Reduce Dark Circles With the Best Eye Creams for Sensitive Skin

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Best Eye Creams for Sensitive Skin

Byrdie / Chloe Jeong

Thinking about adding an eye cream to your daily skincare roster? According to Diane Madfes, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist, eye cream can help with anything from crepey skin and fine lines to dark circles and under-eye bags. But if you've got a reactive complexion, it's understandable to be a little wary about introducing a new formula.

Byrdie Researched & Approved

The Avène Soothing Eye Contour Cream stands out among the rest because it contains super-hydrating ingredients and uses mineral-infused thermal water in its recipe. We also like the e.l.f. Cosmetics Holy Hydration! Eye Cream as a budget option since it really works to soothe the sensitive skin under your eyes.

As Dr. Madfes notes, the eye area is delicate and sensitive, regardless of skin type. With this in mind, she says, "It's important to use products that have been specifically tested for tolerability and for use in the eye area."

And with the right formula, folks with sensitive skin can reap all the benefits without irritation. Licensed esthetician Dana Murray recommends avoiding products with alcohol or added fragrance and looking for soothing ingredients, like chamomile, aloe, green tea, and cucumber extract.

Scroll down for the best eye creams for sensitive skin.

Best Overall: Avène Soothing Eye Contour Cream

4.5
avene soothing eye contour cream
What We Like
  • Fragrance-free

  • Hygienic container

  • Approved by National Eczema Association

What We Don't Like
  • Relatively small amount

Who else recommends it? StyleCraze and Bustle also selected the Avène Soothing Eye Contour Cream.

What do buyers say? 84% of 1,110+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

When it comes to sensitive skin, Avène knows what's up. The brand offers a broad range of effective yet non-irritating products, and the Eye Contour Cream is no exception. It contains chamomile (one of Murray's approved ingredients), plus ultra-hydrating humectant hyaluronic acid and soothing vitamin E.

The real secret to the sauce, however, is Avène's mineral-rich thermal spring water, which minimizes inflammation, balances the skin barrier, and calms irritation. We also like that it's fragrance-free and approved by the National Eczema Association. With daily use, you can expect reduced puffiness, a plumper under-eye area, and all-around healthy-looking skin.

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, thermal spring water, chamomile | Benefits: Soothing, depuffing, hydrating | Size: 0.33 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

avene soothing eye contour cream

Byrdie / Olivia Hancock 

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

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

Ulta

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Soothes skin

  • Boosts radiance

What We Don't Like
  • Unhygienic container

You're wise to be a little picky when selecting products for sensitive skin—but you don't have to spend a lot of money. Case in point: e.l.f. Cosmetics Holy Hydration, a budget-friendly pick that calms with cucumber extract, plumps with peptides, and delivers a gentle dose of moisture.

Active Ingredients: Peptides, cucumber extract, green tea | Benefits: Depuffing, soothing, radiance-boosting, hydrating | Size: 0.4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

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

Pond’s Rejuveness Lifting & Brightening Eye Cream
What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Fragrance-free

  • Generous amount

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," says NYC-based dermatologist Hadley King, MD.

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

Best Splurge: Priori R-Spinasome Ultimate Eye Crème Moisturizer

Priori R-Spinasome Ultimate Eye Crème Moisturizer

Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Boosts collagen

  • Fragrance-free

  • Hygienic container

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

"For sensitive skin, I like a clean formula, such as Priori R-Spinasome Ultimate Eye Crème, as it uses green plant technology that is non-irritating and also boosts collagen," Dr. Madfes offers.

Active Ingredients: Organic spinach | Benefits: Plumping, smoothing | Size: 0.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Hydrating: Cetaphil Hydrating Eye Gel Cream

4.8
Hydrating Eye Gel Cream

Courtesy of Target

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Lightweight

  • Absorbs quickly

What We Don't Like
  • Contains polyvinyl alcohol

Sometimes, sensitive skin is just crying out for a bit of moisture. We're big fans of Cetaphil's Eye Gel-Cream, an exceptionally lightweight and fast-absorbing formula that hydrates with hyaluronic acid and soothes with all-star anti-inflammatories like vitamin E, chamomile, and green tea.

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, chamomile, green tea | Benefits: Hydrating, radiance-boosting, smoothing | Size: 0.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Natural: Burt's Bees Sensitive Eye Cream

Burt's Bees Sensitive Eye Cream

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Fragrance-free

  • Approved by National Eczema Association

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

If you're partial to earth-sourced formulas, you'll appreciate this 98.9% natural eye cream from Burt's Bees. The creamy moisturizer comes in an easy-to-dispense, airtight container and goes on smooth without irritation.

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

Best With SPF: SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50

SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50

Courtesy of SkinCeuticals

What We Like
  • Supports skin barrier

  • Hygienic container

  • Provides sun protection

What We Don't Like
  • Small amount

"I am obsessed with this eye cream because it has SPF, and it's also packed with a ton of ceramides, which help strengthen the sensitive eye area," says celebrity aesthetician Joshua Ross of SkinLab.

Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide | Benefits: Sun protection | Size: 0.3 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best With Retinol: Kate Somerville +Retinol Firming Eye Cream

4.6
Kate Somerville

 Sephora

What We Like
  • Minimizes fine lines

  • Lightweight

  • Hygienic container

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

If you want to see a long-term, noticeable difference in fine lines and elasticity, reach for something containing retinol, like Kate Somerville's incredibly silky Firming Eye Cream. It tightens up the eye area without causing irritation and calls on hyaluronic acid to keep the skin plump and hydrated.

Active Ingredients: Retinol, hyaluronic acid | Benefits: Firming, smoothing, plumping | Size: 0.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Day: First Aid Beauty Eye Duty Triple Remedy A.M. Gel Cream

First Aid Beauty Eye Duty Triple Remedy AM Gel Cream

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Reduces puffiness

  • Formulated for daytime use

  • Works well under makeup

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

Do you often wake up with puffy eyes? You may want to start using a caffeine-infused eye cream in the morning. "Caffeine constricts blood vessels and can therefore reduce the amount of fluid accumulating," Dr. King tells Byrdie. "One I like is First Aid Beauty Eye Duty Triple Remedy."

Active Ingredients: Petrolatum, caffeine, peptides, seaweed extract, squalane | Benefits: Hydrating, smoothing, depuffing | Size: 0.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Night: Marla Rene Beauty & Co. IlluminEyez Night Cream

Marla Rene Beauty & Co. IlluminEyez Night Cream

Courtesy of Marla Rene Beauty & Co.

What We Like
  • Generous amount

  • Evens skin tone

  • Contains organic ingredients

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

For your evening skincare routine, your best bet is Marla Rene's IlluminEyez. This nighttime eye cream is chock full of radiance-boosting, hydrating, smoothing, and most importantly, non-irritating ingredients like aloe, vitamin E, and cucumber extract.

Active Ingredients: Aloe, plant stem cells, vitamin E, cucumber extract | Benefits: Radiance-boosting, hydrating, smoothing | Size: 2 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Smoothing: RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Eye Cream

4.5
RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Eye Cream

Amazon

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Evens skin tone

What We Don't Like
  • May sting eyes

If it's smooth skin you're after, Dr. King recommends using "a nightly retinoid or retinol cream, like RoC Retinol Correxion EyeCream to increase collagen." The vitamin A derivative tackles some of the most common concerns about the eye area, including fine lines, puffiness, dark circles, and uneven skin tone.

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

RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream

Byrdie / Leigh Weingus

What Our Testers Say

"Overall, I was very happy with RoC’s Retinol Correxion Eye Cream. I didn’t experience any irritation with it and saw some pretty immediate results as far as reduced dark circles and puffiness." — Leigh Weingus, Product Tester

Best Brightening: REN Clean Skincare Brightening Dark Circle Eye Cream

REN Clean Skincare Brightening Dark Circle Eye Cream

Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Minimizes dark circles

  • Hygienic container

  • Boosts radiance

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

"Sensitive skin responds well to REN Radiance Brightening Dark Circle Eye Cream because it has a special formula that is designed to limit irritation," says Kristina Kitsos, a cosmetic injector and leading expert in medical facial aesthetics. "It includes bio-actives that work to brighten, hydrate, and plump the look of the entire eye area."

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, vitamin C, elderberry flower | Benefits: Radiance-boosting, hydrating | Size: 0.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Firming: Shani Darden Skin Care Intensive Eye Renewal Cream

Shani Darden Skin Care Intensive Eye Renewal Cream

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Works well under makeup

  • Tightens eye area

  • Noticeable results

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Looking to firm up your under-eye area or tighten crepey skin? Go with Shani Darden's Eye Renewal Cream. The luxurious, intensive formula calls on niacinamide (vitamin B3), peptides, and silk tree extract to deliver visibly firmer, smoother skin.

Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, ceramides, peptides, vitamin E | Benefits: Firming, calming, smoothing | Size: 0.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Under Makeup: Fenty Skin Flash Nap Instant Revival Priming Eye Gel-Cream

Fenty Skin Flash Nap Instant Revival Priming Eye Gel-Cream

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Works well under makeup

  • Lightweight

  • Hygienic container

What We Don't Like
  • Contains fragrance

On the hunt for something to apply before swiping on your concealer? Rihanna has you covered. Fenty Flash Nap flaunts a hydrating, smoothing, skin-loving formula that soothes with green tea and depuffs with horse chestnut extract.

Active Ingredients: Green tea, hyaluronic acid, horse chestnut extract | Benefits: Smoothing, hydrating, depuffing | Size: 0.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best K-Beauty: CosRx Advanced Snail Peptide Eye Cream

CosRx Advanced Snail Peptide Eye Cream

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Hygienic container

What We Don't Like
  • Results aren't drastic

Korean beauty brand CosRx makes some really great stuff for the sensitive set. The Snail Peptide Eye Cream contains snail mucin, a natural form of hyaluronic acid, plus peptides and niacinamide to plump, firm, and boost the eye area without stressing the skin.

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

Best Depuffing: Sunday Riley Auto Correct Eye Cream

Sunday Riley Auto Correct Eye Cream

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Tightens eye area

  • Minimizes dark circles

  • Hygienic container

What We Don't Like
  • Contains fragrance

  • Expensive

Want to depuff your under-eyes without freaking out your skin? Sunday Riley Auto Correct is your new best friend. This fancy eye cream is infused with caffeine and horse chestnut to smooth and tighten while hydrating the eye area.

Active Ingredients: Caffeine, watermelon extract, horse chestnut extract | Benefits: Depuffing, radiance-boosting, hydrating | Size: 0.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Multi-Use: SeSpring So Rich Moisturizing Cream

SeSpring So Rich Moisturizing Cream

Courtesy of SeSpring

What We Like
  • Good value

  • Non-irritating formula

  • Can be used on entire face

What We Don't Like
  • Can leave a sticky residue

"For sensitive skin, I recommend using a gentle moisturizer that works for the face and eye area, like SeSpring So Rich Moisturizing Cream," says Ross, explaining that it doesn't contain as many potentially irritating actives. "You don't need to spend as much money and can get two for one with your general sensitive-skin moisturizer."

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, shea butter, meadowfoam, ​​centella asiatica | Benefits: Smoothing, softening, calming | Size: 2 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Final Verdict

If we could only recommend one product for sensitive skin, we'd have to go with Avène Soothing Eye Contour Cream, an ultra-gentle, incredibly hydrating formula that simultaneously plumps, smoothes, and soothes the eye area. For something a little more affordable, go with e.l.f. Cosmetics Holy Hydration! Eye Cream, a plumping, moisturizing concoction that's easy on tender complexions.

Meet the Expert

  • Diane Madfes, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and attending physician at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
  • Dana Murray is a licensed esthetician, product developer, and writer at Babe + Beauty.
  • Hadley King, MD, is an NYC-based board-certified dermatologist.
  • Joshua Ross is a celebrity aesthetician at SkinLab.
  • Kristina Kitsos is a cosmetic injector and leading expert in medical facial aesthetics.

What to Look for in an Eye Cream for Sensitive Skin

Soothing Ingredients

When it comes to sensitive complexions, the most critical thing with any skincare product is the ingredients list. According to Dr. Madfes, people with sensitive skin can benefit from formulas with fewer ingredients.

Murray says folks with inflamed or particularly reactive complexions should look for products containing soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients like colloidal oatmeal, aloe vera, chamomile, vitamin E, centella asiatica (cica), niacinamide, squalane, arnica, cucumber extract, green tea, allantoin, and marshmallow root.

Hydrating Formula

Since the tissue around the eyes is notably thin, fine lines and crepiness are more apparent when your skin is dry. With this in mind, Dr. King says, "Eye creams should be hydrating and moisturizing." Look for options containing hyaluronic acid, glycerin, ceramides, peptides, panthenol (vitamin B5), plant oils, and natural butters.

Airtight Container

There are many benefits to using skincare products that come in airtight containers. Since they aren't exposed to air, they're less likely to oxidize and can last longer with fewer preservatives. Not only that, but when you don't have to dip your fingers in to scoop out the product, you can avoid contaminating it with bacteria and other irritants.

FAQ
  • What are the benefits of eye creams for sensitive skin?

    As Ross notes, "Not all eye creams are created equal." To address various concerts, some formulas contain potentially irritating actives (or higher amounts of these ingredients), which may cause a reaction on sensitive skin. Gentle eye creams can offer many of the same results without irritation.

  • How do you apply eye cream for sensitive skin?

    First and foremost, Dr. Madfes says, "Always apply it to clean skin." Start with a very small amount of eye cream (about the size of a grain of rice and no bigger than a pea). Gently tap it in a semi-circle underneath each eye, then over the eyelids and up to the brow bone.

  • How often should you use eye creams for sensitive skin?

    Many eye creams can be used daily, even if you have sensitive skin, and some are suitable for both morning and night. However, it all depends on the formula. For instance, a retinol eye cream should be used only at night, potentially on alternating days, to avoid irritation.
    If you're using an SPF eye cream, be sure to apply it every day in the morning. And of course, if your skin begins to sting, itches, or becomes otherwise inflamed, it's best to stop using the product and consult with a dermatologist.

Why Trust Byrdie?

Theresa Holland is a skincare aficionado and commerce writer specializing in cosmetics. For this story, she interviewed two dermatologists and two licensed estheticians for product recommendations and insight into ingredients for sensitive skin. Before making her selections, she referenced peer-reviewed studies, researched different formulations, and considered dozens of eye creams. From the above list, she has personally tried Avène, Sunday Riley, CosRx, Kate Somerville, RoC, and Burt's Bees. Theresa covers skincare and makeup at Byrdie.

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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