A hydrating eye cream is an integral part of any comprehensive skincare routine. In fact, our managing editor, Lindsey, proved that fact when she thought she could skip it. "After consulting with a few skincare experts to fact-check myself, I've since had to put my foot in my mouth," Lindsey said after learning of the step's importance.
"The skin around the eyes is thin, and there are no oil glands in this area to help with keeping the area moisturized," explains Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, MD, director of cosmetic dermatology at South Shore Medical Center. "Collagen weakens easily in this area, which results in deep lines and wrinkles." Because of this, the eye area tends to show signs of aging before any other area on the face, she adds.
So what to do? Rather than preaching any further about how much you need an eye cream, we're going to collect the best hydrating options and explain why they're particularly effective. Then you can take action yourself and purchase the one best suited for you. Without further ado, see our most treasured formulas.
"Finding the right eye cream to hydrate dry skin lies in the ingredients used in the formula," says celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau. "You need ones that actually repair the lipid moisture barrier in the skin and prevent transepidermal water loss. There have been many breakthroughs in the science of moisture retention."
The ingredients used in her Total Eye Repair Creme, including shea butter, soybean sterols, ceramides, phospholipids, linoleic acid, and vitamin E, correct both the lack of oil and hydration deep within your skin. "They work to repair the skin's lipid moisture barrier to make your skin moist, supple, and smooth," Rouleau explains.
"Bioeffect isn't just any anti-aging line, though: It's engineered with Nobel Prize–winning science and 10 years of biotechnology that helps you practically age in reverse," says our managing editor, Lindsey, a huge devotee of the brand's face serum.
"EGF is a naturally occurring skin protein known for its ability to help stimulate the skin's own renewal process," notes Kristinn Grétarsson, CEO of Bioeffect. "The results actually tell us that instead of layering moisture on top of the skin, as is the case with your typical cream or lotion, EGF actually works to hydrate the skin from within."
Such is the case with the eye serum as well. It contains a potent dose of EGF to naturally activate cell regeneration, as the formula's gel texture rebalances your moisture levels.
"Even though I'm late to the game with Sunday Riley's Autocorrect (it launched last December), I've been applying it like some people apply lip balm—addictively and probably more often than is actually necessary," gushes our assistant editor Erin. "It's supremely hydrating but somehow surprisingly lightweight in texture. It instantly diffused the look of my dark circles, and best of all, it never irritates my eyes."
Burt's Bees' non-greasy offering works to restore the delicate skin around your eyes courtesy of clary sage, a moisture-retaining botanical that leaves your skin soft, supple, and moisturized. "This is the best eye cream," one Amazon reviewer writes. "It keeps my eyes hydrated all night long, even during the winter. I've always noticed a huge difference when I use the product—small under-eye wrinkles virtually disappear."
Like most eye creams, this one vows to target fine lines, reduce the look of dark circles, and support natural collagen production—only, it actually does instantly brighten and deeply hydrate your under-eyes. The formula is inspired by banana powder, a product used to color-correct dark under-eyes, and it contains yellow pigments that actually do that. Only it's not makeup: It's a blend of vitamin C, collagen, and superior hydration.
La Mer's rich and deeply emollient formula hydrates around your eyes using a mix of hematite, a magnetically charged, iron-rich mineral, and the brand's signature Miracle Broth (a blend of sea kelp; calcium; magnesium; potassium; lecithin; iron; vitamins C, E, and B12; plus oils of citrus, eucalyptus, wheat germ, alfalfa, and sunflower). "I've been using this eye creme for 14 years," one Sephora commenter said. "I started off when I was 21 and noticed my first fine line. I am now 35 and still do not have any wrinkles under my eyes."
This drugstore option contains three essential ceramides to repair and restore your protective skin barrier, as well as hyaluronic acid to help retain moisture.
The best part? It was developed in conjunction with dermatologists for science-backed safety and effectiveness. "It decreases transepidermal water loss, a term that means it decreases how much water the environment draws out of your skin," says Rachel Nazarian, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group.
"Cerave has been a blessing—it keeps my skin supple around the eyes. I use it every morning before eye makeup," says one reviewer. Another writes: "It's light and smooth, and it works. It's a good price, and the tube goes farther than you think. It just takes very little."
A celebrity favorite and longtime mainstay of the brand, Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment is ridiculously thick and insanely hydrating. It's a blend of shea butter, cocoa butter, and avocado oil to moisturize, soften, and keep your under-eyes properly lubricated. "I've been using this eye cream for a long time, and it's very hydrating; I can definitely tell when I miss a day. Would continue to recommend!"
I don't usually believe all the hype when it comes to a new beauty product, but this eye treatment's clinical trial results were too positive to ignore. After a four-week independent clinical and self-assessment study with 31 women ages 45 to 65, 97% of women saw a creaseless eye area that looked ironed flat in as little as 12 days, and 100% saw a less-crinkled eye area in just 31 days. I tried the creamy, light-feeling formula a few months ago and haven't looked back.
"Marketed as 'anti-fatigue' and 'hydration-concentrated,' this eye cream from By Terry is another relatively new find and obsession," says Erin. "I love the cold, calming feel of the applicator, which compliments the soothing formula enriched with white and black roses as well as vitamin E."
Dr. Barbara Sturm uses her background in medicine to create products centered in cell hydration and anti-aging. Her eye cream was specially developed with purslane, skullcap, and active omega fatty acids for an intensely hydrating result.
A integral part of the brand's hydration collection, this light-catching gel plumps and deeply moisturizes your skin as its cooling effect instantly soothes your under-eyes. It helps rid your face of fatigue and puffiness in one fell swoop. ■