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These are the best under eye creams of 2024, tested and reviewed

From bags to dark circles, wrinkles to crepey skin, the delicate area under our eyes poses a host of issues. Here's how to safely target them.

A picture of a woman's eye next to Paula's Choice C5 Super Boost Eye Cream.
There are loads of under eye creams to choose from, but the best, most skin-brightening pick is from Paula's Choice. (Amazon)

From wrinkles to puffiness, crepiness to dark circles, the skin around the eyes presents a cornucopia of challenges. As a result, the eye cream industry is undergoing an anti-aging renaissance — and a beauty marketing boom. I've tried dozens of under eye creams in the two decades I've been writing for women's media. While researching the best eye creams of 2024, I recently tested a dozen more. The category has expanded wildly, and there are now loads of options to choose from. They include formulations that target very specific issues, making finding the best under eye cream a bit of a challenge, if not a full-blown scavenger hunt.

Quick Overview
  • Paula's Choice C5 Super Boost Eye Cream

    Best under eye cream overall and best under eye cream for brightening

  • RoC Retinol Correxion Under Eye Cream

    Best under eye cream for wrinkles

  • The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream

    Best under eye cream for puffiness

All of this makes sense: Research shows that women are particularly self-conscious about the area under their eyes. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, blepharoplasty — the procedure that removes lower eyelid bags and extra skin from the upper eyelids — is among the top five most requested facial cosmetic surgeries in the country. It's become so popular among women of a certain age that surgeons refer to it as the "Menopause Eye Lift." Explains Dr. Robert Schwarcz, an oculoplastic surgeon in New York City: "I always say the eyes are one of the first places to show your true age, and my patients feel that way as well."

So what do you do if you aren't ready or willing to go under the knife? While there are no "miracle" eye creams, in the past few years researchers have found that a few key ingredients — including retinol and vitamin C — can help brighten under eye skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines. In particular, the consistent application of a stable form of vitamin C was found to even skin tone and texture and, in clinical trials, high-quality vitamin C products were shown to reduce pigmentation overall.

While there are a multitude of luxury brands willing to take your hard-earned cash for the promise of a more youthful visage (and a few that are actually quite good, like SkinCeuticals A.G.E Advanced Eye Cream), the best eye creams are the ones you can afford to use every day. Below is my pick for the best under eye cream of 2024 along with a few bonus options. Because each one addresses a different issue, I own all three and use them in rotation. My suggestion: Try each cream for at least six weeks to truly see results.

It's hard to find a better-quality under eye serum than this vitamin C version from Paula's Choice. It's clinically formulated to brighten under eye discoloration while smoothing and firming the delicate skin in this area. The texture is lightweight and supple, with extra emollients. While it doesn't contain retinol, this is my top pick for an affordable under eye cream because of its ideal mix of antioxidants and active ingredients. 

  • Clinically proven formula
  • Brightens and lightens dark circles
  • Lightweight
  • Moisturizing
  • Highly concentrated ingredients
  • Reduces puffiness
  • Potent formula may not work for sensitive skin
  • Lacks retinol, so not the best for building collagen and softening fine lines
$39 at Dermstore

If you're looking for a low-cost retinol treatment to help with fine lines and under eye wrinkles, this one is for you. RoC is the premier name in over-the-counter retinol, and its eye cream is highly rated, with more than 19,000 five-star Amazon reviews. It's excellent for improving the appearance of fine lines and dark circles, and it's dermatologist-recommended too. I only wish it contained antioxidant ingredients. But for the price, it can't be beat.

  • Targets dark circles, crow's feet, fine lines and puffiness
  • Stimulates collagen production
  • Lightweight texture
  • Absorbs easily
  • Affordable
  • Contains hyaluronic acid to keep eye area hydrated
  • Does not contain antioxidants
  • Formula may irritate ultra-sensitive skin
$22 at Amazon

The Inkey List is a bit of a secret among beauty editors. The U.K. brand's products are carbon net-zero, cruelty-free, fragrance-free and good for all skin types (including the most sensitive). They're also shockingly well-priced for what they are. I particularly love this potent caffeine eye cream for depuffing the under eye area and reducing dark circles. The package is small, but you need only a dab or two, so a little goes a long way. 

  • Affordable
  • Good for sensitive skin
  • Fragrance-free
  • Cruelty-free
  • Absorbs quickly and easily
  • Moisturizing
  • Package is small
  • High-shine texture is not the best for use under makeup
$11 at Amazon

Most experts I spoke with agree that while certain quality products can boost hydration and make your skin look brighter and plumper, no eye cream will fix all your under eye concerns. Depending on your age and genetics, dermatological procedures may be required to see a profound difference — or to prevent further damage. "Botox is one of the best things you can do to prevent fine lines and crinkles and crow's feet around the eyes because skin is like a piece of paper," says Dr. Kay Durairaj, a Los Angeles facial plastic surgeon. "The more you repeatedly contract and squint, the more you're going to get those chronic lines in the skin. So prevention is No. 1 with Botox — and get glasses when you need them, versus squinting. And No. 2 is, yes, using a great eye cream."

"The [under eye] skin is so delicate," Durairaj says. To further protect under eye skin, she suggests avoiding the abrasive use of makeup or makeup removers. "We really like scrubbing and tugging and stretching the skin to draw cat eyes and things like that. But when we do that kind of thing, it truly worsens the skin quality."

Apply a pea-size amount of cream using the softest part of the tip of your ring finger. Begin in the corner, just under your lashline, and carefully dab to the far corner of the eye. Be gentle, and never tug at the skin, which can cause further under eye damage.