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Reviewed by Dr. Diana Rangaves, PharmD
The skin around the eyes is delicate, and can be a problematic area for those with sensitive skin. Finding a top-quality eye cream that targets your concerns without causing irritation can be challenging if you have sensitive skin. Thankfully, there are plenty of great options on the market that are crafted to give the skin the support it needs without triggering inflammation. After analyzing the various options on the market, we’ve created the ultimate guide to the best eye creams for sensitive skin.
What to Look For in an Eye Cream – and What to Avoid
Let’s first talk about the eye-cream ingredients you should avoid if you have sensitive skin. We recommend skipping formulas containing fragrances (especially synthetic ones) or alcohol. Alcohol will cause dryness in sensitive skin (which often is already prone to being dry), while fragrances can cause irritation in both the skin and the eyes.
Those with sensitive skin should practice caution with products containing retinol. Many anti-aging eye creams on the market are made with this vitamin A derivative, as it is one of the most effective ingredients for softening fine lines and wrinkles and enhancing firmness and elasticity. However, it also has a high risk of causing irritation and dryness, which can be especially problematic for easily aggravated complexions.
If you’re desperate to try a retinol eye cream, we recommend choosing a low-concentration formula that also contains soothing and moisturizing ingredients to help counteract negative side effects. Alternatively, you can try a bakuchiol eye cream. Bakuchiol is a plant-derived ingredient that is considered to be a gentler alternative to retinol.
If you are looking to address signs of aging, there are other ingredients that are typically better tolerated by sensitive skin. In addition to bakuchiol, we recommend looking for formulas with vitamin C or peptides. These ingredients can help promote more youthful eyes.
We also suggest reaching for antioxidant-rich formulas. Antioxidants protect the skin from the harmful effects of free radicals, which can cause skin damage and premature signs of aging. Antioxidant-packed ingredients include vitamin E and green tea extract.
Anyone prone to dark circles can benefit from eye creams infused with ingredients like caffeine and ginseng, which can help brighten and depuff for more energized eyes. Additionally, we recommend reaching for formulas with hydrating ingredients to plump and soften the skin around the eye area. Ceramides, hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, shea butter, squalane and glycerin are all excellent options.
Last but certainly not least, we suggest looking for clean formulas. We particularly recommend formulas made without ingredients like parabens and phthalates, as those chemicals have the potential to irritate the skin.
The Best Eye Creams for Sensitive Skin
Ready to take your skincare routine to the next level? Here’s the ultimate list of the best eye creams for sensitive skin. No matter your specific concerns or budget, you’ll find at least one option that works perfectly for your needs.
The Blu Atlas Eye Stick is packed with nutrient-dense, high-quality ingredients that target signs of aging, dark circles and puffiness. These ingredients (96% of which are naturally derived) are able to deliver visible results without aggravating sensitive skin. The formula is vegan and cruelty-free, and doesn’t contain fragrances, parabens or phthalates, so you can feel safe using it in your routine.
This formula is crafted with Coffea canephora seed extract (which is packed with caffeine) and niacinamide, which work together to brighten dark circles for a more energized appearance. These ingredients are joined by ascorbic acid, a potent form of vitamin C that further works to lighten dark circles while stimulating collagen production to reduce visible signs of aging. It also provides antioxidant benefits, ensuring the eye area is optimally protected against the damaging effects of free radicals.
Palmitoyl tripeptide-5 (an effective peptide) helps soften fine lines and wrinkles while firming the skin, promoting a younger-looking eye area. Soothing rose flower water also reduces puffiness. Additionally, nutrient-rich algae extract strengthens the skin, while squalane, sodium hyaluronate and panthenol plump the eye area with moisture, promoting a softer feel and smoother look. This premium eye cream comes in a rollerball, which makes application a breeze.
One of our favorite anti-aging eye creams for sensitive skin is the Line-Filling Eye Cream from Aplyn Beauty. As well as tackling signs of aging, the formula works to reduce puffiness and boost radiance around the eyes, promoting a youthful and awakened appearance. The brand has evidence to back up these lofty claims: 100% of participants in an independent clinical trial agreed that this eye cream improved texture and smoothness after 14 days of use, and 92% agreed that there was an improvement in the appearance of fine lines and puffiness.
This creamy formula is powered by bakuchiol, which works to smooth fine lines and wrinkles and enhance elasticity and firmness without causing the irritation and dryness many experience with retinol. Vitamin C (in the form of ascorbic acid) provides additional anti-aging benefits. It also brightens dark circles and adds protective antioxidant benefits.
Another key ingredient in this formula is caffeine, which helps alleviate puffiness and dark circles. Additionally, algae works to nourish the skin as it boosts firmness, while sodium hyaluronate, glycerin and squalane boost moisture levels.
Like other Alpyn Beauty products, this eye cream is infused with ingredients derived from sustainably harvested plants around Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The clean formula is vegan, cruelty-free and made without parabens, phthalates, fragrances or dyes.
If your sensitive skin is in need of some serious hydration, we recommend this eye cream from First Aid Beauty, which is made to be safe for sensitive skin. It’s packed with some of the most effective ingredients for sealing moisture into the skin, and has been clinically proven to provide 24 hours of hydration. At the same time, it helps reduce puffiness, smooth lines and lighten dark circles.
The Hydrating Eye Cream is powered by hyaluronic acid, which draws moisture to the skin and locks it in for long-term hydration. It’s joined by squalane, panthenol, glycerin and mango seed butter, all of which boost moisture levels. In addition to these ingredients, the formula contains aloe leaf juice and colloidal oatmeal, two powerful soothing ingredients that relieve signs of irritation while further counteracting dryness. It’s also infused with caffeine to reduce puffiness and dark circles.
If you still need convincing, take a look at the consumer study results. After four weeks of using the eye cream, 100% of participants agreed that the skin around their eyes felt calm, refreshed, hydrated and nourished throughout the day, while 96% agreed that it was the perfect daily eye cream to use alone or under makeup.
This eye cream has a clean formula that has been dermatologist tested. It is vegan and cruelty-free, and contains no fragrances, artificial colorants, parabens or phthalates.
Dieux has become one of the most popular skincare brands in the market over the past few years, thanks to the company’s thoughtfully made, science-backed formulas. The brand’s Auracle Reviving Eye Gel is specially crafted for those with sensitive skin. This gentle, super-hydrating formula smooths fine lines and wrinkles while softening the skin and minimizing puffiness and dark circles. It is vegan and cruelty-free, and doesn’t contain parabens or fragrances.
This eye gel is made with a 1% concentration of an algae polysaccharide complex, which works to reduce dark circles while strengthening and smoothing the skin. It is joined by a 3% concentration of a palmitoyl tripeptide complex to firm the skin while further minimizing dark circles and taming puffiness for youthful and energized eyes. Additionally, the formula contains a 10% concentration of glycerin to draw moisture to the skin and lock it in for long-term hydration.
What makes this eye gel stand out is the eco-conscious packaging. The product is packaged in a 100% recycled aluminum canister, and comes with a pump. After going through your first bottle, keep the pump and cap and order a refill canister. You can attach your pump to the new canister to help cut down on plastic waste.
If you’re looking for a powerful and affordable remedy for dark circles and puffiness, we recommend this water-based eye serum from The Ordinary. The lightweight serum quickly absorbs into the skin, where it immediately gets to work to enhance the overall look and feel of the eye area. It is vegan and cruelty-free, and doesn’t contain parabens, alcohol or fragrances.
The 5% concentration of caffeine serves to effectively reduce puffiness and dark circles. It works alongside a catechin called epigallocatechin gallatyl glucoside (EGCG), which has powerful antioxidant properties and soothing effects. As it calms and protects against free radicals, EGCG softens the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles for a more youthful appearance.
Hyaluronic acid and glycerin also seal moisture into the skin. They leave the under-eye area feeling soft and smooth, and don’t leave any greasy residue on the skin.
This Herbivore product is one of our favorite options for anyone with sensitive skin looking for a bakuchiol-powered eye cream. It is designed to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and smooth and lift the skin around the eye area as it seals in moisture for optimal softness. The clean formula is vegan and cruelty-free, and doesn’t contain fragrances, parabens, phthalates, dyes or synthetic preservatives.
In addition to the 1% concentration of bakuchiol, this eye cream is crafted with quinoa-derived peptides. These peptides soften the appearance of eyelid creases to promote a more youthful look. They also reduce puffiness, instantly working to energize the eye area.
The eye cream is crafted with honey locust seed, which is a rich source of polysaccharides, and works to tighten and lift the skin. Shea butter, squalane, aloe extract, rosa damascena extract and glycerin also help nourish, soothe irritation and enhance hydration levels for soft, comfortable skin.
We can’t get enough of the Bright & Tight Dark Circle Firming Eye Cream from INNBEAUTY Project. This gel-cream formula is designed to cool and refresh the skin as it brightens, reduces dark circles and softens wrinkles. It is vegan and cruelty-free, and doesn’t contain any added fragrances.
This formula is powered by three forms of vitamin C, which work together to boost radiance in the eye area, diminishing dark circles. They also defend against damaging free radicals, and stimulate collagen production to fight signs of aging. These different forms of vitamin C are joined by a 3% concentration of tranexamic acid, which reduces hyperpigmentation to brighten the appearance of the eye area.
In addition to these ingredients, this eye cream is infused with caffeine and cedar bark. Together, these ingredients enhance microcirculation to calm puffiness and reduce dark circles. Bakuchiol and peptides work in tandem to smooth the under-eye area and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles – all without irritating the skin. Finally, squalane, glycerin, sodium hyaluronate and mango seed butter seal moisture into the skin, promoting plumpness and softness.
If you prefer gel-based formulas to creams, we recommend checking out the Resist Anti-Aging Eye Gel from Paula’s Choice. The refreshing, lightweight formula instantly absorbs into the skin, where the active ingredients get to work to brighten and depuff while softening fine lines and wrinkles and hydrating the skin. It’s an ideal choice for anyone with sensitive skin who is looking for a gentle solution to tackle signs of aging around the eye area.
This formula is powered by niacinamide, which helps lessen the appearance of dark circles. It works alongside a combination of three peptides that provide anti-aging benefits. Together, these peptides soften fine lines and wrinkles (including crow’s feet), and help improve firmness.
This gel is made with a range of antioxidant-rich plant extracts that defend the skin against free radicals that can cause premature signs of aging. They include extracts of licorice root (which also has brightening effects), green tea, grape seed and willow bark.
The Resist Anti-Aging Eye Gel is vegan and cruelty-free, and is made without fragrances. It comes in a tube with a metal tip applicator, which glides smoothly across the eye area without tugging on the skin. Hyaluronic acid, panthenol and sodium hyaluronate lock in moisture, helping to plump the skin without leaving behind a greasy texture.
For those who don’t mind splurging on luxury products, we highly recommend the A.G.E. Eye Complex from SkinCeuticals. This multitasking formula is infused with powerful yet gentle active ingredients that target signs of aging while soothing, brightening and reducing under-eye bags. It’s made without alcohol, fragrances or dyes, making it an ideal choice for those with sensitive skin.
This SkinCeuticals eye cream contains a patented molecule that restores the skin’s water levels to firm the skin while bringing back fullness to the eye area to promote a more youthful look. It is enriched with a peptide and flavonoid complex that provides antioxidant benefits to counteract the effects of free radicals. At the same time, the complex lightens dark circles and reduces puffiness, energizing the eye area.
The formula also contains antioxidant-rich blueberry extract, an ingredient that protects the skin and reduces damage from environmental aggressors. Finally, optical diffusers work to instantly brighten the eye area. In other words, the formula is designed to reduce dark circles both immediately and in the long run.
The Squalane + Marine Algae Firming & Lifting Eye Cream from Biossance is an anti-aging eye cream that is perfectly suited for sensitive skin. This ultra-hydrating and gentle formula is enriched with nutrient-dense ingredients that improve elasticity and lift the skin around the eye area, promoting a rejuvenated appearance. The cream is vegan and cruelty-free, and has a clean formula that doesn’t contain fragrances, parabens or phthalates.
This Biossance eye cream is formulated with a marine algae peptide complex, which smooths fine lines and wrinkles while lifting sagging skin. A key ingredient is nourishing marine algae, which is a natural light pink. This hue works as a color corrector, immediately lightening dark circles for a more awake appearance.
Additionally, the formula is made with paracress extract, which improves uneven texture while enhancing elasticity. Like all Biossance formulas, it contains squalane derived from sugarcane, which (along with sodium hyaluronate and glycerin) ensures the skin stays plump and moisturized.
Clinical study results prove just how effective this formula is. Ninety-seven percent of participants agreed that their eye area appeared firmer, and that fine lines and wrinkles softened after a single use. Additionally, 94% of participants agreed that the eye area appeared more lifted after a week of twice-daily use.
This rich, avocado-infused eye cream from Kiehl’s is the ideal solution for anyone with dry, sensitive skin who wants to moisturize while reducing puffiness and brightening the eye area. The formula is free of fragrances, parabens and synthetic dyes, and has been both dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested, so you can feel safe using it around the delicate eye area.
Of course, the star of the Creamy Eye Treatment is avocado oil. This oil is packed with skin-supporting vitamins (including vitamins A, C and K), and works to nourish the skin. It also has powerful moisturizing benefits, and is able to dramatically enhance moisture levels for soft, supple skin.
In addition to avocado, this formula is infused with shea butter to provide extra defense against dehydration. It fortifies skin and has anti-inflammatory properties, helping to calm irritation. Beta-carotene also provides antioxidant benefits, protecting the skin against damaging free radicals that can contribute to visible signs of aging.
For those who prefer lighter formulas, we recommend Weleda’s Sheer Hydration Eye Gel, which is crafted to provide a boost of moisture for up to 12 hours. This sheer, refreshing eye gel instantly absorbs into the skin, making it a particularly great product for layering under makeup. It also has a fairly simple and gentle formula that is ideal for sensitive skin, and works perfectly as both a morning and night eye cream. It’s made without fragrances, parabens, phthalates or synthetic preservatives, and is vegan and cruelty-free.
This Weleda eye gel is packaged in a tube with a rollerball applicator. The rollerball cools and reduces puffiness around the eyes, instantly reviving tired skin. It’s powered by prickly pear extract, a soothing anti-inflammatory ingredient that is particularly suitable for calming aggravated, sensitive skin. This extract is also a highly effective hydrating ingredient, and is loaded with fatty acids, amino acids, and vitamins E and K, all of which support overall skin health and strength.
The Sheer Hydration Eye Gel features aloe vera and cucumber fruit extract, both of which provide deeply soothing and moisturizing benefits, ensuring the skin is left feeling calm and supple. It’s also infused with glycerin, which draws moisture to the skin and seals it in for long-term suppleness.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you’ve picked out your sensitive-skin-friendly eye cream, let’s cover some of the things you need to know before adding it to your routine.
How often should you use an eye cream?
In most cases, you can use an eye cream daily, both morning and night. Some may prefer only to use their eye cream at night, especially if they’ve chosen a thick formula. With consistent daily usage, you’ll be able to get the best results from your eye cream.
The one big caveat here is to do with retinol eye creams. These should only be used in the evening, since retinol can increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV rays and degrades when exposed to the sun. For those with sensitive skin, nightly usage may be too aggressive, even when using a formula with a lower concentration of retinol. It’s best to start with application every other night to see how it works with your skin. Bakuchiol-powered formulas can typically be used daily, but pay attention to how your skin reacts to your product of choice, and adjust accordingly.
Should you use an eye cream in the morning or at night?
As mentioned above, most eye creams can be used both morning and night, except for retinol eye creams. If you wear makeup, you might find that heavier eye cream is best used as part of your nighttime routine, as the formula may cause mascara, concealer and other cosmetics to smudge. If you’d still like to use an eye product during the day, go for a lightweight cream, gel or serum-based eye cream.
What is the best way to apply eye cream?
Take a small amount of the product on your ring finger, and then gently tap it underneath the eyes and up to the brow bone. The ring finger gives you the gentlest application, which is essential since the skin underneath the eyes is extra delicate. If you’re using an eye cream that comes with an applicator (like a rollerball), you can use that to apply the product. Just ensure you aren’t putting too much pressure on the eye area.
For the best results, be sure to apply an eye cream at the right point in your routine. We recommend applying your eye cream after cleansing, serums, and moisturizer. At night, this means it will be the very last product in your routine (although, if you also use a facial oil, you’ll want to apply your eye cream first). In the morning, you should apply your eye cream before you put on sunscreen.