Yes, You Should Be Using A Retinol Eye Cream — & These Are The Best Ones

The retinol you’re using all over your face can work wonders for the skin around your eyes, too. But as that skin is so delicate, it’s more susceptible to the potential drying, irritating, and peeling effects that a concentrated retinol can cause. A better option: Invest in one of the best retinol eye creams featured here. They contain potent doses of retinol, but that’s tempered with smart formulations (like slow-release delivery systems) and nourishing ingredients, like hyaluronic acid and ceramides.

Read more: The 13 Best Dermatologist-Recommended Eye Creams In 2021

Shopping for retinol eye creams is something that can actually be quite personal. First and foremost, the right one for you depends on your sensitivity levels, as either intense concentrations of retinol or the wrong eye cream in general can be extremely irritating for people with reaction-prone skin. Both at the same time is a recipe for disaster — but there are plenty of gentle choices on this list. Beyond that, consider what else you’re hoping to get out of your eye cream. Added sun protection for that extra-delicate skin around your eyes? Look for a formula with SPF. Long-lasting moisture? You need some ceramides in your life. Something from a Kim Kardashian-approved brand? There’s an eye cream here for you, too.

You’ll find all that and more in this guide to the best retinol eye creams, ahead. Pro tip: You can smooth these creams around your lip contour area, too.

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The Award-Winning One

This award-winning RoC eye cream — it made the Allure Best of Beauty list in 2020 — hails from Kim Kardashian’s favorite drugstore retinol brand; though with over 5,000 five-star ratings, it’s a clear favorite among Amazon customers, too. Its popularity is likely due to its high concentration of retinol — the highest you can get in an over-the-counter product, in fact — but any drying or irritating side effects are mitigated by a soothing complex of magnesium, zinc, and panthenol. This is also hypoallergenic and costs under $20, in case you need more reason to get on the RoC bandwagon.


The Fast-Acting One

Retinoids typically work within 12 weeks or more, but this dermatologist-recommended eye cream from Neutrogena claims to smooth, firm, and hydrate your skin within just one. That’s down to the brand’s accelerated Retinol SA formula, a blend of stabilized retinol, hyaluronic acid, and a glucose complex. Together, those ingredients optimize and slow down retinol delivery — so it’s intensely effective, but it shouldn't cause irritation. A great choice for (impatient) beginners.


The Extra-Moisturizing One

The luxuriously thick consistency of this Paula’s Choice eye cream feels super moisturizing. It’s enriched with five barrier-repairing ceramides, peptides, and panthenol, which all work to bolster retinol’s smoothing and firming effects. Meanwhile, vitamin C helps protect against environmental aggressors, like sun, smog, and pollution, which results in brighter, clearer skin over time.


The One With SPF

Retinol can make your skin a bit more photosensitive than usual, so the SPF 15 in this Murad eye cream is a thoughtful touch. (It’s not quite the minimum recommended SPF 30, but it’s better than nothing, and will keep your under-eyes extra protected when paired with your usual sunscreen.) That also makes this the only retinol eye cream that’s truly suitable for daytime use. Retinol and SPF together may sound overly intense for people with teary eyes, but several Amazon reviewers with sensitive skin reported zero irritation with this cream.


The One With Everything

All the skin care heavy hitters show up in this Dr. Dennis Gross eye cream, including glycolic, mandelic, and salicylic acids, cica, panthenol, ferulic acid, and coenzyme Q10, the latter two both being powerful antioxidants. (There’s retinol too, of course.) All those ingredients work together to visibly reduce unwanted puffiness and dark circles, and make your skin look firmer and smoother overall. Despite its potency, Amazon reviewers note that this feels comfortable and soothing, not heavy or greasy.