The 10 best eye creams to tackle dark circles, wrinkles, dry skin and more

Whether you want to look more awake or preserve a youthful glow, you’ll find the best cream (or creams) to suit your concerns here

Eye creams are the perfect example of “big things in a small package”, but these highly concentrated products can also go the way of snake oil if you choose incorrectly. This makes eye creams and their ilk one of the more difficult skincare products to shop for, because the discrepancy between good and bad is an extremely thin line (as delicate as the skin that covers the area around your eyes).

That’s a good starting point for understanding the importance of eye creams: “The skin around the eyes is thinner and more prone to showing signs of ageing,” explains Dr. Usha Rajagopal, a plastic surgeon and the medical director of the San Francisco Plastic Surgery and Laser Centre. “This skin lacks oil glands, making it more susceptible to dryness,” Rajagopal says. “So, the overarching goal with eye creams is to improve the elasticity and resilience of the delicate skin in the area, leading to a more rejuvenated and refreshed appearance.”

Read on to learn how eye creams help fortify this fragile area, and for the components of a great eye-firming product, with insights from Rajagopal along the way.

How Eye Creams Help

Consider all of the “signs of ageing” and exhaustion associated with this part of your face: “Eye creams address these unique concerns more effectively than a general moisturiser,” explains Rajagopal.

Dark Circles: Caused by the thinning of the skin and the resulting translucence that showcases the blood vessels underneath.

Puffiness: A result of the thinning and loosening of the skin, which causes the fat deposits around the eye sockets to fall into this under-eye area. (Fluids can also accumulate there, according to the Mayo Clinic, which only makes this puffiness look worse.)

Fine Lines and Wrinkles: Because the eye area is both very expressive and fragile, it is among the first places on the face to show signs of age in the form of crow’s feet and other wrinkles.

Dullness: Often caused by day-to-day stressors and a lack of sleep and nourishment—and much more prominent from the 30s onward.

You can probably get by with one eye cream or serum (if any), notes Rajagopal. Rather, you won’t need separate ones for day and night, or specific occasions. “People should be able to use the same product day and night, but I would advise you to apply sunscreen in the daytime,” she says.

What to Look for in Eye Creams

The most potent and worth-your-dollar eye creams pack everything from peptides to antioxidants to retinol to keep the skin as firm, tight, and fortified as possible. These ingredients tend to support continued, long-term use, while other ingredients focus on more immediate benefits. For example, the inclusion of caffeine or green tea can boost circulation in the area to mitigate puffiness or dark circles, while hyaluronic acid can plump sagging skin. Even a cold roll-on applicator (the delivery mechanism for some eye serums) can deflate inflammation in the morning.

Here are the most important long-term ingredients to look for in eye creams and serums, which will provide big-picture benefits when used every day.

Growth Factors: “Growth factors in skincare refer to proteins that play a role in cell growth, proliferation, and wound healing. These proteins stimulate cellular activities, promoting the production of collagen and elastin, which are essential for maintaining skin firmness and elasticity,” Rajagopal says.

Antioxidants: These can be everything from vitamins C and E, green tea extract, resveratrol and coenzyme Q10, says Rajagopal. “Each antioxidant plays a unique role in neutralising different types of free radicals.” And the more antioxidants that you pump into your skin, the better fortified it is against toxins, pollutants, and other stressors (including UV rays, urban pollution, and even emotionally induced stress).

Retinoids: Retinoids are often used for their potential benefits, notes Rajagopal. Consider retinoic acid, for example, which promotes skin cellular turnover, reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and addresses conditions like acne and sun-induced “photodamage”. Take caution when applying any type of retinol or retinoid around the eyes, though: “It is very important not to get too close to the lash line because you have oil secreting glands and sometimes these can be affected by eye products and can give you issues with dry eyes,” says Rajagopal. “And since retinol can be irritating to the eye, I recommend natural bakuchiol as an appealing and gentler option.”

Ceramides and Peptides: These play a key function in structuring and preserving the skin’s moisture barrier, notes Rajagopal. “Ceramides along with fatty acids play a vital role in having a healthy skin barrier and keeping the skin hydrated.” Peptides, on the other hand, can stimulate collagen production to in turn boost firmness and resilience in the area.

SPF 50+: Your eyes will show signs of sun damage and overexposure far sooner than the rest of your face and body. So using an eye-area-friendly sunscreen is essential to keep a youthful gaze—and ideally its formula caters to sensitive skin or the eye skin specifically. But don’t forget another easy way to deflect UV rays in summer: sunglasses. “Wearing sunglasses can help protect the delicate skin around your eyes from the harmful effects of the sun. The skin around the eyes is thinner and more sensitive than skin in other areas of the face, making it particularly vulnerable to sun damage,” Rajagopal says, even adding that mineral sunscreen and physical sunscreen are both great options—what matters more is that you use SPF in the first place, year-round.

The Best Eye Creams and Treatments for Men

Photo by Allies of Skin

Best overall

Allies of Skin multi peptides & GF advanced lifting serum

Yes, the best eye cream is in fact a serum—but don’t get caught up in nomenclature. Allies of Skin’s recipe combines the firming properties of peptides and growth factors to prevent the skin from loosening, sagging, and showing signs of tiredness. Use it anywhere you are most susceptible to these conditions, like the eyes, the neck, and around expression areas of the face.

Photo by Sephora

Best eye cream with SPF

Supergoop! bright eyed 100% mineral eye cream

We all need SPF, every day, and that’s especially true for the eye area, because UV rays are one of the biggest accelerates of fine lines and skin deterioration. Supergoop’s caffeine-powered and mineral SPF 40 eye cream checks all the boxes, and will even shield your eyes from the gradual damage caused by constant exposure to blue light from your computer and other screens.

Photo by Amazon

Best eye cream for sensitive skin

Cardon dark circle eye rescue

Cardon’s serum helps nix dark circles, fine lines, and puffiness thanks to peptides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid. (You can even store it in the fridge for an icy-cool way to combat puffiness in the morning.) Its use of soothing cactus extract, an incredibly effective anti-inflammatory ingredient, makes it especially good for sensitive skin types.

Photo by Sephora

Best eye cream for beginners

The Inkey List caffeine eye cream

The Inkey List’s eye cream harnesses peptides and caffeine to fortify the skin and boost nutrient delivery so that the skin stays firmer and thicker for far longer. In the short term, it’ll also help reduce the appearance of dark circles and eye bags.

Photo by Dr. Barbara Sturm

Best moisturiser that doubles as eye cream

Dr. Barbara Sturm super anti-ageing face cream

Dr. Barbara Sturm makes an outstanding eye cream, yes, but some people like to use one product to cover their entire face, including their eye area. For this, you want something densely concentrated and high performing—like an eye cream ethos for the entire face—which exactly describes Sturm’s own Super Anti-Ageing Cream.

Photo by Sephora

Best for dark circles

Paula’s Choice C5 super boost vitamin C eye cream

While this cream brightens the area with a generous dose of 5% Vitamin C, it also targets skin with hydrating hyaluronic acid and skin-reinforcing peptides. In the long term, this means you’ll look a lot more alert and see fewer signs of dark circles in the mirror.

Photo by Sephora

Best retinol eye cream

Murad retinol youth renewal eye serum

Like Rajagopal outlined, retinol is one of the core ingredients that can actively reverse pre-existing signs of ageing, and this serum does that along with preventing further wear.

Photo by Sephora

Best retinol-alternative eye cream

Herbivore moon dew 1% bakuchiol + peptides retinol alternative eye cream

Bolstered with bakuchiol, this eye cream provides many of the key benefits of an anti-ageing Vitamin A-derived retinol cream, but significantly dials back on the irritation retinol can cause.

Photo by Bergdorf Goodman

Most innovative eye cream

La Prairie skin caviar luxe eye cream

La Prairie’s eye cream gets its ultra-hydrating, strengthening, firming, and soothing powers from caviar. It’s like rubbing gold on your face, and its formula is backed by a long track record of producing results on the world’s most discerning faces.

Photo by Amazon

Best eye patches

Peter Thomas Roth 24K gold pure luxury lift & firm hydra-gel eye patches

Store PTR’s gel patches in your fridge and deploy them whenever your eyes need instant lifting, depuffing, and firming. They use collagen to smooth, caffeine to minimise puffiness, and yes, they’ve even got 24K and colloidal gold to deliver a lifting and firming effect.

This story was first published on Robb Report USA