Between lack of sleep, stress, and everything else going on in life –the eyes are usually the first place to show when you’re stressed, tired or feeling run down. Which is why a good eye cream can be a true pick-me-up when you want to feel a little more awake (or at least look like it).
When it comes to eye cream, there are usually two types of attitudes about them: You either swear by them or you think they’re totally unnecessary. If you’re in the latter group, but curious, then keep reading because the eye creams below are some of the best out there and even the most skeptical could be convinced by their rave reviews.
Whether you’re new to eye creams or have used them for years, there are so many options on the market, shopping can feel overwhelming fast. So for this article, I not only tested a few of the best selling products, I also did research across the web to find some of the most tried-and-true picks and bestsellers for all different types of concerns (like bags, dark circles, and fine lines). And I tapped a dermatologist to shed light on what causes things like puffiness and dark circles, to share advice on what to look for in an eye cream.
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Eye creams for any concern
This gel eye cream from Dr. Loretta won a 2019 Allure Best of Beauty award, which is one reason why I was convinced to test out the product for myself since I deal with puffiness pretty much every day. I noticed results literally after one use, which sounds crazy, but it’s true.
I applied the gel morning and night, and each time I saw a noticeable difference in my under-eye bags and puffiness that day (or the next when I applied at night). The formula is also hydrating, which is great if you also have dry skin. According to the Dr. Loretta website, the depuffing effect comes from the peptides in the formula along with “Chromabright,” which is a key ingredient that helps with hyperpigmentation and is supposed to help protect your skin from blue light.
La Roche Posay
“This is hydrating and is formulated with caffeine,” says Farhang, who recommends this product from La Roche Posay to patients. The caffeine can help target dark circles, as Farhang mentioned above. If you’re looking for an instant brightening effect for dark circles, this cream contains light-reflective pigment which helps you look brighter and more awake right away.
The Banana Bright Eye Creme from Ole Henrikson is not only a top seller on Sephora (with a solid four-star rating out of 4,000 reviews) it’s also one of Allure’s 2020 Best of Beauty Award Winners. The cream contains vitamin C (one of the key ingredients Farhang called out for targeting dark circles) as well as banana powder.
According to Ole Henriksen, banana powder (which is slightly yellow tinted) is a secret from makeup artists who use it to help brighten and counter dark circles under the eyes.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost eye cream is a good hydrating option, especially if you’re on a budget. Farhang recommends this cream for younger patients, but people of any age can benefit if your main concern is dryness or boosting hydration in the eye area.
Retinol can help with signs of aging, which is why Farhand likes this more-affordable retinol eye cream from Roc. Sometimes retinol can take time to adjust to, but the brand says this product is formulated to be gentle enough for everyday use. In addition to helping with fine lines, the product can also help with puffiness and dark circles.
If you’re looking for an eye cream that targets multiple issues at once (like puffiness, dark circles, and fine lines) Sunday Riley’s Auto Correct cream delivers. When I tried the cream, I noticed a more wide-awake look right away — especially thanks to the subtle shimmer (but not glittery) effect it gives your eyes. It’s just enough to make your eye area look glowy and refreshed.
The cream is hydrating and contains caffeine as well as horse chestnut extract, which is supposed to help lift the eye area and target fine lines.
Farhang recommends this cream because she says the brand’s products and ingredients are science-backed. The Revision DEJ Eye Cream is supposed to help target wrinkles and sagging around the eyes (including the upper eyelid area) and Farhang says it helps strengthen the Dermal Epidermal Junction or the layers of the skin.
The product is definitely a splurge at $100, but if you’re looking for something that has science behind the ingredients (and solid reviews) this cream is a solid choice if you’re serious about seeing a change with consistent use for wrinkles or sagging skin.
Why use an eye cream?
According to dermatologist Dr. Sheila Farhang, Board certified dermatologist and founder of Avant Dermatology & Aesthetics, eye creams can provide real benefits if you choose the right product and ingredients.
“In my opinion, you really should invest in the product your putting on your eyes daily because [the eye area] is the thinnest skin on our body and is super sensitive to allergens/irritation and you want it to work and have science to back it up — especially for the anti-aging/fine lines targeting ones,” says Farhang.
There are so many different concerns to address when it comes to an eye cream, so should you expect to find one that can do it all? Probably not, according to Farhang. “While some eye creams can address a few issues at once I haven’t found one that is an all-in-one targeting every single issue, and that’s OK,” she says. Depending on your concern, you’ll want to look for specific types of products and ingredients to target issues, which Farhang breaks down below.
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What to look for if you have under-eye bags or puffiness
The first thing Farhang recommends for puffiness is products that have a cooling effect — either from placing them in a fridge before use or some have metal applicators that help with the cooling sensation. The second key ingredient that you’ll find in many products for under eye puffiness is caffeine. “I recommend looking for ingredients such as green tea or caffeine as they help constrict the vessels causing the water retention in the area,” she says.
What to look for if you’re concerned about fine lines
“For fine lines—I recommend looking for an eye cream that has retinol or peptides and growth factors. These actively help treat and prevent,” says Farhang. “While hyaluronic acid is not really an active anti-aging ingredient, it will help fade some of those fine lines because the ingredient attracts water and almost ‘fill them in’ temporarily,” she says.
What to look for if you have dark circles
Lots of people think you get dark circles from lack of sleep — but the issue is a lot more complicated than that. “Dark circles are caused by several things — one reason for this may be just thinner or duller skin in the area as a result of aging, so using an anti-aging route with retinol can help strengthen the skin,” says Farhang.
“Another reason for dark circles may be the vessels showing underneath, so in that case caffeine may help. If the dark circles are from hyperpigmentation, skin brightening ingredients such as vitamin C may be helpful,” says Farhang.
Other factors like allergies and skin conditions like eczema can also come into play with dark circles. “If hyperpigmentation is from chronic rubbing from allergies or eczema then lots of hydration and moisturization is needed, or antihistamines,” she says.
If you think dark circles are due to a shadowing from hollowness in the eye area, Farhang recommends focusing on strengthening the skin with anti-aging products like those with retinol to help.
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.