For many people, the under-eye area yields a host of concerns, including fine lines, discoloration and puffiness. Since this particular area is one of the most sensitive parts of your body, you’ll need to be extra cautious when trying to find a solution, according to dermatologists.
There are a number of eye creams on the market designed to help most under-eye concerns, but keep in mind that no cream is a one-size-fits-all solution, according to our experts. To help you determine how to find the right one for your skin, we consulted with experts about what to consider when shopping and how to best target your specific concerns.
Our top picks
- Best overall pick: CeraVe Eye Repair Cream
- Best brightening: Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Power Eye Cream
- Best depuffing: Dr. Loretta Tightening Eye Gel
- Best smoothing: RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Eye Cream
How we picked the best eye creams
To help us determine the best eye creams on the market right now, we spoke to board-certified dermatologists about how to use an eye cream in your skin care routine and what to look for in a quality option to help address your concerns. Our editors also share their personal favorites. When shopping, our experts recommend considering the following factors:
- Under-eye concern: Consider what you want to address and how an eye cream can help. If you notice fine lines around your eyes, you may want a cream that smooths lines using specific ingredients like a retinol. If you want to combat puffiness around your eyes, you may want a formula that will reduce inflammation from allergies and fluid buildup. For dark under-eye circles, consider a brightening cream or one that helps with hyperpigmentation.
- Skin type: Consider a noncomedogenic product if you have oily or acne-prone skin — it won’t clog pores or cause unwanted breakouts. For dry skin, look for an eye cream that has hydrating and moisturizing ingredients (such as humectants like hyaluronic acid and emollients like ceramides), especially since the skin under the eyes can be extremely dry.
- Ingredients: Each eye cream will have different key ingredients to target specific concerns. Our experts recommend looking for eye creams with vitamin C or vitamin K because they help with discoloration and dark circles. You can also consider formulas with caffeine, which helps improve puffiness, and retinol, which can reduce the appearance of fine lines, according to our experts.
The best eye creams in 2023
Below, we’ve rounded up dermatologist-recommended eye creams, plus some Select staff favorites that align with our experts’ guidance.
Best eye creams for brightening and discoloration
Finding an eye cream that won’t irritate your eyes can be tricky, according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd. In her experience, people who are sensitive around the eye area can tolerate this formula well. It’s formulated with ceramides that soothe the skin and help with texture, hyaluronic acid to increase moisture and niacinamide to help hydrate and improve tone and texture,according to the brand. It’s also the most affordable option on our list.
This eye cream targets dark circles with ingredients like vitamin C, caffeine and peptides. Plus, it has growth hormones, which are proteins that help regulate good collagen processes — so it can restore the skin — and bad collagen processes — that destroy collagen and decrease the skin’s volume, she says. (Collagen keeps the structure of your skin firm and provides underlying support, according to our experts.) Suitable for all skin types, the brand recommends using this cream in the morning and evening.
This Peter Thomas Roth eye cream comes recommended by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Lily Talakoub for anyone looking to combat dark circles because it has vitamin C to brighten the area. Not only does the eye cream help with discoloration, but it also has hyaluronic acid, which helps prevent crepey skin, says Talakoub. The brand recommends using the cream twice a day around the entire under-eye area.
This Colorscience eye cream is a tinted SPF for those who want to brighten and color correct the eye area while also protecting their skin from UVA and UVB exposure, says Talakoub. The cream, which comes in four shades (fair, medium, tan and deep), also has a cooling applicator to help reduce puffiness, according to Colorscience. For the best results, the brand recommends applying half a pump of the product over the entire eye area, including the brow bone and eyelids, twice a day.
Like other products on our list, this eye cream uses vitamin C and orange extract to help brighten the under-eye area, according to Olehenriksen. “Vitamin C is a powerhouse ingredient in skin care, because it’s an antioxidant that has skin brightening properties so it protects and treats [the skin],” says Woolery-Lloyd. It also has jojoba seed oil, shea butter and beeswax, which are all gentle for the eye area and hydrate the skin, she says.
This lightweight cream, which has a whipped texture, comes recommended by Select associate updates editor Zoe Malin. Suitable for all skin types, this eye cream, like others on our list, has vitamin C and caffeine to help brighten, depuff and support the production of collagen, according to the brand. Malin, who dabs less than ¼ of a teaspoon onto the skin, says this goes a long way. She also stores the cream in her fridge to provide an instant cooling effect.
Best eye creams for depuffing
This serum uses a cooling applicator to provide an instant calming effect to help depuff the eye area, says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick. It also has a blend of caffeine and peptides, which leaves the under-eye area looking smoother, brighter and refreshed, she says. You can leave it in your fridge prior to applying it in the morning and at night, according to Charlotte Tilbury.
This eye gel, which is a favorite of Select editor Lindsay Schneider’s, is suitable for all skin types, according to Dr. Loretta. “As an editor, I try out a ton of products — specifically eye creams quite regularly — and this Dr. Loretta gel is the one I always come back to time and time again,” says Schneider. “I’ve never tried another product that matches the feel of this gel; it’s incredibly cooling and lightweight on the skin. It’s also not sticky so I can wear it on its own or layer on makeup or concealer on top with no issue.”
For Malin, this cream (which also comes recommended by Garshick) is a staple for the winter season because of its thick consistency that helps seal in moisture and boost hydration. “I like that it’s a nongreasy formula made with oatmeal, I always find it soothing,” she says. The eye cream also has a cold metal applicator that Malin uses to help blend the product into her skin.
This Biossance eye gel is another favorite of Garshick’s and Schneider’s. “I love the consistency of this gel — it’s thin enough to easily dab it onto the skin, but not too thick where it’s hard to blend,” says Schneider. With ingredients like squalane and caffeine, it moisturizes and depuffs the skin and reduces the appearance of fine lines, according to the brand. Another key ingredient is niacinamide, which minimizes the appearance of discoloration under the eyes, according to Biossance.
Malin recommends this eye serum because it absorbs quickly and brightens her under-eye area. “The applicator is my favorite part of using this product,” she says. “The wand has three little metal balls that stay cold and help you roll the serum into your skin. It’s like giving your under-eye area a little massage.” The fragrance-free serum is formulated with hyaluronic acid (for hydration) and caffeine (to minimize puffiness), according to the brand.
Safe for sensitive skin, this eye cream moisturizes and relieves puffiness because of ingredients like hyaluronic acid, chamomile, spring water and vitamin E, according to the brand. “I have really dry, sensitive under eyes, so most eye creams irritate my eyes or don’t provide enough hydration,” says Select updates editor Mili Godio. “This is super gentle and lightweight, and moisturizes the skin under my eyes more than any other eye cream I’ve tried.”
Best eye creams for smoothing
“While [this] contains retinol, it is specifically formulated for the delicate skin around the eyes, making it a great option for all skin types as it is also hydrating on the skin,” says Garshick. However, retinols can irritate or dry out the skin. Experts recommend incorporating it at night without mixing it with AHAs and BHAs because it may cause irritation.
Talakoub recommends this Isdin overnight eye cream because it’s hydrating and great for dry and sensitive skin. The rich cream is formulated with melatonin and caffeine to minimize the appearance of fine lines, according to the brand. Plus, it also comes with a cooling applicator to help massage the product along the under-eye area.
This Ilia formula, which is a personal favorite of mine, uses a plant-based retinol alternative, to smooth the under-eye area, plus avocado extract and caffeine to depuff and brighten the skin around the eyes, according to the brand. I use this cream every other morning because the retinol alternative is safe for sun exposure and I like how cooling the ceramic tip feels. In my experience, it also doesn’t cause any irritation around such a sensitive part of my face.
Select managing editor Leah Ginsberg originally received this eye cream, which uses retinol to reduce the appearance of fine lines, as a gift from the brand and is now on her way to purchase a refill. “It is by far the most moisturizing one I have tried, which is tricky with under-eye skin since it doesn’t absorb product as easily as other areas,” says Ginsberg. “It also has such a luxurious texture.”
This Jones Road eye cream comes recommended by Schneider, who says it has a creamy, easily blendable consistency. “Unlike some other options I’ve tried, you don’t have to try too hard to pat it into your skin,” she says. “It absorbs quickly — so it’s great in the morning when I’m in a rush.” Jones Road recommends gently patting the product under the eyes, and you can even use it as a lip moisturizer, too.
How to shop for the best eye creams
When shopping for an eye cream, our experts recommend looking for formulas that are hydrating. Below, we break down how to decide which eye cream is best for you based on your specific skin concern.
If you want to brighten and reduce discoloration
For those hoping to brighten the under eye area, look for vitamin C — it’s a lightening agent that can help prevent discoloration and dark circles, according to Talakoub. For those with purple and blue undertones around the eyes, Talakoub recommends products with vitamin K since it can brighten and improve the skin’s elasticity making it firmer.
Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is another key ingredient to look for since it helps reduce hyperpigmentation by brightening the skin and improving its overall appearance, according to Woolery-Lloyd. However, it can be drying, so make sure there are other moisturizing components like a humectant or emollient in it, she says.
If you want to depuff
Various factors including allergies, fluid buildup and dietary reasons can all cause puffiness around the eyes, says Talakoub. One of the main ingredients to depuff is caffeine, which helps keep the skin taut so it doesn’t get stretched, she says. It also constricts the blood vessels — by doing this, it increases circulation and acts as an anti-inflammatory to reduce puffy under-eyes, according to Woolery-Lloyd.
If you want to smooth out fine lines
An eye cream with retinol can help smooth fine lines by increasing collagen production and decreasing collagen breakdown, according to our experts. It can also increase cell turnover by replacing dead skin cells with newer and healthier ones, say our experts. However, eye creams need to have a very mild and micronized version of retinol to actually smooth out these lines. Otherwise, it can irritate the under-eye area or make these fine lines worse, says Talakoub.
Do eye creams actually work?
Eye creams can address specific concerns, but are not the answer to everything, according to our experts. “You can expect between 10% to 30% improvement in dark circles and improvement in textural changes,” says Woolery-Lloyd.
Speak with your dermatologists about alternate solutions if you find your eye cream is not addressing your concerns. (For example, if you have dark circles, which may be due to genetic vascular issues, or are struggling with hollowing or sunken skin, according to Talakoub and Woolery-Lloyd.)
Eye creams can show improvement, but specific concerns sometimes require additional assistance. An alternative solution like filler may be an option for issues with hollowing or sunken pockets. You may need a procedure like a lower blepharoplasty if an eye cream cannot help the puffiness around your eyes. Suppose an eye cream does not treat dark circles. In that case, it may be because the discoloration or vascular issue is based on genetics and may require alternative solutions with an expert’s guidance, according to our dermatologists.
Can you use a moisturizer as an eye cream?
It depends. A regular facial moisturizer can help hydrate your skin, but won’t address specific eye-related concerns like volume loss, dryness, fine lines, wrinkles, dark circles and puffiness, according to Garshick.
When to start using eye creams
Most people start using an eye cream in their 20s and 30s, according to our experts. That’s because your mid 20s and 30s is when your body typically starts decreasing collagen, says Woolery-Lloyd. Collagen production is crucial for the under-eye area — it helps keep your skin firm, reducing the appearance of fine lines and crepey skin, says Talakoub.
How to apply eye cream
You can apply eye cream in your morning and nighttime skin care routine. The best way to apply it is by gently tapping the formula into the skin until it’s fully absorbed from the innermost to outermost areas, Garshick says. Dabbing gently is key since the eye area is delicate and you don’t want to stretch the skin, according to Talakoub.
Typically, when using an eye cream in the morning, you should apply it after cleansing but before putting on a moisturizer and sunscreen, says Woolery-Lloyd.
For your nighttime routine, you should cleanse the skin and remove any makeup before applying your eye cream. If the eye cream has a thin consistency, apply it before your facial moisturizer; if it’s thick, you can apply it after your moisturizer since the cream can act as a seal and lock in moisture, says Garshick.
Talakoub recommends having two eye creams, one for the day with SPF to protect against the sun’s UV rays and another at night that is thick and creamy to prevent a “crepey” look under the eyes.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd is board-certified dermatologist and is the director of the Skin of Color division for the University of Miami Department of Dermatology. Her areas of expertise include skin of color, cosmetic dermatology, pigmentary disorders and more.
- Dr. Lily Talakoub is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Mclean & Potomac Dermatology and Skincare Center. Her areas of expertise include pediatric and adult skin disorders, skin cancer surgery and cosmetic dermatology among others.
- Dr. Marisa Garshick is a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology: Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery. Her areas of expertise include pediatric and adult dermatology and cosmetic dermatology.
Why trust Select?
Bianca Alvarez has been covering beauty for a year and has written about various skin care topics. For this piece, Bianca interviewed three dermatologists and researched many eye creams on the market. Select staff also share their favorite products that are in line with expert recommendations.