The skin underneath your eyes is the thinnest on your face, and because of this, it's typically where people first show signs of aging (think: fine lines and dark circles). Old schools of thought assumed that the aggressive ingredient had no business around the most fragile part of your complexion, but thanks to new formulations, that's no longer the case. Many retinol eye creams use buffered or encapsulated retinol, surrounded by loads of hydrating ingredients to make the products easier for skin to tolerate.
In fact, Gretchen Frieling, MD, a Wellesley, MA, board-certified dermatopathologist, says that opting for a retinol specifically concocted for around the eyes can help to protect you from irritation from the get-go. "These usually contain lower concentrations and are more hydrating than what you use on your face," she says. However, take note: Ahead of using any product (especially an intense one like retinol), do a small patch test to make sure the formula agrees with your skin. And as with any other retinol, wear the stuff at night since it can be sun-sensitizing during the daylight hours.
Don't want to invest in an entirely different eye cream? That's fine too: "You can use a retinol-containing cream around the eye area," says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist. Try layering your moisturizer on before you put retinol on the area or mix it with your moisturizer. This will help to shield you from the intensity. "You can begin by mixing your retinol with a moisturizer," adds Dr. Frieling, as a way to see if it works for your skin. "A little goes a long way—use a pea-sized amount for the entire eye area," she says.
As for your nightly regimen, don't go all-in on the ingredient all the time. "Use a tiny bit and start out every other night," says Dr. Zeichner. Only use it at night since retinol products can be photosensitizing and make your skin more prone to sun damage. Of course, if your complexion is particularly sensitive or if you're dealing with eczema or a damaged skin barrier, Dr. Zeichner says to skip. Otherwise, give the gold-standard ingredient a go in your eye cream and see for your self what it's all about. Keep scrolling for some of our favorite retinol-spiked eye creams.
For only $10, this eye cream gives you the collagen-stimulating love that you can expect from any retinol, but it also blurs the skin to camouflage skin unevenness at the same time.
Concocted by a dermatologist, this eye serum contains marine kelp that's meant to lift skin while retinol stimulates collagen to plump the area.
This retinol-spiked eye cream takes the easy-does-it approach. Packed with hydrating ingredients, it hydrates and comforts skin while stimulating collagen deep within skin.
Learn more about why dermatologists love retinol below:
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