The best eye creams for dark circles, puffiness and wrinkles

Eye creams are probably the most divisive of all skincare products. Often, there are two schools of thought: first, there’s those who don’t think there’s a need for eye cream, and in lieu of using one, they prefer to take their existing moisturiser all the way up and around the eyes. Then there’s the opposing camp, which thinks it’s better to use something specifically made for use around the eye area.

While there’s strong arguments for both beliefs, we’re of the mindset that the latter is best, and Harley Street’s Dr Sam Bunting concurs.

“Eye creams can serve multiple functions,” she says. “If correctly formulated, they protect against oxidative stress caused by environmental stressors. They build the delicate barrier (the skin around the eyes is the thinnest on the body), and can work to build collagen to keep skin thick and crease-resistant – it’s an area constantly squeezed by muscles around the eyes when we smile.”

Using a dedicated product will usually be hydrating while also working to help support the skin’s barrier and negate any potential drying effects that active ingredients can sometimes have. However, with some formulas being better and more effective than others, what specific ingredients are best to look for?

“I recommend a cocktail of vitamins A, B and C – which can, of course, be found in general-purpose serums,” Bunting explains. “But what’s great about a well-formulated eye product is that it will contain all the right ingredients without the hassle of layering in the eye area, which is something that can often cause pilling [where tiny particles are formed, which then collect on the skin’s surface].”

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How we tested

To help narrow down the options, we rounded up our favourite (and most effective) eye creams, and asked out tester – who’s in her early 30s, with slightly dry skin under her eyes and faint dark circles – to use each one for a minimum of one week, either once or twice a day depending on the individual instructions. While our tester didn’t see any long-term results in that time (most creams need at least a month or so to really get to work), it did give her a good idea of how the different textures felt, how the creams sat under make-up (if applicable) and the general wear of them.

This round-up includes a broad range of eye creams to handle everything from sensitive skin to puffiness, and covers various price points, from budget beauties to luxe lotions. Keep scrolling to find the one most suitable for you…

The best eye creams for 2022 are:

  • Best eye cream overall – Dr Sam’s flawless nightly eye serum: £37,
  • Best eye cream for sensitive skin – CeraVe eye repair cream: £10,
  • Best eye cream for hydration – Dr.Jart+ ceramidin eye cream: £27,
  • Best eye cream for brightening – Dr Dennis Gross skincare c+collagen brighten and firm eye cream: £69,
  • Best eye cream for fine lines – Kate Somerville line release under eye repair: £120,
  • Best eye cream for tired eyes – Patchology hero status roll model brightening roll-on eye serum: £20,
  • Best eye cream for dark circles – Sarah Chapman eye recovery: £56,
  • Best eye cream for puffiness – Sunday Riley autocorrect brightening and depuffing eye contour cream: £60,
  • Best lightweight eye cream – Royal Fern phytoactive anti-aging eye cream: £150,

Eye cream FAQs

How is eye cream different from face cream?

Because eye cream is designed to target a smaller area compared to covering the entire face, it may contain more concentrated ingredients for focusing on concerns including fine lines and dark circles. Often, key components found in an eye cream formula are exactly the same as those seen in face cream, but they can be much richer for smoothing onto that delicate under-eye area.

Which is better: an eye gel or an eye cream?

An eye gel can feel refreshing on skin, particularly if you pop it in the fridge first, while a comforting creamy formula is often equally soothing. There’s no definitive answer as to which is better, and like all beauty buys, it’s simply down to personal preference and skin type.

What to look for in an eye cream

An eye cream ingredients list will differ depending on what specific skin concern you’ve got in mind while shopping. So for example, if you’re looking to brighten up dark circles, look for vitamin C and caffeine. Meanwhile, hyaluronic acid promotes hydration and can help if you’re prone to dryness. Additionally, peptides are plumping, for improving the appearance of fine lines.

What’s the best eye cream for mature skin?

Skin becomes fragile and loses elasticity as it matures, so opt for ingredients that plump up, hydrate and increase collagen production in the skin. Hyaluronic acid is known for hydration while antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin A can speed up the regeneration of cells – look to products with retinol in for this too, which exfoliate the skin and ramp up collagen levels for a smoother complexion.

Do eye creams work?

Although they’re by no means an instant fix, eye creams are designed to improve the appearance of wrinkles and dark circles, and they can also soothe and repair skin.

When should I start using eye cream?

Most people start using eye cream from their thirties onwards, as this is when fine lines and wrinkles gradually begin to appear more noticeable. But there are benefits to be found in using eye cream from your twenties too, for preventive skincare purposes and to address existing puffiness or dark circles.

How to apply eye cream

As the skin around the eye is thin, delicate and prone to sensitivity, it’s best not to be too heavy-handed when applying product to the area. Use your ring finger to dab product gently under the eye and around the orbital bone until absorbed, taking care not to tug or pull skin.

The verdict: Eye creams

Our main discovery is that eye creams really have come a long way in a few short years. There are so many exceptional formulas out there that really can work wonders. However, if you’re looking for a one-stop-shop, does-it-all product, then we suggest investing in Dr Sam’s flawless nightly eye serum. With continued use, it will work to improve the appearance of the eye area.

If you’ve a bit more money to spend, Kate Somerville or Dr Dennis Gross won’t let you down, but if you want something on the more affordable side, then CeraVe has got you covered.

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Want to banish those dark circles? Check out our tried and tested review of the Fenty Beauty bright fix eye brightener