The Best Eye Creams for Wrinkles
You’ve got to love targeted advertising. There you were, just minding your own business, happily ignoring the little creases that were starting to take up residence around your eyes… when, bam! Suddenly, your social media feeds are flooded with advertisements for face yoga, eye creams, and the plastic surgery clinics nearest to your home.
How do they know? How do they know?!
Now, you’ve got two things to worry about: wrinkles and the idea that someone or something is always watching you. You’re on your own with that second problem (…or not), but we can help out with the wrinkles. Not only have we put together a list of the best eye creams for wrinkles, but we’ve also simplified the sciency stuff, answered your pressing questions about more drastic measures, and provided some tips on how you can limit the damage.
Why Do Your Eyes Need Their Own Cream?
Imagine if you had to purchase a different cream for each body part: eye cream, nose cream, ear cream, arm cream, hand cream, lip cream… Hang on, some body parts do actually have their own creams. Hand cream? Check. Foot cream? Check. Lip cream? Okay, it’s generally called lip balm, but check. Why can’t you just slather some good old moisturizer over your entire body and call it a day?
Quite simply because your skin—and its needs—are not the same everywhere on your body. The skin around your eyes, for example, is much more delicate than the skin on your arms or even the skin on the rest of your face. It is because this skin is thinner and more fragile that wrinkles often show up around your eyes before you notice them elsewhere. While some dermatologists are in the a-face-moisturizer-works-just-fine-for-your-eyes camp, others argue that the fragile skin around your eyes might be irritated by the quantities of certain active ingredients found in anti-aging face creams.
Do Anti-Wrinkle Eye Creams Actually Work?
Full disclosure: this is an article about the best eye creams for wrinkles, so we’re kind of obliged to side with the believers. But there is a scientific study to back us up. This double-blind, randomized, controlled, split-face study used three-dimensional imaging to test the efficacy of various skin treatments—including a daytime sunscreen, a night cream, an eye cream, and a wrinkle treatment—over a four-week period. The data from this study showed that all of the products tested showed an improvement in the smoothness of periorbital skin and a reduction in the depth of larger wrinkles.
Of course, not all eye creams are created equal, and many are not likely to be any more effective in combating wrinkles than your average drugstore moisturizer. So, how do you go about finding one that is likely to be effective? You check the list of ingredients. A few key active ingredients have been scientifically proven to offer anti-aging or wrinkle-reducing benefits. You want to find a product that contains an active ingredient that addresses your key concern.
(Or, you know, you could read through our pick of the best eye creams for wrinkles. We’re just saying…)
Active Ingredients Commonly Found in Eye Creams
While eye creams are essentially moisturizers for the sensitive skin around your eyes, they can also contain ingredients that target specific problems, such as wrinkles, puffiness, or dark circles under your eyes. To tackle those wrinkles, you will want to make sure that the cream you’re… um… eyeing has at least one of these active ingredients.
The term retinoids is used to describe compounds derived from vitamin A. Retinoids, which are stronger, are typically found in prescription medications, while retinol is found in over-the-counter creams. There is plenty of evidence that these compounds help to increase cell turnover, prevent collagen breakdown and reduce transepidermal water loss. These characteristics make retinoids fantastic in repairing sun damage and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the surface of the skin. To get the best out of this ingredient, look for a product that contains at least 0.25-1% retinol.
While retinoids can help to repair sun damage, they also make your skin more photosensitive, so you should apply these creams at night before going to bed and be sure to slather on the sunscreen in the morning. Pregnant women should not use creams that contain retinoids.
We all know that getting enough vitamin C in your diet is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system, but did you know that vitamin C can also work its magic when applied topically to your skin? Not only does it stimulate collagen production and protect the skin from pesky free radicals that cause cells to break down and skin to age, it also helps the skin retain moisture by reducing transepidermal water loss. Unfortunately, vitamin C can lose its efficacy as an active ingredient when exposed to air and sunlight, so if you choose a cream that is rich in vitamin C, it is important to limit the cream’s exposure to these elements.
While the skin cannot easily absorb collagen molecules, peptides—short chains of amino acids linked by peptide bonds—can penetrate the skin and promote the production of hyaluronic acid and collagen, both of which are essential for healthy skin. Peptides, which work well in combination with vitamin C, can improve the skin barrier, increase elasticity and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Coenzyme Q10—also known as ubiquinone or ubiquinol—is a coenzyme found in every cell in the human body. This coenzyme plays a vital role in the production of energy in cells. As we age, levels of this coenzyme decrease, and this results in the less effective functioning of our cells. Coenzyme Q10 supplementation has been shown to aid those living with numerous medical conditions.
Studies have also shown that, when applied topically, Q10-containing formulas can increase the levels of ubiquinone on the skin surface and in the deeper layers of the epidermis. The takeaway? Skin that is stressed (as a result of age or environmental factors) can benefit from the topical application of coenzyme Q10, which increases the skin’s ability to neutralize free radicals.
Hyaluronic acid, which is found naturally in the skin, has impressive water-binding powers, allowing it to trap water molecules in the skin. As an active ingredient in creams, hyaluronic acid will not change your skin on a molecular level, but it will help plump out the skin with moisture, thus reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
Alpha hydroxy acids, which include glycolic, citric, and lactic acid, exfoliate the skin and remove dead skin cells. This kind of exfoliation has many benefits, including stimulating the growth of new smooth skin and making it more likely that your skin will absorb the active ingredients in the products you apply.
As the name suggests, antioxidants help your body fight oxidative stress caused by UV rays and environmental pollutants. As such, they can help tackle the extrinsic causes of aging and protect the skin against premature aging.
1. Blu Atlas Restorative Eye Stick
Something that we absolutely adore about this brand is that it prioritizes ingredients of natural origin. In fact, in any given Blu Atlas product, at least 96% of the ingredients will be from natural sources. The multipurpose eye stick—which is reasonably priced as far as eye creams go—helps eradicate puffiness, dark circles, and those fine lines that make you look older than you are. Okay, older than you feel.
The nutrient-dense formula includes ascorbic acid (vitamin C), algae extract, rose flower water, and caffeine. Both the vitamin C and the coffea canephora act as powerful antioxidants to stave off the damage caused by free radicals, and vitamin C has the added benefit of boosting collagen formation. In addition to relieving puffiness and adding brightness, rose water may also help your skin to heal more quickly. The roller ball makes the application of the serum both easy and refreshing!
2. Clinique Smart Clinical Repair Wrinkle Correcting Eye Cream
This wrinkle-correcting cream from Clinique contains the brand’s proprietary blend of peptides, whey protein, caffeine, and algae extracts to tackle the signs of aging and strengthen your dermal support structure for more youthful-looking skin. The peptides work together to increase and support the production of natural collagen in your skin, the whey protein fulfills a similar function, and the caffeine and algae extract soothe and calm the skin to create an environment conducive to repair.
This collagen-boosting cream is suitable for all skin types, has been tested by ophthalmologists, and is free of fragrance, paraben, phthalate, oil sulfates, and synthetic colorants. A clinical trial found that after four weeks, the majority of participants believed that their crow’s feet looked reduced (85%), under-eye lines were less noticeable (86%), eyes looked less crepey (89%), and eye area looked rejuvenated (92%).
3. MMSkincare Bright & Tight Retinol Eye Cream
We’re not going to lie; this product is not for everyone. Not because it wouldn’t work for everyone, but because it’s somewhat on the pricey side. That being said, if you have the budget for it, this cream from dermatologist Dr. Ellen Marmur will smooth out fine lines, reduce puffiness, and get rid of those dark circles under your eyes.
This cream features two ingredients from our preferred active-ingredients list: retinol and peptides. The retinol in the formula promotes cell regeneration and the peptides work to repair the skin barrier. Arnica montana—which has anti-inflammatory properties—helps to tighten the skin under the eye, and the caffeine in the coffee extract reduces puffiness.
4. La Roche-Posay Redermic Retinol Eye Cream
Crow’s feet? Dark circles? Generally, looking far too much like your great aunt Gertrude? This retinol-rich eye cream from La Roche-Posay can solve at least two of those problems for you. As is the case with most La Roche-Posay products, this wrinkle-buster—which has a refreshing gel-like texture—contains spring water sourced from the town of La Roche-Posay in France. This water is naturally infused with beauty-boosting minerals, trace elements, and selenium.
The formula also includes retinol to boost skin cell turnover, caffeine to reduce bags and dark circles under the eyes, glycerin to hydrate the skin, and dimethicone (a silicone-based polymer) to protect the skin and help prevent the loss of moisture. Because of the retinol used in this formula, it is better to apply this eye cream only at night and to do so cautiously at first in case of sensitivity.
5. Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Créme
The marketing team at Ole Henriksen may have missed out on a few opportunities when naming this product. Sure, it contains the brand’s iconic light-reflecting mineral pigments inspired by the banana powder used by make-up artists. But it also contains gold. Like actual, real gold. Bananas are cool and all, but gold…
Speaking of which, why does it contain gold? The gold improves the absorption of vitamin C, and this eye cream is packed full of vitamin C! In fact, it contains ascorbic acid (pure vitamin C), 3-O ethyl ascorbic acid (a water-soluble vitamin C derivative with boosted antioxidant capacities), and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (an oil-soluble form of the vitamin that pairs well with other types of vitamin C). All that vitamin C works to promote collagen production, destroy free radicals, and decrease transepidermal water loss. It’s worth its weight in gold, we’d say.
6. Dr Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol & Ferulic Triple Correction Serum
One of the more expensive products on our list of the best eye creams for wrinkles, this fast-absorbing serum tackles aging by firming skin, upping hydration, and making wrinkles appear smoother. The key to this cream’s efficacy is a proprietary blend of two forms of retinol—trans-retinol and encapsulated retinol—ferulic acid, bakuchiol, and rambutan.
While retinol is an effective active ingredient, it can also irritate the skin. In this formula, ferulic acid counteracts the irritating effects of the retinol. Rambutan is an antioxidant that supports collagen production, and bakuchiol reinforces the skin’s barrier function to promote the retention of water. The formula directly stimulates the cells that produce collagen in the upper dermis and increases cell turnover in the epidermis.
7. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream
For those with a more limited budget, Neutrogena offers an eye cream that is both affordable and effective. With more than 20 retinol patents and 100 retinol clinical studies, Neutrogena has accumulated a wealth of knowledge regarding this active ingredient. Knowledge that is put to good use in its Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream, which combines retinol and hyaluronic acid to tackle crow’s feet, smooth out fine lines, and plump up the skin with moisture.
8. Olay Vitamin C + Peptide Eye Cream
Free of fragrance, parabens, phthalates, synthetic dyes, or mineral oil, this lightweight moisturizer from Olay will help you achieve healthier, silkier skin around your eyes after just a month of use. It brightens, hydrates, and improves the appearance of the skin. As the name suggests, this cream is loaded with free-radical-fighting vitamin C and skin-smoothing peptides. It also contains one of the brand’s favorite ingredients—niacinamide or vitamin B3—which exfoliates and hydrates the skin. Massage delicately into your skin after cleansing in the morning and the evening for an instant dose of cooling hydration.
9. Biossance Squalane & Marine Algae Eye Cream
This cruelty-free eye cream from Biossance promises to visibly lift, smooth, and hydrate skin around the eyes in just seven days. How is this magic achieved? A combination of paracress extract, squalane, and pink marine algae. Feeling none the wiser? Paracress extract is a medicinal floral extract that has demonstrated the ability to instantly lift and firm the skin, and the sugarcane-derived squalane behaves like the body’s natural oils to transport active ingredients deep into the skin.
10. The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
While not exclusively an eye cream, this serum from The Ordinary cracked our list of the best eye creams for wrinkles because of its affordability. The combination of hyaluronic acid and pro-vitamin B5 traps moisture in your skin, giving it a plumper, smoother appearance and reducing the appearance of wrinkles. After using this serum for four weeks, participants in a clinical study remarked that their skin was smoother and more supple and that wrinkles were less noticeable.
Frequently asked questions
What causes wrinkles?
Skin aging—which leads to wrinkles—is caused by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic aging refers to the physiological changes that occur naturally as we age. These changes include a slowing down of the rate at which cells are renewed and a reduction in the production of collagen and elastin. Collagen helps to determine the firmness of your skin, and elastin is crucial to elasticity.
As elastin levels decrease, it becomes more and more difficult for skin tissue to return to its resting state. In addition to this, as you grow older, the fat stored in the deeper layers of your skin diminishes, which can cause skin to sag and wrinkles to become more pronounced.
Extrinsic aging refers to the external or environmental factors that cause your skin to age. The most prominent among these is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays; however, it is not the only extrinsic cause of skin aging. Other factors that may cause premature aging include smoking, air pollution, climate, and an unhealthy lifestyle (poor nutrition, inadequate sleep, or a poor skincare routine).
What makes the skin around your eyes more susceptible to wrinkles?
The skin around your eyes is actually the thinnest, most delicate skin on your body. Because of this, it is particularly prone to dryness, irritation, environmental damage, and any signs of premature aging. The eye area is also an area of your face that is very expressive. Lines appear when you laugh, frown, and squint (due to excessive light or concentration). As the already-fragile skin around your eyes begins to lose its elasticity, these lines become more and more entrenched and they don’t simply disappear when you change your expression.
Are there different kinds of wrinkles?
Eye wrinkles can fall into one of three categories: dynamic, static, and wrinkle folds. Laugh a lot? Over time, you’ll develop laugh lines that show up every time you contract certain muscles and then disappear again when you relax those muscles. These are dynamic wrinkles.
Unfortunately, they don’t only form when you laugh… you’ll also get them from frowning, squinting, etc. When your skin loses some of its elasticity, it loses its ability to bounce back to neutral between various different expressions, and it is then that dynamic wrinkles become static wrinkles. Static wrinkles are fine lines under, between, and in the corner of the eyes that don’t disappear. Wrinkle folds are the more extreme version of static wrinkles—deep folds in the skin instead of fine lines.
How does smoking cause wrinkles?
If you are looking for yet another reason to ditch the ciggies, let this be it: premature aging. The nicotine in cigarettes causes a narrowing of your blood vessels, which makes it more difficult for oxygen, collagen, elastin, and other nutrients to get to your skin. Not only this, but the other harmful chemicals found in cigarettes (there are a lot of them!) interfere with the production of collagen and elastin and even break down existing molecules. Even if you’ve smoked for years—or decades—quitting today will positively impact your skin.
What is photoaging?
Photoaging is the term given to the damage caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation. In case that’s not clear, we’re talking about unprotected exposure to sunlight or tanning beds. UVB rays can only penetrate the epidermal layer of your skin resulting in freckles, dark spots, and potentially cancerous lesions. UVA rays, on the other hand, penetrate deeper into the skin and damage the dermal layer. With persistent UVA exposure, the dermal layer—where collagen and elastin are found—will shrink, causing sagginess in the epidermis. Simply put, if you’re looking for a magical lotion to prevent premature aging, you’ll find it in the sunscreen aisle.
How can air pollution cause premature aging?
The bad news, if you live in a busy city, is that polluted air often contains harmful amounts of particulate matter (PMs), nitrogen dioxide, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Studies have found that these chemicals can all contribute to premature aging. The good news is that you could still move to the countryside.
Are there more effective options for treating wrinkles?
Expecting eye creams to work as well as a facelift is a little like expecting a Fiat to perform like a Ferrari. There are more effective treatments and medical procedures to address the problem of wrinkles, but none of them are as pain- and side-effect-free as eye creams. Wrinkle-reducing procedures include:
- Microneedling: this is a relatively unobtrusive treatment to stimulate the production of collagen. Microneedles (very thin needles) are used to poke minuscule holes in the skin before a skin serum is applied to the skin. The stimulation of collagen helps to smooth out the appearance of fine lines.
- Chemical peels: a chemical solution, which is applied to your face, that removes (peels) the top layers of your skin. The damaged skin doesn’t peel off immediately, and the new skin that grows in its place is smoother and less marked by wrinkles. Chemical peels tend to be a regular ongoing treatment.
- Dermabrasion/ microdermabrasion: think of this as an extreme version of exfoliation. A rapidly rotating brush is used to sand down the surface of your skin—microdermabrasion is the milder version of this treatment—and the new skin is smoother and more rejuvenated.
- Botox: botox injections temporarily paralyze the muscles that contract when you pull certain facial expressions. While the treatment lasts (usually for a few months), you won’t have wrinkle lines… or easy-to-decipher facial expressions.
- Soft tissue fillers: this treatment involves injecting fillers—fat, collagen, or hyaluronic acid—into wrinkles to temporarily plump them out and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
- Ablative laser resurfacing: in this procedure a laser beam destroys the epidermis (outer layer of the skin) and heats the underlying dermis, which stimulates the production of collagen. The skin that forms under the wounded epidermis is smoother and tighter.
What can you do to prevent wrinkles?
While none of us is spared the inevitable process of aging, there are steps you can take to avoid premature aging and slow down the speed at which wrinkles become permanent features on your face.
- Up the SPF: we really can’t stress this enough. The most important measure you can take against wrinkles and premature aging is to always—no matter the season—wear a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30.
- Wear a hat and sunglasses: in addition to religiously applying sunscreen each morning, you should also wear a hat (the wider the brim, the better) and sunglasses when you step outdoors. Opt for slightly pricier sunglasses that come with UVA/UVB protection. Not only will sunglasses protect your eyes—and the sensitive skin around your eyes—from UV radiation, but they will also reduce the amount you squint.
- Stop smoking: come on, you can do it.
- Keep your skin moisturized: whether you are using an eye cream or just a regular face moisturizer, keeping your skin moisturized will help to prevent wrinkles.
- Give yourself a facial massage: not only can a facial massage help you feel relaxed (and therefore less likely to frown), but it can also improve circulation and reduce puffiness. Put on some calming music, grab a facial oil and your jade roller, and you’re good to go. But remember, massage gently around the delicate eye area.