Your eyes are always giving you away. They tell the world when you’re bored, annoyed, or in love—or if you were up all night with a sick kid ... or had too many glasses of Pinot. But the truth is, no one likes to hear “Oh, you look so tired!” (even if that’s true).
Pick the right eye cream, however, and no one has to be the wiser. The best eye creams fade dark circles, hydrate skin, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while also preventing new ones from cropping up. And you don’t need to shell out the big bucks to find an effective formula: There are several powerful, dermatologist-approved eye creams that you can buy at the drugstore without a draining your wallet or filling a prescription.
How to choose (and use) the best drugstore eye cream
Keep them small: While many daily moisturizers can double as an eye cream, some of them have not been tested for safety around the delicate eye area, which is more prone to allergic reactions. To avoid potential irritation, stick with products designed to be an eye cream, says Debra Jaliman, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City and author of Skin Rules.
Scan the label: The ingredients in your eye cream will make all the difference in the results. It’s best to avoid products that contain heavy fragrances and dyes, as these have more of a risk for irritation. Below, Dr. Jaliman names a few standout ingredients to look for:
- Peptides: “These stimulate collagen production,” she says, which is a protein that helps strengthen your skin.
- Caffeine: It can wake up your skin by constricting blood vessels and removing built-up fluid.
- Niacinamide: This form of vitamin B3 targets fine lines and discoloration.
- Hyaluronic acid: This humectant acts like a sponge and holds up to a thousand times its weight in water.
- Ceramides: These natural fats are found naturally in the skin and can help heal a dry or weakened skin barrier.
- Retinol: A derivative of vitamin A, retinol drives collagen production and speeds up skin cell turnover to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Just note that it can cause extra dryness and peeling, so always look for hydrating ingredients (like shea butter, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides) alongside it.
- Antioxidants: This includes vitamins C and E, ferulic acid, and berry extracts, which can help fight the damage caused by UV rays and pollution.
Do a patch test: Before you slather on your eye cream, test a small amount of the product on another part of your skin (like your neck or the inside of your arm) to ensure you don’t have a negative reaction. Once you’re in the clear, be sure to lightly apply the product with your ring or pinky finger to avoid tugging or pulling, which further promotes fine lines and wrinkles.
Ready to revive your under-eyes at an affordable price? The following drugstore eye creams come recommended by the pros for their restorative ingredients and won’t do a number on your wallet.
Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream
✔️ BEST OVERALL
Dry skin around the eyes exacerbates fine lines and wrinkles, so your product should provide top-notch hydration. This drugstore eye cream contains hyaluronic acid, one of Dr. Jaliman’s go-to ingredients, to help lock in moisture for quick plumping action, while retinol reinforces collagen to smooth and strengthen the skin.
e.l.f. Illuminating Eye Cream
At just $10, this gentle eye cream will nourish the skin, reduce redness, and soothe any irritation, thanks to its winning combination of shea butter and glycerin, cucumber extract, green tea, and jojoba oil. Testers were pleasantly surprised by its brightening effect and lightweight finish, too.
L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Anti-Wrinkle + Firming Eye Cream
Enriched with hydrating glycerin, soothing soy, and de-puffing caffeine, this firming eye cream fights fine lines and dark circles without feeling thick or greasy on the skin. Reviewers rave about how quickly the product brightens, hydrates, and rejuvenates tired-looking eyes. You can even dab it around your mouth if you struggle with lines there, too.
Roc Retinol Correxion Eye Cream
✔️BEST FOR WRINKLES
This option is a favorite of San Diego-based dermatologist Arisa Ortiz, M.D. Retinol is the heavy lifter here, improving collagen production and boosting cell turnover to firm up wrinkles and brighten discoloration. Meanwhile, glycerin helps boost hydration to fight any dullness.
Olay Eyes Eye Lifting Serum
✔️BEST FOR DARK CIRCLES
This gentle, fragrance-free eye serum packs a peptide complex that will fortify and tighten drooping lids. Niacinamide will even out skin tone and banish dark circles, while green tea extract provides protective antioxidants and soothing power. It’s also fast-absorbing, so you can easily layer it underneath makeup.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Gel Cream
✔️ BEST FOR DRY SKIN
If you have dry, crepey-looking under-eyes, try this hydrating eye cream from Neutrogena, suggests Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. The hyaluronic acid in it “acts like a sponge to pull in hydration from the deep skin layers and even the air,” he says.
Garnier SkinActive Clearly Brighter Anti-Puff Eye Roller
✔️ BEST FOR PUFFY EYES
Puffy eyes are no match for the caffeine and vitamin C in this gel-like eye cream. Caffeine constricts blood vessels, helping to remove excess fluid, Dr. Zeichner explains, while vitamin C evens out darkness and discoloration. Keep this one cool in the fridge for extra de-puffing power.
CeraVe Eye Repair Cream
✔️BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN
If you have sensitive skin, CeraVe is a safe bet, says Dr. Jaliman, since it’s fragrance-free and designed to be gentle. (It even earned the National Eczema Association’s seal of acceptance.) Ceramides help repair the skin’s protective moisture barrier, hyaluronic acid maintains hydration, and niacinamide diminishes discoloration.
Aveeno Absolutely Ageless Eye Cream
Dr. Zeichner likes Aveeno’s eye cream because it contains an antioxidant- and vitamin-rich complex that stimulates elastin in the skin. The result? Loose, stretchy skin bounces back for a firmer, lifted look. The non-greasy formula feels weightless on the skin, too.
Cetaphil Hydrating Eye Gel-Cream
This hypoallergenic eye cream nourishes the skin for an instantly rejuvenated look. Hyaluronic acid, licorice extract, and a vitamin complex team up to deeply moisturize, smooth, and brighten the delicate under-eye area without the fear of irritation.
Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Eye Cream
This wrinkle-fighting formula is packed with retinol and niacinamide to smooth and lift skin while reducing discoloration. Still, it was formulated to be ultra-gentle and lightweight, so you can dab on before bed without worrying about morning irritation.
Vichy Mineral 89 Eyes Serum
If you prefer an ultra-thin product that sinks into the skin, this silky formula is for you. Packed with skin-plumping hyaluronic acid and de-puffing caffeine, Vichy’s thermal water serum will provide all-day hydration while perking eyes up for a well-rested appearance.
Eau Thermale Avene PhysioLift EYES
Thanks to the addition of hyaluronic acid, this Avène eye cream will hydrate, plump, and smooth the under-eye area. It also contains retinaldehyde (a form of retinol ideal for sensitive skin) to fight the appearance of fine lines and brighten dark circles.
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