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We’ll cut right to the chase: You really do need a dedicated eye cream in your skincare arsenal. To put it simply, the skin around your peepers is different than the skin on the rest of your face, and, as such requires a little extra TLC. It’s the thinnest and most fragile on the body, making it the most susceptible to environmental damage from UV rays and pollution, as well as more susceptible to any kind of irritation.
While many eye creams often do contain the same proven anti-aging ingredients found in the serums and moisturizers you’re using, they (the eye creams) are specially formulated to ensure maximum efficacy and minimum irritation for the area they’re meant to be used. In other words, you’ll reap all the benefits, without any unwanted side effects. And let’s not forget that eye creams can do way more than combat the signs of aging, such as crows’ feet and sagging. They’re essential for hydrating this delicate skin and are a must-have for de-puffing, brightening, and generally making you look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when those coveted eight hours of sleep are hard to come by.
TL; DR: You need an eye cream, and there are plenty of options out there to choose from. Here, the best eye creams you can buy now.
Best Overall: Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Cream
There’s no actual banana in this superstar, rather, the name comes from the inspiration behind this dark circle defeater—banana powder. A light yellow powder used by makeup artists to counteract purple and blue-ish shadows, this has that same yellow tint to pull double duty as both an eye cream and an instant color corrector.
Plus, it’s also packed with vitamin C to deliver long-term brightening benefits and collagen to improve elasticity and keep skin smooth, so much so that in an independent clinical study of 37 women, 94% of users saw an average of 40% improvement in lines and wrinkles in just four weeks. And we’d be remiss not to mention the featherweight, silky texture, ideal for use under makeup.
Best Budget: RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream
When it comes to finding an affordable, effective eye cream, dermatologists recommend this formula time and time again. It boasts retinol, and addresses not only lines but dark circles and puffiness as well, giving you plenty of bang for your buck. Plus, it’s lightweight, non-comedogenic, and hypoallergenic.
While it is gentle and specially-formulated for your eye area, you are still dealing with retinol. If you want to play it safe, start by using it every other night at first, gradually increasing the frequency.
Best for Wrinkles: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream
There are lots of eye creams to be found at the drugstore, though this is one of the most effective (yet still wallet-friendly) options out there. It boasts tried-and-true retinol, coupled with a glucose complex that works to speed up said retinol’s effects. Namely, smoothing out crows’ feet, and generally evening out the tone and texture of the skin around your peepers.
Best for Puffiness: The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG
Whether you pulled an all-nighter or just had one too many martinis the night before, a few drops of this eye cream is the secret to quickly tamping down puffiness. True to its name, it boasts a powerful concentration of caffeine—a choice de-puffer, thanks to its ability to constrict blood vessels. There’s also epigallocatechin gallate (say that three times fast), also known as EGCG in the mix, an intense antioxidant derived from green tea leaves that further helps boost this formula’s de-puffing prowess.
Best Color Correcting: It Cosmetics Confidence in an Eye Cream
To be totally honest, a good concealer is always going to be your best bet for completely camouflaging dark circles. That being said, layering a color-correcting eye cream underneath will only help matters, not to mention is a great choice on days you want to go makeup-free. Enter this pick, a favorite of Byrdie’s Commerce Editorial Director Jessica Magherefteh.
Its apricot tint is super subtle, yet enough to deliver an instant brightening effect, quickly and efficiently neutralizing the look of dark circles. Bonus points for the addition of skin-barrier boosting ceramides and plenty of soothing and hydrating ingredients such as colloidal oatmeal and coconut oil.
Best Natural: Alpyn Beauty PlantGenius Line-Filling Eye Balm
For those wary of using products with potentially questionable chemicals around their eyes, this clean cream—a 2019 Byrdie Eco Beauty Award Winner—takes the cake. It uses a litany of different plant-based extracts to impart everything from hydration to antioxidant protection. Particularly noteworthy is the addition of bakuchiol, a natural alternative to retinol that’s been proven to have equally as powerful wrinkle-fighting effects, without any of the associated irritation. And because it is a bit of a richer balm, it’s a great pick for those with very dry skin or who simply want to use a thicker product around their eyes.
Best With SPF: Colorescience Total Eye 3-in-1 Renewal Therapy SPF 35
You definitely do not want to be skimping on sunscreen around your eyes, so opt for a dedicated eye cream with SPF to use every morning. We’re big fans of this one for many reasons, the SPF 35 included, of course. Along with that is a long list of other ingredients that work to combat bags, dark circles, and fine lines with continued use, plus a subtle tint (it comes in four shades) to instantly make you look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Best Splurge: La Prairie Skin Caviar Eye Lift Serum
According to Byrdie Senior Editor Hallie Gould, this pick is worth every penny. And to be fair, it will cost a lot of pennies, but hear us out. It’s specially made to legit lift and firm your entire eye area—both upper and lower lids, and even your brows—and blends two formulas in one bottle. The dual-phase serum blends encapsulated beads plus a gel-cream emulsion, both loaded with the brand’s signature caviar extract. Gould also notes that, per the serum point of things, it’s super lightweight and as such is a good choice for anyone prone to developing milia around the eyes.
Best With Vitamin C: BeautyStat Universal C Eye Perfector
This line was created by a cosmetic chemist, so you can feel confident knowing that the products contain only the highest quality, most efficacious ingredients and pairings. In particular, vitamin C is the star of the show. The ingredient earns major props in the skincare world, but is especially choice for using around the eyes; it can help stimulate collagen production to diminish the look of fine lines, even out skin tone, and offers antioxidant protection. What more could you want? This formula uses a 5% concentration of a pure, patented, and extra-stable version of vitamin C, along with CBD to help tamp down inflammation or redness.
Best Brightening: Tatcha The Pearl Tinted Eye Treatment
Yes, this layers beautifully under concealer, but you could also wear it on its own. The makeup-skincare hybrid contains pearl extract to address pigmentation and thinning skin (which only makes dark circles look worse) as well as brightening and firming niacinamide. It comes in three different shades that deliver a nice amount of—just slightly lustrous—tint as well. Plus, a little goes a long way, so the one (very pretty) jar lasts quite a while.
Best for Sensitive Skin: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Soothing Eye Cream
As we said, the fragile skin around your eyes is already more susceptible to irritation—and that’s even more so the case if you’re dealing with sensitive skin to begin with. Since the last thing you want is red, dry, flaky, itchy skin near your eyes, reach for this safe bet. With a streamlined ingredient list, it’s free of common irritants such as parabens, fragrance, and alcohol, instead full of soothing niacinamide and mineral-rich spring water.
Best for Dry Skin: Eighteen B Defend + Nourish Eye Cream
Gould is also a fan of this extra-hydrating cream, choice for those prone to super dry skin. It boasts the brand’s signature B-silk protein, which both protects and hydrates, alongside moisturizing superstars such as glycerin, shea butter, jojoba oil, and sodium hyaluronate. The end result is a luscious cream that packs a ton of moisture, yet somehow still absorbs lightning fast so as to never feel in the least bit greasy or sticky.
Best Applicator: SheaMoisture Matcha Green Tea & Probiotics Eye Cream
Those metal applicator tips might seem gimmicky, but trust us, they’re not. One, they always feel innately cooling, a major boon when it comes to reaping any de-puffing benefits. Two, they make it easy to precisely deposit and massage in the eye cream, even in the small areas in the corners of your eyes. And three, they ensure that you never have to dip your fingers into a jar of eye cream, a win for germaphobes.
There are plenty to be found out there, but we’re partial to this pick, thanks to both the applicator and the formula. Namely, a formula packed with hydrating shea butter, soothing probiotics, and protective matcha green tea.
Follow our lead and stash it in the fridge, and it will feel even better going on.
Best Gel: Cetaphil Hydrating Eye-Gel Cream
Have oily skin and/or don’t love the feel of thick creams around your eyes? Opt for a gel formula, more specifically, this one. Packed with lightweight-yet-crazy moisturizing hyaluronic acid, it soaks in quickly and doesn’t feel in the least bit greasy, though still leaves skin plenty hydrated. Also nice: It’s dermatologist-tested, ophthalmologist-tested, and hypoallergenic, another good pick for those with sensitive skin or eyes.
Best Serum: Dr. Gross Skincare Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum
Byrdie Senior Editor Lindsey Metrus is a fan of this formula, which uses arguably the best wrinkle-fighting ingredient of all-time: retinol. The vitamin A derivative is well-known for effectively stimulating collagen production to smooth out wrinkles. Here, it’s paired with ferulic acid, a standout antioxidant to help prevent environmental damage, plus brightening licorice root extract. On top of all of that, because it’s more of a serum than a cream (with a gel-like texture), it’s lightweight enough to use morning or night, and on both top and bottom lids.