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The Best Eye Cream Active Ingredients: What Actually Works

What works in eye cream?

There are so many amazing eye creams out there on the market, and they’re all a bit different. You want an eye cream that will help with puffiness, dark circles and bags, right? But what ingredients will actually help you with those issues?

Dermatologists all have different preferences, but they shared their favorite active ingredients in eye creams with me. Look for these active ingredients on the ingredient list! If you want specific product recommendations, you can also see the favorite eye creams of dermatologists.

Debra Jaliman, MD is a dermatologist with a private practice in New York City.
Dr. Jaliman looks for:
• Caffeine to shrink vessels and decrease darkness.
• Hyaluronic acid and glycerin for moisture.
• Human growth factor to decrease wrinkles.

Rahat Azfar, MD is a dermatologist in New York City.
Dr. Azfar looks for creams with Vitamin C, E, retinol, and hyaluronic acid.

Avery Kuflik, MD is a dermatologist with a private practice in New Jersey.
“I look for eye creams with antioxidants and peptides. I also look for creams that contain “non-clogging” oils like avocado oil which not only adds moisture to the skin without clogging the pores but has the benefit of stimulating collagen production. Humectants like glycerine and dimethicone add moisture and give the skin that smooth, silky feel.”

Rebecca Tung, MD is the Director of the Division of Dermatology at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago.
Dr. Tung recommends caffeine to reduce puffiness and ingredients that promote growth and turnover of dead skin cells such as hydroxy acids, Vitamin C, and growth factors.

James C. Marotta, MD is a Facial Plastic Surgeon who practices in Long Island.
Dr. Marotta has quite a few ingredients he watches for!
• Hyaluronic Acid and Ceramides: For plump skin cells nothing beats hyaluronic acid, which draws moisture from the air and holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water. Additionally, ceramides also help maintain hydration.
• Retinol: A vitamin A derivative, retinol stimulates cell turnover and collagen production, helping to strengthen skin and reduce complexion imperfections like sun spots and fine lines.
• Neuropeptides: Supersensitive skin types might opt for a peptide-packed eye cream instead of a retinoic acid one. Like retinol, neuropeptides also stimulate collagen and elastin production, but are gentler on the dermis
• Vitamins C and E: Besides vitamin A (in the form of topical retinol), vitamins C and E are also potent anti-aging ingredients. While vitamin C aids in collagen production and skin elasticity, vitamin E soothes and protects

Vish Banthia, MD is a Facial Plastic Surgeon in Beverly Hills, and is Chief Medical Officer of Zendy Beauty.
He looks for these ingredients in an eye cream:
• Hyaluronic acid: Hyaluronic acid is present in our skin. It provides lubrication and is good for keeping the skin moist / hydrated.
• Acetyl hexapeptide or Argireline: This is a peptide which is used to help prevent wrinkles.
• Vitamin K: Thought to improve puffy skin around the eyes and potentially improve dark circles.
• Caffeine: vasoconstrictor effects help minimize puffiness and a create a bit of skin tightening effect.
• Vitamin C/berry extracts: these have anti-oxidant potential; vitamin C is involved in collagen synthesis.
• Arnica: Has an anti-inflammatory effect; may help puffiness

Debbie Palmer, DO is a dermatologist in Harrison, New York. She also created Replere Skin Care.
Dr. Palmer likes potent antioxidants, hyaluronic acid and vitamin A in eye creams.

Purvisha Patel, MD is a dermatologist in Memphis.
Dr. Patel looks for caffeine and a good hydrator in eye creams.

David E. Bank, MD is a dermatologist in Mt Kisco, New York.
What he looks for in eye creams:
• Hyaluronic Acid and Ceramides keep your sensitive skin hydrated.
• Retinol boosts cell turnover to give you stronger skin and also helps diminish fine lines and discoloration.
• Neuropeptides can give similar benefits to retinols without the harsh side effects that some may people may experience from retinoic acid.
• Vitamins A, C and E will all help skin stay healthy. Vitamin A can be found in your retinoid, Vitamin C will improve collagen production and elastic and Vitamin E will protect your skin from outside factors.
• Caffeine helps to constrict superficial blood vessels to decrease darkness

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About Me

I’m a doctor, a mommy and a bit of a beauty addict. If you let me, I can take 2 hours to get ready in the morning. Really. I'm on a quest for faster beauty that works!

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  1. 1.12.18
    Susie said:

    Good info! Any recommendations for product(s) that containthese ingredients?

    • 1.12.18
      15mins said:

      These derms all shared their favorite eye creams (https://www.15minutebeauty.com/2014/03/best-eye-creams-dermatologists.html), I’d look at those! I’ve loved the Teamine mentioned in that post and I also really like the SkinMedica TNS Eye Cream.

      • 1.14.18
        Susie said:

        Thanks. These recommendations are from 2014, have anything more current? Probably new products coming out all the time. Thanks

        • 1.15.18
          15mins said:

          I have emails out to Derms right now actually! Note that most of these products are from brands typically sold at Dermatologist offices, so they tend to release fewer new products than drugstore brands for example.

          • 2.1.18
            Susie said:

            I’m looking which of the recommended products have the most ingredients that are recommended. Seems Neocutis Lumier Bio-Restorative Eye Cream and iS Clinical Youth Eye Complex have the most. My question is would it be beneficial to use both of these products together?

          • 2.1.18
            15mins said:

            They have quite a bit of overlap I think in the classes of active ingredients that they contain. Personally I haven’t tried the Neocutis, but I think the iS Clinical has more ingredients and I’ve tried that one and really liked it.

  2. 2.3.18
    Susie said:

    do you have any articles on face moisturizers and recommendations or ingredients to look for? I breakout easily and find myself not using my moisturizer. But, I need to at this age. Thanks

    • 2.4.18
      15mins said:

      I don’t have one specifically like that, I’ll start working on one!

  3. 2.12.18
    Susie said:

    Do you have an opinion on Green Tea Antioxidant Therapy Green Tea moisturize by Dr Cynthia Bailey Skin Care? Thank you

    • 2.12.18
      15mins said:

      I do! I’ve tried it before (years ago, I think I got distracted with something else and it never made it to the blog), but I did really like it! It has antioxidants and peptides and I thought it was pretty soothing (I have rosacea). Dr. Bailey is sooooo nice and I like all of her products.

      • 2.15.18
        Susie said:

        Ok, my last question, I promise! 🙂 Still undecided on a facial moisturizer. Do you think I should look for same ingredients in a facial moisturizer that are mentioned above for eye cream?

  4. 10.6.18
    Briana Klauss said:

    Dark circles under the eyes run in my family (unfortunately) but also at my age I started to get fine lines and wirnkles around my eyes which made me look worse. I have tried the eye cream above, and while it did work with some results, for the last 3 months I have been using Made from Earth’s Advanced Eye Repair and I am stocking with it.

    I do believe this Made from Earth Eye Repair have made a beautiful difference in my face. My skiin feels soft, but not at all oily. I used to have very defined lines, and I do believe this has helped tremendously to decrease the appearance of lines around my eyes.

  5. 4.17.21
    Stefaniamariotti@gmail.com said:

    Do you have a list of pregnancy safe eye creams?