Along with moisturiser, the best eye cream is one of the first skincare products most of us are drawn to. This probably comes down to the simple fact that the skin around our eyes changes noticeably before other areas - so we get dark circles, lines, puffy eyes and skin laxity.
But just as even the best foundation can't transform an completely neglected complexion with the wave of a magic make-up brush, it's important to be realistic about what eye cream can do. No topical product can tighten up sagging eyelids or magic away deep lines, but picking a well-formulated cream that perfectly suits your skin’s needs and using it consistently can help alleviate specific concerns.
It’s for this reason that Murad Vita-C Eyes Dark Circle Corrector is our best eye cream overall. This highly targeted product brings several effective brightening ingredients together, packaged stably and formulated to work in synergy for clinically proven results.
However, if lines and texture are more of a concern for you, our best budget eye cream, The Inkey List Retinol Eye Cream, may be more suitable. If it’s all-out luxury and powerful environmental protection you’re after, 111Skin Space Defence Bright Eye Lift Gel could be worth the sizeable investment.
Ready to find the best eye cream for you? Step right this way.
The best eye creams you can buy right now
Let’s not mess about here: If dark circles aren’t a concern, then Murad Vita-C Eyes Dark Circle Corrector may not be for you. If they are, then I’d urge you to snap it up without delay (as long as you can afford to, that is).
The key ingredient is ascorbic acid, the most potent form of vitamin C, kept stable and potent by the inclusion of another antioxidant called glutathione and a vitamin C derivative called tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (THD). These three work in tandem to stop the dulling, collagen-degrading, pigmentation-causing effects of environmental damage in its tracks. It also contains niacinamide, another tone-brightener, plus plumping hyaluronic acid, two algaes and no artificial fragrance.
The texture is lovely, if a little unusual; firmer than expected with a golden tone that instantly colour corrects and blurs. The air- and light-proof packaging is clean and clever for squeezing every last drop out, and in a clinical trial of 27 women aged 25-65, 85% saw a reduction in dark circles after six weeks.
See our full Murad Vita-C Eyes Dark Circle Corrector review
know what you’re thinking: At that price, there had better be something pretty darn special about 111Skin Space Defence Bright Eye Lift Gel. And do you know what? There is.
NAC Y2 is a unique complex created by 111Skin founder Dr Yannis Alexandrides (who happens to be one of Harley Street’s top plastic surgeons and aesthetic specialists) This combination of powerful antioxidants, amino acids and a vitamin C derivative was first used by Dr Yannis to boost post-treatment healing on his patients. But you don’t have to have a medical-grade facial peel to enjoy the benefits.
It turns out accelerated healing is a great thing on any skin, particularly so around the eyes, where environmental damage and collagen degradation take their toll, and so we get this ultra-powerful repair serum. It’s got a very appealing refreshing gel texture that feels gorgeous on hot, puffy morning peepers. NAC Y2 aside, the formula also includes anti-inflammatory caffeine and skin-energising peptides.
It sinks in swiftly without residue and gets to work, plumping lines, brightening and protecting against environmental damage. The airless pump keeps every ingredient in peak condition and will look glamorous on your skincare shelf. Sure, the price isn't for everyone and the inclusion of fragrance may be off putting to some, but otherwise there is very little not to love here.
When considering The Inkey List Retinol Eye Cream, you might be put off by the old beauty myth that retinol and the eye area don’t make for happy bedfellows. The truth is that, as long as your skin can tolerate it and you use products that are formulated with care, retinol can work wonders on texture, lines and cell turnover around the eyes.
This cream takes 0.09% pure retinol – a pleasingly gentle dose – and delivers it with lovely nourishing things like shea butter, glycerin and seed oils. The retinol is also stable and slow-release, meaning it should be accepted well by most skin types. It spreads on efficiently, sinks in swiftly and gets right to work. I jumped right in with nightly use and didn’t experience any tingling or redness as you might expect from a retinol cream. Sensitive types might want to begin using it a couple of nights a week and take it from there.
This isn’t a product you buy for glamour, show-off packaging or a lovely scent – it’s all about results. Everything from the simple white tube to the plain-speaking instructions printed inside the box are designed with high functionality in mind. This is nicely formulated, targeted and easy-to-navigate modern skincare. Oh, and did I mention it costs less than a tenner? Can’t argue with that.
The first thing you’ll notice about Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème is its perky yellow tone. The fruity hue is based on banana powder, an old make-up artist’s favourite for colour-correcting undereye shadows. Here, the pigment does much the same job, lightly counterbalancing dark circles and providing a smooth and even canvas for make-up to sit on top of.
For long-term skin benefits, this packs in three types of vitamin C, a known brightener and powerful antioxidant (although it would be more stable in airtight packaging, rather than a jar). We also get softening jojoba and tamarind seed oils, and emollients shea butter and coconut alkanes, to trap moisture in the skin.
The texture is absolutely beautiful – glossy, spreadable and a joy to apply. This adds a sense of enjoyment so often lacking in skincare, particularly when combined with that lovely hue and a fruity scent. If you’re very sensitive to fragranced products, that perfume could be an issue, but most should find it unobtrusive enough and quite uplifting, too.
There are things we expect from Charlotte Tilbury – glamorous products with irresistible names and beautiful textures, yes. Products that look, smell and feel glorious, of course. But serious skincare to rival the clinically minded big boys? It doesn’t feel like a seamless transition for the queen of colour cosmetics. Enter Charlotte Tilbury Magic Eye Rescue.
Here we are with an eye cream that includes an impressive cocktail of active ingredients – things like cell-energising peptides, a retinol derivative for texture and lines, brightening vitamin C, moisturising saccharide isomerate, plus Winter Daphne stem cells to boost the skin’s barrier function. All of this comes without compromise on texture, either – think buttery and nourishing. Oily types or younger skin might find it a little bit too rich, but it would suit dryer skin types who like to really feel their products after applying.
As with other jar-based creams, it would be remiss not to mention that vitamin C and retinol can be destabilised by light and air, but as part of such a complex cocktail, it is forgivable. And, oh, what a jar she is! Chunky and luxurious with rose-gold details, you certainly wouldn’t hide this away in a drawer. You also probably wouldn’t squeeze it into a gym or holiday bag, either, but in today’s world, dressing-table allure trumps portability anyway.
It’s worth starting by saying that The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% EGCG isn’t actually an eye cream; it’s a serum.
This will be very good news for anyone who finds rich textures a bit much in the easily overloaded eye area. It also means the smaller molecules sink in efficiently and get to work in the skin – and what work is that, you ask. The work of perking up signs of fatigue. The clue is in the name, with anti-inflammatory and vasoconstriction-boosting caffeine the star ingredient. It can reduce puffy eyes and boost microcirculation to bring fresh blood and nutrients to the skin’s surface, helping create a bright, healthy skin tone.
The EGCG bit of the product name is epigallocatechin gallatyl glucoside, a powerful antioxidant with all the pollution-busting and long-term collagen-boosting powers that entails. Plus, the formula includes nourishing glycerin and hyaluronic acid to hydrate, although owing to that serum texture, if you have very dry skin you may not find it quite nourishing enough.
So, you get all this for under £6 – what’s the catch? Well there’s nothing particularly luxurious about this product; the texture is light but also a touch sticky until it sinks in, which is common for products containing hyaluronic acid. It also requires a bit of swotting up to understand what you’re dealing with (The Ordinary’s website is a helpful resource for this). If you aren’t that interested in ingredients, the extra reading might be a bridge too far, but it’s an effort worth making for this great-value, effective skincare buy.
Great all-rounder sounds like a wishy-washy accolade, but the brilliance of Clinique Pep-Start Eye Cream lies in its “little bit of everything” approach. It instantly hydrates and smoothes skin texture, then offers a whole variety of long-term benefits from peptides. These are cell-communicating ingredients that perform a whole variety of functions to re-energise the skin. In fact, you could call them the great all-rounders of the skincare world. It’s a great thing, honestly.
Pep-Start also includes hyaluronic acid and glycerin to soften and hydrate, skin-replenishing ingredient of the moment squalane, and light-reflecting mineral mica for a soft-focus effect. The texture is easy to get along with – light, easily spread and absorbed – so would work particularly well for those with oily skin. It also sits very nicely under foundation and concealer without separating or causing it to slide around, plus the applicator builds in a nice hands-free massage to help with depuffing.
All this brings me neatly to the only real issue with this cream: That little massager has to be popped in and out to apply. Annoyingly, once you have finished and pop it back in, a tiny bit of cream shoots out the end, which feels a bit wasteful. Once you know it’s going to happen, you can ensure you use the extra helping, but a tiny rethink of this mechanism would make 5/5 material of what is otherwise an excellent eye cream.