9 Best Retinol Eye Creams of 2020 for Fine Lines and Dark Circles

retinol eye cream

Khadija Horton

“Helppppp. What’s the best eye cream?!” It’s one of the skincare questions I get asked the most as a beauty editor. And you know what my answer is? Every single time? One with retinol. Hands down, the best eye cream is a retinol eye cream. Why? Because retinol is the gold standard when it comes to anti-aging ingredients. It’s proven to stimulate collagen and elastin production (the protein in skin that keeps it plump and firm) and boost skin cell turnover (aka your skin’s natural exfoliation process).

For you and your eye area, that translates to fewer fines lines and wrinkles (byeeee crow’s feet), less prominent dark circles (retinol not only brightens skin, but thickens it too, so the blue-ish veins underneath become slightly less visible), and an overall smoother, more wide-awake appearance. Great, right? Buuuut here’s the thing: Retinol is STRONG, and some formulas are way too harsh and aggressive for your delicate eye area. So to save you from a painful game of trial-and-error (and a lot of potential flaking and redness), I rounded up the nine best retinol eye creams that smooth and brighten your skin without irritating the hell out of it.

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Best Retinol Eye Cream for Sensitive Skin

First Aid Beauty Retinol Eye Cream with Triple Hyaluronic Acid

If the thought of using retinol around your dry, delicate eye area freaks you out, try starting with this ultra-gentle and hydrating retinol eye cream. The formula is infused with hyaluronic acid to draw moisture to the skin for long-lasting hydration and an instant plumping effect, and the retinol it uses is actually encapsulated, making it extra gentle on skin.


Best Drugstore Retinol Eye Cream

The Inkey List Retinol Eye Cream

Finding a good eye cream that’s less than $10? Hard. Finding a good retinol eye cream under $10? Basically impossible. So when I found this top-rated retinol eye cream from The Inkey List, I was pretty damn excited—and I was even more excited by the results. It significantly reduces the appearance of crow’s feet, fine lines, and the rough texture around my cheekbones, without giving me redness or flaking.


Best Retinol Eye Cream for Morning

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream

Most retinols can be deactivated my sunlight, making them only suitable for your P.M. skincare routine. But not this retinol eye cream from Neutrogena. It’s made with a stable form of retinol that stays potent throughout the day—plus the non-greasy, non-pilling formula wears perfectly under foundation and concealer too.


Best Retinol Eye Cream for Nighttime

Olay Eyes Retinol24 Night Eye Cream

Remember that thing about certain retinol eye creams being suitable for nighttime only? This is one of them. The silky cream contains a retinol complex along with two potent antioxidants (vitamin B3 and vitamin E) to firm and brighten your skin while you snooze.


Best Retinol Eye Patches

KNC Beauty All Natural Retinol Infused Eye Mask

Okay, so this one isn’t technically a retinol eye cream, but if you need instant results (retinol can take 4-6 months to fully work), try these. Wear this set of patches under your eyes for up to 20 minutes—they’re infused with retinol, licorice root extract, hyaluronic acid, and aloe vera—for instantly brighter, smoother, and more hydrated skin.


Best Gentle Retinol Eye Cream

RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream

There’s a reason basically everyone and their mother raves about this retinol eye cream: It’s gentle and it works. The hypoallergenic formula truly reduces crow’s feet, dark circles, and under-eye bags without causing any redness or dryness to your eye area.


Best Retinol Eye Cream for Dark Circles

Kiehl’s Youth Dose Eye Treatment

This retinol eye cream is ideal for anyone dealing dark circles (hi, me  🙋). It combines tiny, light-reflecting particles with vitamin C and retinol to brighten your under-eyes both short and long term. The light-reflecting particles instantly minimize shadows, while the vitamin C and retinol work together to fade hyperpigmentation and thicken your skin to make dark circles less visible.


Best All-Natural Retinol Eye Cream

Follain Eye Cream Firm + Brighten

Just because this retinol eye cream is natural doesn’t mean it’s any less powerful than other options on the list. The hero ingredient is actually bakuchiol—a natural, plant-based ingredient that treats skin to the the same smoothing and glow-boosting benefits as retinol.


Best Multitasking Retinol Eye Cream

Dermalogica Age Reversal Eye Complex

Fine lines? Puffiness? Dark circles? This multitasking eye cream helps treat them all. It contains retinol to plump lines and wrinkles, niacinamide to reduce inflammation, and ash tree bark extract to brighten the look of dark circles and boost hydration levels too. 

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18 thoughts on “9 Best Retinol Eye Creams of 2020 for Fine Lines and Dark Circles

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