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While eye creams are must-haves for some, they’re considered frivolous for others. It’s because an eye cream, though half the amount of face cream, can cost more than a basic moisturizer. But that’s where drugstore eye creams come in. Some of the most effective ingredients to tackle undereye concerns such as wrinkles, puffiness, and dark circles, can also be found in drugstore eye creams. But here’s the thing.
Most drugstore eye creams are still behind in certain areas when compared to high-end options. For example, nice packaging, high concentration active ingredients with a disclosed percentage, innovative ingredients- these still somehow haven’t made it to the drugstore. So no matter how unlimited your options may seem, know that not all drugstore eye creams are created equal.
And I’m saying this as someone who loves to splurge on undereye care products. Because I love to indulge in a good eye cream packed to the gills with restoring ingredients, has a good after-effect that leaves my under eyes bright, comes in nice packaging and so much more. So I have a high standard when it comes to undereye creams.
And with that standard in mind, I’ve rounded up some of my favorites I’ve used that are as good as high-end options. So if you’re dealing with undereye bags, puffiness, dark circles, or fine lines and are on the hunt for a budget-friendly eye cream, find below the best drugstore eye creams that work.
The Best Drugstore Eye Creams
1. Roc Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Eye Cream
Suitable for sensitive eyes
Preposterously ancient packaging
Everybody knows that retinol is the best when it comes to tackling undereye wrinkles, crow’s feet, and dark circles. As a vitamin A derivative, retinol boosts skin turnover to improve the look of signs of aging under the eyes (1). And Roc is the best when it comes to skin-friendly retinol products. This gentle eye cream delivers retinol into the skin with a very hydrating formula.
It’s pretty rich so besides minimizing wrinkles, it’s actually really moisturizing and plumping for under-eyes. It has glycerin and vitamin B5 to hydrate and soothe the eye area. The formula is super gentle and I’m saying this as someone dealing with ocular rosacea. Plus, it has a subtly radiant finish that leaves the eye area fresh and bright. So if you have mature skin, wrinkles, or fine lines, this is an overall amazing eye cream that’s gentle and effective.
Quick Tip: The fact that this eye cream is gentle and hypoallergenic may seem like it’s an indication that you can use it whenever and however. Don’t! Because this is still a retinol eye cream and if you start by using it twice a day every day, it will irritate your eyes! Use it a few times a week at first and slowly incorporate it into your routine to avoid irritation.
Key Ingredients: Retinol, panthenol
Size: 0.5 oz/ 15 ml
Good To Know: Hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic
2. CeraVe Eye Repair Cream
Visibly reduces irritation
Dryness can make the skin under the eyes look flaky and can even make wrinkles more noticeable. That’s why moisture is the most important thing if you’re dealing with dry under-eyes. And this is an all-time favorite that will not disappoint.
The hypoallergenic formula has hyaluronic acid, a blend of ceramides, and niacinamide to plump the skin and increase moisture. It’s not heavy but its creamy texture helps soothe the skin under the eyes and eliminate the look of dehydration lines. It’s free of common irritants and it’s not comedogenic so you can use it no matter your skin type.
Key Ingredients: Ceramides, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide
Size: 0.5 oz
Good To Know: Fragrance-free, non-comedogenic
3. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye-Gel Cream
No residue whatsoever
On the flip side, you might not like a rich, heavy eye cream at all. It’s because they can cause milia under the eyes, which are tiny yellow bumps, and they’re not the best if you have oily skin around the eyes. When that’s the case, either go for oil-free eye creams or gel-based eye creams.
And this is both! The gel eye cream is made with hyaluronic acid to hydrate under-eyes without the heavy feel. Content-wise, it’s a bit disappointing because it does the bare minimum. But if you don’t have major skin concerns under the eyes, and all you need is a lightweight hydrating eye cream that goes well under makeup too, this is worth it. Plus, it’s fragrance-free so it’s suitable for sensitive eyes too.
Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid
Size: 0.5 oz/ 14 ml
Good To Know: Oil-free, fragrance-free
Suggested: The Best Eye Creams For Your 20s
4. Avene Soothing Eye Contour Cream
Calms irritation and itchiness under the eyes
Speaking of sensitive eyes, Avene is my go-to for mine. This soothing eye cream packs chamomile extract to soothe irritation under the eyes. And it has hyaluronic acid and mineral-rich thermal water to hydrate too.
This is a great option for dry sensitive eyes because it has mineral oil on it. But don’t fret, because it’s not heavy at all. In fact, it spreads out and absorbs really well and doesn’t even pill or rub off. It leaves the eye area looking fresh, and feeling softer and smoother.
Key Ingredients: Chamomile, vitamin E, hyaluronic acid
Size: 0.3 oz/ 10 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free, paraben-free
5. La Roche Posay Pigmentclar Eye Cream
Applicator tip is a plus
Works well under makeup
A bit pricey
If you’re dealing with dark circles and under-eye discolorations, a minimal eye cream won’t cut it. The more, the merrier! Certain ingredients are known to reduce the look of under-eye discolorations like dark spots, dark circles, and dark shadows. And I love this one because it’s packed with multiple skin brighteners. For starters, it has caffeine which is known to improve the look of dark circles (2).
And it has niacinamide, aka vitamin B3, which is another skin brightener. It also has resorcinol which reduces melanin production to fade discolorations as well (3). The moisturizing formula has an applicator tip to help depuff the eyes and massage the product into the skin too. That’s why this is a bit on the pricier side but considering how rich the formula is, it’s definitely worth it.
Key Ingredients: Niacinamide, caffeine, resorcinol
Size: 0.5 oz/ 15 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free, paraben-free
6. Olay Vitamin C + Peptide 24 Brightening Eye Cream
Gentle form of vitamin C
And speaking of bright under eyes, another option you can try for illuminating the eye area is a vitamin C eye cream. Because besides increasing collagen production, vitamin C fades hyperpigmentation and brightens the skin. This one contains a very stable form of vitamin C to gently illuminate the eye area as pure vitamin C can irritate.
And it has niacinamide to double the effects. The cream is super moisturizing for the skin and contains peptides for some anti-aging effects and reducing fine lines and wrinkles too. The texture is almost like a gel and absorbs easily.
Key Ingredients: Vitamin C, peptides, niacinamide, panthenol
Size: 0.5 oz/ 15 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free
7. L’Oreal Revitalift 2.5% Hyaluronic Acid + Caffeine Under Eye Serum
Offers easy massage
Instantly wakes up tired eyes
Caffeine, besides helping dark circles, also has a tightening effect on the skin. And that’s why it works so well to reduce puffiness around the eyes. And in case you’re someone who is constantly dealing with puffy eyes, then you probably have a pair of cold spoons in the fridge too. Because the cold press is undeniably cooling and soothing and depuffing for the skin.
That’s why I love this eye serum for my puffy eyes. The light formula delivers hyaluronic acid into the skin to plump up fine lines and caffeine to brighten the under eyes. And to help you massage the serum into the skin for the cold press effect and reduce puffiness, the unique tip comes to the rescue. It’s really lightweight and it’s not sticky or greasy. And it’s visibly helping my dehydration lines and leaves this glistening effect.
Quick Tip: You can use this eye serum as your eye cream but if you have very dry under-eyes, it won’t be enough to provide long-lasting moisture. When my under-eyes are particularly dry, I apply a small amount of my moisturizer to lock the eye serum in.
Key Ingredients: Caffeine, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide
Size: 0.67 oz/ 20 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free
8. The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG
Works for the face too
Requires a separate eye cream
Eye serums can support your eye cream to help you better target skin concerns as serums are usually more potent. So if you need something fast absorbing and fast-acting, this is a great budget-friendly eye serum made with a high concentration of caffeine and ECGC, which is a compound found in green tea. It’s majorly helpful in soothing skin and reducing puffiness (4).
And all thanks to caffeine, the serum tightens and makes the eye area look more fresh and awake. If you have hooded eyes or you need something lifting for the eye area, this is definitely something you should consider. But this is not like L’Oreal’s eye serum because this won’t provide moisture or hydration. This is for treatment. So you do need something else to moisturize the eye area. But other than that, this is like liquid tea bags to reduce puffiness under the eyes and treat dark circles over time.
Key Ingredients: Caffeine, EGCG
Size: 0.5 oz/ 15 ml
Good To Know: Cruelty-free, vegan, oil-free, alcohol-free
9. Mario Badescu Glycolic Eye Cream
Feels like slugging but for under-eyes
Delivers bright under-eyes
For nighttime use only
Can feel heavy
Feels sticky upon application
And speaking of treatments, this is a unique exfoliating eye cream for nighttime use. It’s made with glycolic acid. Glycolic acid is an exfoliant that increases skin turnover, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, and also brightens the skin. And as the skin under the eyes is delicate, it requires caution. But this is almost like a rich undereye balm to prevent glycolic acid from irritating the under eyes.
It applies like shea butter cream and slowly melts with heat. It’s definitely not comfortable and convenient for daytime use and that’s why it’s best for nighttime. It smooths and softens the skin under the eyes and there’s no visible peeling either. And I’m happy with how much it helped with my dark spots under the eyes. Remember to start by using a few nights a week at first and make sure to wear sunscreen during the day.
Key Ingredients: Glycolic acid, vitamin E, cocoa butter
Size: 0.5 oz
Good To Know: Cruelty-free, fragrance-free
10. Pixi BeautifEYE Brightening Eye Patches
Gives you visibly glowing skin
Could be more adhesive
Drugstore eye masks can be as effective as eye creams but they work faster and give instant results. And these eye patches are for brightening the under-eye area and plumping up the skin. They are soaked in brightening vitamin C, licorice extract, and niacinamide.
And to instantly wake up and depuff the eyes, they have ginseng and green tea. The patches are amazing for a quick pick-me-up to look more awake, smooth out the skin, and eliminate the look of crepey skin.
Key Ingredients: Vitamin C, licorice extract, shea butter, caffeine
Size: 60 patches
Good To Know: Cruelty-free
If you’re looking for an effective drugstore eye cream, Roc Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Eye Cream is my top recommendation. It’s made with retinol, a known anti-aging ingredient that solves multiple concerns. And the formulation is really hydrating for the skin with a visible radiant finish. If you’re on the fence about retinol, my second recommendation is definitely La Roche Posay Pigmentclar Eye Cream. It’s gentler, suitable for daily use and for sensitive eyes, and also contains active ingredients that work.
If you haven’t found what you’re looking for here, keep reading for things to keep in mind when choosing an eye cream from the drugstore.
How To Choose a Drugstore Eye Cream
Look For Active Ingredients
Look for active ingredients in your drugstore eye cream. Active ingredients help you better target a specific skin concern. For example, if you’re dealing with dark cirls, look for vitamin C and caffeine in your eye cream. If you’re trying to get rid of under-eye wrinkles and fine lines, look for retinol and peptides in your eye cream. And if it’s puffiness, look for green tea and caffeine in your eye creams.
Look For Hydrating Ingredients
Again, moisture is the bare minimum a drugstore eye cream should do. So make sure your eye cream contains hyaluronic acid and glycerin to hydrate and ceramides and plant oils like jojoba oil to moisturize the under-eyes. Even if it doesn’t contain any active ingredients, an eye cream with multiple hydrating ingredients can plump up the eye area and instantly soften the look of fine lines.
Choose The Right Formula
If you have sensitive eyes or if you have ocular rosacea like me, try to avoid fragrance in your eye creams or make sure it’s way down on the ingredient list. And try to stick with hypoallergenic formulas as they will work better for you.
Keep Your Skin Type in Mind
Skin type, though not as important as it is when looking for a face moisturizer, still plays a role when choosing an eye cream. For example, if you are prone to milia or you have oily skin and oily eyelids, look for oil-free eye creams or non-comedogenic eye creams. Or go for gel-based eye creams or eye serums as they’re lighter on the skin. If you have dry skin, stick with rich eye creams as they’re inherently more moisturizing.
So these are some of the best drugstore eye creams and how to choose the right one for your unique skin. If you want to address undereye concerns but don’t want to splurge just yet, these are the ones to start with. I kept my recommendations short because as I explained, eye cream has to give you something instead of just doing the bare minimum. And in that case, trust me, you’re better off skipping eye cream completely and just doing what Kourtney Kardashian does and using your face cream for the eye area too.
- Pilkington, S. J., Belden, S., & Miller, R. A. (2015). The Tricky Tear Trough: A Review of Topical Cosmeceuticals for Periorbital Skin Rejuvenation. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 8(9), 39–47.
- Vrcek, I., Ozgur, O., & Nakra, T. (2016). Infraorbital Dark Circles: A Review of the Pathogenesis, Evaluation and Treatment. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, 9(2), 65–72. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-2077.184046
- Zhang, Y., Sil, B. C., Kung, C. P., Hadgraft, J., Heinrich, M., Sinko, B., & Lane, M. E. (2019). Characterization and topical delivery of phenylethyl resorcinol. International journal of cosmetic science, 41(5), 479–488. https://doi.org/10.1111/ics.12565
- Koch, W., Zagórska, J., Marzec, Z., & Kukula-Koch, W. (2019). Applications of Tea (Camellia sinensis) and its Active Constituents in Cosmetics. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 24(23), 4277. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24234277