Of all the categories that comprise the grand skincare puzzle, eyecare is among the most debated. In fact, there's probably more back-and-forth over the necessity of eye cream than just about any other skincare product on the market. Even though the discourse among consumers rages on, experts have reiterated time and again that an eyecare regimen, complete with a dedicated eye cream, is the key to maintaining a youthful-looking eye area. This is especially true if you're concerned about keeping fine lines and wrinkles to a minimum.
"Fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes are inevitable, natural aspects of aging but, we can delay their occurrence and improve their appearance," says board-certified dermatologist Adeline Kikam, DO, MS, FAAD. "Many factors from lifestyle to genetics have a role in this process and thus when they start appearing varies from person to person. However, there are things we can do to slow the aging process through skincare, cosmetic procedures, and a healthy lifestyle." While there are in-office procedures like peels, lasers, and Botox that can treat certain types of eye wrinkles, topical eye creams are another method for keeping the area looking smooth and refreshed. But no matter what you do, there are specific mistakes that can sabotage your eye care efforts that you may want to avoid.
Ahead, check out the top six mistakes that can inadvertently cause eye wrinkles according to a panel of skincare experts, and keep scrolling for a curated list of the best eye creams for fine lines.
Mistake #1: Excessive Pulling or Tugging on the Eye Area
There are few sensations as satisfying as aggressively rubbing itchy eyes, but according to our pros, it's one of the worst things you can do if you're trying to stave off fine lines and wrinkles in the eye area. "Be gentle with your eye area. Avoid rubbing, tugging, or otherwise stressing the delicate skin near the eyes," says Karen Fernandez, lead aesthetician at SkinSpirit. But itching and rubbing aren't the only motions that can disturb the delicate eye skin. You can also do damage while applying makeup or even skincare. "Proper eye cream application is one skincare step that is non-negotiable," says celebrity aesthetician and dermatological nurse, Natalie Aguilar. "Because the eye area is sensitive, being gentle with application and ensuring to include the area where crow's-feet are known to form is important." That means no over-the-top massaging in the area, either.
Mistake #2: Sleeping With Eye Makeup On
Removing makeup at the end of the day could very well be the most ubiquitous skincare rule out there, but it's usually framed as a means to avoid breakouts and skin congestion. According to our experts, though, it's an important step for ensuring the skin around the eyes stays fresh and free of lines and wrinkles. "The most important step is to remove eye products and makeup with the gentlest possible eye makeup removers or cleansers, not to rub too much, and to fully rinse everything from lids and lashes before sleep, so chemicals won’t seep in and create chronic irritation," says board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Jessica Krant, MD, MPH. Add that to your list of reasons to stay diligent about makeup removal, no matter how tempting your bed is after a long day. Your future skin will thank you.
Mistake #3: Letting the Skin Around Your Eyes Get Dehydrated
Aside from the possible irritation that can occur when eye makeup is left to marinate on the skin overnight, Aguilar adds that when left too long, eye makeup can actually pull much-needed moisture away from the eye skin where it's desperately needed. "Avoiding skin dehydration is one of the easiest ways to avoid fine lines," she says. But makeup isn't the only culprit here. "Think about all the movements your eyes make," Fernandez adds "They need hydration and light lipids to keep that skin able to bounce back and stay firm." For added hydration, Krant recommends using Fortify+ Firming Under Eye Pads ($9). "They use ultra-hydrating ingredients including collagen, which reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and adds vitality to skin, along with aloe vera which moisturizes, soothes and tightens skin," she explains.
Mistake #4: Slacking on Sun Protection
If you're a Who What Wear regular, you know one of our core beliefs is that sunscreen is the answer for pretty much everything. Dark spots? Sunscreen. Rosacea? Sunscreen. And as it turns out that this sun-sheltering skin savior is the key to slowing the formation of eye wrinkles, too. "The sun is responsible for over 90% of photoaging, so if you're looking to slow the hands of time around the eyes, sun protection is definitely a non-negotiable," says Kikam. "Sun protection by way of sunscreen and sunglasses is essential in preventing UV radiation-induced free radical damage to collagen, elastin, and hyperpigmentation to the under-eyes which cause premature aging." Krant agrees, explaining that sustained sun protection from an early age can significantly slow down aging in the delicate skin on the eyelids and around the entire orbital area. Yet another excuse to invest in cute sunglasses and hats in addition to liberally spreading that SPF.
Mistake #5: Using the Wrong Ingredients
On top of hydration, Aguilar reminds us that there are other actives that can help out. "Ensuring that one is properly hydrated and incorporating active ingredients such as peptides, antioxidants, retinol, and eye SPF are key to keeping fine lines and wrinkles at bay," she explains. You'll want to proceed with caution, though. Be mindful of personal allergens as reactions to ingredients that don't agree with your skin can lead to inflammation that can cause unwanted texture, too. "Another important factor in minimizing fine lines around the eyes is to minimize the use of irritating products and to control seasonal and other allergies," Krant says. "Chronic inflammation eventually leads to extra wrinkles and lines around the eyes."
Mistake #6: Frowning
Apparently, laughter really is the best medicine. Our experts agree that the dynamic wrinkles caused by the muscle contractions from frowning can lead to stagnant lines around the eye area. This isn't to say that showing emotions should be avoided, but just a reminder that these kinds of dramatic expressions can leave a lasting impression on your face. Aside from the lines and wrinkles of it all, let this be a reminder to make a habit of choosing ease and happiness, simply because we all deserve to know joy.
Shop Our Edit of the Best Eye Creams for Fine Lines
If you love the skin-smoothing effects of retinol and want to extend the benefits to your eye area, this is the perfect eye cream to try. It's both cheap and effective and helps to keep fine lines and wrinkly texture from deepening.
Here's another eye cream with an eye-safe concentration of retinol that's popular online. Multiple reviewers call out its effectiveness for dark circles and puffiness on top of its line-smoothing prowess.
"Eye products are designed to be light—a heavy face cream will weigh down skin sound eyes," says Fernandez. This drugstore option is lightweight and effective, packing a retinol-infused punch that visibly smoothes the skin around the eyes.
Not keen on putting retinol near your eyes? No problem. "When it comes to under-eye creams, I recommend the Olehenriksen Wrinkle Blur Eye Gel Creme, a bakuchiol-based product great for all skin types especially those who can not tolerate retinol," says Kikam. "It helps firm skin in the under-eye area and improves hyperpigmentation without the irritation common to retinoids."
According to Aguilar, the constant movement in the eye area makes it necessary to used eye cream both morning and evening. "Use the best quality eye cream you can find, and use it twice a day. Thin eye area skin can not hold on to very much moisture or water, so we need to replenish it every 12 hours," she says. This hyaluronic acid-infused eye cream is lightweight and great for locking moisture into the eye area. It's also appropriate to use day or night since there are no sensitizing ingredients that could make your skin more vulnerable to the sun.
Krant and Fernandez both called out this science-backed eye cream for its fine line–smoothing abilities. "It's extremely gentle and yet works actively against aging of the eye area battling fine lines, puffiness, and discoloration," says Krant. Fernandez adds that since it doesn't contain irritating acids or actives that could lead to redness or swelling, it's safe for use on the entire eye area, including under-eyes, corners, and even lids
"Going to sleep with a gentle nighttime eye hydrator is more valuable than people realize since our skin tends to have increased transepidermal water loss (TEWL) overnight," says Krant. This cult favorite French pharmacy pick infuses the skin with prebiotic thermal water, neurotensin, niacinamide, and shea butter.
Aguilar loves this fancy pick for relaxing the look of expression lines in the eye area. "It acts like a 'filler' for wrinkles and as a bonus is powerful enough to smooth and plump the wrinkles around the mouth," she says.
Editor's note: Pricing for all Biologique Recherche products is available when you log into Shop Rescue Spa's website.
Leave it to the celebrity-adored brand SkinCeuticals to turn out such a crowd-pleasing eye cream. It calls in blueberry extract and proxylane to moisturize and nourish the skin while preventing the signs of future aging by boosting elasticity and skin thickness.
Kikam says that antioxidants like vitamin C are essential for fighting free radical damage to collagen and improving hyperpigmentation of the under-eye. This popular, soothing option is beloved for exactly that reason.
Stem cells, vegan hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and vitamin C make up the hydrating, line-busting cocktail housed in this jar.
"This eye cream contains powerful peptides, a physical broad-spectrum SPF, and a wonderful universal tint to brighten the eye area," says Aguilar. "Its protective properties are ideal for preventing premature aging and fine lines."
The name of this dreamy eye cream says it all. It's got both bakuchiol and caffeine to perf up tired-looking eyes and offers protection against fine lines, wrinkles, dark circles, and puffiness.
If you're a fan of the iconic face cream from Neutrogena's Rapid Wrinkle Repair range, then this complementing eye cream is the perfect addition to zoom in on the delicate skin around the eyes.