While applying moisturizer is an obvious part of most people’s skin-care routines, caring for the fragile skin under your eyes is a whole other ball game. “The skin on our lower eyelids is the thinnest in the entire body,” explains Amanda Doyle, a board-certified dermatologist at Russak Dermatology Clinic. Which is why it is prone to a whole host of problems, including dark circles, bags, and wrinkles. To find the best creams that will actually give you results, we consulted Doyle and five other experts (including one aesthetician). Below, find their picks for the best eye creams to banish dark circles, reduce puffiness, and even ones that brighten and moisturize.

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Best eye creams

What Does An Eye Cream Do?

Eye creams do a few different things. Think of an eye cream as a multi-tasker, as they protect, prevent and restore. The best eye creams hydrate and protect the delicate skin around the eye area by delivering a big dose of moisture. They protect the skin with a blend of antioxidants and some add further protection with a broad spectrum SPF. The best eye creams also restore the eye area by tackling the signs of anti-aging. More than that, eye creams can deliver long term as well as instant benefits. Long term benefits include improving the appearance of fine lines and discoloration, while quick fixes include brightening the eye area with pigments and optical diffusers, as well as depuffing the eye area.

Why Use Eye Cream?

If you already use a day cream, night cream and a serum, you may hesitate to buy another hyper specific beauty product. But eye creams are formulated differently to facial moisturizers, as the skin around the eyes is thinner and more delicate than the face. By some estimates, the skin around the eyes is 40 percent thinner than the rest of the face. This area is also highly prone to showing the signs of aging first, as the eye area skin tends to be dry and thin.

The thinner skin in the eye area also absorbs products very quickly, so the formulas need to address that. Think about it another way- would you use soap to remove your eye makeup, or a specially formulated product that won’t irritate the delicate eye area or sting your eyes?

The holy grail of eye creams is one that provides a dollop of moisture without being too heavy or greasy. While mature skin may appreciate a thick formula, using a too-rich formula on younger skin can cause makeup to slide right off. 

Should I Have Day and Night Eye Creams?

No matter how old (or young) you are, it’s important to use an eye cream every single day to keep this area well nourished- after all, dry skin tends to show wrinkles faster. And if you are already seeing fine lines appear, a wrinkle fighting eye cream is a must. Take a look at our picks for the best anti-aging eye creams.

Related: The best eye creams for wrinkles

Most people use separate products for their day and night eye creams. The best eye creams for the day are deeply hydrating and offer protection against the sun and damaging free radicals. Look for an eye cream that is formulated with a broad spectrum SPF. The best night creams are formulated differently, and while the day is all about protection, the night is about restoration.. Sunscreen isn’t needed for a night cream, but they tend to be richer, thicker and more hydrating. They may also contain anti-aging ingredients such as retinol.

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Which Eye Cream Should I Use?

With so many eye creams on the market, it can be tough to narrow down the right one for you. One way to whittle down the field is to think about what eye area concerns you may have – is it hydration, fine lines, dark circles, puffiness, or some combination of all of these, depending on the day? Are you a man or woman? Or maybe you have sensitive skin, or are looking for an affordable eye cream that contains super brightening powers.

Related: Best eye creams for dark circles

Today’s innovative formulas can do everything from soothe itchy eyes to eliminate puffiness, along with fading dark circles. Try to find a formula with a high SPF to help protect the delicate eye area from the sun’s damaging rays as well.

Do I Only Need One Eye Cream?

Your eye cream needs may also change with the seasons, depending on where you live. Dry eyes need a rich formula in the winter but you may need to switch to a lightweight gel in the warmer, humid summer months. Eye treatments come in three different basic types of formulas-  gels, creams and serums. The right one for you may be a matter of personal preference. Tap some on gently and see how it feels. There is always a bit of trial and error involved when trying any new skincare product. It can take a few weeks to see how a product reacts with your skin or if your new eye cream makes your eye makeup crease and smear. Some formulas layer well under concealer while others do not.

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How Should I Apply Eye Cream?

Eye cream should be applied twice a day, in the morning and in the night. If your eyes aren’t too dry, you may opt for a lightweight gel or serum during the day and switch to a thicker eye cream at night- perhaps one that is formulated to tackle the signs of aging.

Always apply eye cream in a gentle tapping motion, preferably using your pinkie (or index finger, as long as it’s clean). Eye creams should be applied below the eye, around the crow’s feet area and the brow bone area just below your eyebrows. You may want to avoid applying eye creams with active ingredients (such as retinols) to the upper eyelid, as it could cause irritation.

 If you’re worried about pulling and tugging on the skin, try an eye cream with a metal applicator tip. The metal has an instant cooling effect on the skin. For extra “chill” to help with depuffing tired eyes, try storing your eye cream in the fridge.

What Ingredients are in the Best Eye Creams?

To help narrow down your hunt for “the one,” it’s helpful to think about what you’re asking your eye cream to do for you – and then read the label carefully.

The main role of an eye cream is to hydrate the skin and protect this delicate area. Look for products containing moisturizing hyaluronic acid, which hydrates the skin and give it a smoother appearance by filling in fine lines. Hyaluronic acid is an all-around superstar as it holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water and acts like a moisture magnet, by drawing water to itself. Ceramides also help boost hydration, along with oils (like jojoba or avocado), butters and glycerin, which is a humectant.

Vitamin A derived retinol is a key wrinkle fighter. It helps encourage cell turnover to reveal fresher, smoother looking skin. Retinol can also help fade dark spots and discoloration and supports collagen production.

Other vitamins to look out for include vitamins C and E- these powerful antioxidants help give skin a glow and boost skin elasticity while soothing the skin. Anyone with sensitive skin may prefer an eye cream with neuropeptides. It works similarly to retinol, meaning it supports collagen production,  but can be less irritating to the skin.

Other ingredients to look for  if you have puffy eyes include caffeine to perk up the eye area. It is a vasoconstrictor which means it helps shrink blood vessels and temporarily tightens the skin area. If your caffeine is coming from green tea, it will also help tackle irritation and redness.If puffy eyes are a concern, the anti-inflammatory arnica can also de-puff. Growth factors can also help, as they decrease the look of wrinkles. Growth factors, not the same as growth hormones, are also ideal in eye creams. They are natural substances made by the skin cells that support the repair of damaged skin, as a result of ageing or environmental factors. They promote the formation of collagen and elastin to provide firmness and elasticity.

Here’s a look at some of the best eye creams of 2021.

What Is The Best Eye Cream?

Best Eye Cream For Sensitive Skin: Eye Repair Cream

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This eye cream has amassed a cult following across the forums of Reddit (and so has the CeraVe Moisturiser, FYI). Why? Because the formula is loaded with hyaluronic acid, which is the best thing that's happened to skincare, since, well, ever. The ingredient is the magic key to moisture-boosting, thanks to its ability to hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. All of that, and the formula is free of anything too aggressive, making it perfect for sensitive eyes prone to dryness.

Best Eye Cream For Dark Circles: C - Tango Multivitamin Eye

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Brought to you by the brand that really needs no introduction, if dark circles are your biggest under eye concern, this is your guy. A potent little pot, brimming with vitamin C to brighten eyes, it's also enriched with nourishing peptides, ceramides and antioxidants, to strengthen the delicate skin around the eyes. Expect a dewy, brighter finish ASAP.

Best Eye Cream For Preventing Fine Lines: Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum

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 Arm yourself against crepiness, crows feet and fine lines with this super eye serum. Potent anti-ager, retinol, has been paired with swertia flower and red algae extracts to help give a lifting effect while enhancing the skin’s elasticity - together they work to smooth and even out skin. 

The Fix Emergency Eye Mask: Courtesy Of Brand

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Give your eyes a hefty dose of soothing moisture with this hybrid eye mask formula. The magic ingredients? Cucumber and caffeine, which help hydrate the delicate skin of the eye area whilst also de-puffing and reducing any redness.

The cooling formula is one of our favourites for perking up dry, tired eyes in a flash.

Best Eye Cream For Tired Eyes: Origins Ginzing Refreshing Eye Cream To Brighten And Depuff

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If you want to hide late at night, this will be your new bestie. The tinted formula instantly perks up shadows whilst the anti-inflammatory magnolia extract helps minimise the appearance of dark circles, bags and puffiness long-term. The gel formula cools on contact, to refresh sore, sleepy eyes.

Best Eye Cream For Dry, Flaky Eyes: Creamy Eye Treatment With Avocado

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Finding an eye cream that helps to control dry eyes can be tricky, especially in Winter, when the temperature drops and the constant switch between icy air outdoors and stifling central heating indoors can wreak havoc on your skin. Loaded with super-nourishing avocado oil, this rich eye cream gently moisturises without leaving the skin greasy or overloaded.

Best Eye Cream For Does-it-all Formula: Olay Eyes Ultimate Eye Cream

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Named the 'ultimate eye cream' for a reason, this affordable formula targets everything from fine lines to dark circles and puffiness. Massage a tiny dot below each of your peepers to refresh the skin and leave it looking bright and hydrated. 

Best Eye Cream For Both Lips And Eyes: Bubblewrap

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This is definitely not one of Glossier’s most raved about products (did somebody say Boy Brow?) but it is a great eye cream for smoothing and making the eye area appear brighter over time. Hyaluronic Acid, Squalane, and Avocado Oil, as well as antioxidant-rich Blueberry Extract combine in the formula and help to rehydrate your eye area.

Best Eye Cream For Natural Ingredients: Keep Young And Beautiful Firm And Lift Eye Cream

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This gentle eye cream is made of 100% plant and mineral-derived ingredients so if your eyes get irritated easily, this could be your go-to. The mix of ingredients, including peptides and plant collagen, work to diminish the appearance of lines and smooth the skin while also moisturising the delicate area.

Best Eye Cream For Brightening: Bye Bye Under Eye Brightening Eye Cream

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This eye cream is such a great base for concealer, it kind of acts as an under eye cream and primer in one. It contains activities such as copper, caffeine, vitamin C, collagen and hyaluronic acid amongst others to help to visibly hydrate and brighten your under-eye area and prep for makeup. 

Best Eye Cream For Intense Anti-ageing: Retinol Firming Eye Cream

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Applying retinol on the delicate eye area might sound scary AF but this eye cream from Kate Somerville can be trusted to rejuvenate puffy, tired looking eyes. It uses a combo of retinols and bio retinols (a natural ingredient that mimics the effects of retinol) to improve texture and the elasticity of the under-eye area.

Best Eye Cream For Your Early 20s: The Inkey List Caffeine Serum

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If you know anything about ageing, you'll know that prevention is better than cure. Which is why it's imperative you start caring for those eyes ASAP - really once you hit your 20s it's the green light to go. Rather than dropping a hefty load of cash on a super luxe formula, save your pennies for a later date and cop this caffeine rich serum from The Inkey List. It will re energize tired eyes, and protect them against future damage, which, let face it will be coming later down the road. 

Best Eye Cream For Vegans: Kiwi Seed Oil Eye Cream

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When a product has 40 5-star reviews, you know it lives up to the hype. This little pot of vegan goodness holds some firm faves in the eye-care ingredient list: avocado oil, vitamin C and antioxidant rich vinanza grape. Users are shouting about its dark circle fighting ability and deeply hydrating consistency. Plus, it's all-natural - enough said. 

Best Eye Cream For Dehydrated Eyes: Eye Cream

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The skin beneath our eyes is thinner and more prone to dehydration, so it's all about finding formulas that provide a whole lotta hydration. Not only does this offer maximum moisturisation - it's full of ceramides, fermented oat, yeast extract, vitamin E and special fatty acids that mimic the skin, all of which help to maintain and rebuild the skin's barrier and quench your thirst, long term.

Best Eye Cream For A Light Non-greasy Formula: Vitamin E Eye Cream

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Do not sleep on The Body Shop Vitamin E range, the formula is light and so soothing under tired peepers. The hyaluronic acid makes your eye area feel more supple and the Vitamin E is super-protective while re-moisturising skin.

Best Eye Cream For Eyes And Lashes: Vichy Liftactiv Serum 10 Eyes And Lashes 15ml

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This multi-use formula can be applied all over your eyes to instantly hydrate and brighten, while the lash-fortifying properties will help boost your lashes, too. It's a super lightweight, liquidity formula that absorbs almost instantly, so you don't need to wait to apply your makeup. Dream. 

10 Best Eye Creams 2021, According to Experts

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