If you’re like most people, you may be using a regular facial moisturizer for the area under your eye. But experts agree that eye cream is one of the most important steps in your skincare routine.
“Signs of aging often first appear around the delicate eye area because this skin is thinner and more fragile than the rest of the complexion,” Joel Schlessinger, MD, board-certified dermatologist and RealSelf contributor, explains. “Not only does this mean that your regular moisturizer isn’t going to cut it, but using it around your eyes can also cause irritation because this skin’s much more sensitive.”
But choosing the right under eye cream for your skin type and lifestyle can be challenging, especially when there are so many to choose from. “If you have an active lifestyle, you want to focus on products that don’t go on too thick. Otherwise the cream can mix with sweat and clog pores, which causes acne, skin inflammation and other issues,” Arash Akhavan, MD, FAAD, founder and owner of The Dermatology & Laser Group in New York, explains. To find out which under eye creams are truly the cream of the crop for all ages, budgets and skin types, we asked top dermatologists to share their go-to picks.
For Sensitive Skin
This delicate, non-greasy formula evens out dark circles and puffiness in just a few uses. “The retinol in this eye cream helps reduce pore size and plumps collagen-depleted skin,” Dendy Engelman, MD, Manhattan-based dermatologist, explains. “By increasing cell turnover and unclogging pores, the skin is left smoother and healthier.” Because this product is a mild in concentration, it’s perfect for young skin, as well as skin that already shows signs of aging.
Buy it now: Roc Retinol Correxion Sensitive Eye Cream, $23, ulta.com
For Outdoor Wear
If you’re exercising outside, it’s especially important to take precautions to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. “For sun protection that’s gentle enough to use on the delicate eye area, I recommend SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50,” Dr. Schlessinger says. “It provides broad spectrum sun protection with 9% titanium dioxide and 4% zinc oxide and also contains ceramides to help nourish skin and create a smooth base for makeup application.”
Buy it now: SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50, $30, dermstore.com
For the Sleep-Deprived
Although not quite an eye cream, these gels accomplish the same thing and especially cater to tired, sleep-deprived peepers. “The gel patches are coated with a serum rich in hyaluronic acid, caffeine and antioxidants,” Dr. Schlessinger explains, “so they have a highly advanced way of delivery essential ingredients to your under eye area.” They are applied for five minutes to the under eye areas and then removed. Massage any remaining serum into your skin.
Buy it now: Patchology FlashPatch™ Eye Gels, $50, nordstrom.com
For a One-Stop Shop
“This relatively inexpensive product does it all, making it my all-time favorite under eye cream,” Dr. Akhavan says. “It’s made of excellent hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, vitamins A and E, antioxidants and peptides that immediately treat fine lines.”
Buy it now: EltaMD Renew Eye Gel Daily Eye Therapy, $50, dermstore.com
For Allergy Woes
Plagued with tired eyes—especially during allergy season? This powerful anti-wrinkle eye treatment works to minimize signs of fatigue as well as crow’s feet, those pesky fine lines that crop up around your outer eye area. Peptides minimize the appearance of wrinkles, vitamin C brightens skin, and sodium hyaluronate deeply hydrates. This eye cream also has light-diffusing technology to give the skin a radiant, youthful glow.
Buy it now: Teamine Eye Complex, $55, revisionskincare.com
For Bright Eyes
In this eye-brightening cream, horse chestnut extract minimizes the appearance of puffiness and dark circles, while Persian silk tree extract helps fight the signs of fatigue and hyaluronic acid plumps fine lines and wrinkles. “This is one of my favorite eye creams for dark circles because its self-adaptive optical technology diffuses light to give your skin a soft, youthful glow,” Dr. Schlessinger says.
Buy it now: LovelySkin LUXE Brightening Eye Cream, $70, lovelyskin.com
For Puffy Eyes
Nerium’s patented ingredients act as super antioxidants to combat puffiness and dark circles. Other proven age-defying ingredients in the formulation include jojoba esters for extra moisture, caffeine to help minimize the appearance of dark circles and puffiness, antioxidant-rich green tea to help guard against damaging UV rays, hyaluronic acid to boost and lock in moisture, and an advanced peptide to help support the skin’s natural collagen and elasticity. “In your 30s, you start to see wrinkles and loss of hydration, so this product is great for targeting many concerns at once,” Dr. Engelman says.
Buy it now: Nerium International Eye Serum, $80, nerium.com
For An Everyday Cream
Ideal for those with normal to dry skin, this all-purpose solution is great for addressing common aging eye concerns. This rich cream contains a unique bi-mineral complex and malonic acid for firmer, smoother looking skin around the eyes. Its clinically proven formula improves signs of aging after just two weeks of regular use, Dr. Schlessinger says.
Buy it now: Obagi ELASTIderm Eye Cream, $56, walmart.com
For a Go-To Serum
“Serum is unlike any other eye cream because it contains a unique cross-linked form of hyaluronic acid that hydrates and smooths skin,” Dr. Schlessinger explains. “In addition to minimizing fine lines and wrinkles, this eye serum also diminishes dark circles and under-eye puffiness.” Bonus: It’s clinically proven to provide visible smoothing results in as little as 15 minutes!
Buy it now: Teoxane RHA Eyes Advanced Contour Serum, $80, lovelyskin.com
This under eye cream is designed to repair, nourish and protect the delicate skin surrounding the eyes. “Its rich texture supplies plumping moisture with hyaluronic acid in order to diminish dehydration lines and increase radiance and brightness,” Dr. Engelman says. “Vitamins A, C and E provide antioxidant protection as they condition the skin and help lighten dark under eye circles.”
Buy it now: SkinMedica TNS Eye Repair, $100, lovelyskin.com
For a Classic Choice
Skin that’s regularly exposed to sun and pollution is vulnerable to highly destructive molecules, known as free-radicals, which can wreak havoc on your skin. Free-radicals can damage DNA, proteins (like collagen and elastin) and lipids (like the ceramides your skin needs), causing premature wrinkles, age spots and discoloration. “I like this product especially in the summer or when I’m layering products in the winter because it’s light and easily absorbed into the skin,” Dr. Engelman says. “In the winter, remember to follow with a slightly heavier moisturizer.”
Buy it now: Elizabeth Arden Prevage Intensive Eye Serum, $130, elizabetharden.com
To Prevent Wrinkles
Derm Institute utilizes NeuroFirmX, a patent-pending wrinkle relaxing complex, to help skin look and feel younger. Though it’s quite a splurge, this formula is combined with peptides at maximum concentrate to provide great results by diminishing lines and smoothing skin. “The skin is tighter, firmed and lifted in as little as two weeks,” Dr. Engelman says. “With medical-grade ingredients, this product will accomplish great results and improve problem areas for aging skin.” She recommends it mainly for clients in their late 30s to mid 40s to use twice daily.
Buy it now: DERM iNSTITUTE Youth Alchemy Eye Cream, $280, diskincare.com