Dermatologists love retinol because the vitamin A derivative has been shown to stimulate collagen production, making fine lines and wrinkles a distant memory. But rather than using your standard retinol cream, it’s best to use a product formulated specifically for the delicate skin around the eyes. “The under-eye area is quite sensitive as it is some of the thinnest skin on the body,” explains New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Anthony Rossi. “Therefore retinol in this area may be too irritating and can actually cause inflammation if not used correctly.” If you’re concerned about irritation, only use the product in your evening routine. “Retinols historically are used at night because vitamin A derivatives can be inactivated by exposure to UV, and retinols can make the skin more UV sensitive,” says the derm.
Used regularly, retinol will also firm and smooth the skin under and around your eye. But the best part is that there are so many eye cream formulations, you don’t have to take a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, we found 14 retinol-based wonders that each target a specific concern—leaving all skin types smooth, hydrated, and irritation-free.
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Best for Dark Circles
Retinol Ceramide Line Erasing Eye Cream
The latest addition to the iconic brand’s retinol ceramide range, this eye cream features encapsulated retinol for continuous release, plus brightening niacinamide.
Best Sleep Mask
Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask
In addition to encapsulated retinol, nutrient-rich avocado and coffeeberry provide anti-aging power in this mask, which is applied like eye cream at night and rinsed off in the AM.
Best Budget Buy
Retinol Eye Cream
For only $9.99, you won’t find a cream better for your eyes or credit card statement. This cream has a slow-release retinol derivative to combat wrinkles without causing irritation.
Best Eye Serum
Passion Fruit Retinol Ageless Eye Serum
An eye serum is a lightweight, refreshing alternative to a cream; try applying this retinol- and peptide-spiked formula with a rollerball tool for an extra cooling effect.
Best for Quick Results
Rapid Wrinkle Repair Anti-Wrinkle Retinol Under Eye Cream
With retinol, there’s no such thing as instant results. But this cream gets close. In just about a week, you’ll notice smoother, brighter eyes with results getting better over time.
Best with Antioxidants
Magic Eye Rescue Cream
Loaded with vitamins C and E to fend off the free radicals that break down collagen, this comforting cream has become a cult favorite.
Best All-Around Drugstore Deal
Revitalift Anti-Wrinkle + Firming Eye Cream
See visible improvements in dark circles and signs of aging in as little as four weeks with this pro-retinol powerhouse from the drugstore.
Best for Sensitive Skin
Redermic R Retinol Eye Cream
Formulated with thermal spring water and pure retinol, this gel-cream is paraben- and fragrance-free and won’t irritate sensitive skin.
Eye Dew Plus
Not only does it firm and smooth the eye area, this opalescent formula works equally well at hydrating the lips.
Best for Brightening
Youth Dose Eye Treatment
Use this cream under your concealer for an illuminating effect that will also work as a primer for your makeup.
Ideal Resource Youth Retinol Oil Concentrate Capsules
Packaged in single-use capsules, this blend of botanical oils and retinol can be used alone or mixed into your other skincare.
Best for Hydration
Eye Contour Balm Anti-Wrinkle
This rich balm leaves skin feeling moist and dewy for hours after application, making even the driest skin soft and supple.
Best for Deep Wrinkles
Olay Eyes Eye Lifting Serum
Powerful moisturizers reinforce the skin’s barrier while highly active pro-retinol stimulates cell turnover to plump up the look of deep lines.
FAB Skin Lab Retinol Eye Cream with Triple Hyaluronic Acid
Cruelty-free and formulated without sulfates, parabens, phthalates, or mineral oil, this luxurious cream features soothing oatmeal and aloe, in addition to microencapsulated retinol.
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