Retinol eye creams are everywhere these days—here’s why derms love them

February 10, 2020 at 03:00PM by CWC


There’s no skin-care ingredient that’s better-studied or more recommended by dermatologist than retinol. In serums and moisturizers, the vitamin A derivative stimulates skin-cell turnover, flips on the collagen pumps within your complexion, and leaves skin looking fresh and bright over time. And in great news for your under eye area, more and more eye creams are now spiked with the superstar ingredient, too.

The skin underneath your eyes is the thinnest on your face, and because of this, it’s typically where people first show signs of aging (think: fine lines and dark circles). Old schools of thought assumed that the aggressive ingredient had no business around the most fragile part of your complexion, but thanks to new formulations, that’s no longer the case. Many retinol eye creams use buffered or encapsulated retinol, surrounded by loads of hydrating ingredients to make the products easier for skin to tolerate.

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In fact, Gretchen Frieling, MD,  a Wellesley, MA, board-certified dermatopathologist, says that opting for a retinol specifically concocted for around the eyes can help to protect you from irritation from the get-go. “These usually contain lower concentrations and are more hydrating than what you use on your face,” she says. However, take note: Ahead of using any product (especially an intense one like retinol), do a small patch test to make sure the formula agrees with your skin. And as with any other retinol, wear the stuff at night since it can be sun-sensitizing during the daylight hours.

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Don’t want to invest in an entirely different eye cream? That’s fine too: “You can use a retinol-containing cream around the eye area,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist. Try layering your moisturizer on before you put retinol on the area or mix it with your moisturizer. This will help to shield you from the intensity. “You can begin by mixing your retinol with a moisturizer,” adds Dr. Frieling, as a way to see if it works for your skin. “A little goes a long way—use a pea-sized amount for the entire eye area,” she says.

As for your nightly regimen, don’t go all-in on the ingredient all the time. “Use a tiny bit and start out every other night,” says Dr. Zeichner. Only use it at night since retinol products can be photosensitizing and make your skin more prone to sun damage. Of course, if your complexion is particularly sensitive or if you’re dealing with eczema or a damaged skin barrier, Dr. Zeichner says to skip. Otherwise, give the gold-standard ingredient a go in your eye cream and see for your self what it’s all about. Keep scrolling for some of our favorite retinol-spiked eye creams.

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Inkey List Brighten-i Eye Cream ($10)

For only $10, this eye cream gives you the collagen-stimulating love that you can expect from any retinol, but it also blurs the skin to camouflage skin unevenness at the same time.


Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum ($85)

Concocted by a dermatologist, this eye serum contains marine kelp that’s meant to lift skin while retinol stimulates collagen to plump the area.

First Aid Beauty Skin Lab Retinol Eye Cream ($42)

This retinol-spiked eye cream takes the easy-does-it approach. Packed with hydrating ingredients, it hydrates and comforts skin while stimulating collagen deep within skin.

Learn more about why dermatologists love retinol below: 


You can also check out how to shop for an eye cream if retinol isn’t on your shelf yet. And this is how to DIY your own eye cream from the beauty products you already have. 

Author Rachel Lapidos | Well and Good
Selected by CWC