the ultimate guide to eye treatments

ultimate guide to eye creams

To eye cream or not to eye cream. That’s NOT the question.

Because the answer is obviously yes, of course, you should eye cream. The skin around your eyes is delicate and can have different issues (dark circles, puffiness, flakiness, dullness) than the rest of your skin. Thus, specialized eye creams.

Or is it eye balm? Or eye oil? Or eye serum? That’s the real question.

With so many textures available, eye treatments can work for whatever skin type or preference you have. What it may really come down to, though, is pricing, packaging and performance.

Thus, the creation of this new guide! Browse via treatment type, and see which products in each category are my absolute favorites. Where applicable, I’ve linked my original reviews, but use this 2017 guide to know exactly where I stand today after testing so many eye treatments.

If a product is in the “just fine, maybe you’ll like ’em” section, that means it’s a recommendation. But, clearly, it’s not a favorite and I can’t possibly love everything. Consider this guide an exercise in as much self-restraint as a beauty addict can muster.

*Indicates press sample. Yes, I do buy my own products, and yes, free stuff gets the same level of criticism as stuff I paid for myself!

(Like my ultimate guides? Find more guides and products you may love! Or, visit my faves page for a list of my top picks across multiple categories.)

ultimate guide to eye creams

Eye Balms

My absolute favorites:

Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics Vitamin E Active Moisture Eye Balm ($49 for 0.65 ounces)

This thick, solid serving of rich balm melts with the warmth of your touch and provides a cushiony protective layer to the sensitive eye area. If you’re heavy-handed like me, you will appreciate this formulation. You would have to press with great force into this balm to break it up and get way too much on your finger! This eye balm is perfect for cold and windy weather. [Full Review]

Just fine, maybe you’ll like ’em:

*Laurel Whole Plant Organics Eye Balm ($60 for 0.34 ounces)

Made with 24 beneficial active ingredients, Laurel Whole Plant Organic’s Eye Balm takes down puffiness while offering a mega dose of moisture and protection to the delicate, dry eye area. In true Laurel fashion, the Eye Balm includes a whole-plant blend of bilberry, fennel, licorice and nettle to reduce puffiness, inflammation, fluid retention and dark circles. While I love this eye balm, it’s pricey compared to my favorite up above. [Full Review]

*HollyBeth Organics Eye Cream ($45 for 1 ounce)

It’s called an eye cream, but it’s actually an eye balm, as there’s no water-based ingredient in this formula. Regardless, it’s a treat to use thanks to its dense ingredients. Multipurpose sweet almond oil and exotic camellia round out the base while beeswax gives this formula its thick, rich texture. [Full Review]

Eye Creams

My absolute favorites:

belif Moisturizing & Firming Eye Cream ($48 for 0.84 ounces)

Guess what? This isn’t natural and is kinda, maybe “cleaner” than most (no parabens, petroleum, mineral oil). But ya know what? I went through two sample-sized pots of it and became absolutely addicted to the pillowy, bouncy texture. That’s silicones for ya. But to be fair, it’s also got butters, esters and oils in there to comfort your skin. This formula does a wonderful job hydrating and plumping the eye area. The texture is perfect for day or night — no heaviness here. If you’re open to experimenting with Korean beauty brands that are easily accessible via Sephora, belif is one that’s caught my attention, and an eye cream is a minimal investment to see what you think.

Dr. Alkaitis Organic Eye Cream ($65 for 0.5 ounces)

If you’d prefer to keep ‘cones out of your eye cream, then this is my other favorite in this category. Dr. Alkaitis’ Organic Eye Cream has a similar bouncy, cushiony texture to belief above, but it’s a bit “wetter” thanks to a base of aloe vera gel, green tea and oils. You’ll get true, clean, green hydration from this cream, though you will pay a prettier penny for it. But, it is packaged in a hygienic, air-tight pump container, meaning a truly “clean” (i.e. no dirty fingers in a pot) application.

*Osmosis Refresh Eye Serum ($60 for 50 ml)

Only available via skincare professionals, Osmosis Refresh Eye Serum is the real deal. Though it’s called a serum, it’s creamy and not runny, which is why I have it in this category type. The texture is cooling, fast-drying and oh-so-hydrating to parched, delicate eye skin. A blend of plant oils and hyaluronic acid guarantees softness and moisture, and it only takes half a pump to get that cushiony, comfortable feeling around the eyes. Though this is a pricey one, the texture is absolutely perfect, making it an eye cream that you’ll always want to apply. And let’s face it: the best eye cream is the one you use consistently.

Just fine, maybe you’ll like ’em:

100% Pure Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream ($25 for 1 ounce)

This formula is a medium viscosity and feels creamy yet extremely lightweight as it soaks into your skin. You can feel the “wetness” of the formula as you massage it in — that’s thanks to organic aloe juice and organic rose hydrosol. While this eye cream doesn’t deliver the same tightening and brightening effect as one of my favorite eye serums, I like 100% Pure Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream for the scent and subtle de-puffing benefits. For the price, though, you might as well give it a shot if you’re interested. [Full Review]

*Cocoon Apothecary Eyewaken Eye Cream ($30 for 0.68 ounces)

This light, bouncy eye cream, packaged in a hygienic pump jar, moisturizes and soothes with organic rose and corn flower while free radical-fighting plant oils protect the delicate skin around the eyes. This formula is a little more watery than some of the denser creams (yet it’s not a true serum), which is why it’s not quite on the “absolute faves” list. Texture, texture, texture!

*DeVita Revitalizing Eye Lift Creme ($23.95 for 1 ounce)

This formula features a blend of vitamin K, vitamin E, hyaluronic acid and amino acids to moisturize and hydrate skin all day and all night. DeVita’s Revitalizing Eye Lift Creme offers the thickness and creaminess that I prefer, but has enough slip and “wetness” to make it easy to dab on and gently pat in. I simply press in 2-3 dots per eye to experience immediate dryness relief. If you have parched, dry, dehydrated skin around your eyes and are looking for a budget-friendly eye cream option, this one’s for you. [Full Review]

Eye Oils

My absolute favorites:

*Josh Rosebrook Oculus Formula ($70 for 0.34 ounces)

Oculus Formula is designed to brighten, protect and firm the skin around your eyes with its moisturizing and anti-inflammatory rich ingredients. You feel like you’re getting a nice, moisturizing eye treatment, yet it doesn’t just sit atop the skin. I can use this eye serum in the morning before I apply makeup (I wait maybe one minute for it to sink in), but I can also load this on during airplane travel to keep my peepers bright and hydrated in dry cabin air. I will have to say that it’s probably the fastest-drying eye oil I’ve tried so far. The rollerball packaging is clear and subtle, allowing you to see not only the beautiful golden coloring of the serum, but also to note how far you are from being empty after continual use. [Full Review]

*Zweena Argan Ultra-Nourish Eye Serum ($64 for 0.5 ounces)

Zweena’s gorgeous all-natural eye serum absorbs quickly — I can pat it into my skin, brush my teeth for two minutes, and then get to my morning makeup application. I love how it nourishes my undereye skin with its lightweight mixture of oils. My concealer glides on very easily after using this serum, yet doesn’t slip around or get creasy — my skin is perfectly prepped. This eye oil packs ingredients rich in antioxidants, essential fatty acids and vitamins into a half-ounce rollerball-top jar (does anyone else just adore a cool rollerball of oil in the morning?). [Full Review]

*Kahina Giving Beauty Prickly Pear Seed Oil ($40 for 0.16 ounces)

A single-oil favorite, Kahina Giving Beauty’s Prickly Pear Seed Oil can be your on-the-go brightener and depuffer thanks to its petite rollerball packaging. While it’s pricey, you’re getting small batch, organic, co-op sourced prickly pear seed oil from a trusted brand. The steel rollerball makes application soothing and simple (and a treat when served chilled).

Just fine, maybe you’ll like ’em:

*Laurel Whole Plant Organics Eye Serum ($72 for 0.34 ounces)

Packaged in a Miron glass dropper bottle, this eye oil is almost scentless and feels like a second layer of fresh skin when applied around the eyes and orbital bone. All you need is one drop to cover both eyes, but if you’re feeling a little gluttonous, go ahead and try one drop per eye, and extend the oil to your temples and brows. This moisturizing eye oil features a “whole plant” blend of ingredients high in vitamins, minerals and carotenes, which are important antioxidants and precursors to vitamin A. However, I think this (and all eye oils) would be absolutely perfect offered in a rollerball instead of a dropper bottle. That way, it would feel more portable (think applying on trains and airplanes) and would keep my need to apply way too much in check. [Full Review]

What I’ll pass on:

*La Bella Figura Decouverte Under Eye Repair Serum ($115 for 0.33 ounces)

With so many other options on the market, this one is just too expensive. But, it has an interesting cocktail of ingredients — including blue tansy and coffee bean oil — that may just have you ready to splurge. [Full Review]

Eye Gels & Serums

My absolute favorites:

Absolution Le Soin Regard Eye Contour Booster ($40 for 0.34 ounces; not available in the U.S)

This is the eye cream that I go to on those too-early mornings that greet me with swollen, puffy eyes. Before dotting on my luminizer to fake a good night’s rest, I press in Absolution’s Le Soin Regard Eye Contour Booster and can very quickly feel and see the effects of tightening caffeine and green tea extract without any of the dryness you may associate with skin-tightening ingredients (thank you, aloe, jojoba, argan and other oils!). While it doesn’t instantly zap puffiness, it seems to reduce it greatly throughout my morning makeup routine and prep my skin for concealer and brightener. Sadly, it’s not available in the U.S. anymore (I purchased this in Brooklyn 4 years ago and have been without it for way too long). If someone knows where to get this, do tell! [Full Review]

*Botani Rescue Eye Treatment ($50 for 0.85 ounces)

When it comes to eye treatments, texture is everything. The texture of Botani’s Rescue Eye Treatment is a gel-serum hybrid that offers extreme hydration and a visibly firming effect, making it ideal for both day and night. This unique texture also aids in depuffing — a must for me in the A.M. — and leaves a perfect canvas for makeup application, as it dries to a “your-skin-but-plumper” texture. That means no sticky, goopy feeling and no overly runny or oily feel. At all. Seriously. I’m in awe over the texture. For me, Botani Rescue Eye Treatment is a repurchase because of its efficacy and cleaner ingredients list. I truly haven’t tried many other eye serums (eye gels?) like it. [Full Review]

Kahina Giving Beauty Eye Serum ($65 for 0.41 ounces)

A true eye serum, Kahina Giving Beauty’s take on lightweight eye moisturizer is elegant, simple and virtually scentless. The watery gel-like serum instantly smooths onto the skin and leaves a weightless, cloud-like layer of hydration that just feels good. I can’t get over how little you have to use and how spreadable the formula is. A little layer packs a mighty punch! You can feel it penetrating the skin as it gently firms and brightens the undereye area. With continued use (I tested for two months), you can see a gradual brightening effect, and skin feels stronger. Kahina Giving Beauty’s Eye Serum is a go-to for humid spring and summer days because of how fast it dries and how effortless the moisture feels. It’s never heavy, yet your eyes feel delicately draped in a shield of moisture from argan oil and sunflower oil, as well as age-defying peptides and antioxidants. That’s what I call a true eye serum! [Full Review]

Just fine, maybe you’ll like ’em:

*Blissoma Bright Eye Vitalizing Nutrient Serum ($56 for 0.5 ounces)

Made with 19 active ingredients, Blissoma Solutions Bright Eye Vitalizing Nutrient Serum is a non-sticky, non-oily lightweight, almost-watery serum that absorbs quickly and leaves no strange coloring on the skin (something I was concerned about when I first pumped the copper-colored product onto my hand). It doesn’t really have a scent that I can detect, which is great for those of us who are scent-sensitive or just don’t need the frills of too many essential oils (especially around the eye area!). Instead, you’ll see ingredients like aloe juice, rosehip oil and argan oil in the mix. Infusions of yerba mate, rose root, gotu kola, comfrey, eyebright and more provide anti-aging benefits thanks to a jolt of vitamin C, ferulic acid and other skin-protecting antioxidants that the delicate eye area desperately needs. [Full Review]

What I’ll pass on:

*Beterre Refining Eye Serum ($38 for 0.5 ounces)

This soft gel-serum starts out feeling featherlight and cooling, but upon drying, leaves skin a bit too taut for my taste. I found myself applying a bit of face cream over this in order to soften the skin, which defeats the purpose of a separate eye cream. Perhaps this formula could be improved with a little bit of cream or water-based moisture.

*Tata Harper Elixir Vitae Eye Serum ($265 for 0.5 ounces)

Filled to the brim with plant extracts and peptides, Tata Harper Elixir Vitae Eye Serum promises to minimize the look of fine lines and brighten the eye area. Part of the “Supernatural Collection,” the line’s self-described most-advanced collection of natural skincare treatments, Elixir Vitae Eye Serum blurs fine lines and wrinkles thanks to acmella extract, which is considered an alternative to Botox. (Is that why this stuff is so expensive?) Whether or not that sways you, one thing for sure to consider … besides the price … is the scent. It’s strong and very floral (think iris, lavender and daffodil). If you have sensitive skin or are prone to irritation, you’ll definitely want to sample and test before dotting all over your face and emptying your wallet. [Full Review]

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