Debating whether you need retinol in your skin-care routine? We’ll cut to the chase: If you want to diminish signs of aging and encourage new cell growth, then yes, you do. However, it’s not as simple as purchasing the first tube of retinol cream you see at the drugstore, slathering it on and calling it a day—especially when it comes to retinol eye cream.
The skin around the eyes is extremely delicate, so many eye creams contain unique ingredients—or ingredients at lower concentrations—to effectively treat the area without causing irritation. Dr. Gretchen Frieling, a board-certified dermatopathologist in Boston backs us up:
“Retinols are a great choice for the under-eye area because they boost collagen production, which makes them ideal for smoothing existing fine lines and preventing new ones from forming,” says Frieling. But she also adds, “the area underneath the eyes is thinner and therefore more sensitive than the rest of the skin on your face, [so] you want to choose a retinol product designed specifically for the eyes, otherwise it could be too potent and lead to irritation and dryness.”
Here, eight of our favorite retinol eye creams proven to fight fine lines and wrinkles, ranging from $10 to $85.
1. Best Overall: Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Retinol Eye Cream
Younger looking eyes coming right up. Ferulic acid—an antioxidant found in plants—pairs with retinol in this cream to help protect against sun and environmental damage that can cause fine lines. It also uses a blend of acids and collagen to help brighten and lighten dark spots.
2. Best for P.M.: Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Eye Cream
Olay’s Regenerist Retinol24 formula uses a proprietary blend of Retinoid Complex paired with vitamin B3 to create an OTC retinoid product that’s not only effective, but also provides 24-hour moisture. The formula penetrates deeply into the skin’s surface to visibly smooth fine lines, but is also lightweight and free of fragrance and synthetic dyes. Just don’t forget to apply sunscreen in the morning.
3. Best for A.M.: First Aid Beauty FAB Skin Lab Retinol Eye Cream
Speaking of the morning, this formula ensures that you’ll look like you had a full eight hours (even if it was only five). Aside from the retinol, it contains three kinds of hyaluronic acid that both hydrate and plump fine lines, plus finely milled pearl extract that delivers a subtle luminosity. Each of those ingredients work together to create the perfect base over which to apply foundation and concealer. Again, just make sure you’re wearing sunscreen anytime you use a retinoid during the day.
4. Best for Sensitive Skin: Glow Recipe Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask
Rather than straight-up retinol, this product uses an encapsulation process that allows the retinol to release in smaller amounts at a time, making it less likely to cause irritation. Still, you reap similar line-fighting benefits, and there’s also nutrient-dense avocado to add a lot of hydration and nourishment. Sensitive skin types will appreciate that it’s free of parabens, mineral oil, sulfates, silicones, phthalates, alcohol, synthetic dyes, synthetic fragrance and is Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free.
Buy It ($42)
5. Best Multitasker: ROC Retinol Correxion Anti-Aging Eye Cream
Checks all the boxes in one fell swoop. It’s packed with enough retinol to zap fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin and even puffiness without an astronomical price tag. Plus, it’s hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, so it won’t disrupt the skin’s barrier or cause irritation. Dermatologists tested it and saw noticeable fading of crow’s-feet in 12 weeks.
$17 at Amazon
6. Best Budget-Friendly: The Inkey List Retinol Eye Cream
Generally speaking, any type of retinol product can skew a bit on the pricier side—even many of the drugstore options may be more than you’d expect. Happily, this rings in at less than lunch. It uses a slow-release retinol compound to help minimize irritation, and we also appreciate the pointed applicator, which makes it easy to dispense a tiny amount. (Less is always more when it comes to retinol.)
7. Best Splurge: Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum
This Murad formula takes retinol seriously and actually contains three forms of it: a fast-acting retinoid, a time-released retinol and a retinol booster to help fight lines and deep wrinkles. There’s also a marine kelp complex that firms, lifts and brightens dark circles. Meanwhile, squalane soothes skin and glycerin moisturizes.
Buy It ($85)
8. Best Eye Patches: Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Pure Retinol Eye Mask
A slippery slope because of the price tag, but these stretchable, super-concentrated under-eye patches deliver a targeted, potent dose of retinol right where you stick them. After just a few uses you should notice a difference in your fine lines and undereye circles, and with consistent use, the area will continue to look smoother and brighter.