When it comes to eyes, fine lines and wrinkles are the biggest concern for 85% of women, according to a Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab survey of over 1,000 readers. And those two worries are followed closely by lack of firmness, dark circles and under-eye bags. Enter the best eye creams for wrinkles, serums and creams, tailored to address these stubborn issues.
“Eye creams differ from face creams because they’re formulated specifically for the delicate eye area. It’s important to use one to keep skin hydrated and plump,” explains GH Beauty Lab chemist Danusia Wnek. “Plus, some also contain brighteners to mask under-eye darkness and help you look more awake.” That's why it's worth it to invest in a great eye treatment to prevent signs of aging around the eyes (don't forget to protect the delicate skin with a gentle sunscreen, too). For optimal benefits, apply eye cream to clean, dry skin (using clean hands) around the eye orbital area before your facial moisturizer.
What Causes Eye Wrinkles?
During the aging process, there’s a slowing in the rate the skin cells renew and the skin in this area begins to thin. Collagen and elastin production reduces, contributing to fine lines and a reduction in oil production causing the skin to become drier. Lines around and under the eyes are simply a natural part of the aging process. The skin around the eye has far fewer oil glands than the rest of the skin, making it prone to fine lines and dehydration. Dehydration causes the skin to appear less full and plump. This results in dullness and makes it easier for the skin to produce lines. The skin around the eyes is very delicate and thin, so it ages faster than other parts of the face.
Eye wrinkles are caused by a loss of collagen and elastin, which are the skin’s support structure. When collagen and elastin production is reduced the skin begins to experience depressions or lines caused by the lack of structure under the skin, as time passes these lines become deeper, forming wrinkles. But aging isn’t the only cause of fine lines. Too much squinting, smoking and rubbing your eyes can all contribute to the formation of wrinkles and crow’s feet. Even how you sleep is a factor – if one side of your face is constantly squashed and folded against a pillow, this can deepen wrinkles and crepey looking skin around the eyes.
During aging, the skin cells divide more slowly, and the inner layer, called the dermis, begins to thin. Networks of the elastin and collagen fibers loosen and unravel, causing depressions on the surface. The skin also loses its elasticity, is less able to retain moisture, oil-secreting glands are less efficient, and the skin is slower to heal. All of these contribute to the development of wrinkles.
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What Are The Different Types of Eye Creams?
All eye creams are not created equally. An anti-aging eye cream is all about prevention and hydration; think of it as an all-around product. They tend to be packed with hydrators like hyaluronic acid to help plump up the eye area and also contain sunscreen. Anti-aging eye creams may also contain antioxidants like vitamins C and E. An anti-wrinkle cream focuses on softening the look of fine lines with ingredients like retinol (a vitamin A derivative) and may contain brighteners to help reduce the look of dark circles. Some eye creams do a little bit of both.
How To Treat Eye Wrinkles
While eye wrinkles cannot be magically erased, there are plenty of things you can do to help reduce their appearance, whether you have mature skin or are in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or beyond. Since the delicate area around the eyes is very thin, it can also become quite dry, which just exaggerates the appearance of fine lines and crow’s feet. Some people like to massage the eye area with oil, such as coconut or olive. Remember to be gentle and use your pinkie, and don’t pull the skin.
Under-eye pads, which can be picked up at the drugstore, are also great for when you need a quick boost or an eye pick-me-up in the morning or before a big night out. These skin savers are soaked with skin-plumping ingredients such as hyaluronic acid to help reveal brighter, smoother and more refreshed looking eyes. Eye pads can also help the eye area look firmer and have a temporary tightening effect. Another option is an overnight eye mask. They are applied under the eye area and left on overnight to refresh the eye area.
It is important to keep in mind that each person is different and the hydration needs of the eye area will vary within age groups, ethnicities, and skin types. If you use a product that is too heavy or oil-rich for your skin type it can result in the production of milia. Milia are little cysts that form under the skin, white in color. They generally form when dead skin cells and oil build up on the surface. They are easy to treat with the help of a dermatologist or esthetician but are often a sign that a product is too heavy. If your skin is dehydrated or oily rather than dry it may be best to look for a formulation that contains hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and has a lighter cream or gel. If you have drier skin, a heavier formulation may suit you best.
Why You Need an Anti-Aging Eye Cream
Even if you’re armed with a silk pillowcase, extra-large sunglasses and chilled cucumber slices, you still need an anti-aging eye cream. It’s a common mistake to think that your regular moisturizer can be applied around the eyes. Eye creams are formulated differently to facial moisturizers. Because the skin around the eyes is so thin and the eye area can be sensitive, the formulas tend to be thicker, richer and contain oils and other deeply hydrating ingredients to compensate for the lack of naturally produced oils in this area.
Investing in a good eye cream helps prevent fine lines as well as treat existing ones. The best anti-aging eye creams pull double duty; they hydrate the eye area and also help to fill in lines, which means that everyone can benefit from using one, whether you’re in your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s or 60s, and have mature skin or a youthful glow.
There are plenty of anti-wrinkle eye creams to choose from, whether you like to shop at your local drugstore or if you prefer boutique brands, and there’s a product for every budget. Eye creams come in three different types of formulas- gels, creams and serums. While the right formula can come down to personal preference, other factors come into play. Skin type, makeup and temperature should all be taken into consideration. Creams are thicker and richer while gels and serums are more lightweight and absorb easily, which means your makeup is less likely to slide off.
Many people choose a thicker eye cream for night time and wear a gel during the day. If you’re worried about pulling and tugging on the skin, try an eye cream with a metal applicator tip.
What to Look For In Anti Aging and Anti Wrinkle Eye Creams
The best anti-wrinkle and anti-aging eye creams are packed with targeted ingredients to help improve the appearance of fine lines while also helping to firm and lift the eye area. Read the label carefully and look for ingredients such as ceramides and hyaluronic acid. These powerhouses help to add moisture as well as prevent water loss and improve elasticity. Vitamin C gives skin a glowing boost while peptides are thought to help firm the skin.
Arguably the most important ingredient to look for in an anti-wrinkle eye cream is retinol, which is available over the counter. This vitamin A derivative helps encourage cell turnover and reduce the appearance of fine lines and soften the look of crow’s feet. Retinol can be drying and cause irritation, so look for a formula that also contains moisturizing superstars like hyaluronic acid. As with any retinol product, start slowly and remember that less is more. Start by applying a tiny amount of the cream a few times a week (usually at nighttime) and build up to using it daily to prevent any redness, peeling or irritation.
Here’s a look at some of our best anti-aging eye creams for the 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond.
How to choose the best anti-aging eye cream for wrinkles, puffiness, and dark circles
What makes an eye cream anti-aging? Tara Rao, M.D., a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group and Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a dermatologist at Mount Sinai Hospital named a few key ingredients to look for regardless of your skin type or tone.
Hyaluronic acid: Found naturally in the skin, hyaluronic acid draws in water, which helps to hydrate and plump the skin. Many times, under-eye wrinkles are a result of dryness, Dr. Rao says, and hyaluronic acid is well-studied and shown to help reduce the signs of aging. (Check out these eye creams for dry skin if hydration is your main problem.)
Peptides: Copper peptides, polypeptides, and oligopeptides are thought to penetrate the skin and help build hyaluronic acid and collagen. These structural proteins hold cells and tissues together like glue, diminishing the look of wrinkles.
Retinol: This vitamin A derivative stimulates collagen production and promotes cell turnover to help reduce the signs of aging. Because the skin under the eyes is so sensitive, the dermatologists we spoke to recommended products with relatively low concentrations of retinol.
Sunscreen: “This one’s a no-brainer,” says Dr. Rao. Without proper protection, UV rays break down collagen and age your skin. (Unfortunately, SPF can be tough to find in eye creams, so supplement with your face sunscreen if necessary!)
Antioxidants: Vitamins C and E, ferulic acid, and berry extracts help reduce oxidative stress due to UV rays or pollutants, explains Dr. Rao. Antioxidants also improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
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The Best Eye Creams for Wrinkles and Anti Aging
Best Eye Creams for Wrinkles Overall: La Mer The Eye Concentrate
La Mer The Eye Concentrate
While this may not be the right fit for the budget-conscious beauty shopper, the effects of this eye cream truly do justify the price. Credit triple the amount of the brand’s signature Miracle Broth, a hand-harvested blend of youth-boosting nutrients and minerals that helps to minimize the look of lines in just 21 days. It also contains a powerful antioxidant to prevent future damage before it sets in, and comes with an applicator to massage it in with.
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Best Eye Creams for Wrinkles Budget: RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream
RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Anti-Aging Retinol Eye Cream
When it comes to finding an affordable, effective eye cream, dermatologists recommend this formula time and time again. It boasts retinol, and addresses not only lines but dark circles and puffiness as well, giving you plenty of bang for your buck. Plus, it’s lightweight, non-comedogenic, and hypoallergenic.
Best With Retinol: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum
KEY INGREDIENTS Ferulic acid, or hydroxycinnamic acid, is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free-radical damage from pollution, ultraviolet light, or infrared radiation, all of which accelerate skin aging. It's found in the cell wall of plants like oats, brown rice, peanuts, apples, and oranges.
This formula uses arguably the best wrinkle-fighting ingredient of all-time: retinol. The vitamin A derivative is well-known for effectively stimulating collagen production to smooth out wrinkles. Here, it’s paired with ferulic acid, a standout antioxidant to help prevent environmental damage, plus brightening licorice root extract. Also noteworthy: The gel formula is lightweight enough that you can use it around the entire eye area, even on lids.
Best Eye Creams for Wrinkles With Vitamin C: BeautyStat Universal C Eye Perfector
BeautyStat Universal C Eye Perfector
This Eye Cream Zapped My Dark Circles In Just 3 Weeks
KEY INGREDIENTS Vitamin C is an essential nutrient required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body, including the skin, but we cannot produce it on our own. For the skin, it helps to boost collagen, lighten discoloration, and fight free radicals.
This line was created by a cosmetic chemist, so you can feel confident knowing that the products contain only the highest quality, most efficacious ingredients, and pairings. In particular, vitamin C is the star of the show. The ingredient earns major props in the skincare world, but is especially a choice for using around the eyes; it can help stimulate collagen production to diminish the look of fine lines, even out skin tone, and offers antioxidant protection. This formula uses a 5% concentration of a pure, patented, and extra-stable version of vitamin C, along with CBD to help tamp down inflammation or redness.
Best Night Time: Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Face Moisturizer
olay regenerist retinol 24 night moisturizer
Another good retinol pick, this is formulated to be effective yet gentle enough that you can use nightly without the irritation that often comes with retinoids. (FYI, saving any retinol product for bedtime is a good move since the sun can inactivate the ingredient.) Further minimizing the risk of irritation is the fact that this is fragrance- and dye-free.
Best Drugstore: No7 Restore & Renew Multi-Action Eye Cream
No7 Restore & Renew Eye Cream
KEY INGREDIENTS Amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins and have a role in virtually all the biological processes that occur in our bodies, including the reparation of skin.
Great eye creams come at all price points, though if you’re seeking a budget-friendly pick you can nab at the drugstore, this is the one for you. It uses the brand’s unique blend of amino acids, calcium, and ceramides to address not only wrinkles but puffiness too. And we love the targeted applicator, which makes it easy to dispense just the right amount.
The 12 Best Drugstore Eye Creams, Hands Down
Best Eye Creams for Wrinkles Brightening: Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème
Ole Henrikson Banana Bright Eye Crème
If you want to target both lines and discoloration, reach for this cream. True to the name it has a pale orange hue, inspired by the yellow ‘banana powder’ makeup artists use to help counteract dark circles. It’s loaded with vitamin C to both brighten and boost collagen production. So much so that in an independent clinical study of 37 women, 94% of users saw an average of 40% improvement in lines and wrinkles in just four weeks.
Best Eye Creams for Wrinkles Splurge: La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Eye Cream
La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Eye Cream
If you really want to treat yourself, try this indulgence. At work is a caviar extract that not only addresses lines and wrinkles, but also lifts and firms, all while imparting a hefty dose of hydration. It’s ultra-silky and absorbs lightning-fast, ideal for using both morning and night. We also appreciate the included silver spatula, which means you’ll never have to dip your grimy fingers into the jar.
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Best Natural: Alpyn Beauty PlantGenius Line-Filling Eye Balm
Alpyn Beauty PlantGenius Line-Filling Eye Balm
For those wary of using products with potentially questionable chemicals around their eyes, this clean cream is a choice. It uses a litany of different plant-based extracts to impart everything from hydration to antioxidant protection to, of course, wrinkle-fighting effects. And because it is a bit of a richer balm, it’s a great pick for those with very dry skin or who simply want to use a thicker product around their eyes.
Best for Sensitive Skin: First Aid Beauty 5-in-1 Eye Cream
First Aid Beauty 5 in 1 Eye Cream Age Delay
The thin skin in the eye area is already more prone to irritation, and that’s even more so the case if your skin is sensitive to begin with. Enter this multi-tasker. It gets big points for being fragrance-free, as well as including specific soothing ingredients such as bisabolol and niacinamide. Still, it’s super effective, thanks to line-smoothing peptides plus a long list of other ingredients that work to hydrate and knock out dark circles, too.
Best Gel: Biossance Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel
Biossance Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel
On the flip side, if you don’t love the feeling of heavy eye cream, try this lightweight gel. It contains two different youth-boosting peptides, plus squalane, a top ingredient for delivering weightless moisture. There’s also caffeine to reduce dark circles, never a bad thing.
Our go-to move with any gel product is to stash it in the fridge to make it feel extra refreshing when it goes on, so be sure to do that here, and this gel is no exception.
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Best Serum: Epara Skincare Eye Serum
As a general skincare rule of thumb, serums always give you a better bang for your buck when it comes to getting a higher concentration of active ingredients since they’re more lightweight than creams. This one touts a litany of them, including bamboo silk, niacinamide, and licorice extract to target wrinkles, as well as puffiness and tone. Plus, you can use it not only around your eyes but on your lids, too.
Best Overnight Patch: SiO Beauty Super Eye Lift
Sio Super Eye Lift
Eye cream works, but it will take some time to see results. If you don’t have the luxury of time, try these patches. Wear them for a few hours or overnight; made of medical-grade silicone, they lock in skin’s natural moisture to intensify hydration and smooth out the look of lines, stat. Results are temporary but do get better and last longer the more you use the patches.
Best Mask: KNC Beauty All-Natural Retinol-Infused Eye Mask
For those days when you're short on your beauty rest, this eye mask gets the job done quickly. Apply it for twenty minutes while you primp (or binge-watch videos) and let the all natural formula do the work for you. Not only will the cute shooting star design give you a gram-worthy glam moment, but it's packed with retinol to diminish fine lines and wrinkles for hydrated, de-puffed eyes.