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Many brands manufacture eye creams for people who experience eye bags, dark circles, and puffiness. Some are allergy-safe and suitable for people who wear contact lenses.

This article explores what eye creams are and what to consider when buying a skin care product for the eye area. It also reviews a range of products available for purchase online and discusses some safety precautions.

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Eye creams are cosmetic products specifically for use on the delicate skin around the eyes. Eye creams can help hydrate and brighten the skin and sometimes improves its firmness.

The skin surrounding the eyes is thinner than the skin on the rest of the face. As a result, it may be more prone to dryness, the negative effects of environmental pollution, and sun damage.

Additionally, when a person blinks or uses facial expressions, the skin around the eyes can develop lines, wrinkles, and “crow’s feet.”

Some benefits a person may get from using eye creams include:

However, there are some risks. For example, they may not be suitable for people who wear contact lenses. They could also irritate the skin.

The following are some factors individuals can look for when choosing an eye cream:

  • Ingredients. Some creams contain caffeine, which can reduce the appearance of under-eye puffiness, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Skin care cream manufacturers can also include hyaluronic acid in their products as it helps moisture to penetrate the skin.
  • Skin type. Some eye creams have a noncomedogenic formula, meaning that they do not clog pores. These products may suit those with acne-prone skin.
  • Formula. Some brands sell lightweight and nongreasy eye creams, which may benefit people who live in hot and humid climates.
  • Cost. Eye creams vary in price, so individuals may wish to tailor their research to creams that fit their budget.

There are not many studies that look at the difference between creams, serums, and gels on the eye area.

In general, these only differ by the formulation’s consistency and thickness.

Creams tend to be the thickest, while gels are lighter. Serums usually depend on the company’s definition, as individuals can find various products that claim they are serums, yet they have very different consistencies.

The standard is to consider a serum to have a middle consistency between a gel and a cream. However, there are products in liquid form that are also called serums.

The thickness of the product usually also relates to how moisturizing and heavy it is. The thicker the consistency, the heavier the product.

For example, the thickest creams may be better for use at night instead of during the daytime. This is because they may be shiny or unsuitable for use with makeup or sunscreen.

People can use the ring finger to apply products around the eye area. This may put less pressure on the skin compared to the index finger, which reduces rubbing and the risk of irritation or wrinkling.

However, there are no studies to date that confirm this claim.

More importantly, the eye area is generally much more sensitive than the rest of the body. Individuals may need to take extra caution not to get products into their eyes, as this can cause a lot of irritation and redness in and around the eyes.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also recommends:

  • avoiding dyes or eyebrow tints
  • washing hands thoroughly before touching the eye area
  • making sure to keep skin care products closed and clean when not in use
  • never scratching the eye area

Below are some of the best eye creams available to purchase online.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best with birch water: Eminence Snow Mushroom Moisture Cloud Eye Cream

  • Price: around $70
  • Formulation: cream
  • Size: 0.5 ounces (oz)
  • Skin types: all

This Eminence Organics eye cream contains snow mushroom, which reportedly pulls moisture into the skin and enhances its elasticity and barrier function.

Eminence states that other ingredients, such as birch water, promote hydration, reduce puffiness, and hide under-eye bags.

In addition, the company claims it does not test its products on animals and that this eye cream is soy– and gluten-free.

Buyers mention that this product is very thick, which can make it more moisturizing than other thinner alternatives.

However, the company does not disclose the full ingredient list on the website. INCIDecoder has a list of the ingredients as of 2020. The list shows a number of essential oils and fragrances, including lemon. Such ingredients may be irritating or drying for some and can react to sun exposure.

Best for firm skin: SkinCeuticals Eye Balm

  • Price: around $82
  • Formulation: cream
  • Size: 0.5 oz
  • Skin types: dry, normal, sensitive

This SkinCeuticals product is a hydrating cream reportedly suited to individuals who have signs of aging around the eyes, such as crow’s feet and under-eye bags.

Its main ingredients include soy isoflavones, vitamin E, and silymarin. SkinCeuticals claims these ingredients help improve the skin’s firmness and nourish dry skin as they restore essential lipids.

It also has tocopherol, which is vitamin E, paraffin, and aloe vera. These can help hydrate and rejuvenate the skin. The petrolatum in the product helps protect the skin barrier and keep it moisturized.

Reviews are positive overall, with many people praising the product’s effects on puffiness, eye bags, and fine lines. Most negative reviews argue that this is too expensive and that they did not see a long-term difference in the skin near their eye area.

Best for very sensitive skin: Avène Soothing Eye Contour Cream

  • Price: around $27
  • Formulation: cream
  • Size: 0.33 oz
  • Skin type: very sensitive skin

Avène’s lightweight eye cream contains chamomile and dextran sulfate. According to the company’s website, these ingredients may help with soothing sensitive skin and reducing puffiness.

This eye cream also includes glycerin and hyaluronic acid to help hydrate and moisturize the skin.

This product is free of fragrance and parabens. It is also vegan.

Buyers mention that this eye cream is gentle, lightweight, and good for their sensitive skin. On the downside, most customers report that they did not see any noticeable improvements aside from hydration and moisture.

This may be because the product does not contain any active ingredients that target long-term skin transformation. However, it seems gentle enough that most people could use it.

Best with potent retinol: Avène RetrinAL Eyes

  • Price: around $49
  • Formulation: cream
  • Size: 0.5 oz
  • Skin types: all

This Avène eye cream has four main ingredients, including retinaldehyde, hyaluronic acid, dextran sulfate, and thermal spring water.

The company claims these ingredients smooth fine lines and wrinkles, reduce the appearance of puffiness and dark circles, and soften the skin.

Individuals should note that the retinaldehyde may cause irritation or redness as it works to repair the skin. In fact, one of the buyers mentioned that this cream dried their eye area.

However, many other buyers agree that they found it to be moisturizing and started to see positive results within a few weeks. Some mention that they saw noticeable improvements in their lines and crow’s feet.

Best for under a moisturizer: Bioderma Sensibio Tonic Lotion

  • Price: around $16
  • Formulation: serum
  • Size: 8.4 oz
  • Skin type: sensitive skin

This product is a liquid toning lotion with a lightweight texture. Bioderma claims this cream provides a hydrating and refreshing effect.

The company also states that the ingredients in this cream reduce discomfort from dryness and lessen the appearance of visible redness.

According to the brand, the allantoin in the lotion soothes the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis. The xylitol and glycerin can help increase overall hydration.

The Bioderma website states that users can apply this lotion to their face and eye area after cleansing, and they can use the cream in the morning or evening.

One caveat with this product is it contains fruit extracts and hydrogenated castor oil. Some people may find these ingredients to be sensitizing or irritating.

Best for filling lines and wrinkles: Skin Authority Dramatic Eye Lift

  • Price: around $155
  • Formulation: gel
  • Size: 0.5 oz
  • Skin type: sensitive

According to customer reviews, Skin Authority’s Dramatic Eye Lift is a gel featuring a lightweight consistency. The company claims it is nongreasy, does not clog pores, and moisturizes the skin.

The product description states this cream helps lift sagging eyelids, lighten dark circles, and increase the skin’s firmness.

Its ingredients include evening primrose seed extract, grapefruit extract, and bergamot essential oil. These may be beneficial, but they can also be irritating to some people.

This product is cruelty-free and does not contain any added fragrance or parabens.

The reviews on the website are scarce but overall very positive. Most consumers say that they noticed a considerable difference in hydration and filling of their eye lines and crow’s feet. However, most buyers are disappointed with the price point.

Best with hyaluronic acid: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Gel-Cream

  • Price: around $23
  • Formulation: gel
  • Size: 0.5 oz
  • Skin type: dry skin

This eye gel aims to moisturize the skin and contains hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is naturally present in the skin and helps keep the skin hydrated by binding to water molecules.

Neutrogena claims its formula is noncomedogenic (does not clog pores) and has undergone testing by ophthalmologists. It is also free of fragrance, oils, and dyes.

The paraffin and beeswax in the gel can help lock the hyaluronic acid in the skin and keep it moisturized.

Most buyers say they noticed a considerable difference in the hydration and plumpness of their eye area.

However, some mention that they still had irritation from using the product. One consumer mentioned that they had severe eyelid swelling the day after using this gel.

This could be an indication that some of the ingredients may be allergic or sensitizing to some people.

Best for crepey skin: Revision DEJ Eye Cream

  • Price: around $109
  • Formulation: cream
  • Size: 0.5 oz
  • Skin types: all

Revision Skincare’s DEJ eye cream aims to provide intense hydration and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, redness, and sagging.

According to the website, individuals should apply a pearl-sized amount to the under-eye area and along the orbital bone twice per day.

This cream contains glycerin, panthenol, tocopherol, and squalane. These can help hydrate and moisturize the skin.

The brand says that they have studies that show this product to be clinically proven to rejuvenate the eye area, crow’s feet, and wrinkles. However, there is no indication if the studies were sponsored by the company or independent blind studies.

Buyers seem to like this product but argue that the dispenser does not work very well.

Best with green tea: Skin Authority Reviving Eye Brightener

  • Price: around $88
  • Formulation: cream
  • Size: 0.5 oz
  • Skin types: all

This natural cream formula uses chamomile, green tea, and ginkgo biloba leaf extract to minimize the appearance of puffiness, fine lines, and dark circles around the eyes.

Skin Authority states this product helps the skin retain moisture, while people can use it on their upper eyelid and brow line.

This cream also contains ubiquinone and sodium hyaluronate for retaining skin hydration.

Buyers say that this product helped calm down redness and puffiness without being extra rich in texture. This lighter formulation can be an alternative to thicker products, especially for use in the morning and when going out.

Best serum with hyaluronic acid: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

  • Price: around $7.50
  • Formulation: serum
  • Size: 1 oz
  • Skin type: all types

This product’s main ingredient is hyaluronic acid. Although it is naturally present in the skin, its natural function does not involve hydrating the skin.

As a result, this formula uses three forms of hyaluronic acid, which the manufacturer combines with vitamin B5 to help plump the skin and deliver intense moisture.

Additionally, this product is reportedly lightweight, oil-free, and vegan-friendly. It does not contain alcohol, oils, silicones, or water.

The Ordinary also states it does not test products on animals. Most of the brand’s products have limited specific ingredients to try and limit potential irritation or negative reactions.

Reviews are very positive, with some buyers saying that it is better to use it on damp skin and apply a thicker moisturizer on top to lock it in. Some consumers mention that the product can pill, but this could relate to how they use this serum or how they combine it with other products.

Best overall: CeraVe Eye Repair Cream

  • Price: around $16
  • Formulation: cream
  • Size: 0.5 oz
  • Skin types: all

This CeraVe cream contains ceramides to maintain the skin’s natural barrier and hyaluronic acid to retain the skin’s existing moisture. CeraVe also uses niacinamide to calm the skin.

CeraVe uses Multivesicular Emulsion (MVE) technology to provide time-released delivery of particular ingredients in cosmetic creams. In this eye cream, MVE technology helps the skin stay hydrated throughout the day.

According to a 2016 evaluation, MVE techniques in skin care products have links to improved acne.

CeraVe claims this product has undergone testing by ophthalmologists. It is also allergy-tested and noncomedogenic. Additionally, the company states it is suitable for individuals with acne-prone skin.

Best for temporary transformation: Peter Thomas Roth Instant FIRMx Eye Temporary Eye Tightener

  • Price: around $38
  • Formulation: cream
  • Size: 1 oz
  • Skin types: all

This product contains silicates and seaweed extract. According to the company, these provide an instant temporary tightening effect around the eye area, including firming of crows’ feet. It also contains peptides that help reduce the look of puffiness and under-eye bags.

The formulation includes vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid. This may help brighten the skin around the eyes. Panthenol, glycerin, and butylene glycol can help soothe the skin, keeping it hydrated and moisturized.

Some reviewers posted before and after photos when using this product. These provide proof that the product can at least temporarily work to reduce the appearance of eye bags, fine lines, and wrinkles.

However, as the company says, the effects are only temporary. Buyers seem to agree, as some say that when they applied hydrating makeup on top, the wrinkles appeared more aggressive. In fact, the brand states to avoid using water-based makeup to prolong the effects of the eye cream.

This suggests that consumers should either not use makeup or water-based sunscreens or switch to oil-based products. This may cause problems for those who cannot tolerate these oils, such as those with oilier skin types.

Best for affordable retinol: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Eye Cream

  • Price: around $16
  • Formulation: cream
  • Size: 0.5 oz
  • Skin types: all

This eye cream contains retinol that targets lines, wrinkles, and dark circles around the eye area. This can help rejuvenate the skin over a long period of time by repairing and building the skin barrier.

This is free of mineral oils, paraben, and dyes. It contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin and keep it plump.

Neutrogena says that this product can be used daily. However, because it contains retinol, some people may find it to be drying or irritating.

People using exfoliating ingredients need to take extra precautions with the sun as these ingredients can make the skin more sensitive and reactive to sun exposure.

Buyers seem to like this product, with most saying that it helped improve their fine lines, brightness, and softness of the skin. Negative reviews mention that the product did not work on them. However, it could be that these individuals did not give enough time for the product to work.

Best sun protection: EltaMD UV Physical Tinted Mineral Sunscreen

  • Price: around $35
  • Formulation: sunscreen cream
  • Size: 3 oz
  • Skin types: combination, sensitive

This physical sunscreen contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to protect against sun exposure. It also has iron oxides which can protect against visible light and provide the tint in the sunscreen.

The eye is a sensitive area of the face because of the thinner skin. Physical sunscreens can help protect this area from UV damage while minimizing eye irritation that can occur with chemical sunscreens.

In fact, most buyers agree that this product did not irritate their eye area, even when they got it in their eyes.

However, the product has a tint, which does not work for everyone.

Those with darker skin tones may find that this gives them an ashy look. Those with much lighter skin tones may find that this makes them look orange.

Another problem with this sunscreen is the UVA rating. According to the website, every EltaMD sunscreen is rated at a Protection Grade of UVA (PA) of PA+++. Yet, the maximum rating for UVA protection is PA++++.

Here is how the above products compare to each other.

ProductFormulationSkin typeVolumePrice
Eminence Snow Mushroom Moisture Cloud Eye Creamcreamall0.5 oz$70
SkinCeuticals Eye Balmcreamdry, normal, sensitive0.5 oz $82
Avène Soothing Eye Contour Creamcreamsensitive0.33 oz$27
Avène RetrinAL Eyescreamall0.5 oz$49
Bioderma Sensibio Tonic Lotionserumsensitive8.4 oz$16
Skin Authority Dramatic Eye Liftgelsensitive0.5 oz$155
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Gel-Creamgeldry0.5 oz$23
Revision DEJ Eye Creamcreamall 0.5 oz$109
Skin Authority Reviving Eye Brightenercreamall 0.5 oz$88
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5serumall 1 oz$7.50
CeraVe Eye Repair Creamcreamall 0.5 oz$16
Peter Thomas Roth Instant FIRMx Eye Temporary Eye Tightenercreamall 1 oz$38
Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Eye Creamcreamall0.5 oz$16
EltaMD UV Physical Tinted Mineral Sunscreensunscreen creamcombination, sensitive3 oz$34

How we choose products
Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Price: Products are available for a wide range of budgets.
  • Ingredients: Products list all ingredients clearly.
  • Skin concerns: Products target a specific skin concern, such as dryness, oiliness, or aging.
  • Safety: Products contain ingredients that are safe for topical use.
  • Reputable: Products are from businesses that adhere to industry best practices.

To ensure the appropriate use of skin care products, a person may wish to check the manufacturer’s instructions with every new cream they try. For instance, they should check if they can use a particular eye cream with other products they have, such as toners and moisturizers.

A person who wears contact lenses may also wish to check if an eye cream’s ingredients are safe to use. A 2016 study states that retinoids may cause dry eye syndrome, leading to eye discomfort and intolerance for contact lenses.

Individuals may consider seeing a doctor or dermatologist if they find that:

  • The products they tried are causing irritation or allergic reactions.
  • They cannot see an improvement in their lines, eye bags, puffiness, or wrinkles around the eye area, despite using different products.
  • They want to achieve better and faster results.

A dermatologist can help pinpoint any potential irritation triggers or allergies. They can also help identify potential alternative treatments.

Here are some of the most common questions people ask about eye creams.

Who should use eye cream?

People who are concerned with dark circles, lines, puffiness, or other visible skin conditions may consider using eye creams. Usually, these conditions are signs of aging.

However, in some cases, a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer can also be as effective as an eye cream at a much cheaper price point.

Individuals should give more importance to the ingredients in the product rather than specifically finding a product for each body area.

Is anti-aging eye cream drying?

This differs from product to product as it completely depends on the ingredients and the formulation.

For example, products with acids or retinol derivatives can dry the skin as they work to remove dead skin cells and repair the skin.

However, if the formulation also includes hydrating and moisturizing ingredients, then this can balance the drying effects and provide a moisturizing, soothing barrier on the skin.

Does eye cream actually work?

It depends on the product, ingredients, and any studies that relate to that product or ingredients. It also depends on an individual’s expectations.

In general, a good fragrance-free eye cream that contains beneficial and tested ingredients can help. These ingredients include ceramides, retinol, and petrolatum.

However, there may be cases where there are other underlying health conditions in place, which can cause these symptoms. For example, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases says that diabetes can cause swelling near the eyes.

In this case, it may be better for individuals to consult with a dermatologist to find the best course of treatment and eliminate any other potential health issues.

A wide range of companies offer creams designed to reduce the appearance of under-eye bags, dark circles, puffiness, and wrinkles.

However, different eye creams will contain different ingredients. Therefore, a person should check whether the cream they choose is suitable for their skin type and any skin problems they are trying to address.