The first step to knowing how to find the best medical grade eye creams and serums for your eye concerns is to figure out what eye problems you have, which ingredients to look for in an eye cream, and which undereye creams to use in the morning and night.
This guide will help you choose an eye cream or serum, but if you have not taken the skin type quiz- we suggest you go here first.
The quiz will give you a list of eye creams and serums from many brands to choose from.
Whether you chose by price, brand, or preferences such as all natural- you can be confident these are right for your skin type.
Here is a guide to help you choose the best eye creams and serums for your skincare routine.
Find the Best Medical Grade Eye Creams
Best Eye Creams
5 Types of Eye Cream
There are five main types of medical grade eye creams designed to treat different eye concerns.. Choose which of these issues is most important to you. I suggest treating dryness and inflammation first and once that is under control, focusing on skin aging and eye puffiness. In some cases you may find one eye cream that treats all your eye concerns, but in most cases you will need one eye cream in your morning routine and a different one at night.
Antiaging Eye Creams
Anti-aging eye creams are the best eye creams for wrinkles and crow's feet. These anti-wrinkle under eye wrinkle creams generally contain ingredients like:
Peptides and humectants temporarily smooth away lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging in the eye area. Retinoids and hydroxyacids help get rid of wrinkles long term but can be irritating to some skin types. Retinol containing eye cream and serums should be used at night.
This dermatologist- recommended eye cream has many different types of antiaging ingredients which is why it is the best eye cream for wrinkles and dark circles. It has every almost type of ingredient to treat wrinkles except the irritating ones (retinol and hydroxyacids).
- Peptides (Tetrapeptide-21, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 Acetate- firms skin
- Ferments (Saccharide Isomerate) anti-aging and targets microbiome
- Vitamin C (Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, ascorbyl palmitate and ascorbic acid that lighten skin and increase collagen )
- Caffeine-(anti-pufffiness and antioxidant)
- Bisabolol- soothing
- Hyaluronic acid- humectant
- Glycyrrhetinic Acid (licorice extract that sooths and lightens skin)
- Phytosterols- similar to cholesterol for barrier repair
This dermatologist recommended eye cream targets aging, puffiness, dark circles. It has won many awards because it can treat so many different eye issues. This a favorite eye serum of my male patients because it feels light on the skin and does not have a feminine fragrance or any estrogenic ingredients. I like to use it to lighten dark circles under the eyes in my patients that have sensitive skin and cannot tolerate most skin lightening ingredients.
SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex combines antioxidants, retinol, and other active ingredients to address signs of aging around the eyes. It contains ingredients like blueberry extract, proxylane, and optical diffusers to improve the appearance of dark circles, puffiness, and wrinkles.
The best antiaging eye cream for your 40s is Neocutis LUMIERE FIRM Illuminating & Tightening Eye Cream. It has ingredients that restore collagen such as growth factors. Combine these with a retinol night serum to keep your skin radiant, smooth, and youthful.
This is my favorite eye cream for patients in their 40s with crow's feet.
The best antiaging eye cream for your 50s should have ingredients that target wrinkles, crow's feet and help firm the under eye area . If you are a woman and are experiencing menopausal symptoms, I recommend this eye cream to help combat the loss of estrogen. It contains Methyl
Estradiolpropanoate that helps restore estrogen activity in the skin.
The best eye cream for men in their 50s is Plated SkinScience Intense Serum. This is actually a facial serum for antiaging created by a male doctor to treat aging skin. It can be used on the upper and lower eyelids to make the skin look tighter and smoother. Follow it with a moisturizer that is right for your Baumann Skin Type. To learn more about the power of exosomes to rejuvenate skin- read this blog.
Hydroxyacid Eye Creams
Hydroxyacid eye creams can help to reduce wrinkles, sun damage, and other signs of skin aging. However, you should not use these products unless you are a resistant skin type and your skin has no sensitivity or redness, Hydroxy acids like glycolic acid can cause dryness, flaking, and irritation, especially when used in the delicate eye area. I would prefer that you use a retinol around the eyes for antiaging purposes,
Retinol Eye Serums
Hydrating Eye Creams
The best eye creams for dull, dry and dehydrated skin have humectant and occlusive moisturizing ingredients.
Hydrating eye creams for dry eyelid skin contain moisturizing ingredients to hydrate and plump the thin skin around your eyes. This helps to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles caused by dehydration. Eye creams will be more hydrating for you than eye serums.
If you have dry skin around your eyes, look for eye creams with these ingredients:
These are more examples of hydrating eye creams that I recommend:
Obagi Elastiderm Eye Cream is a nonirritating eye cream that hydrates and firms the under eye area. Patients report to me that their crepey skin is improved after 4 weeks. (I see them for follow up at 4 weeks)
The Obagi clinical research trials showed that at 2 weeks:
- 97% of patients reported improvement of skin texture
- 88% of patients reported improvement of sagging and laxity
Soothing Eye Creams
The best eye creams for sensitive skin and eczema should have anti-inflammatory soothing ingredients like green tea, bisabolol, panthenol and green tea.
This is one of the very best eye creams if you have eczema or redness and irritation around the eyes.
Rosacea or Facial Redness
My rosacea patients often have red eyelids, as this is a symptom of rosacea, and need eye creams and serums safe for rosacea prone skin. The best eye creams and serums for rosacea and blepharitis contain anti-inflammatory ingredients to calm redness and soothe stinging, burning, or other signs of irritation.
If you have allergic skin, eye creams that are labeled as hypoallergenic are great choices, as this ensures they do not contain the most common allergens.
The best eye creams for sensitive allergic skin should have minimal fragrances and preservatives and as few allergens as possible.
These eye creasm are good if you are allergic to fragrances:
These eye creams are good if you are allergic to parabens or other preservatives:
These eye creams are good if you are allergic to formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasing agents.
Skin Lightening Eye Creams
Under-eye dark circles are one of the most common cosmetic complaints among many skin types. To remedy this, choose a brightening eye cream that contains one or more of these types of ingredients:
All of these ingredients work to prevent melanin production and therefore lighten dark spots and circles.
SkinMedica Instant Bright Eye Cream is a favorite of my male and female patients to treat undereye hyperpigmentation under the eyes. It tackles dark circles using resorcinol, a powerful skin-lightening ingredient. Its advanced formula instantly brightens the eyes. Suitable for all skin types and perfect for both morning and night use, it pairs well with SkinMedica Bright Eye Masks for a rapid rejuvenating effect.
Here are the best dark circle eye creams:
Anti-puffiness and to Treat Eye Bags
The best eye cream for bags and puffiness should have eye bag shrinking astringents. If you have puffy eyes, use an anti-puff eye product at night because puffiness is usually worse when you wake up in the morning. This will help prevent fluid accumulation under the eyes at night. Under-eye puffiness is caused by an accumulation of lymph fluid, or water retention, in the tissue under your eyes.
Here are our favorite anti-puffiness eye creams:
Eye Serum vs Eye Creams
There is a wide variety of eye creams and serums designed specifically for the eye area. When deciding on an eye cream vs an eye serum, consider your Baumann Skin Type®. Creams are thicker with more lipids and are more hydrating than eye serums, which have a gel-like consistency. If you have dry skin, you will prefer an eye cream which hydrates fine lines under the eyes and plumps them. If you have very dry skin, choose a barrier repair eye cream. If eye creams make your eyes puffy, choose a eye serum instead. You do not want to use a hydrating eye cream because this will make puffiness worse. Instead choose an eye serum. Oily skin types often prefer the feel of an eye serum. There is no reason to use both an eye serum and an eye cream at the same time. They just dilute each other and reduce efficacy of both. If you want to use both an eye cream and an eye serum, use one in the am and one in the pm.
Are you having eye irritation from side effects of facial medications such as acne medications and skin cancer treatments.? Applying an eye cream first can help prevent imiquimod side effects.
Do you have eczema around the eyes or eyelid dermatitis? Choose a barrier repair eye cream to protect delicate eye skin. Use this eye cream am and pm. A serum is not hydrating enough if you have eczema around the eyes.
What to Avoid in an Eye Cream
First- know your skin type so you know which eye cream ingredients to avoid and which to use. In general, if your eye burn from eye creams, avoid witch hazel, ascorbic acid, hydroxy acid, retinol, avobenzone sunscreen, essential oils and fragrances in eye creams. Fragrances, including those derived from natural ingredients, are often irritating to the skin, especially in the delicate eye area. Similarly, some dyes, preservatives, and other common allergens can irritate eye-area skin, especially in rosacea prone skin types. Choose a hypoallergenic eye cream if your skin tends to react negatively to many common ingredients.
When beginning a retinoid in your nighttime skin care regimen, avoid retinol and hydroxy acids in eye creams until you are already acclimated to high-strength retinol use every night.
Which Is the Best Eye Cream for You?
The best eye cream for you will depend on your Baumann Skin Type® and your specific skin concerns. For example, is your main concern lines and wrinkles, sun damage, redness, or dehydration, or are you simply looking to prevent these problems from arising in the future? Once you know your Baumann Skin Type, you can work with our STS approved skin care experts to treat the eye area with Botox or other cosmetic procedures.
Take the skin type quiz to see which eye products are suited to your Baumann Skin Type.
Different Eye Creams for Morning and Night
Never use an eye cream or an eye serum at the same time because you are wasting money and reducing the effectiveness of both products. However, you may choose to use one in the am and one in the pm. These are the factors to consider when deciding which eye product to use in the am and which to use in the pm:
Eye Products for Under Makeup and Concealer
Do you wear makeup? If so, choose the eye products that make your concealer go on smoother in the am. To find an eye product to mix with concealer, look for eye serums and creams with humectants like:
- hyaluronic acid'
- propylene glycol
Think of your eye cream or eye serum as a primer for under eye wrinkles. Choosing the right eye product will help to stop concealer from settling in creases and lines. It is hard to say which is best to go under concealer- a serum or a cream- because it depends upon the characteristics of the eye products and the ingredients in the concealer. So- we recommend trying several different ones to find which eye serum is best to prevent makeup from caking.
These eye products work well under or mixed with a concealer.
Eye Product to Use Before Retinol
Are you using a retinoid at night? If yes- choose an eye cream for night that will protect your delicate from retinol and other retinoids that get on the pillow and transfer to thin eye lid skin. This can cause eyelid irritation from retinoids.
Using an eye cream before applying retinol can help you tolerate retinoids at night. Choose one of the hydrating eye creams mentioned above.
There are many good medical grade eye creams to choose from. Your best bet is to take the quiz and see which eye creams and serums are the best to use in your custom skincare routine.
Which under eye cream is best?
There are 5 types of eye creams. Look for an under eye cream that treats the issues you have under your eyes such as wrinkles, crepiness, inflammation, eye bags, or dryness,. In many cases you can find an eye cream that treats more than one of these under eye issues.
Will eye creams make my eyes puffy?
Very hydrating eye creams with lots of humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid can make eyes puffy. If you have puffy eyes, use an eye serum that target puffiness at night.
Best References and Scientific Publications on Types of Eye Creams and Serums
- Baumann L. Antiaging Ingredients in Ch. 37 of Baumann's Cosmetic Dermatology Ed 3. (McGraw Hill 2022)
- Baumann, L. Ch. Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Ingredients (McGraw Hill 2015)
- Freitag, F. M., & Cestari, T. F. (2007). What causes dark circles under the eyes?. Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 6(3), 211-215.
- Goldman, A., Goldust, M., & Wollina, U. (2021). Periorbital hyperpigmentation—Dark circles under the eyes; treatment suggestions and combining procedures. Cosmetics, 8(2), 26.
- Roh, M. R., & Chung, K. Y. (2009). Infraorbital dark circles: definition, causes, and treatment options. Dermatologic surgery, 35(8), 1163-1171.
- Vrcek, I., Ozgur, O., & Nakra, T. (2016). Infraorbital dark circles: a review of the pathogenesis, evaluation and treatment. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, 9(2), 65.