Beauty Tips & Inspiration

Buying guide: the best eye creams for exhausted undereyes

Buying guide: the best eye creams for exhausted under-eyes
Gilly Ferguson
Gilly Ferguson,-Contributing Editor

Dark circles? Crow’s feet? Puffiness? No problem! How to soothe tired eyes, stat

Do you really need to use an eye cream? Honestly, it’s one of my most FAQs – and something that dermatologists remain divided on.

Why? Many daily moisturisers will work effectively on your undereyes and yet – here’s the rub – the skin around our eyes is 10 times thinner than anywhere else on the face, so if your go-to AM/PM moisturiser contains higher concentrations of active ingredients (and it probably does), then it’s most likely too harsh for the delicate eye area. 

Eye creams are specifically formulated to better target skin around the eyelid and undereye, skin that’s more vulnerable to premature ageing. Sure, genetics play their part, but when we’re stressed or sleep starved, the right eye cream can leave your undereyes looking and feeling brighter, fresher and more *awake*. 

How to choose an eye cream

1. Pick your ingredient(s)


Caffeine to de-puff


Peptides to plump


Vitamin C to tackle dark circles

2. Pick a formulation


Gel or serum – to refresh tired eyes, for normal/oily skin


Lotion or cream – to nourish and replenish normal/dry skin

3. How much and how often?


Pea-sized amount AM/PM


Tap product in with your ring finger or with a puff-reducing rollerball (kept in the fridge to s–o–o–t–h–e)


Do boost your periorbital circulation (massage, massage, massage)

To brighten dark circles

With five-star ratings in the bag, Murad’s vitamin C eye serum helps to target multiple types of dark circles – in as little as two weeks. ‘Most vitamin C loses potency or is hard for skin to absorb,’ says Dr Murad, MD. ‘Gold-stabilised Vita-C complex is highly stable, bioavailable and preserves efficacy for full-strength results every time.’ IMHO? It puts the sparkle back into skin.

To soothe tired, puffy eyes

Give ‘bounce’ back to exhausted undereyes with Dermalogica’s puff-reducing Stress Positive Eye Lift – an active, cooling cream-gel mask that energises skin, reducing the visible signs of stress and dark circles. It’s loaded with arctic algae and fermented yeast for ‘lift’ – just massage it into skin using the cooling applicator (store in the fridge for a boost) and say buh-bye to eye bags.

For older skin prone to dark circles

If your eyelids are losing elasticity, Medik8’s award-winning Eyelift Firming Gel is packed with five plumping peptides to help smooth the skin (aka reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles) and show dark circles the door. One for retinol reluctants – and sensitive skins looking for bounce-back – it really is as good as everyone says. 

For tired, dry eyes

Like a cool glass of water for thirsty skin – and with daphne stem cell extract to strengthen the skin’s barrier function – Charlotte Tilbury Magic Eye Rescue works to refresh, hydrate and soothe exhausted undereyes, helping to reduce the appearance of dark circles and fine lines for brighter-looking eyes instantly. No wonder then that one Magic skincare icon is sold every two minutes… 

Best eye cream for sensitive skin

First up, the ingredient red flags to look out for if you have sensitive skin: avoid eye creams that contain retinoids, hydroxy acids, fragrances and alcohols. And the fix? Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment. It gently moisturises the delicate eye area, is ophthalmologist and dermatologist tested and – key – it won’t migrate into eyes. Rich, decadent, deliciously creamy and undeniably moisture-maxing, it protects skin against external stressors.

Best budget eye cream

The Ordinary’s NEW Multi-Peptide Eye Serum is fast reaching iconic status, thanks to its peptide-rich water-based formula – designed to target crow’s feet and undereye wrinkles, eye bags, puffiness and dark circles, leaving the eye area looking brighter, smoother and less puffy. The One for anyone looking to address multiple concerns around the eye area in a single hit (all of us then), it includes niacinamide and palmitoyl tripeptide-38. Combine with The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG to brighten. 

For an overnight dose of vitamin A

Double the retinal, double the WOW, Medik8 Crystal Retinal Stable Night Serum’s potent formula is your all-in-one solution to nighttime eye care (ooh and it’s the world’s first clinical-strength retinal for undereyes, fact fans). The perfect partner to Medik8’s OG Crystal Retinal for face, this specialist night eye cream comes in three strengths for progressively visible results. Me? I swear by Medik8 – and Crystal Retinal is the stuff of (eye) dreams. Apply PM, making sure to use SPF in the AM.


Our No 1 best (ever) eye cream?

Adored by A-listers, derms and beauty editors – and with 5,000 glowing reviews and counting – Estée Lauder’s multi-award-winning eye gel-creme tackles (…wait for it…) dark circles, puffiness, fine lines, dryness, dehydration, lacklustre skin – breathe – and the early signs of ageing. 

In a word, everything. The silky-smooth, gel-creme formula is lightweight and fast-absorbing (aka won’t pill under makeup) plus it’s suitable for all skin types, even sensitive ones. More than that? This overachieving all-in-one fights daily stressors (blue light, pollution, poor sleep) and is loaded with hard-working hyaluronic acid (moisture-maxing), vitamin E (to soothe and protect), caffeine (to de-puff) and tripeptide-32 (to repair). Sorcery at your fingertips. 

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