Until recently, retinol—which is beloved in the skin-care world for its ability to stimulate cell turnover—had long been considered "too harsh" to be used under your eyes. But now, thanks to gentler formulations and smarter encapsulations, it's become a staple ingredient for fighting fine lines and dark circles in the delicate area. "Retinol is incredible for helping to prevent wrinkles and smoothing ones that are already present," says Shari Sperling, DO, a board-certified dermatologist and the co-founder of Sperling Dermatology. "It also helps to stimulate cell turnover which increases collagen and elastin production. Retinol can also help to brighten dark circles."
Murad's retinol-infused eye serum uses something called "tri-retinoid technology," which means that it's formulated with three different types of retinoids to offer a triple threat for combatting lines and wrinkles. There's a fast-acting retinoid that works to plump your skin, a time-release retinoid that works to stimulate cell turnover over time, and a retinol booster that pushes them both to work at their maximum capacities.
Shop now: Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum, $85
Though this might sound intense, the serum is also formulated with cotton wool extract, which helps to hydrate the skin and combat retinol's usual drying effects, and it's also got marine kelp extract that visibly lifts and brightens the skin under your eyes. “This retinol eye serum seems like a great choice for wrinkle prevention, hydration and under-eye brightening," says Dr. Sperling, who adds that though she hasn't tried the serum, she likes it based on its ingredient list alone. Though the serum is gentle and meant to be used on all skin types, if it does happen to be too harsh for you, Dhaval Bhanusali, MD, an NYC board-certified dermatologist, suggests applying a thin layer of Aquaphor ($10) before you use it to add extra hydration and allow your skin to adjust to the active ingredients.
Unlike other thick, goopy eye creams on the market, this one has a serum-like texture that makes it easy to apply and allows it to soak into your skin instantly. It doesn't leave behind any sort of cast or residue, and I have never once had to worry about it getting into my eyes when I put it on before a sweaty morning workout, or all over my pillowcase when I apply it before bed (it's meant to be used twice a day). I have dry skin, but haven't noticed any itching or flaking when I use the serum, but have definitely seen a visible difference in both the color and texture of the skin around my eyes.
While dermatologists may never agree on whether or not eye cream is worth it, I can confidently say that this one definitely is.
Need more intel on how to get rid of dark circles, puffiness, and dryness under your eyes? Check out the video below.
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