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Let’s start with the not-so-great news. The skin around your eyes is the thinnest and most delicate on the body. As such, it’s the most susceptible to damage from environmental factors such as sun and pollution, and where signs of aging (hello, fines lines, and wrinkles) most often show up first. Hence why you might be noticing some pesky crows’ feet around your eyes even if the rest of your complexion is still completely smooth.
Now for the good news. Because the skin in this area is so thin, it’s also where any type of topical treatment (read: eye cream) will have the most noticeable effects in the shortest amount of time. And yes, you do want to use a dedicated and separate eye cream, because this delicate skin requires a product that’s specially made to work effectively, without irritating. This means that good eye cream is a must-have for your wedding prep beauty regimen. While you're planning every detail of your wedding-day look, make sure to start early on your skin—a little extra prep will go a long way.
When it comes to choosing an eye cream that’s especially good at smoothing out fine lines, look for tried-and-true wrinkle-fighting ingredients, suggests board-certified dermatologist Dr. Ife J. Rodney, founder of Eternal Dermatology in Fulton, MD. A few go-to's: vitamin C, which both boosts collagen production and acts as a protective antioxidant, green tea, another powerful antioxidant that helps prevent the collagen breakdown that causes fine lines, and hydrating hyaluronic acid, which has the added benefit of offering instantaneous plumping to make skin appear smoother.
Read on for the best eye creams for fine lines and wrinkles.
Best Overall: Alastin Restorative Eye Treatment
This multi-tasker is one of Rodney’s favorites, a standout formula that effectively addresses fine lines and wrinkles, as well as other common eye area concerns such as dark circles and puffiness. At work is the brand’s proprietary TriHex technology, a blend of peptides and other ingredients that stimulates the production of healthy, new collagen and elastin while also clearing out damaged collagen and elastin.
There’s also antioxidant-rich green tea in the mix, as well as hydrating and brightening niacinamide. In short, it leaves skin firmer and more youthful, says Rodney, who also lauds the cosmetically elegant, matte finish that goes on and blends into the thin skin around the eyes completely seamlessly.
Best Budget: CeraVe Eye Repair Cream
Don’t want to shell out the big bucks on eye cream? There’s no need to. This ultra-affordable pick is another go-to for Rodney, who says it’s a top-notch multi-tasker, giving you even more bang for your buck. “It’s great for reducing puffiness, dark circles, and wrinkles,” she says.
At work are three different types of ceramides, one of her favorite ingredients to look for in an eye cream, helping to strengthen the skin barrier and lock in moisture, plus hydrating hyaluronic acid. The gentle, non-irritating formula is another great pick for those with sensitive skin, and/or eye cream beginners, who are looking for a good preventative option to help ward off both wrinkles and dryness.
Best Brightening: Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème
Another one of Rodney’s picks, the star of the show here is collagen-boosting (AKA wrinkle-fighting) vitamin C. But the benefits of that ingredient don’t stop there; it’s also a powerful antioxidant and a great skin brightener. To that point, this formula also offers instant brightening and dark circle-concealing effects, which is why we love it for morning use.
The subtle, yellow-y peachy tint counteracts purple and blue shadows—even before you apply concealer. And speaking of, it actually improves the wear of your concealer, too. As if that weren’t enough, Rodney points out that there’s also linoleic acid in the formula, “a building block ingredient that strengthens the skin barrier to seal in moisture and keep irritants out,” she says, always good things when it comes to the delicate skin around your eyes.
Best Balm: Alpyn Beauty PlantGenius Line-Filling Eye Balm
Yes, this formula is noteworthy because it’s free from over 2,700 questionable chemicals and ingredients. But natural or not, it’s one of our all-time favorite eye creams, ever. As the name suggests, it’s ideal for smoothing out crows’ feet; credit the addition of bakuchiol, as well as a litany of protective antioxidants, including vitamin C, licorice root extract, and more.
It’s also mega-hydrating—after all, it’s a balm and not a cream—loaded with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, squalane, and other standout moisturizing ingredients. Still, despite the rich texture, it absorbs beautifully into the skin, leaving it immediately smoother, more even, and glowier, and layers surprisingly well under makeup. The fact that it comes packaged in a recyclable glass jar is just a bonus.
Best for Travel: The Inkey List Retinol Eye Cream
No matter whether you’re trying to combat fine lines around your eyes or anywhere else on your face, there’s no denying that retinol is the undisputed wrinkle-smoothing champion of the skincare world, with a long history of proven results. The only potential problem when it comes to using retinol near your peepers? You guessed it, the high likelihood of irritation, given that the ingredient is so potent. To that point, if you want to use retinol around your eyes, make sure you’re doing so via a dedicated eye cream, like this one.
It boasts a retinoid compound that’s stabilized and has a slow-release formula, greatly minimizing the likelihood of any potential issues. The pointed applicator tip also ensures you dispense just the right (very small) amount. Since sun exposure can inactivate retinol and retinol also makes your skin more sensitive to the sun, make this guy a part of your bedtime skincare routine.
Best Splurge: SkinMedica TNS Eye Repair
The TNS serum from this brand may be the product that’s most often talked about and buzzed about, but the eye cream variant deserves equal time in the spotlight. Like the beloved serum, it contains growth factors, superstar anti-agers known for their line-smoothing benefits. They’re paired with peptides to further maximize the wrinkle-fighting effects, alongside a list of heavy-hitting hydrators (think hyaluronic acid, shea butter, and more), making this admittedly pricey pick well-worth every penny.
Also noteworthy: The addition of boron nitride, a light-diffusing ingredient that instantly minimizes the look of dark circles and any other discoloration, a nice added touch that makes a big difference on sleepy mornings.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Burt’s Bees Renewal Firming Eye Cream
The skin around the eyes is already more sensitive, to begin with, and that’s even more so the case if you have sensitive skin in general. Enter this eye cream, which Rodney says it’s great for sensitive skin. She likes that it contains bakuchiol: “The plant-based ingredients is a less-irritating alternative to retinol,” she explains.
It offers very similar effects when it comes to stimulating collagen production and smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles, but doesn’t come with irksome side effects such as redness, flaking, and general irritation. (As an added benefit, this eye cream helps combat puffiness and dark circles, too.) Plus, 99% of the ingredients are derived from natural origin and the formula is both dermatologists- and ophthalmologist-tested.
Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Gel-Cream
Not only is the skin around your eyes thinner and more delicate, but it’s also drier. And, in case you missed the memo, fine lines and wrinkles are always more noticeable on dry skin. That’s why Rodney suggests this wallet-friendly, drugstore staple. Despite how hydrating it is, it still absorbs quickly into the skin, thanks to the gel-cream formula, she says.
Credit hyaluronic acid, a lightweight hydrator that attracts water and traps it in the skin. In fact, it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, offering instantaneous plumping and smoothing effects, too. Oil-, dye-, and fragrance-free, it’s nice and gentle on this sensitive skin and is non-comedogenic so there’s no need to worry about clogged pores, either. It layers beautifully under makeup as well.
Because the skin around our eyes is different than elsewhere on our face, a dedicated eye cream is a must. You can’t go wrong with the Alastin Restorative Treatment, a dermatologist favorite that fights fine lines, puffiness, and dark circles. If you’re on a budget, check out either the CeraVe Eye Repair Cream or the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Gel Cream. And for those with sensitive skin, the super gentle, dermatologist- and ophthalmologist-tested Burt’s Bees Renewal Firming Eye Cream is a great pick.
What To Look For In an Eye Cream
Rather than opt for the trendy ingredient of the moment, stick with tried-and-true actives. A few of the best include vitamin C, which acts as a protective antioxidant and boosts collagen, hyaluronic acid, which plumps and hydrates the skin, and green tea, a powerful antioxidant to ward off future damage.
How to apply eye cream?
Use your ring finger to gently pat (not rub) the eye cream in. Why the ring finger? You innately can’t push down as hard with it as you can, say, your index or middle fingers, which is ideal for the delicate skin around your eye.
When to apply eye cream?
Check the directions of the formula you’re using. Most formulas, especially if they focus just on hydration, can be used both morning and night, but those with certain actives (we’re looking at you, retinol) are best reserved for the evening.
Where to apply eye cream?
Using the orbital bone around your eye as a guide, apply the eye cream underneath the eye (being careful not to get too close to the lashes), around the sides, and then under the top brow bone. Don’t apply it onto the top lid unless the product specifically states it can be used this way.
Why trust Brides?
Brides contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there.