9 best eye creams that work wonders for dark circles, lines and puffiness

·12-min read
These multi-taskers build up collagen, plump out lines and support the skin’s barrier (iStock/The Independent)
These multi-taskers build up collagen, plump out lines and support the skin’s barrier (iStock/The Independent)

Eye creams are probably the most divisive of all skincare products. Often, there are two schools of thought: first, there’s those who don’t think there’s a need for eye cream, and in lieu of using one, they prefer to take their existing moisturiser all the way up and around the eyes. Then there’s the opposing camp, which thinks it’s better to use something specifically made for use around the eye area.

While there’s strong arguments for both beliefs, we’re of the mindset that the latter is best, and Harley Street’s Dr Sam Bunting concurs.

“Eye creams can serve multiple functions,” she says. “If correctly formulated, they protect against oxidative stress caused by environmental stressors. They build the delicate barrier (the skin around the eyes is the thinnest on the body), and can work to build collagen to keep skin thick and crease-resistant – it’s an area constantly squeezed by muscles around the eyes when we smile.”

Using a dedicated product will usually be hydrating while also working to help support the skin’s barrier and negate any potential drying effects that active ingredients can sometimes have. However, with some formulas being better and more effective than others, what specific ingredients are best to look for?

“I recommend a cocktail of vitamins A, B and C – which can, of course, be found in general-purpose serums,” Bunting explains. “But what’s great about a well-formulated eye product is that it will contain all the right ingredients without the hassle of layering in the eye area, which is something that can often cause pilling [where tiny particles are formed, which then collect on the skin’s surface].”

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How we tested

To help narrow down the options, we rounded up our favourite (and most effective) eye creams, and asked out tester – who’s in her early 30s, with slightly dry skin under her eyes and faint dark circles – to use each one for a minimum of one week, either once or twice a day depending on the individual instructions. While our tester didn’t see any long-term results in that time (most creams need at least a month or so to really get to work), it did give her a good idea of how the different textures felt, how the creams sat under make-up (if applicable) and the general wear of them.

This round-up includes a broad range of eye creams to handle everything from sensitive skin to puffiness, and covers various price points, from budget beauties to luxe lotions. Keep scrolling to find the one most suitable for you…

The best eye creams for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Dr Sam’s flawless nightly eye serum: £37, Drsambunting.com

  • Best for sensitive skin – CeraVe eye repair cream: £10, Boots.com

  • Best for hydration – Dr.Jart+ ceramidin eye cream: £21.60, Boots.com

  • Best for brightening – Dr Dennis Gross skincare c+collagen brighten and firm eye cream: £69, Cultbeauty.co.uk

  • Best for fine lines – Kate Somerville line release under eye repair: £120, Katesomerville.co.uk

  • Best for tired eyes – Patchology hero status roll model brightening roll-on eye serum: £20, Patchology.co.uk

  • Best for dark circles – Sarah Chapman eye recovery: £56, Sarahchapman.com

  • Best for puffiness – Sunday Riley autocorrect brightening and depuffing eye contour cream: £60, Spacenk.com

  • Best lightweight formula – Royal Fern phytoactive anti-aging eye cream: £150, Net-a-porter.com

Dr Sam flawless nightly eye serum

Best: Eye cream overall

Rating: 10/10

  • Size: 15 ml

  • Fragrance free: Yes

A cocktail of effective and proven ingredients, Dr Sam’s eye cream is the latest in her range of effective, hardworking, extremely well-curated line of products, so no surprise it was one of the best we tried.

Packed with a blend of granactive retinoid, niacinamide and vitamin C, the lightweight formula smoothed and brightened, while ensuring the delicate eye area never dried out. It’s non-comedogenic, so won’t clog pores, plus it’s fragrance-free, meaning it won’t irritate either.

Our tester found that the cream absorbed easily into her skin and she loved that a little went a long way – one pump was enough to tap underneath and around both eyes – so we predict one bottle will last a good few months, making it excellent value for money. Most importantly, our tester found it an absolute joy to use.

Buy now £37.00, Drsambunting.com

CeraVe eye repair cream

Best: Eye cream for sensitive skin

Rating: 9/10

  • Size: 14 ml

  • Fragrance free: Yes

You can always count on CeraVe for creating easy to use, fuss-free products that just work – and this eye cream is no exception. Like all products from the brand, it uses ceramides to protect the skin’s barrier alongside hyaluronic acid to help skin retain its moisture.

Our tester found this cream super gentle on her skin, which is fairly sensitive. Over time, we have no doubt that it will be effective in terms improving the overall appearance of the eye area. And although it may be fairly basic compared to some of the more active ingredient-laced formulas we tried, but for the price, there’s nothing to dislike about it.

Buy now £10.00, Boots.com

Dr.Jart+ ceramidin eye cream

Best: Eye cream for hydration

Rating: 9/10

  • Size: 20 ml

  • Fragrance free: No

Dr.Jart+’s bestselling, much-loved Ceramidin range is one of our tester’s all-time favourites, and it’s a franchise she finds herself recommending more often than not.

Like the CeraVe cream, this one focuses on hydration and we found that it did an excellent job of doing just that. Infused with the brand’s ceramidin complex, it’s bursting with ceramides that strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier, protect against moisture loss, while a brightening complex – called applight – works to improve the appearance of dark circles. Our tester found the texture to be just like butter but without sitting on her skin or feeling greasy in the slightest. And that’s the way we like it.

Buy now £27.00, Boots.com

Dr Dennis Gross skincare C+Collagen brighten and firm eye cream

Best: Eye cream for brightening

Rating: 8.5/10

  • Size: 15 ml

  • Fragrance free: No

Dr Dennis Gross is no stranger to using potent actives in his specialist formulas – and while they can be a bit too much for some people, if you want results, then this is the brand to look to.

This cream immediately works to blur and lighten the under-eye area, and overtime the combination of collagen amino acids and vitamin C will brighten and improve skin texture. It also has ceramides and peptides to support the skin’s barrier function, alongside light-reflecting particles.

We were super impressed with the texture and feel of this product – it melted into skin like a complete dream without leaving any sticky residue.

Buy now £69.00, Cultbeauty.co.uk

Kate Somerville line release under eye repair eye cream

Best: Eye cream for fine lines

Rating: 9/10

  • Size: 15ml

  • Fragrance free: No

There’s a reason Kate Somerville products are on the more expensive end of the spectrum – and it’s because they work. From the now-cult goat milk cleanser to the calming DeliKate range, we never met a product we didn’t like, and this eye cream is no exception.

The lightweight texture reduces the appearance of fine lines, and over time it promises to minimise the look of dark circles by hydrating and illuminating the area. Plus, it helps firm skin, too.

We were surprised at the instant smoothing effect this cream provided. And while this is a pricey product, our tester found she didn’t need to use much at all, so it will last a long time. What’s more, we’re sure you’ll see visible results with continued use.

Buy now £120.00, Katesomerville.co.uk

Patchology hero status roll model brightening roll-on eye serum

Best: Eye cream for tired eyes

Rating: 7.5/10

  • Size: 10 ml

  • Fragrance free: No

This gets top marks from us for its innovative application approach. The jade roller-ball at the tip of the bottle glides over skin, dispensing product as it rolls. It’s formulated with vitamin C alongside kiwi and grapefruit extracts and pearlescent minerals to help illuminate and brighten.

We liked the ease of use of this product and the convenience it offered. It also felt very refreshing and really worked to perk up tired eyes – it felt even more satisfying to use after we started to keep it in the fridge. Although we’re not sure if we’d see any long-term benefits from using this serum, the instant effects make up for that.

Buy now £20.00, Patchology.co.uk

Sarah Chapman eye recovery

Best: Eye cream for dark circles

Rating: 8/10

  • Size: 15 ml

  • Fragrance free: No

To say our tester was obsessed with this creamy liquid formula would be an understatement. Made with a blend of six peptides, antioxidants, vitamins and clever light-diffusing technology, this product is the complete package.

The ingredients work together in perfect harmony to stimulate collagen production and cell activity, which will plump up the eye area while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Oh yes, and they’ll also brighten up your skin to make you look less tired than you might feel.

We particularly loved and appreciated the airless pump packaging, which not only works to protect the ingredients but ensures we’re able to use every last drop of product.

Buy now £56.00, Sarahchapman.com

Sunday Riley autocorrect brightening and depuffing eye contour cream

Best: Eye cream for puffiness

Rating: 8.5/10

  • Size: 15 ml

  • Fragrance free: Yes

Hundreds of gleaming five-star reviews for this can’t be wrong – and let us tell you that they’re really not. Formulated with caffeine, horse chestnut, shea butter and watermelon extract, it energises and soothes while protecting against environmental damage. It also works to hydrate and, overtime, will reduce the look of dark circles.

We found the consistency of this product helped it glide on smoothly and absorb easily, without leaving any residue or a film on the skin. Instead, it felt incredibly nourishing and really helped to improve the look of our tester’s tired eyes. We also found it sat really well underneath makeup, which is another big plus.

Buy now £60.00, Spacenk.com

Royal Fern phytoactive eye cream

Best: Lightweight eye cream

Rating: 8/10

  • Size: 15 ml

  • Fragrance free: No

Expensive, yes, but this Dr Timm Golueke-led brand specialises in patented, plant-based products. Specifically, this phytoactive eye treatment cream is made with the brand’s unique Royal Fern complex, which strengthens, hydrates and protects skin while stimulating collagen production. Added chamomile extract targets redness and vitamin C acts as an antioxidant while further boosting collagen levels.

We found the formula itself to be incredibly lightweight and that a little went a long way. We also liked that it’s suitable to use both day and night.

Buy now £150.00, Net-a-porter.com

Eye cream FAQs

How is eye cream different from face cream?

Because eye cream is designed to target a smaller area compared to covering the entire face, it may contain more concentrated ingredients for focusing on concerns including fine lines and dark circles. Often, key components found in an eye cream formula are exactly the same as those seen in face cream, but they can be much richer for smoothing onto that delicate under-eye area.

Which is better: an eye gel or an eye cream?

An eye gel can feel refreshing on skin, particularly if you pop it in the fridge first, while a comforting creamy formula is often equally soothing. There’s no definitive answer as to which is better, and like all beauty buys, it’s simply down to personal preference and skin type.

What to look for in an eye cream

An eye cream ingredients list will differ depending on what specific skin concern you’ve got in mind while shopping. So for example, if you’re looking to brighten up dark circles, look for vitamin C and caffeine. Meanwhile, hyaluronic acid promotes hydration and can help if you’re prone to dryness. Additionally, peptides are plumping, for improving the appearance of fine lines.

Do eye creams work?

Although they’re by no means an instant fix, eye creams are designed to improve the appearance of wrinkles and dark circles, and they can also soothe and repair skin.

When should I start using eye cream?

Most people start using eye cream from their thirties onwards, as this is when fine lines and wrinkles gradually begin to appear more noticeable. But there are benefits to be found in using eye cream from your twenties too, for preventive skincare purposes and to address existing puffiness or dark circles.

How to apply eye cream

As the skin around the eye is thin, delicate and prone to sensitivity, it’s best not to be too heavy-handed when applying product to the area. Use your ring finger to dab product gently under the eye and around the orbital bone until absorbed, taking care not to tug or pull skin.

The verdict: Eye creams

Our main discovery is that eye creams really have come a long way in a few short years. There are so many exceptional formulas out there that really can work wonders. However, if you’re looking for a one-stop-shop, does-it-all product, then we suggest investing in Dr Sam’s flawless nightly eye serum. With continued use, it will work to improve the appearance of the eye area.

If you’ve a bit more money to spend, Kate Somerville or Dr Dennis Gross won’t let you down, but if you want something on the more affordable side, then CeraVe has got you covered.

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Want to banish those dark circles? Check out our tried and tested review of the Fenty Beauty bright fix eye brightener

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