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12 Best Retinol Eye Creams for Dark Circles, Bags and Wrinkles

Brighten undereyes with these anti-aging formulas that actually work.

a graphic of the best retinol eye creams as picked by the good housekeeping institute, including retinol eye cream from garnier, no7, roc and skinbetter science
Good Housekeeping

As dermatologist's gold standard anti-aging skincare ingredient, retinol is sought after for its myriad benefits like smoothing, firming, brightening and more. Plus, it has the proven studies to back it up; Research has found that retinol can help decrease the appearance of dark circles and stimulate collagen and elastin production to reduce the appearance of lines. Here's the caveat: The notoriously tricky vitamin A derivative can be strong and cause irritation, so not all retinol creams are safe around the eyes. But thanks to recent advancements in skincare technology, there are now retinol eye creams made specifically for those delicate areas.

The Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab regularly tests skincare products, both evaluating them in Lab and with consumer testers. In our quest to find the best eye creams with retinol, we assessed samples for efficacy using technical instruments in our Lab. Our panel of consumer testers also tried them out IRL for four weeks, then reported their feedback on the eye cream's attributes, application and look and feel of their skin after use. With that, we gathered over 5,900 data points to determine the best retinol eye creams you can buy, as tested by the GH Beauty Lab.

Our top picks:

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Best Overall Retinol Eye Cream
Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum
Murad
Best Value Retinol Eye Cream
Ultra-Lift Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream with Pro-Retinol
Garnier
Best Retinol Eye Cream for Dark Circles
Retinol Correxion Under Eye Cream
Roc Skincare
Best Retinol Eye Cream with Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C
Lift & Luminate Triple Action Eye Cream
No7
Best Dermatologist-Recommended Retinol Eye Cream
EyeMax AlphaRet Overnight Cream
SkinBetter Science
SkinBetter Science
Best Retinol Eye Cream for Wrinkles
Restore & Renew Multi Action Eye Cream
No7
Best Retinol Eye Cream for Undereye Bags
Redermic R Anti-Aging Retinol Eye Cream
La Roche-Posay
Best Moisturizing Retinol Eye Cream
Retinol 24 MAX Night Eye Cream
Olay
Best Smoothing Retinol Eye Cream
Retrinal Eyes
Avene
Best Retinol Eye Cream for Sensitive Skin
Age Perfect Eye Renewal
L'Oreal Paris
Best Luxury Retinol Eye Cream
Do Not Age Triple Peptide Eye Cream
Dr. Brandt
Best Retinol Eye Cream for Crow's Feet
Pro-Retinol Eye Treatment
Olay
How we test retinol eye creams
our beauty lab chemist uses the visia complexion analyzer on a tester
Mike Garten

Our GH Beauty Lab scientists evaluated eye creams, including retinol eye creams, by both using technical devices in Lab and sending samples to consumer testers to try in their daily routines over at least four weeks of use. In the Beauty Lab's most recent test, scientists analyzed over 5,900 data points to find the winning products.

We used a Corneometer machine to measure skin moisturization levels over six hours and a Cutometer machine to gauge changes in skin firmness over four weeks. Beauty Lab experts used the Visia Complexion Analyzer to track visible changes in skin over four weeks, including wrinkle size and severity. Consumer testers also reported their feedback on each product after the set time period, including ease of use and application, texture and scent, irritation and the look and feel of their skin after use. All of these data points were then tallied to determine the most effective eye creams and treatments on the market.

Is retinol good for undereye circles?
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Yes, and there's research to prove it! Retinol creams can help get rid of dark circles, crow's feet wrinkles and undereye bags. "A study in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology showed that a stabilized 0.1% retinol facial cream applied once daily can significantly improve the look of fine lines, pigmentation, elasticity, firmness and overall photodamage in eight weeks," says Beauty Lab Chemist Danusia Wnek.

What to look for when shopping for the best retinol eye cream
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Not all retinol eye cream formulas are created equal. Here's what to know before buying, according to Dr. Yeh:

✔️Different types: "Retinols come in various forms such as retinyl acetate, retinaldehyde, retinoic acid and many others," she says. These names may be listed as such on the product's packaging and are generally equal in terms of performance, depending on the formulation.

✔️Percentages: "Eye creams often do not specify the percentage of retinol, but the higher the percentage, the greater the potency and the greater potential for irritation," Dr. Yeh explains. "Beginning with lower potency and working your way up is a good way to start." (A lower potency of retinol is generally 0.01% to 0.03%; 2% is on the higher end.)

✔️Hydrating formulas: "A retinol cream in a moisturizing base is important to help with irritation and additional active ingredients such as antioxidants are always a plus," says Dr. Yeh. Seek out proven hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides and glycerin.

    When and how should you start using retinol eye cream?
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    Though primarily for anti-aging purposes, you can start using a retinol eye cream as early as your 20s and 30s. Follow these application guidelines from GH Beauty Lab and dermatologist experts:

    ✔️Read the instructions. "For best results, follow the manufacturer directions of the individual product you are using," Wnek recommends. "It's also imperative to read any warnings on the label."

    ✔️Only apply at night. "Retinols are not meant for daytime use, as they break down when exposed to UV light," Dr. Yeh explains.

    ✔️Build up a tolerance. If you're not used to using retinol around your eyes, "go slowly," advises Anthony Rossi, M.D., the founder of Dr. Rossi DERM MD and a dermatologist in New York City. "Apply a pea-sized amount or less and start by using it one to two times per week, increasing the frequency over a month until it can be tolerated nightly."

    ✔️Be gentle. "Place a small pump or dab of eye cream on the pad of the fourth finger and gently tap the cream onto the lower eyelid then the upper eyelid [if indicated on the product's packaging]," Dr. Yeh says. "The ring finger is the weakest finger, and you will be less likely to apply creams with too much force on the delicate skin around the eye."

    ✔️Hydrate and protect skin. "When using a product with retinol, you will also need a heavier moisturizer to combat any irritation," Dr. Rossi says. "And since retinol can cause sun sensitivity, it is especially important to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 or higher daily."

      Why trust Good Housekeeping?
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      Danusia Wnek is a chemist in the Good Housekeeping Beauty, Health & Sustainability Lab. Since joining the team in 2014, she has been developing and overseeing the testing of anti-aging eye creams, serums, moisturizers and more, utilizing both lab instrumentation and consumer feedback to recommend the best products on the market. She enjoys researching and translating scientific data for consumers so they feel empowered in their purchasing decisions.

      April Franzino is the Beauty Director at Good Housekeeping and has over 15 years of experience researching, writing and editing skincare-related content, utilizing the expertise of the Institute's Beauty Lab scientists and top industry professionals such as dermatologists and aestheticians. She is an expert in all face and body skincare product categories, including eye creams, cleansers, toners, serums, moisturizers, sunscreens, exfoliators, masks, professional treatments and more. April works closely with the GH Beauty Lab to coordinate skincare product testing and translate test results into best-in-class, compelling, factually accurate science-backed content.

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