for quite a while.
Best Natural: REN Clean Skincare Keep Young And Beautiful Firm And Lift Eye Cream
This is a good pick if you're looking to keep your skincare routine clean or if you have sensitive skin. It's free of a long list of questionable ingredients, including extra fragrance and parabens that are known to cause irritation. Instead, the entire plant- and mineral-based formula relies on a firming peptide derived from yeast, plus lots of hydrating natural oils and shea butter. The end result is a deeply moisturizing cream that leaves skin looking firmer, smoother, and plumper.
Runner-Up, Best Natural: Sahajan Radiance Eye Cream
Another great natural option, this one relies on Ayurvedic ingredients known for brightening and protecting the skin. Namely, there’s a trio of three different fruits for a potent dose of vitamin C, along with antioxidant-rich oil, and soothing honey to hydrate and calm any irritation. Happy reviewers also repeatedly call out the perfect, middle-of-the-road texture that’s neither too heavy nor too light.
Because the skin around your eyes is different than on the rest of your face, it’s necessary to use a dedicated eye cream that's concentrated with active ingredients and specially formulated to minimize the likelihood of irritation. The Kate Somerville Retinol Firming Eye Cream (at Sephora) is a great all-around anti-aging option; the RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream (at Amazon) also uses retinol (a great PM option) and rings in at a slightly more affordable price. For the ultimate bang for your buck, try the Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Eye Transforming Cream (at Walmart), while the Ren Skincare Keep Young and Beautiful Firm and Lift Eye Cream (at Sephora) also offers plenty of anti-aging benefits in a clean and natural formula.