The Best Drugstore Eye Creams That Work Effectively

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The 12 Best Drugstore Eye Creams, Hands Down

Byrdie / Sabrina Jiang

Let’s not beat around the bush: Eye cream has a reputation for being an unnecessary step of your skincare routine. But if you grew up hearing your mom stress about her crow’s feet and dark circles, the category is worth considering. This is especially because, according to board-certified dermatologist Diane Madfes, MD, FAAD, the skin around your eyes needs to be treated with utmost care. 

Meet the Expert

Diane Madfes, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist specializing in dermatology and dermatologic surgery.

"It's important to use products that have been specifically tested for tolerability and use in the eye area,” Madfes tells Byrdie. Because with the right product, the world is your oyster. "People use eye creams to help with crepey skin, wrinkles, dark circles, and 'bags' under their eyes," Dr. Madfes says.

If you're looking to trim down your monthly skincare budget, there are lots of excellent drugstore formulas that do the trick. Sheilagh Maguiness, MD, board-certified dermatologist and the co-founder of Stryke Club, says, "I don't recommend spending a lot of money on an eye cream."

Meet the Expert

Sheilagh Maguiness, MD, a board-certified dermatologist has been a part of the Minnesota Dermatological Society since 2014. She currently teaches at the University of Minnesota.

Drugstore is kind of a loose term these days, as most products are purchased online, and well, Walmart now carries Estée Lauder. But the point is, we know of some wonderful wallet-friendly formulas, many of which won't run you more than 20 bucks.

Meet the Expert

  • Hadley King, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in medical and cosmetic dermatology.
  • Marie V. Hayag, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of 5th Avenue Aesthetics.

Without further ado, these are the best drugstore eye creams.

Best Overall: RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Eye Cream

4.5
RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Eye Cream

Amazon

What We Like
  • Noticeable results

  • A little goes a long way

  • Lightweight

What We Don’t Like
  • May sting eyes

  • Contains parabens and PEGs

Who else recommends it? The Strategist, Prevention, and Today all picked the RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream.

What do buyers say? 83% of 27,800+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

Looking to address crow's feet, fine lines, and crepiness or achieve all-around smoother skin? New York dermatologist Hadley King, MD, recommends a nightly retinoid or retinol cream like RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream to increase collagen.

The vitamin A derivative is a go-to for treating the most common concerns about the eye area, including wrinkles, uneven skin tone, dark circles, and lack of elasticity. This reasonably priced anti-aging eye cream also contains a medley of soothing, plumping hydrators like vitamin E, glycerin, and panthenol (vitamin B5).

By delivering moisture to the skin, RoC Correxion will make your eye area look instantly smoother and less puffy. After several weeks, you can expect a noticeable improvement in fine lines and dark circles.

Active Ingredients: Retinol, vitamin E, glycerin, panthenol | Benefits: Smoothing, toning, depuffing, plumping, increases collagen | Size: 0.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget: e.l.f. Cosmetics Holy Hydration! Eye Cream

e.l.f. Cosmetics Holy Hydration! Eye Cream

Ulta

What We Like
  • Gentle formula

  • Vegan

  • Lightweight

What We Don’t Like
  • Contains PEGs and triethanolamine

Most drugstore formulas are relatively affordable, but if you want to spend as little as possible, you can't go wrong with e.l.f. The brand's Holy Hydration eye cream calls on peptides, cucumber extract, and green tea to gently plump, smooth, hydrate, and boost radiance.

Active Ingredients: Peptides, cucumber extract, green tea | Benefits: Depuffing, soothing, boost radiance, hydrating | Size: 0.4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Sensitive Skin: CeraVe Eye Repair Cream

CeraVe Eye Repair Cream

Amazon

What We Like
  • Gentle formula

  • Fragrance- and phthalate-free

  • Hygienic container

What We Don’t Like
  • Results aren't dramatic

Reactive complexion? Reach for CeraVe Eye Repair Cream. The no-nonsense, fragrance-free formula delivers ample moisture while replenishing the skin barrier with essential ceramides. If you battle dark circles no matter how much sleep you get, niacinamide (vitamin B3) is a fool-proof radiance-boosting agent.

Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, aloe, almond oil | Benefits: Hydrating, plumping, depuffing, replenishes the skin barrier | Size: 0.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best K-Beauty: CosRx Advanced Snail Peptide Eye Cream

CosRx Advanced Snail Peptide Eye Cream

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Airtight container

  • Lightweight

  • Gentle formula

  • Fast results

What We Don’t Like
  • Not radiance-boosting enough for some

From the K-beauty aisle, we're big fans of CosRx (as are supermodels like Emily Ratajkowski). The brand's Advanced Eye Cream contains ultra-hydrating snail mucin, plus niacinamide and peptides to firm, plump, and boost radiance—and it gets extra points for the airtight container.

Active Ingredients: Peptides, snail secretion filtrate, niacinamide | Benefits: Firming, hydrating, radiance-boosting, depuffing | Size: 0.85 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Daytime: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Soothing Eye Cream

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Soothing Eye Cream

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Airtight container

  • Works well under makeup

What We Don’t Like
  • Results are temporary

While La Roche-Posay is on the pricier end of the drugstore spectrum, you can count on gentle products that do what they say. Toleriane Ultra Eyes contains Dr. King's favorite depuffing ingredient, caffeine, along with mineral-rich spring water and radiance-boosting vitamin C.

Active Ingredients: Squalane, thermal spring water, caffeine, vitamin C | Benefits: Hydrating, radiance-boosting, depuffing | Size: 0.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Nighttime: Pond’s Rejuveness Lifting & Brightening Eye Cream

Pond’s Rejuveness Lifting & Brightening Eye Cream
What We Like
  • Generous amount

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don’t Like
  • May sting eyes

"Pond's Rejuveness Lifting & Brightening Eye Cream contains moisturizing ingredients, as well as niacinamide to help improve tone and texture, and retinol to help stimulate collagen," Dr. King tells Byrdie. Since sun exposure is discouraged after applying retinol, we suggest using this one at night.

Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, retinol, glycerin | Benefits: Firming, smoothing, radiance-boosting | Size: 1 ounce | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Dark Circles: Naturally Serious Zero Baggage Anti-Dark Circle Eye Cream

Naturally Serious Zero Baggage Anti-Dark Circle Eye Cream

Amazon

What We Like
  • Dermatologist-approved

  • Hygienic container

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don’t Like
  • Results are temporary

  • Not the most moisturizing

"This potent eye cream with plant-derived sodium phytate and caffeine helps you say goodbye to the look of under-eye bags, dark circles, and fine lines," says board-certified dermatologist Marie V. Hayag, MD of Fifth Avenue Aesthetics.

Active Ingredients: Caffeine, sodium phytate, hyaluronic acid, green tea | Benefits: Depuffing, radiance-boosting, hydrating, reduces dark circles | Size: 0.67 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Brightening: Olay Eyes Ultimate Eye Cream

Ultimate Eye Cream

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Fragrance-free

  • A little goes a long way

  • Gentle formula

What We Don’t Like
  • Unhygienic container

  • Contains parabens and PEGs

Does hyperpigmentation get you down? Your best bet is Olay's peptide-rich Ultimate Eye Cream. This brilliant multi-tasker contains radiance-boosting niacinamide and color-correcting pigments to tackle uneven skin tone and illuminate the eye area.

Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, peptides, brightening pigments | Benefits: Radiance-boosting, depuffing, smoothing, hydrating | Size: 0.4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best With Retinol: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream

3.9
Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream

Ulta

What We Like
  • Hygienic container

  • Noticeable results

  • Lightweight

What We Don’t Like
  • May sting slightly

Dr. King appreciates eye products containing retinol, like this little guy from Neutrogena's widely celebrated Rapid Wrinkle Repair Line. With ongoing use, the smoothing formula offers a noticeable improvement in fine lines, crow's feet, and uneven skin tone while targeting hyperpigmentation and dark circles with vitamin C.

Active Ingredients: Retinol, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C | Benefits: Smoothing, hydrating, radiance-boosting | Size: 0.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best With Caffeine: The INKEY List Caffeine Eye Cream

The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream

Sephora

What We Like
  • Hygienic container

  • Lightweight

What We Don’t Like
  • Results are temporary

If you're dealing with puffy under-eyes, Dr. King says any eye cream containing caffeine should help. From the under-$10 selection, your best bet is this little ditty by The Inkey List.

It's budget-friendly, notably lightweight, and effective. As Dr. King explains, "Caffeine constricts blood vessels and can therefore reduce the amount of fluid accumulating."

Active Ingredients: Caffeine, peptides | Benefits: Hydrating, depuffing, smoothing | Size: 0.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Natural: Burt's Bees Sensitive Eye Cream

Burt's Bees Sensitive Eye Cream

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Airtight container

  • 98.9 percent natural formula

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don’t Like
  • Results aren't dramatic

  • Difficult to tell how much you’ve used

Partial to plant-based formulas? We suggest Burt's Bees 98.9 percent natural Eye Cream. The supremely creamy concoction comes in a hygienic airtight container, goes on smoothly, and doesn’t irritate sensitive skin.

Active Ingredients: Olive oil, cotton flower extract, shea butter | Benefits: Depuffing, hydrating | Size: 0.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Clean: InstaNatural Youth Express Eye Gel

InstaNatural Youth Express Eye Gel

Amazon

What We Like
  • Plant-based formula

  • Airtight container

What We Don’t Like
  • Results aren't dramatic

For those on the clean-beauty train, we recommend InstaNatural Youth Express. This lightweight eye gel contains a plethora of plant-based goodness, like stem cells, peptides, hyaluronic acid, and amino acids to plump up parched complexions and replenish the skin barrier.

Active Ingredients: Peptides, plant stem cells, hyaluronic acid, amino acids | Benefits: Smoothing, strengthening, hydrating | Size: 0.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Serum: Olay Eye Lifting Serum

4.7
Olay eyes
What We Like
  • Hygienic container

  • Fragrance- and phthalate-free

  • Absorbs quickly

What We Don’t Like
  • Results aren't dramatic

Eye serums are having a well-deserved moment, and our favorite from the pharmacy is this scarlet tube by Olay. The exceptionally lightweight, fast-absorbing formula works to depuff, firm, and lift the eye area with all-star ingredients like peptides, niacinamide, vitamin B5, and caffeine.

Active Ingredients: Peptides, panthenol, caffeine, niacinamide | Benefits: Resurfacing, depuffing, smoothing, firming, lifting | Size: 0.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Final Verdict

When it comes to drugstore eye creams, RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream is a diamond in the rough. The dermatologist-approved formula boosts collagen production while offering a noticeable improvement in the appearance of fine lines, crow's feet, crepiness, and dark circles. If you're looking for something even more affordable or want a retinol-free option, go with the e.l.f. Holy Hydration Eye Cream. It is a gentle eye cream that works to plump, boost radiance, and depuff the eye area.

What to Look for in an Eye Cream

Anti-Aging Ingredients

"Many of the eye creams on the shelf in the drugstore are there for anti-aging," Dr. Maguiness tells Byrdie. For this reason, they often contain skin-smoothing and wrinkle-reducing ingredients like peptides, niacinamide, and retinoids.

However, Dr. Maguiness warns, "Ingredients that help with anti-aging, like retinol, can be extremely irritating around the eye." If your skin stings or burns after applying eye cream, it's best to stop using it and consult with a dermatologist.

Niacinamide

A form of vitamin B3, niacinamide is a top ingredient used to help fade hyperpigmentation. That means that if you have dark circles under your eyes, a cream containing niacinamide—also known as nicotinamide—may help diminish their appearance. In addition to brightening the under eye area, Jennifer Herrmann, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, tells Byrdie that “Nicotinamide helps restore cellular energy, repair damaged DNA, and reduce the immunosuppressive effects of sun-induced UV rays."

Retinol

This ingredient boosts collagen production and aids skin cell turnover. By helping to thicken the skin under your eyes, retinol can make wrinkles and fine lines look less obvious, as well as under eye circles. Beyond that, esthetician and skincare brand founder Renée Rouleau says that  “With continued use, retinol works to fade hyperpigmentation (brown spots and patches) and give the look of smoother skin in a gentler, non-drying way than a prescription form.”

Caffeine

An active ingredient in beverages meant to kickstart your morning, caffeine also has benefits for your under eye area. Caffeine boosts circulation in the skin and contains antioxidants, which are always an added bonus in skincare.

Hyaluronic Acid

This ultra-moisturizing ingredient is key for anyone who wants instant results out of their under eye cream. With its ability to bind to water, hyaluronic acid can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around the eye area. It absorbs quickly into the skin, doesn’t irritate the tender area around our eyes, and is cost effective.

Hydrating Ingredients

Since the tissue around your eye area is notably thin, crepiness and fine lines are often more visible when your skin is dry. As such, Dr. King says, "Eye creams should be hydrating and moisturizing."

Look for options containing hyaluronic acid, glycerin, vitamin E, ceramides, panthenol (vitamin B5), and plant oils. Hydration can help replenish the skin barrier and have the effect of plumping up crepey or saggy skin.

Container

When shopping around for eye creams, you should also consider the container. Airtight containers are ideal since the products aren't exposed to air and are thus less likely to oxidize.

Additionally, eye creams that come in lidless containers can often last longer with fewer preservatives. What's more, you'll avoid contaminating the ingredients with bacteria and other potential irritants from your fingers.

Fragrance

You may want to consider the fragrance (or lack thereof), as some people are particularly sensitive to synthetic fragrances (aka parfum). As Dr. Maguiness explains, "The skin around the eye is thin and prone to irritation."

If you have a reactive complexion, the last thing you want to do is introduce a mostly unnecessary additive, especially around the delicate eye area.

FAQ
  • What are the benefits of drugstore eye creams?

    In addition to being affordable and widely available, there are several benefits of drugstore eye creams. According to Dr. Madfes, "Eye creams work by two modalities: extreme hydration and tensor to tighten."

    In other words, they can plump up the eye area with hydrating ingredients, which has the effect of smoothing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Then there are eye creams formulated to tighten the skin to minimize crepiness, reduce under-eye bags, and create a lifted look. 

    Additionally, many drugstore eye creams address dark circles and hyperpigmentation by boosting the eye area with niacinamide, antioxidants, or color-correcting pigments.

  • How do you apply drugstore eye creams?

    Dispense a small amount of eye cream onto your ring finger (your weakest and, therefore, gentlest finger). Lightly tap the cream all around the eye area, including your under-eye, crow's feet, and up the brow bone.

    Some formulas can be applied to the eyelids as well, but be mindful of potential irritation—if it stings, don’t try to power through. Additionally, Dr. Madfes says, "Always apply to clean skin."

  • How often should you use drugstore eye creams?

    Generally speaking, an eye cream can be used once daily and as often as twice a day, depending on the formula. For instance, some over-the-counter retinol products can technically be applied both morning and night—but unless you’re coating the area with sunscreen afterward, we wouldn’t recommend it.

    Gentler formulas that focus mainly on hydration can be applied twice a day. On the other hand, sometimes it's just fun to have designated morning and evening eye creams in your arsenal. And as always, if the product starts to sting, burn, or become itchy, stop using it and check in with a dermatologist.

  • Can I use drugstore moisturizer as eye cream?

    While you may be tempted to apply your facial moisturizer under your eyes, it isn’t always the best choice. Because face creams and moisturizers aren’t specifically designed for use around the eyes, many may cause irritation. Drugstore eye creams are typically reasonably priced and safe for use around your eyes, so they’re a better choice.

  • Is coconut oil good for under the eyes?

    You may see some benefits from using coconut oil under your eyes because it's moisturizing, and it isn’t very likely to cause irritation. That said, it’s a single ingredient, so there is only so much it can do when compared to a multi-ingredient product formulated specifically for the eye area. Coconut oil can also be very greasy and doesn't wear well under makeup.

  • How can I stimulate collagen under my eyes with drugstore eye cream?

    Be sure to choose a cream with ingredients that work to improve collagen production. You’ll want to look for a cream that contains retinol, for example. Also, you’ll want to be sure to always use your eye cream at night so it can work overnight.

Why Trust Byrdie

Theresa Holland is a bonafide skincare nerd and copyeditor specializing in cosmetics. For this roundup, she interviewed four dermatologists for their product recommendations and expertise on various formulations. Before making her selections, she referenced several peer-reviewed studies, researched various ingredients, and considered a plethora of eye creams. From the above list, Theresa has personally tried CosRx, RoC, Naturally Serious, Neutrogena, and Burt's Bees.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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