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Until very recently, I thought eye cream was one of those completely unnecessary skincare products that your everyday face moisturizer could replace. And though I'm a firm believer that skincare doesn't need to be super fancy or overly complicated (yes, sometimes simpler is better!), I'm now convinced that a high-quality eye cream is essential—specifically, a hydrating eye cream packed with humectants and combined with ingredients powerful enough to smooth fine lines, reduce puffiness, and maintain a healthy skin barrier.
In a nutshell, humectants pull water into the top layer of your skin, either through deep layers in your skin (i.e., the dermis) or the environment. So, in the pursuit of the best of the best, I personally tested and reviewed 17 hydrating eye creams that are stacked with humectants (hi, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, aloe vera, etc.) and referenced tips from some experts (hi, Karan Lal, MD and Ana Mansouri, MD) to find you the most hydrating eye creams that target dark circles, puffiness, fine lines, and more.
Find our full list of the best hydrating eye creams below, along with answers from the experts on how to choose the best eye cream for you, the top ingredients to look for, and more.
Squalane + Marine Algae Firming & Lifting Eye Cream
Our top pick for the most hydrating eye cream overall is Biossance's Squalane + Marine Algae Firming & Lifting Eye Cream. The incredible formula—which is weightless and dissolves into your skin immediately upon application—is jam-packed with three superstar humects: Squalane, glycerin, and sodium hyaluronate to act like a big glass of water when applied to your dehydrated skin.
Key ingredients: Squalane, glycerin, sodium hyaluronate
Glowing Customer Review: "After using this product for a few weeks, it has done wonders for my eyebags. Unfortunately, my dark circles are partially genetic, but this eye cream is almost magic. It hydrates, plumps, and brightens my under eyes."
Retinol Correxion Under Eye Cream
If you've been around, you know that we Cosmo beauty editors (and dermatologists alike!) consider retinol the gold standard of ingredients. TL;DR, retinol (a form of vitamin A), speeds up your skin’s collagen production, which, in turn, subtly plumps fine lines and wrinkles over time. And when it comes to this eye cream, Dr. Lal says, “It’s the closest thing you're going to find to a prescription-strength retinoid that’s gentle enough to use around the eyes.” Though the formula contains hydrating glycerin to mitigate dryness upon application, you should definitely incorporate this eye cream slowly into your routine.
Key ingredients: Retinol, glycerin
Glowing Customer Review: “I've tried a lot of products and think this is finally THE ONE! I've noticed a definite reduction in my dark circles and under-eye bags in just the two weeks I've used this cream. So far I'm loving it!!”
Hydrating Eye Gel-Cream
This gel-cream hybrid, loved by over 18,000 testers on Amazon, is a great, affordable option that's safe for those with sensitive skin or eye cream newbies. It's loaded with skin-smoothing humectants and skin-brightening licorice extract, so your eyes are refreshed and ready for the day. It's a pretty safe choice for virtually anyone looking for a solid eye cream that performs just as well (dare I say better?!) than some of the pricier options.
Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, glycerin, butylene glycol, amino acids
Glowing Customer Review: "This gel/cream can be applied directly to your eyelids! It was soothing and moisturizing from the first application. I love it and was surprised that it has actually reduced my crow's feet better than any expensive eye cream I have tried. I will never be without this. Love it!"
Hydrating Caffeine Eye Cream
This eye cream is s-t-a-c-k-e-d with hydrating ingredients and puffy eyebags' worst enemy: caffeine—which, fun, exciting fact: When applied topically, caffeine temporarily constricts your blood vessels and improves circulation. This essentially "perks" up tired, swollen under-eye bags. So, in addition to drinking it, you should def add this caffeine-packed eye cream to your morning (and nightly!) routine.
Key ingredients: Caffeine, squalane, glycerin, urea, sodium hyaluronate, niacinamide
Glowing Customer Review: "I felt I needed to give this eye cream time to try. I honestly have to say that by the end of the first week, I noticed a difference in the puffiness and going into the second week, I had also noticed a difference in my dark circles. You honestly don’t need but a pea size or less. It goes on smoothly and soaks in right away. Not greasy at all!!"
Holy Hydration! Eye Cream
This incredibly affordable, hyaluronic-acid-and-peptide-packed-eye-cream is one of the most lightweight, quick-absorbing formulas that I have ever slathered on my under-eyes. It seriously feels like there is nothing there, and is just as good (dare I say, better??) than some of the more expensive eye creams out there. *Drops mic, adds to cart*
Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, peptides
Glowing Customer Review: "I am 62 and have sagging eyelids that just are wrinkly and crepey. Within about three days, this cream firmed them up. I never thought I'd buy a product that made such a huge difference AND was this inexpensive."
You know those nights when you're tossing and turning only to wake up to the sad sounds of your alarm clock accompanied by swollen, tired eyes? Unfortunately, I can't provide you with more snooze hours, but I can help remedy your puffy eye bags. Fun fact: Applying a cool compress on your under eyes lightly for a few minutes can help lessen or eliminate eye bags' puffiness due to edema and the appearance of shadows, says the American Academy of Ophthalmology. This hydrating eye cream by Soho Skin (with hyaluronic acid and squalane) has a cooling metal applicator that feels so freakin' good in the mornings and wakes me right up.
Key ingredients: Peptides, hyaluronic acid, squalane, fatty acids
Glowing Customer Review: "My under-eye bags appear less harsh after using this—plus I love the applicator; it's really gentle for applying and has a nice cooling effect."
100% Mineral Bright-Eyed Eye Cream SPF 40
I'd argue–along with every dermatologist in the world—that sunscreen is *the* most crucial step in your skincare routine. Areas on your skin that are super delicate and thin—aka around your eyes—are extremely susceptible to damage by the sun's harsh rays. I love this mineral-based eye cream by Supergoop! that is gentle, hydrating, and offers SPF 40 protection.
Key ingredients: Zinc oxide, glycerin, green tea extract
Glowing Customer Review: "I am so happy I found this product. I’ve never used SPF on my eyes, but since I’m in my 40s now, I’m realizing it’s past time! I use it over an eye serum and have never had issues with dryness or pilling. It doesn’t sting my eyes, a little goes a long way, so it’s lasted me forever. As long as this product is available I will use it!"
Ideal Complex Revitalizing Eye Gel
PCA Skin is kind of like that staple leather jacket in your wardrobe—it was expensive, but it totally makes an outfit. This revitalizing eye gel is meant to be used twice daily for a double-whammy dosage of wrinkle-smoothing and discoloration-reducing ingredients—oh, and your skin will pull in a ton of water thanks to the hydrating glycerin.
Key ingredients: Glycerin, niacinamide, peptides
Glowing Customer Review: "I’ve been using this eye gel for years, and I really feel it’s keeping the wrinkles away. Would not use anything else."
Ceramighty™ AF Eye Cream
Think of ceramides (i.e., a fatty acid, aka a lipid) as the first defense against moisture loss and environmental aggressors. As our skin ages, the level of fatty acids decreases over time, so ceramide-packed formulas are often a popular product amongst people looking for wrinkle-smoothing benefits, but truly, anyone can benefit from one. Drunk Elephant's eye balm is formulated with lipid-packed ingredients that work to protect our skin barrier and keep it healthy and, ofc, hydrated.
Key ingredients: Glycerin, fatty acids, marula oil
Glowing Customer Review: "When I started using this, I noticed my skin felt brighter. Its overall formula is so gentle and absorbs seamlessly around my eyes and they look and feel more hydrated. The texture of the eye balm is thick, yet luxurious and deeply moisturizes my delicate eye area. I use this twice a day and have had no irritation or sensitivity "
Revive Eye Serum
Korean beauty is based on a skin-first approach, which means the formulations focus on the health of your skin—hence why you may have seen K-beauty products advertising glowy, glass skin everywhere. Beauty of Joseon's skincare lineup, particularly the Revive Eye Serum, is loaded with skin-loving humectants that draw water into your skin, fatty acids that prevent that water from going anywhere, and retinal—i.e., the closest thing you can get to prescription strength retinol.
Key ingredients: Glycerin, sodium hyaluronate, ceramides, niacinamide, retinal, antioxidants
Glowing Customer Review: "I am a skincare junky and have purchased things I liked, things I did not like, and a few things I LOVED. This is a product I truly love—it blends into my skin with no tugging or pulling. I'm 75 years old and this product smooths the delicate skin under my eyes and takes care of under-eye puffiness. That is saying a lot for someone with aging skin."
Auracle Eye Serum
Dieux skincare is that girl in the skincare world—she's new, fresh, and transparent. Basically, there's no overpromising of results, and what's advertised is what you get. The Auracle Eye Serum is my newest obsession from the brand because it's focused on hydrating, plumping, and smoothing your eye area—all three things needed for awake-looking, refreshed-feeling eyes.
Key ingredients: Glycerin, peptides
Glowing Customer Review: "This product is light but really packs a punch. I have noticed the skin around my eyes is much plumper than before and the skin feels so soft. Will definitely repurchase."
Water Bank Blue Hyaluronic Eye Cream
This eye cream is packed with O.G. hydrator hyaluronic acid, but the even more interesting ingredient is the superpower ingredient, fucoidan, which is derived from seaweed and has been studied to have anti-aging properties. So, when you combine those two with plumping caffeine, brightening niacinamide, and cell-protecting vitamin E, you've got one s-t-a-c-k-e-d eye cream that delivers a slew of benefits.
Key ingredients: Glycerin, sodium hyaluronate, niacinamide, fatty acids, caffeine, vitamin E
Fragrance-free? No* (*not specified, tester's report it has a light, clean profile)
Glowing Customer Review: "At 36, I am getting fine lines and wrinkles, and this wonderful cream has smoothed those lines and helped with the puffiness I sometimes get under my eyes. The skin around my eyes also appears brighter now."
Avène Soothing Eye Contour Cream
Having sensitive skin and trying new skincare products can be scary, especially when you're applying them to delicate skin, such as your eye area. Opt for a fragrance-free moisturizer that includes soothing ingredients and is specially formulated for those with hyper-reactive skin, like this one from Avène. It's approved by the National Eczema Association and made without ingredients that are commonly linked to irritation in sensitive-prone individuals.
Key ingredients: Chamomile, Avène thermal spring water, dextran sulfate, hyaluronic acid, pre-tocopheryl
Glowing Customer Review: "In search of a new hydrating eye cream, I came across the soothing eye contour cream from Avène. After just a week's use on both eyelids and under-eye area, I can confirm my under-eye area is looking a lot fresher and brighter."
Wake Up Honey Eye Cream with Brightening Vitamin C
Dark, puffy, dehydrated eyes making you look even sleepier than you already feel? Incorporate a hydrating, plumping, and brightening eye cream into your routine, like Wake Up Honey by Farmacy. I apply this super creamy formula on my under-eye area post-serum and pre-moisturizer in the A.M.—though you can also use it at night. Then, I stack on the SPF because the vitamin C can be rendered ineffective without sun protection (yes, rlly!).
Key ingredients: Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, caffeine
Glowing Customer Review: "Love this eye cream! I have been using it for a month and have noticed my under-eye area brightening. It’s very nourishing but not too heavy or greasy. A little goes a long way so I have a lot of the jar left still."
Feather Canyon Restoring Eye Cream
The Feather Canyon eye cream by Pai is quite literally as the name suggests—light as a feather when applied to your under eyes. It's filled with fatty acids that seal in moisture, layers super beautifully under makeup thanks to the silky-smooth texture, and is a totally natural formula that those with even the most sensitive skin can tolerate.
Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, argan oil, rosehip oil
Glowing Customer Review: "I am experiencing a lot of irritation and flare-ups around my eyes. I’ve been using this twice daily now for three weeks, and slowly but surely my eyes are starting to look so much better. It absorbs well, feels cooling to apply, and my skin is definitely looking more hydrated.
Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Hydra-Gel Eye Patches
No, this pick is not a hydrating eye cream, per se, but these eye patches are a luxury addition to your skincare routine that I personally love to use on special occasions for a lil extra pampering. I store my container in the fridge, and when I apply the eye patches to my under-eyes, the super-cooling sensation is *chef's kiss* on my skin.
Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, caffeine, collagen
Glowing Customer Review: "Love these patches! Super hydrating, and I feel super fancy getting to wake up and walk around with my patches before I start my skincare!"
Rose Glow + Get It Cooling & Brightening Eye Balm
Things I love about this roll-up brightening eye balm: (1) When I place it in the fridge, I rub it over and over my under-eye area, and it gives my skin the most refreshing, cooling feeling, and (2) I can also use the formula as a highlighter on my cheekbones, brow bone, and nose for a super dewy, super hydrated addition to my skincare routine.
Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, caffeine, rosehip oil
Glowing Customer Review: "I really like the original eye balm they have, but this rose one is my favorite! My eyes feel and look amazing after using this for two weeks daily! I love how it is good for my sensitive skin type. You have to try out this one glow, cooling, brightening eye balm if you haven't already."
How to choose the best hydrating eye cream:
Look for eye creams with humectants.
Humectants are the key to hydrated, plump skin. Humectants—as cosmetic doctor, Ana Mansouri, MD, explained to Cosmo—pull water from the environment to the upper layers of the skin like a sponge. This results in really plump, really dewy, really smooth skin. There are many different types of humectants, so here is a lil list of some of the most common ones to look for in your eye cream:
Hyaluronic Acid: Also known as sodium hyaluronate, this gold standard humectant has molecules that can attract up to 1,000 times their own weight in water.
Glycerin: Also found in the top layer of our skin, glycerin is a natural skincare ingredient that works to keep our skin cells in their correct form, protect our skin barrier, and treat really dry skin and/or irritation.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA): Glycolic acid, lactic acid, and citric acid are most commonly known for their exfoliating properties—i.e., removing dead skin cells—but they also are quite effective at drawing water into the top layer of our skin.
Other common humectants include aloe vera, seaweed, urea, peptides, amino acids, and panthenol.
Meet the experts:
Karan Lal, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the director of cosmetic dermatology at Affiliated Dermatology in Scottsdale, AZ. Dr. Lal specializes in pediatric and adult dermatology, laser surgery, and treating skin of color.
Why trust Cosmo?
Siena Gagliano is an associate editor at Cosmopolitan who writes beauty, with over three years of experience writing in the makeup, skin, and hair spaces. She’s an expert at researching and writing skincare stories, like the best drugstore eye creams and the best clear sunscreens. She regularly tests and analyzes hydrating eye creams on her own skin for efficacy while working with the industry’s top dermatologists to assess new formulas and products.
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