The best eye cream to combat dark circles, fine lines and puffiness

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • It’s a debate as old as eyeliner: do you really need an eye cream? Despite being packaged in the tiniest of pots, the answer, is a resounding ‘yes’. Sure, it’s another step in your skincare routine, but the best eye cream works like a soft-focus lens for crow’s feet and erases dark circles that scream, ‘I’ve been dancing on tables until 3am’.

    But can’t my regular serum or face cream do that, too, I hear you ask? Actually no – neither are necessarily formulated for the fragile skin below your lower lash line.

    Even the best face serum may have actives that could sensitise this delicate area while creams are often too rich and clog pores, causing small white bumps to appear under the skin.

    According to Lee Etheridge, education director at bareMinerals, we should be taking every precaution to treat the eye area.

    ‘The skin here is thinner and made up of less collagen and elastin compared to the rest of the face,’ she says. ‘When you consider the average person blinks 23,000 times, it’s not surprising that the eye area is susceptible to wrinkling.’

    best eye cream


    How to apply eye cream

    The eye area being so delicate also means you want to avoid any vigorous rubbing. ‘Put a small amount of product on your ring finger (your weakest finger in terms of exerting pressure) and smooth below the eye, over the crow’s feet area and pat onto the brow bone just below your eyebrows,’ says consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Kluk.

    ‘I wouldn’t apply any cream with active ingredients directly to the upper eyelid as there is a high risk of irritation.’

    Finally, apply eye cream straight after cleansing and before moisturiser. This allows it to form a barrier against heavier emollients, which can, in themselves, cause puffiness.

    Beauty Drawer

    What goes into the best eye cream?

    Sadly there is no one-size-fits-all product to tackle puffiness, lines and shadows, so consider applying two different eye creams daily.

    ‘In the morning, your main issue is puffiness caused by water retention from lying flat all night,’ explains Etheridge. Look for a gel with a slight nip to it as the cooling sensation will instantly de-puff. ‘It should also be high in antioxidants to fight free radical damage from pollution and blue light from computer screens and mobiles.’

    At night your skin is in recovery mode, so switch to a richer cream to ramp up hydration. ‘One with a high concentration of peptides and skin-smoothing eyebright extract will help to soften the appearance of expression lines,’ she adds.

    If you’ve spent your day sitting under air-conditioning or central heating, tackle crêpeyness around the eyes with a humectant like hyaluronic acid, which draws water into the skin.

    Just avoid overly oily formulas at all costs, especially those based on mineral oils and petroleum, which can swamp the skin and easily travel up into the eye.

    best eye cream

    What are dark circles? How do I treat them? 

    Because the skin beneath your eyes is so thin, it’s especially prone to sun-induced pigmentation. This is especially true of Asian and black skin. Use a sunscreen designed specifically for the eye area, like Ultrasun SPF 30+ Eye Cream, as it has a non-irritating and non-drip formula.

    Retinol-based creams can also help with dark under-eye circles. The vitamin A derivative will fade pigment and increase collagen production to thicken the skin here.

    ‘Translucency under the eyes is often a feature of skin ageing, although it can also be hereditary,’ says Kluk. ‘Retinol can make skin less transparent so dark circles and hollowing are less noticeable.’

    Other brightening ingredients to look out for are kojic acid, licorice and vitamin C, which interfere with the production of pigment, while vitamin K oxide can help reduce the purplish discolouration from blood vessels.

    Also worth noting: rubbing your skin when removing mascara and eye liner can cause capillary damage, which leads to bruised-looking under eyes.

    Use a micellar water or cleansing oil and gently swipe away your eye make-up.

    Now you know how to up your eye cream game, keep scrolling to see our edit of the best formulas to shop right now.

    Best eye cream for wrinkles: iS Clinical Youth Eye Complex, £85,

    best eye cream

    Proteins, peptides, antioxidants and key growth factors – iS Clinical doesn’t mess around with unnecessary filler ingredients. Just ones that give a really good result on lines. Yes it’s a bit pricey, but a tiny bit goes a long way so you don’t need to use a lot to see a difference to your skin texture. I’m not the only fan – industry expert Caroline Hirons gives this her stamp of approval.

    Buy it now

    Best eye cream for dark circles: The Ordinary Solution 5% + EGCG, £5.80, Cult Beauty

    best eye cream, The Ordinary Solution 5% + EGCG, £5.80, Cult Beauty

    Tired, puffy eyes after hours staring at a computer screen? Try this featherlight serum, which features an extremely high concentration off caffeine and EGCG (a potent polyphenol found in green tea). Basically, the equivalent of a really good night’s sleep in a jar.

    Buy it now

    Best retinol eye cream: Murad Renewing Eye Cream, £65, Lookfantastic

    best eye cream, Murad Renewing Eye Cream, £65, Lookfantastic


    When it comes to skincare ingredients that really count, the best eye cream with retinol tops the list for its legitimate wrinkle-fighting powers. Alongside extracts of skin-firming kelp and swetia flower, this is still gentle enough to use on a daily basis.

    Buy now

    Best eye cream for bags: Clinique Moisture Surge Eye Hydro-Filler Concentrate, £27.50, Lookfantastic

    best eye cream, Clinique Moisture Surge Eye Hydro-Filler Concentrate, £27.50, Lookfantastic



    This cushiony water-gel refreshes and debloats in a matter of minutes. The moisturising molecules are much smaller in this type of formula, too – meaning it sinks in fast and won’t sit on top of your eye socket and exacerbate any post-sleep puffiness.

    Buy now

    Best anti-ageing eye cream:Kate Somerville Line Release Under Eye Repair Cream, £105, Cult Beauty

    best eye cream, Kate Somerville Line Release Under Eye Repair Cream, £105, Cult Beauty

    Kate Somerville fans rejoiced when this cult product made a much-anticipated jump across the pond. Using two wrinkle-smoothing powerhouses – vitamin A and peptides –  it lifts the entire eye area for a more youthful, wide-awake look.  

    Buy it now

    If you’re still looking for ‘the one’, keep scrolling for some of our other favourites.

    Reading now