Tightening my under eyes and upper eyelids had never been a concern for me until I hit my mid-twenties. As I started to etch closer to 30, I gradually began to lose fat and collagen around my eyes causing them to look more hollow, droopy, and tired. I was frequently being asked, “didn’t you get enough sleep?” or “you seem exhausted?” Most of the time I wasn’t actually exhausted. My fresh, youthful, and plump eyes had been replaced by a permanent baggy look. I had even thought about anti-aging creams or treatments until I started experiencing this lack of elasticity around my eyes. Until then, I was focused on acne, hyperpigmentation, and reversing sun damage. Incorporating eye-tightening creams was never a priority, I rarely used an under-eye cream let alone a hyper-focused one.
So, when it came to finding the right solution to tighten my eye area, I tested a plethora of creams, serums, and tools to help slow the signs of aging. But my journey to tightening my eye area only started with eye cream, and for me, there wasn’t one magic cream that fixed it all, either. Incorporating hydration, tools such as gua sha, micro-needling and microcurrent, healthy sleep habits, and supplements in conjunction with an eye cream is what I found to be the holy grail of tightening and lifting my eyes. If I strayed away from not combining all these things, I noticed a huge difference in appearance.
So, Do We Actually Need an Eye Cream?
I asked Dr. Nancy Samolitis, co-founder of Facile, and Kerry Benjamin, aesthetician and founder of Stacked Skincare, why we actually need eye creams, best practices, and their favorites when it comes to tightening the eye area. Dr. Samolitis explained that the skin around the eyes often shows signs of aging before other areas of the face or body, including loss of collagen and elasticity (which is what I was experiencing). This leads to a darkened appearance, dull, crepey skin, and fine wrinkles. Some people genetically have excess fat under the eyelid skin and this can also be more pronounced with aging and sun damage leading to the appearance of under-eye “bags.”
Since the skin around your eyes is far thinner and more delicate than the other skin on your face, Benjamin shared that this area is also prone to dehydration but generally requires lighter moisturizers because of the risk of milia—the tiny, white, difficult-to-remove bumps that can be caused by using rich moisturizers around the eye area. She recommended investing in an eye serum loaded with active ingredients. Eye serums are lighter in texture, which means they penetrate the skin and deliver anti-aging ingredients more effectively. They also generally contain a higher concentration of active ingredients than eye creams, which means you’ll see faster results.
Both Dr. Samolitis and Benajmin emphasized starting sooner than later when it comes to preventive treatments. Incorporating a tightening cream in your mid-20s could save you from needing intensive treatments in the future. As far as the frequency of use, twice a day is recommended unless there is an active ingredient such as retinol that could cause irritation. But what is the best way to actually apply eye cream? The rationale behind using your pinky finger or ring finger to apply eye cream is due to the importance of a gentle tapping motion rather than pulling on the skin, explains Dr. Samolitis. And Benjamin agrees. If you pull or tug when applying eye cream it can lead to bagginess and sagginess.
And what about treatments to tighten the eye area?
Beyond eye creams, Dr. Samolitis often uses in-office medical treatments like micro-needling, laser resurfacing, and PRP treatments that can improve the under-eye skin by repairing sun-damaged cells and producing new collagen to thicken the delicate tissue. Benjamin suggests at-home tools to pair with their cream or serum such as a derma roller to help stimulate collagen and plump the skin along with an ice roller to give you a temporary tightening effect while reducing puffiness.
Dr. Samolitis’ Favorite Eye Tightening Creams
Not every product that is good for the eye area is marketed as an eye cream! The Facile Destress has ingredients that help to calm sensitive skin and protect the face and eyelid skin from damaging elements in the environment. I recommend mixing it with a drop of Dew You to maximize hydration. Bonus: it doubles as a brow conditioner!
Facile Distress, $38
Kerry Benjamin’s Favorite Eye Tightening Creams
Stacked Skincare Firming Eye Complex
The Firming Eye Complex is a lightweight serum packed with anti-aging actives, including de-puffing caffeine, firming peptides, and astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant that supports skin repair. It helps give your skin a tighter look in just five minutes while helping to minimize the look of fine lines, under-eye darkness, and puffiness.
Stacked Skincare Firming Eye Complex, $60
Jordan Samuel Skin The Performance Eye Gel
This product is loaded with key ingredients that boost hydration into the skin leaving it soft and supple. With ingredients such as green tea, caffeine, peptides and golden chamomile, skin looks and feels hydrated and radiant.
Jordan Samuel Skin The Performance Eye Gel, $
Thrive Causemetics Defying Gravity Eye Lifting Cream™
Why you recommend it: This product offers a nice creamy texture that feels great on the skin. It delivers instant hydration while simultaneously lifting, tightening, and brightening the skin. Full disclosure, I love Thrive products and almost exclusively use their makeup sticks.
Thrive Causemetics Defying Gravity Eye Lifting Cream™, $46
My Favorite Eye Tightening Creams
Peter Thomas Roth Instant FIRMx Eye Temporary Eye Tightener
This is eye tightening cream is so good that it took TikTok by storm. I was skeptical at first but it actually works! It’s like having an IRL filter for your eyes. The cult-favorite product instantly, within three minutes or less, helps tighten, firm, and smooth the look of the eye area, temporarily minimizing the appearance of crow’s feet, fine lines, deep wrinkles, and puffiness. The formula also includes Three skin-tightening silicates and seaweed extract that provide an instant temporary tightening and firming effect which aids in giving that temporary tightened look.
Peter Thomas Roth Instant FIRMx Eye Temporary Eye Tightener, $38
Naturium Multi-Peptide Eye Cream
I love this eye cream because at only $16 it gives you the best bang for your buck. Packed with vegan squalene and a multi-peptide formula to help moisturize, lift and prevent wrinkles, this is a greater starter eye cream for someone in their twenties.
Naturium Multi-Peptide Eye Cream, $16
Sonya Dakar Jade Energy Eye Balm
The first time I tried this eye balm I saw results immediately. My “tired” eyes became lifted, brighter and glowing. This energizing eye balm infuses the eye area with revitalizing green coffee oil, hemp seed oil rich in Omega 3 and 6, and antioxidant-rich kahai oil, leaving tired eyes brighter and energized. It restores your eye’s youthful look, decreases puffiness and fine lines. Use daily to help prevent moisture loss, decrease the risk of environmental damage, and increase brightness and luminosity.
Sonya Dakar Jade Energy Eye Balm, $65
Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Line Erasing Eye Cream
This eye cream is a more intense treatment as it contains an encapsulated retinol. If you are looking for major wrinkle reduction in addition to tightening and brightening- it’s the perfect combo. The Encapsulated retinol absorbs 5x deeper with an 8-hour continuous release mixed with peptides and niacinamide to help smooth, brighten, and de-puff while keeping the delicate eye area hydrated.
Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Line Erasing Eye Cream, $66
Kora Organics Berry Bright Vitamin C Eye Cream
Certified 100% organic with a 5.5% active blend of stabilized Vitamin C and natural sources of Vitamin C to target the appearance of aging for firmer, more youthful-looking skin around the delicate eye area. I also love the added antioxidants such as Kangaroo Paw Flower, Kakadu Plum, Cloudberry, Red Ginseng and Quinoa that give you an instant radiance boost while reducing the appearance of fine wrinkles. Plus it smells amazing!
Kora Organics Berry Bright Vitamin C Eye Cream, $44
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