The 9 Very Best Drugstore Eye Creams

Photo-Illustration: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

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I’ve said this before: I’m no eye-cream evangelist. I’m a firm believer that your regular moisturizer should work just fine for the skin under your eyes as long as it isn’t too heavy and that eye cream is for people with specific concerns to address. Beyond that, eye creams are expensive. These highly concentrated moisturizers will run you upward of 50 bucks, which is a lot of money for an ounce of product that can only be applied on one area of your skin. I’m less critical of drugstore eye creams for this reason. Drugstore beauty products tend to be affordable (no more than $30 in most cases), making that class of eye creams a cost-effective way to address the issues that plague the under eye like bags, puffiness, and dark circles.

To figure out the best of the bunch, I tapped lots of creams into my under eye and talked to aestheticians and dermatologists about what’s working for them and their patients. Every eye cream on this list is under $30 and is widely available at your local drugstore.

What we’re looking for

Active ingredients

Eye creams tend to target different concerns, so the ingredients are tailored to fit. Eye creams for brightening and smoothing might contain ingredients like vitamin C and retinol, while an eye cream to de-puff tends to include caffeine (it constricts the blood vessels and tightens the skin). Some eye creams (like our top pick) help with everything from dark circles to wrinkles to hydration.


While all of these picks are technically “creams,” not all of them have the same weight or feel. Some have a lightweight thin texture while others are heavy, like a night cream. This can be a deciding factor if you have an oily or dry skin type, where you might be looking for something that won’t feel heavy on the skin or want an extra dose of moisture.

Best overall drugstore eye cream


Active ingredients: Retinol, hyaluronic acid | Consistency: Lightweight cream

The top choice in this category is RoC Retinol Correxion eye cream, which ticks all of the eye cream boxes: active ingredients that address a host of concerns (retinol), moisturizing ingredients to hydrate the area (hyaluronic acid), and a thick but not greasy feel. I applied this atop my moisturizer and noticed that just a dot went a long way. It spreads nicely across the skin and creates a thin film of moisture. Unlike other options I’ve tried (including my favorite pricey pick) it’s not at all sting-y and feels like a regular moisturizer. This will work best for someone who’s looking to brighten and target wrinkles and fine lines. Retinol increases cell turnover and collagen production while the hyaluronic acid hydrates and plumps up skin, giving the under eye the appearance of being smoother than it is. I like that this works two-fold and the presence of HA means it’ll offset some of the retinol’s drying effects. If you do decide to use this, it’s imperative that you also use a sunscreen (daily, consistently) because retinol weakens the skin’s natural SPF functions. It’s also a favorite of dermatologists and aestheticians. Six I spoke to name-checked it, noting the efficacy, ingredients list, and price. As for application (because retinol is an active), aesthetician and beauty writer Simedar Jackson recommends starting out by using it once a week to get your skin accustomed to it and then increasing frequency. For sensitive-skin types, she recommends using a dab of moisturizer in the area first so the active ingredients sink in a little slower.

Best eye cream for dark circles

Active ingredients: Pro-xylane, Linactyl, caffeine | Consistency: Lightweight cream

If you’re dealing with raccoon eyes, La Roche-Posay’s caffeine-packed eye cream is a good option. Caffeine is a great ingredient for anyone who has darker or puffy under eyes, the caveat being that if this is due to genetics or fat pads, no eye cream will do much of anything. But if your situation is mild or occasional, this will definitely help. As Dr. Noelani Gonzalez, a dermatology specialist at Mount Sinai Health System, explained to me, caffeine works by constricting blood vessels, which minimizes the look of dark under eyes. This will make that area look lighter for the day and works near-instantly. This is the most expensive cream on our list that’s worth it for the high-quality ingredients and the fact that La Roche-Posay is known for its elegant formulations that work nicely for sensitive skin. This reminds me a bit of my go-to Effaclar Moisturizer, which has seen me through breakouts and winter days while still being hydrating. Celebrity aesthetician Jordan Mattioli is also a fan and recommends dabbing a few dots of cream under the eye and tapping it in gently to avoid pulling or tugging on the skin. “Apply to the area under the eye and the sides of the eye but avoid your upper eyelid,” she says.

Best drugstore eye cream for sensitive skin

Active ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, ceramides, niacinamide | Consistency: Lightweight cream

If you classify yourself as sensitive but still want a bit of added moisture, I’d recommend CeraVe’s Eye Repair Cream, which contains hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides along with niacinamide, which is generally well-tolerated while also brightening the skin. Dermatologist Dr. Karen Hammerman of Schweiger Dermatology Group agrees and adds that not only are those ingredients extremely gentle for people with sensitive skin but they also “restore and maintain the skin’s natural protective barrier and help to keep the eye area hydrated and smooth.” Plus the formula is nongreasy and noncomedogenic — meaning it won’t clog your pores — making it a good bet for those with oily or acne-prone skin.

Best drugstore eye cream for mature skin

Active ingredients: Retinol, vitamin B3 | Consistency: Rich cream

As you age skin becomes more lax, so you might notice new lines or sagging skin. This pick from Olay is designed specifically to address this and uses a mix of vitamin B3 and retinol, which helps to prevent water loss and fortify the skin’s barrier while also encouraging collagen production. The formula also feels luxe on the skin despite the $27 price point. It holds its own next to nicer formulas double the price and is beloved by dermatologists, including founder of Tone Dermatology Caroline Robinson, M.D., who says it’s good at addressing fine lines and dryness simultaneously. If you’re sensitive to retinols, Dr. Robinson recommends trying Olay Eyes Ultimate Eye Cream instead, which has a similar formula but uses amino peptides in place of the retinol.

Best illuminating drugstore eye cream

Active ingredients: Vitamin B3, vitamin E, vitamin C | Consistency: Rich cream

What sets this eye cream apart is its peachy tint, which helps to color correct and brighten dark circles, both neutralizing the shadows and providing an illuminating effect. It might be a bit bright for those with deep skin tones, who would benefit from something with a bit more of an orangey hue. It also acts as a good base for your usual concealer. Medical aesthetician Sofie Pavitt, who counts our columnist Rio Viera-Newton as one of her clients, loves it, too, noting the texture and ingredients like vitamins E and C, which brighten and moisturize the under eye.

Best moisturizing drugstore eye cream

Active ingredients: Hyaluronic acid | Consistency: Gel cream

For those who have extremely dry under-eye skin, I suggest the eye cream version of the very popular Hyrdoboost gel cream. It’s a hair thicker than its moisturizer counterpart and consists mostly of hyaluronic acid, which is great if you’re really just looking for some more hydration. Think of it like a serum but in a convenient-to-squeeze tube. Jackson says this formula is particularly good for first-timers “looking to boost hydration levels around the eyes and consequently treat very fine lines.”

Best drugstore eye cream for under-eye bags

Active ingredients: Caffeine, super hyaluronic acid | Consistency: Lightweight cream

You know them when you see them: Those folds of puffy skin met by shadowy discoloration that we call “bags.” Generally, under-eye bags are caused by fluid retention, as well as the skin sagging and losing its natural elasticity over time. For some, they may appear after a late night, while others are born with them. In either case, Hada Labo Tokyo Age Correcting Eye Cream is full of caffeine to help tighten them up. Hada Labo is unique for its use of super-hyaluronic acid, which, according to Song, contains twice the moisture-retention capacity of regular hyaluronic acid. Those ingredients combined help to hydrate, restrict blood vessels, retain moisture, restore radiance, and lessen dark circles, she says, which in turn will help reduce the appearance of “bags.” The texture is also superlight, so you can reapply throughout the day without having to worry about ruining your makeup, she says. However, if your eye bags are pretty much constant — which can happen as you age — they are likely the result of a drooping fat pad under the eye. If this is the case, an in-office procedure is your best bet to fixing them permanently.

Best drugstore eye cream for puffiness

Photo: Courtesy of the Inkey List

Active ingredients: Caffeine, peptides | Consistency: Cream

While this eye cream from the Inkey List isn’t technically a drugstore eye cream, it’s well within the drugstore price point at $11 and is available at Sephora, which is fairly ubiquitous. It also has two main ingredients: caffeine and peptides, which work together to increase collagen production and also de-puff skin. Viera-Newton told me about this eye cream a few years ago, noting that it didn’t bother her “ultrasensitive” under eyes and “did a wonderful job at taking some of that darkness away.”

Best drugstore eye cream to wear under makeup

Active ingredients: Peptides, hyaluronic acid, cucumber, shea butter, green tea | Consistency: Rich cream

E.l.f. is first and foremost a makeup brand, so it’s no surprise its skin care works beautifully under face products. That includes its eye cream, which contains a blend of peptides and hyaluronic acid. Together, they plump and hydrate the under-eye area to ensure makeup doesn’t sink into any wrinkles or fine lines. Peptides are also helpful for dark circles, particularly if they occurred as a result of a lack of collagen. The amino acid stimulates collagen production, which in turn helps to bring some of that volume back to the area. As mentioned before, if it’s the result of a drooping fat pad, an in-office treatment will likely work best.

Some more Strategist-approved drugstore skin-care products

Our experts

• Dr. Amanda Doyle of Russak Dermatology NYC
• Dr. Noelani Gonzalez, dermatology specialist at Mount Sinai Health System
• Dr. Karen Hammerman of Schweiger Dermatology Group
Simedar Jackson, aesthetician and beauty writer
• Jordan Mattioli, celebrity aesthetician
• Rio Viera-Newton, beauty columnist and esthetician
Sofie Pavitt, medical aesthetician
• Dr. Morgan Rabach, dermatologist and co-founder of LM Medical NYC

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The 9 Very Best Drugstore Eye Creams