It’s not nice to have favourites, but there’s no denying that when it comes to high-performing ingredients dermatologists and skin experts clearly have a class pet: retinol. The anti-ageing skincare hero of the moment, facialists and aestheticians consistent recommend that once we hit 30 we should all be adding a retinol to our routine for its skin-smoothing, texture-refining benefits. And while Heck, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s facialist is so obsessed with the ingredient that she created her own cult retinol serum: It’s that good.
But due to its potent nature, most retinol serums, lotions and moisturisers come with strict instructions to avoid applying around your eye area. So, are our eyes destined to a life of fine lines, puffiness and dark circles? Thankfully, no! Turns out, there are a whole host of hardworking retinol eye creams available—most of which are infused with other skin-friendly ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides and vitamin C to ensure that our delicate under-eye areas aren’t at risk of irritation.
Ahead, I’ve rounded up 15 of the very best retinol eye creams to try now—so keep scrolling.
This new launch from Elizabeth Arden is seriously impressive. In fact, in a four-week consumer study of women aged 25–55, 98% reported that they saw an overall improvement in their eye area after using it. I’ve always been nervous about incorporating such a strong ingredient into my eye care routine, but this one is infused with peptides, ceramides and niacinamide to boost moisture, brighten and depuff alongside smoothing the skin—without any hint of irritation. I’ve definitely been converted.
Olay’s retinol moisturiser is something of a cult skincare product, and this eye cream looks set to repeat the success. As well as promising up to 24 hours of hydration thanks to its infusion of vitamin b3 (aka niacinamide), it’s packed with a unique retinoid complex that works deep beneath the skin’s surface to even texture, smooth the appearance of fine lines and generally boost glow around the eye area. A great affordable option.
Coined as a serum, rather than an eye cream, I personally think that its lighter-weight texture makes it a brilliant choice for those in their 30s, or with slightly oilier skin, who might not want a really rich, heavy eye cream. Although I don’t have many fine lines to speak of right now, I do think that this is one of the best brightening eye products that I’ve tried—and that’s all thanks to the combination of rejuvenating retinol and skin-lifting red algae extracts.
The cheapest retinol eye cream on my list by a mile, this affordable formulation from The Inkey List contains slow-release retinol that prevents irritation while offering up all of those anti-ageing benefits. Plus, an injection of nourishing shea butter means that drier complexions will adore this.
This is a bit of a does-it-all eye cream and I often gravitate towards it the night before I’m off to a big event like a wedding—that’s how effective it is. It contains a time-released retinol that works to smooth and contour the eye area throughout the day, but the thing I like most about it is how firming and tightening it is. Honestly, puffiness has no chance against this product.
If you have sensitive skin and are feeling bit hesitant when it comes to trying a retinol eye cream then look no further—French pharmacy brand La Roche-Posay have created this gentle formulation with you in mind. Alongside 0.1% pure retinol, you’ll find a dose of caffeine to combat dark circles and retinol linoleate—the brand’s own booster retinol complex—to target early signs of ageing and improve luminosity.
This is widely regarded as one of the best anti-ageing eye creams on the market, by beauty editors and skin experts alike. It contains vitamin A–derivative retinyl palmitate which lends it its skin-smoothing and strengthening powers. But it’s also brimming with antioxidants to brighten darkness and protect skin.
Containing two powerhouse ingredients—retinol and ferulic which is a brilliant anti-ageing antioxidant—this eye cream is the one to reach for if you’re fed up of looking tired. With a toddler that doesn’t love sleep, this eye cream is what I reach for on the mornings that my dark circles just can’t be ignored. With regular use it reduces skin sagging, darkness and fine lines, but I find that even used as a one-off it has real visibly brightening benefits.
This is a beautifully rich eye cream that uses micro-encapsulated retinol to deliver elasticity-boosting benefits with no harsh side effects. If you tend to have dryness or textured skin beneath your eyes then this blend of shea butter and vitamins A, C and E will really plump and nourish the skin.
U.S. skincare brand StriVectin are renowned for its solution-focused skincare products. (In fact, our readers went wild for its skin-smoothing primer earlier this year.) This lightweight retinol eye cream works just as hard; firming, hydrating, smoothing and minimising fine lines and wrinkles. A worthy skincare investment if you want to see results.
First Aid Beauty have taken all the precautions necessary to avoid skin reactions by infusing its retinol eye cream with hyaluronic acid at three different molecular weights. This basically guarantees that your under-eyes will be intensely hydrated and defended against any possible irritation from the effective micro-encapsulated retinol.
There’s another ingredient that skin experts and dermatologists always swear by and that’s vitamin C. I’m religious about incorporating the skin-brightening antioxidant into my skincare routine, so I was genuinely over the moon to discover that Paula’s Choice’s retinol eye cream contained it. This is a glowy, youthful eye area in a tube.
I have never ever used an eye oil in my life, but when Miranda Kerr creates one that promises to brighten, tighten and smooth then you try it. The key ingredient is kahai oil which is a superfood that naturally contains a high concentration of vitamin A (aka retinol). While I did find it a little rich and slippy to use during the day, dry complexions will get on well with this—and it’s great as an intensely moisturising overnight treatment.
I genuinely think that Pixi is one of the most underrated beauty brands. Sure, a lot of people will know and love its cult Glow Tonic, but they have so many more skincare gems that I use and love. For the price point, this is a surprisingly potent eye cream that has really visible results. In fact, I lent a tube to my mum who raves about how much smoother her under-eyes look since using this.
There’s a whole host of expert-approved skincare ingredients in this little tube of eye cream—from pro-retinol and red grape-seed extract to vitamin C and glycerin. The resulting formula combats fine lines and wrinkles, dark circles, and puffiness all while providing a dose of hydration to the delicate area.
Up next, these are the best retinol moisturisers, hands down.