This post has been highly requested...I know Mama Tully has asked for it twice (oops!), Ginger asked for it a long time ago, and April and A'Dell recently requested it. I have been putting it off because I have yet to find a miracle cure for myself...I was hoping that in my sampling journey I'd find something amazing so I could really recommend with confidence, but that hasn't really happened yet. Instead, I'll give you guys all of the ammo you need to make an informed decision about which eye cream might possibly fix your specific eye needs. I hope.
Here are the things I know work for me: Sleeping at least 8 hours (duh), drinking tons of water (duh), wearing sunscreen and sunglasses (duh squared), making a conscious effort to stop making a bitch face in meetings or when watching Caillou, consistently using my Clarisonic Mia, and the Alpha Hydrox AHA Souffle I mentioned in last year's skin care post. I have some (Kiehl's) eye creams that I think are very hydrating for my dry under-eye skin, but nothing that makes me feel like the fine lines are magically disappearing before my very eyes. Basically, I spend a lot of time staring in the mirror thinking "DOES THIS SHIT REALLY WORK?" and am still not clear on the answer.
The best advice I can give you is to figure out what problem you are trying to correct and to choose an eye cream that has ingredients that work for that problem. I have tried to offer up some solutions for each of these problems based on the ingredients, lots of reading "Best Eye Cream Ever" lists, and tons of YouTube skin care routine video watching. These are the products that seem to be most recommended by the internets.
Sensitive Skin: I have found that many eye creams I have tried are too much for my wimpy eyes and either sting or make me tear up. I could write a book about how much I love Kiehl's products; they are very soothing on my skin. I find shea butter works spectacularly on the rest of my dry skin, so it makes sense that I like it in my eye cream. I have tried and enjoyed both the Rosa Arctica Eye Cream ($46; contains Squalane, White Birch, Rosa Arctica, Cocoa and Shea Butters, Oleic, Stearic, and Palmitic Acids), and the Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado ($28; contains Avocado Oil, Shea Butter, and Beta Carotene). The avocado one actually has really similar ingredients to the fan favorite Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream, but the BB is $49 so Kiehl's is more affordable.
Hydration: If your undereye skin is really dry and needs plumped up, hyaluronic acid hydrates and ceramides retain moisture. Mario Badescu is a very affordable brand and carries both options ($18 for the Hyaluronic Eye Cream or the Ceramide Herbal Eye Cream). On the WAY other side of the price spectrum is the $140 ReVive Moisturizing Renewal Eye Cream, and in the middle lies the $52 Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Eye Cream and the $38 Caudalie Vinosource Morning Eye Rescue. Also, this isn't an eye cream, but did you know that the Cera part of the drugstore brand CeraVe is for ceramides? Now you do!
Wrinkle Repair: Retinol is your friend, ladies! This ingredient may be too harsh, but if you can withstand it, you should use it. Neutrogena's Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream is a very affordable option at $21; Vichy's LiftActiv Retinol HA Eyes is more expensive at $43. These are both great options because they also have hyaluronic acid in them. Double tap!!
Anti-Aging: If retinol is too harsh for your skin, look for a product with peptides, collagen, or elastin. Peter Thomas Roth's Mega Rich Intensive Anti-Aging Cellular Eye Cream ($65) offers all three. Anything with vitamins C and E also provide general anti-aging benefits; vitamin C produces collagen and vitamin E soothes skin. Tarte's Maracuja C-Brighter Eye Treatment is a reasonably priced option for $38.
Puffiness: Caffeine is becoming increasingly popular for getting rid of eye puffiness because (I assume) it helps increase blood flow. The $42 Kiehl's Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Eye Cream and the $30 Origins GinZing both contain this ingredient. I also really love the cooling effect of the $12 Simple Revitalizing Eye Roll On and Frownies Eye Gels (two Birchbox products I tried and repurchased).
Dark Circles: Really, dark circles are genetic and there is not a ton you can do about them. Your best bet is finding a good concealer and combining it with a brightening eye cream or getting an eye cream with a tint. Olay's Regenerist Eye Cream with Touch of Concealer is a good drugstore option. I'm also tempted to recommend Kiehl's Christe Marine Firming Eye Treatment because it specifically says it helps dark circles, even though the description sounds suspiciously gimmicky (they never explain WHY this magical algae does what it claims).
Brightening: Like correcting dark circles, brightening is really more of an optics trick and won't actually solve your skin issues. Couldn't hurt though, right? I'd go with the Origins I linked in the puffiness section for this one, mostly because YouTube seems to love it.
All of the above? Caudalie's Premier Cru The Eye Cream is $98, but it has a ton of amazing ingredients that may justify the price tag (for some...I'm not there yet).
Want to read more? Here are some links I consulted while researching this post, in order of helpfulness:
Have you found a holy grail eye product? PLEASE SHARE, we clearly need help!