How to Choose an Eye Cream

The best ingredients for wrinkles, bags, and dark circles

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Wrinkles around the eyes, bags, and dark circles will affect most people sooner or later.

As you age, your skin loses oil and sweat glands, making it drier. It loses the fat that keeps your skin plump and smooth. And it loses the collagen and elastin that keep your skin supple. All of this leads to creping and wrinkles, such as crow’s feet at the outer corners of your eyes.

Young woman applying eye cream
RunPhoto / Getty Images

Additionally, drooping often occurs in the skin above or below your eyes. Fat “retires” from your eyelids and moves south into your eye sockets, making your eyes sink and appear darker. Sometimes your lower eyelids droop, causing bags under your eyes.

As the skin around your eyes thins, the dark-bluish blood vessels underneath become more visible. That’s why dark circles get even darker as you get older.

All of this is just natural aging. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it if it bothers you. Eye creams can help you achieve a rejuvenated appearance as long as the cream you buy is best for the concern you want to improve. 

What to Look For 

Certain eye cream ingredients offer specific benefits for the skin around your eyes.

  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants protect your skin from cell damage. They counteract the wrinkling and dulling effects of aging. They can brighten your skin and prevent further environmental damage, specifically to the skin around your eyes. Look for ingredients such as plant oils, vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid.
  • Hyaluronic acid or ceramides: These substances moisturize your skin by trapping water, helping plump up wrinkled areas.
  • Retinol: This form of vitamin A stimulates collagen to reduce and prevent fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Peptides: For drooping, under-eye bags, look for peptides. These anti-aging ingredients increase collagen and elastin to firm up sagging skin.
  • Niacinamide or kojic acid: These ingredients can help lighten under-eye circles. They brighten your skin by slowing down pigment-producing cells. However, if the dark circles under your eyes are owed to stayed up too late, forget the eye cream and grab a nap instead.

For best results, use these products consistently and long term. Usually, it takes three to four months to start seeing the effects of any skin care regimen.

What to Avoid

One thing you don’t need in an eye cream is a high price. More expensive does not mean better. You can find plenty of affordable options that contain the ingredients you need to get results.

Sometimes eye creams cost more simply because they look, feel, or smell pricier. We don’t recommend springing for these indulgences. They won’t work any better than lower-cost eye creams with the same ingredients. In fact, they may not work as well.

Products with a strong fragrance can irritate the delicate skin around your eye. Irritation can cause dryness and potentially more damage, like wrinkles.

Beyond Eye Cream

No matter your age, you also can reduce aging effects on your eyes without eye cream.

  • Use sunscreen. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30. You can use one made for the face or one especially formulated for delicate near-the-eye skin. Either way, protecting your eyes from sun damage will help keep wrinkles away. Sunglasses can help too.
  • Rest and revive. Years of skipping out on sufficient sleep can show in your eyes—or at least the skin around them. Do your best to get six to eight hours of sleep every night.
  • Avoid smoking. In addition to damaging your heart and lungs, smoking destroys the collagen and elastic fibers in your skin. Over time, your skin shrivels.
  • Take a breath of fresh air. Environmental pollutants, like soot and exhaust fumes, can damage your skin. Get away for a stroll in parks and green spaces when you can.
  • Nourish your skin from the inside. Eat a balanced diet with healthy fats from olive oil, avocado, and nuts. Fruits and vegetables can provide an extra boost of skin-protecting antioxidants. Drinking plenty of water will help keep your skin hydrated.
Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Aging changes in skin. Medline Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine. April 2, 2021.

  2. Farage MA, Miller KW, Elsner P, Maibach HI. Characteristics of the Aging Skin. Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle). 2013;2(1):5-10. doi:10.1089/wound.2011.0356

  3. Jadoon S, Karim S, Asad MHHB, et al. Anti-Aging Potential of Phytoextract Loaded-Pharmaceutical Creams for Human Skin Cell Longevity. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2015;2015:709628. doi:10.1155/2015/709628

  4. 11 ways to reduce premature skin aging. American Academy of Dermatology Association. February 24, 2021.

Additional Reading