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When on the hunt for the very best eye creams, you kind of have to play Goldilocks. It can't be too thick or too subtle—it has to be just right. Eye creams that are too emollient wreak havoc on thin, impressionable under-eye skin, which can lead to milia (tiny cysts underneath the skin), and creams that aren't moisturizing enough are just kind of… there. But because there's seemingly a new "best" eye cream (or serum or gel) popping up every day, it's hard to test every single formula to find the ones that truly work.
Instead of sifting through endless piles of bottles and tubes, I went straight to a few dermatologists (they know a thing or two about skincare, after all) to find out which products they use on themselves for bright, taut under eyes. As it turns out, many of their tried-and-true formulas are fairly under the radar.
And while each dermatologist has their own personal favorite product, they mention a few common ingredients to look for: peptides, which stimulate collagen production, hyaluronic acid to hydrate, and other skin soothers like aloe vera and green tea extract. Depending on your eye area concerns, you might want to look for a product that depuffs and diminishes dark circles or reduces crow's feet.
Take a look at the best eye creams on the market, according to top dermatologists below.
Best Overall: Baebody Eye Gel
Dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, founder and director of Capital Laser and Skincare, says this is the best of the best eye cream. It's ideal for thinning skin, which increases the visibility of underlying blood vessels, causing dark circles. "It contains peptides to help stimulate a bit of collagen but isn't too drying."
Best Drugstore: Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Face Moisturizer
Dr. Caroline Robinson, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Tone Dermatology, recommends this cream because it "contains a blend of retinol and vitamin B3 in a creamy formula to address both the fine lines and dullness that we see with aging."
For those who might not be able to tolerate the retinol ingredient due to some dryness or irritation, she also says, "I like Olay Eyes Ultimate Eye Cream which has amino peptides instead of retinol in a similar formula."
Best for Wrinkles: Caudalie Resveratrol Lift Hyaluronic Acid Eye Lifting Balm
Resveratrol is a naturally occurring antioxidant that can be found in the skin of grapes, peanuts, all berries, and even dark chocolate. It's part of a group of compounds called polyphenols which act as key antioxidants, serving on the front lines to protect the cells against damage that leads to cellular aging.
"This natural eye balm is powered by a patent combining vine resveratrol with hyaluronic acid for an age-reversing effect," explains dermatologist Karen Hammerman, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group. "Formulated with advanced peptides and an anti-puffiness plant complex, this eye balm helps lift the skin of the eyelids, reduce puffiness and dark circles, and smooth the appearance of wrinkles. The texture is silky and melts into skin without the use of synthetic emulsifiers, and it works especially well under makeup."
Best for Under-Eye Circles: Revision Skincare Teamine Eye Complex
Vitamin E is an antioxidant vitamin and an oil often found in anti-oxidant blend topicals or moisturizers. It also help soothe the skin and protects the lipid barrier.
"This is one of the best eye creams because it works through multiple pathways to visibly diminish the look of dark under-eye circles, reduce the appearance of puffiness and smooth the look of fine lines and wrinkles," says Hammerman. "Vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin C, and green tea extract in this anti-aging cream work together to brighten dark circles and minimize under-eye puffiness. Sodium hyaluronate deeply hydrates and calms irritation, while peptides smooth stubborn fine lines and wrinkles. It also contains additional antioxidants for more anti-aging benefits."
Best for Puffiness: Revision Skincare D.E.J Eye Cream
"Filled with peptides, goji fruit, and vitamin C, I find this is great for fine lines, dark circles, and puffiness," says Melissa Doft, MD, of Doft Plastic Surgery.
Best Cooling: Sircuit Skin I. Cee. U.+
Doft explains that this offering has a "full gel feel" with a cooling prowess: "It contains soothing ingredients like aloe vera and butcher's broom extract and smoothing ingredients like green tea, kombucha, and shea butter." Say it with us now: ahhh.
Best Splurge: RéVive Intensité Les Yeux Firming Moisture
Put simply, Doft says this is a "hydrating lotion that decreases dark circles and puffiness." It'll cost you a pretty penny, but one customer swears it's worth the price tag: "I am always looking for the 'fountain of youth' in a cream—this is the closest to that I have found."
Best Luxury: Epara Skincare Eye Serum
Dr. Robinson also recommends this serum, praising it for its effective ingredients. She says, "[this serum] contains niacinamide and plankton extract to address under eye hyperpigmentation. Epara means 'to cocoon oneself' in the Nigerian dialect of Ebira, and this line of luxury science-based products is something that is needed now more than ever. As a Nigerian-American and dermatologist, I was delighted when I recently discovered this product."
Best Color Correcting: Clinique Even Better Eyes Dark Circle Corrector
While it's a bit more of a color corrector than your typical eye cream, Dr. Tanzi says this is a good staple formula for camouflaging dark circles. While one of its main functions is to conceal, it's a hybrid treatment that's clinically proven to visibly lighten dark circles by 30% in 12 weeks.
Best Retinol: Dr. Brandt Skincare 24/7 Retinol Eye Cream
"This is a personal favorite because of the time-released retinol, which has been proven to help build up your own collagen and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time," says dermatologist Shereene Idriss, MD. "This is ideal for someone who struggles when applying makeup under their eyes due to it caking within the fine lines."
Best Triple Duty: First Aid Beauty Eye Duty Triple Remedy A.M. Gel Cream
"This is one of the best eye creams for those seeking instant gratification," says Idriss. "It's a potent combination of peptides, seaweed, and red algae extract that helps soften imperfections while hydrating your skin."
Best for Repair: Nia 24 Eye Repair Complex
"This Nia24 eye cream is a great treatment, especially after a long night out," says Idriss. "It's caffeine content helps to de-puff the under eyes, while the combination of vitamin C, licorice, and white birch help to brighten up the dark circles. I personally apply this first before any primers or concealers, as it offers an opaque luminescent sheen that instantly lightens you up."
Best for Crow's Feet: SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex
"It's one of my longtime favorites," beams dermatologist Julie Russak, MD. "This is a silky formulation that comes in a balm texture, perfect for the delicate eye area. Not only does this eye cream reduce the appearance of crow's feet and wrinkles, but it also helps to combat advanced glycation end products, a major factor in the aging process. SkinCeuticals' science is always impressive."
Best for Sensitive Skin: Tatcha Ageless Revitalizing Eye Cream
"Known for its honeysuckle and peony extracts, Tatcha's eye cream will give your skin that extra boost of energy that it needs," says Russak. "Ideal for all skin types, this eye cream will visibly diminish lines along with offering powerful anti-aging benefits. It's great for sensitive skin, as it's nonirritating."
Best Hyaluronic Acid: Specific Beauty Lighten & Brighten Eye Cream
Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in the human body. It acts as a cushioning and lubrication agent for our joints, nerves, hair, skin, and eyes. When used in skincare, it acts as a moisture binder, which means that it will attach itself to the water in the cells (while also attracting and holding water from the air) making them plump.
Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd formulated this eye cream with melanin-rich skin in mind, expressing, "I created Specific Beauty to restore the beautiful, radiant, glowing skin that you were born with," making it an ideal choice for anyone looking to safely and effectively even their complexion. This eye cream uses hyaluronic acid and green tea extract to target dark circles, fine lines, and wrinkles, with results that deliver. Users say it noticeably lightens under-eye circles.
When it comes to the best of the best in eye creams, our top choice is the Baebody Eye Gel, which zaps away dark circles and de-puffs eye bags like a pro. Plus, it contains peptides that help to stimulate collagen production. For targeting crow’s feet, we’re looking to the SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex. This silky balm not only helps to reduce the appearance of existing lines and wrinkles, but it works great as a preventative measure against impending signs of aging thanks to blueberry extract. And finally, we’re reaching for the Nia 24 Eye Repair Complex whenever our eyes need a pick-me-up, especially after a long night. It offers instant de-puffing benefits thanks to caffeine, while vitamin C, licorice, and white birch brighten up dark circles.
What to Look for in an Eye Cream
First and foremost, Dr. Tanzi says to look for eye creams that offer hydrating benefits. Even if puffiness and dark circles are your main concerns, the skin surrounding the eye area is extra delicate and needs ample hydration in order to remain smooth and youthful. Look for ingredients like fast-absorbing hyaluronic acid, nourishing plant butters and oils, and barrier-repairing ceramides.
Dr. Tanzi recommends also looking for eye creams that contain brightening ingredients, which can help improve the appearance of dark circles and, overall, make you look more awake and alert than you actually are. Antioxidants like vitamin C are good options since they help to brighten the skin, while caffeine can offer quick relief to both dark circles and puffiness since it helps to constrict blood vessels. Light-reflecting particles are also helpful, as they can help temporarily fake a brighter, more even appearance.
Finally, Dr. Tanzi says that eye creams should be non-irritating. The skin surrounding the eyes is extra thin and delicate, and something with too many active ingredients could cause an unpleasant reaction. Plus, because you’re applying these creams so close to your actual eye, you wouldn't want to use anything that would burn should it accidentally get into your lash line. It’s best to avoid anything heavily scented, but also look for formulas that specifically state that they’re eye-safe.
Is eye cream necessary?
According to Dr. Tanzi, when it comes to taking care of the delicate skin surrounding your eyes, eye creams are definitely a necessity. “The skin surrounding your eyes is very different from the rest of the face, and it has its own special needs,” she says. Eye creams are formulated specifically for this part of the face, meaning they typically contain a lower concentration of actives and are formulated to be much more nourishing than your average moisturizer—especially nighttime formulas.
Can eye creams actually eliminate dark circles?
Eye creams can be quite effective at combating dark circles; however, Dr. Tanzi says it’s important to use a cream with ingredients that target their specific cause. “If your dark circles are from puffiness, then an eye cream with caffeine is helpful,” she says. “If the dark circles are related to darkened skin, then you'll want to use an eye cream with a skin-lightening ingredient.”
How should you apply eye cream?
Dr. Tanzi says to apply eye cream twice daily, immediately after washing your face and before you apply any other serums, creams, or other treatments to allow for the best possible penetration.
Should you put eye cream on eyelids?
Dr. Tanzi only recommends applying eye serums to the upper eyelids, as cream formulations can be too thick for this area.