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6 of the best retinol eye creams

Everything you need to know about the gold standard youth booster retinol, and our pick of the best retinol-based eye creams

Ask anyone in the know about skincare about ingredients which really have an impact on the effects of ageing, and retinol will come up. It’s not a silver bullet for all things skin ageing of course, but it is one of the more reliable ingredients available on the market - provided you deploy it correctly.

But for decades it was overlooked in eye cream formulations, odd when the eyes are most prone to showing the effects of collagen and elastin degeneration thanks to its thinner skin and regular movement. Not to mention they are “one of the most common areas of concern for people, and as such it makes sense to use the smoothing, thickening, and brightening power of a good retinoid in this area,” shares Etre Vous Expert and Clinical Director of Ashley Aesthetics, Dr Emmaline Ashley.

Now however, as our skincare has become more high-tech a host of eye creams boast the powerhouse youth booster that is retinol.

What is a retinol?

"Retinol belongs to a family of retinoids, which are derivatives of vitamin A," explains Etre Vous Expert, and Founder of Dermrefine Skin Clinic, Balsam Alabassi. She adds that some are prescription-only, while others are available as a component of skincare.

What are the benefits of using retinol?

There are loads of pros to using a retinol on your skin, from scar reduction to skin which is plumper and healthier. Dr Ashley says that the effect retinol has on cells is to thank for this: "some of the benefits of retinols include increased cell turnover to smooth skin texture and even out tone, stimulation of the fibroblasts to increase collagen and elastic, and repairs to the epidermis."

What should I know before I start using a retinol eye cream?

The fact that the skin around your eyes may show the signs of ageing the most quickly is also a reason to tread carefully with retinoids, with Dr Ashley especially keen to hammer this home. "be aware that the skin around your eyes is thinner and often more sensitive, and overuse of retinoids can cause dryness, flaking, and irritation." She recommends using a retinol formula specifically made for around the eyes, and advises, "look for moisturising ingredients to minimise irritation like hyaluronic acid and ceramides."

Additionally, it may be worth thinking about what else you want to target while using your retinol eye cream. Dr Ashley suggests caffeine for puffiness or dark circles, for example. It’s also a good idea to ease in when using retinols, so start every third night, and then try every second before using it nightly. The last thing you want is heavily irritated skin, so build up tolerance slowly and remember that what works for other people’s skin might work for yours.

Here are our top picks…

ZO Skin Health Intense Eye Créme
Fusing soothing vitamin E, with a host of collagen boosting actives from retinol to amino acids, this eye cream packs and punch. You’ll find it covers all the bases, targeting lines and wrinkles, puffiness, texture and tone to leave peepers rejuvenated.

Medik8 Intelligent Retinol Eye TR Supercharged Eye Vitamin A Serum
A clever eye cream with a timed delivery system, so it can slowly drip feed the vitamin A as well as conditioning vitamin E over the course of the night.

StriVectin Advanced Retinol Multi-Correct Eye Cream
This one is great if you’re worried about sensitive skin around your eyes thanks to the clever formula, which is designed to release retinol slowly while reducing sensitivity.

Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Line Erasing Eye Cream
Retinols meet peptides and niacinamide in this all-round hero eye cream. Expect smoothing and deputing, as well as upped hydration levels.

Dr Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol and Ferulic Triple Correction Eye Serum
This makes use of a blend of actives, including the plant-derived retinol alternative bakuchiol alongside retinol and ferric acid for a serious leg up for eye skin.

Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum
If you want a little lift and a lot of hydration to the skin around your eyes, this might be the one thanks to the marine kelp complex and cotton wool grass which are in the mix alongside the retinol.

The Inkey List Retinol Eye Cream
If very dry eyes bother you, opt for this. It contains shea butter, which is a perfect ingredient to really cosset very dry skin, and will moisturise and soothe while the retinol goes to work.

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