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As you may or may not have heard, the skin around your eyes is the thinnest on the body, in turn making it the most sensitive and susceptible to all kinds of things, from irritation to signs of aging. It’s part of the reason why we preach the gospel of using a dedicated eye cream daily; this delicate skin simply deserves a little extra TLC.
But that can pose a tricky conundrum for those dealing with already sensitive skin when that delicate skin around your peepers is even more susceptible to unwanted irritation. You certainly don’t want to use an eye cream that’s inadvertently going to make things worse; formulas not suitable for sensitive skin can lead to redness, itchiness, and inflammation, and in turn exacerbate the very issues you’re trying to combat, like puffiness or dryness. That’s one hamster wheel cycle we certainly don’t want to get wrapped up in. The solution? You should still seek out eye creams, just opt for hypoallergenic, fragrance-free picks, ideally packed with soothing (yet gentle) ingredients to calm stressed-out skin.
Peep this cheat sheet of our favorite eye creams for sensitive skin.
Best Overall: Eau Thermale Avène Soothing Eye Contour Cream
All of the products from this brand are excellent picks for sensitive skin types; credit the addition of thermal spring water, rich in soothing minerals. This eye cream is no different. Along with that spring water it also touts chamomile, which pulls double duty, both calming skin and helping to reduce under-eye puffiness. It’s loaded with hydrating hyaluronic acid and antioxidant-rich vitamin E, too, and is not only hypoallergenic but free of fragrance and parabens (both common irritants) as well.
Best Anti-Aging: RoC Skincare Retinol Correxion Eye Cream
There’s no denying that retinol is a gold standard anti-aging ingredient, one of the few continually scientifically-proven to reduce lines and wrinkles. There’s also no denying that it can have some pretty irksome side effects—we’re talking redness and irritation, among other things—that often put it on the no-fly list for those with sensitive skin. But this formula, recommended time and time again by derms, eschews that rule. With a milder strength and type of retinol, it delivers the same line-fighting benefits without taking a toll on (even super-sensitive) skin.
Best Hydrating: First Aid Beauty FAB Skin Lab Retinol 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.
Yes, this is another option that contains retinol, but don’t worry; here, it’s microencapsulated for a super slow delivery that ensures it won’t stress out your skin (though it will still offer all those awesome anti-aging benefits). There are also not one, not two, but three different types of hyaluronic acid in here. All at molecular weights, it ensures you get the maximum amount of hydration. Plus, there’s also the brand’s special complex of soothing colloidal oats, aloe, and ceramides, a boon for easily irritated skin.
Best for Dark Circles: Clinique Even Better Eyes Dark Circle Corrector
When you’ve had a late night, early morning, or the oh-so dreaded combination of both, reach for this guy to pretty much instantly brighten the under-eye area. Bonus points for the metal applicator tip, which makes it feel extra refreshing and invigorating. Ophthalmologist- and allergy-tested, it’s gentle enough for even the most sensitive of skin.
Best Natural: Burt's Bees Sensitive Eye Cream
Creamy and hydrating, this softens skin (thanks, cotton extract and aloe) without ever causing unsightly redness. To the natural point, it’s 98.9% natural, and so safe for sensitive skin that it even earned the seal of approval from the National Eczema Association. We’re also fans of the easy-to-dispense pump bottle that doesn’t require sticking grimy fingers into a jar.
Best Gel: Cetaphil Hydrating Eye Gel-Cream
We love gels for their lightweight, fast-absorbing, refreshing texture. Here, you get all of that, plus a dermatologist-tested formally that’s hypoallergenic and clinically proven to be gentle on sensitive skin. And while it soaks in fast and feels featherweight like a gel, it also offers the slightly higher moisture content of a cream, so you get the best of both worlds.
Best Drugstore: La-Roche Posay Hydraphase Intense Hyaluronic Acid Eye Cream
Caffeine is a natural stimulant most commonly found in tea, coffee, and cacao plants. In skincare, it helps to stimulate blood flow and decrease puffiness, as well as works to dissolve fat, which makes it a choice cellulite treatment.
A great bet for all skin types, this is another pick packed with soothing spring water. It also is packed with hyaluronic acid, immediately hydrating—and plumping up—skin, while caffeine helps constrict blood vessels. The result: Less puffiness and under-eye bags. Win-win.
Best Firming: Perricone MD Hypoallergenic Firming Eye Cream
Four different peptides are the star of the show in this rich cream, working synergistically to deliver both firming and line-smoothing effects. Couple that with a whole bunch of different types of antioxidants with a host of skin-soothing benefits, and you’ve got a standout non-irritating, firming formula.
Best Budget: The INKEY List Caffeine Eye Cream
An eye cream that knocks out dark circles, fine lines, hydrates, is safe for sensitive skin, and is super affordable? We didn’t believe it could be done until we tried this wallet-friendly superstar. Despite the budget price tag, it still is packed with the same ingredients as are found in much pricier formulas (peptides, caffeine) for awesome results. Try it in the morning, since it creates a perfectly smooth canvas for foundation and concealer.
Best Balm: One Love Organics Vitamin E Eye Balm
Vitamin E is an antioxidant vitamin and oil often found in anti-oxidant blend topicals or moisturizers. It also helps soothe the skin and protects the lipid barrier.
Those whose skin is especially dry should consider reaching for a thicker balm; made with less water and higher amounts of hydrating ingredients, they’re innately more moisturizing than creams or gels. (Oh, and the other boon of using a balm? Because it’s thicker, it’s less likely to migrate and run into your eyes.) This one gets our vote. Packed with vitamin E and shea butter, it deeply hydrates and never ever stresses out skin. FYI, it can be a little thick to use under makeup, so do as we do and save it for bedtime use.
Best With SPF: DERMAdoctor DD Eye Dermatologically Defining Eye Radiance Cream SPF 30
Per the point about the skin around your eyes being so thin and susceptible to damage, sun protection in this area is more important than ever. That’s why this is an A+ A.M. pick; it offers SPF 30 derived from mineral blockers, which are less likely to elicit any kind of irritation than their chemical sunscreen counterparts. But don’t worry, it addresses all of your peeper problems too, hydrating, smoothing lines, and tamping down puffiness and dark circles.
Best With Vitamin C: BeautyStat Universal C Eye Perfector
While it's no secret vitamin C is the key to glowy, even-toned skin, some Vitamin C products can irritate the already sensitive under-eye area. Fortunately, the Universal C Eye Perfector is made up of only 5% vitamin C, and is packed with other gentle ingredients like CBD, green tea, and hyaluronic acid for an ultra-hydrating formula. It's also fragrance-free, dermatologist-recommended, and will reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and general puffiness.
Best Multi-Tasker: Elina Organics Skincare Intensive Eye Revitalizing Cream
Sure, you could buy and use one eye cream that hydrates, one that smooths lines, one that firms skin…but why? Particularly when you get just grab this one-stop-shop. Ultra-gentle and made entirely with certified organic ingredients, it does all of the above and more, thanks to collagen boosters, hyaluronic acid, and effective botanical extracts.