I know some people are pretty blasé when it comes to eye-centric skincare, but I take my collection of eye creams, eye gels, eye serums, and eye masks as seriously as I do my morning dose of caffeine. If you've ever experienced me pre-coffee, A) I'm sorry, and B) you know just how "serious" I'm talking here.
I was an avid eye-cream believer even before I was an editor (my mom is equally beauty-obsessed, and the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree), but to be honest, I always thought the trend of eye gels, patches, masks (whatever you want to call them), felt a bit gimmicky. However, once I became a beauty editor and was suddenly surrounded by makeup artists and skin experts more often than my family and friends, I became enlightened to how effective they can be, especially when it comes to relieving stubborn dark circles or puffiness.
Makeup artists consider them a pivotal step during skin prep when they're working with A-list clients, and after trying some of the best eye gels myself, I understood what all the fuss was about. Not only do eye gels feature many of the same ingredients some of the best eye creams do, but they can also act like a cooling and refreshing compress of sorts to help treat fine lines, wrinkles, puff, poor circulation, and other common eye woes. My co–beauty editor Courtney Higgs agrees, and together, we've composed a list of all the best eye-gel formulas we recommend and have seen real results from. Oh, and if you make it all the way to the end, we're sharing even more of our favorite eye-enhancing products beyond eye gels. Keep scrolling!
You've probably seen KNC Beauty's shooting star eye gels all over Instagram, but they're far from an aesthetically pleasing gimmick. A mighty dose of retinol smooths out the eye area and triggers blood flow to effectively relieve puff while collagen, aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, and other lush additions like grape-seed oil, licorice, rose flower, and rosemary extract breathe hydration and life into shadowy under-eyes.
When I asked Courtney to reveal the eye gels she truly swears are effective for combatting puff and dark circles, she listed these highly rated ones from Klorane right off the bat. "These are one of my favorites because they stay put really well. You can wear them while walking around, and they won't slide off your face," she tells me. Plus, additions like cornflower extract, arnica, and chamomile save the day whenever your under-eyes need a refreshing pick-me-up.
"Rodial's eye masks are also really, really good," Courtney adds. "They actually tighten and plump the skin under the eyes, so if you wear them before an event or before putting on makeup, they make a noticeable difference."
I was obsessed with these super-cooling eye gels even before I became a beauty editor and discovered they're a stealthy trade secret within the makeup-artist community and a must for A-list clients pre–red carpet. I've yet to try a better eye gel to help immediately shrink eye puff, tighten fine lines or pillow-induced wrinkles, and pretty much recontour my entire eye area in less than 15 minutes. The effective recipe includes elastin, ginkgo biloba, and CoQ10.
These de-puffing eye gels are no joke, and while they are indeed very expensive, they're probably the best the market has to offer, and I keep my stash reserved for special occasions or seriously dire situations only (e.g., when insomnia decides to strike). The magic is in the unique mix of ingredients such as Phyco'derm (which improves dark shadows by easing discoloration), Eyeseryl (which slows collagen breakdown to help keep things tight), plus a potent solution of peptides (which helps keep liquid from pooling around the eye area).
These eye gels from Chantecaille help treat dark circles and puff, but I find them especially helpful for treating the latter. Yes, that price is stomach-twisting, but these aren't you're average eye gels. Instead, they're dipped in a special 24-karat-gold serum enhanced with seaweed, silk, and other eye-improving botanicals, along with strategic additions such as sodium hyaluronate, provitamin B5, and bionymph peptide stem cell extract.
These iconic gold gels are another mode of currency among celebrity makeup artists. Yes, they're beautiful, but their signature mix of 24-karat and colloidal gold, caffeine, hyaluronic acid, and hydrolyzed collagen does serious work against dark circles and puff.
Almost every editor I know loves and wears these handy rose-gold eye gels on the regular. If hydration is an issue in addition to shadows, you'll love the revitalizing and soothing mix of shea butter, lavender, and jojoba seed oil.
This is one of the coolest eye-gel masks I've tried. Unlike most options that simply sit on your under-eyes, this number looks like a masquerade mask and wraps around the eye to boost the entire orbital area. The hydro-gel melting texture is super-refreshing, and the hero ingredient—the brand's Advanced Génifique Light-Pearl—lends a potent dose of luminosity.
Patchology is quickly making a name for itself among other longtime eye-gel favorites like Peter Thomas Roth and Skyn Iceland. The brand makes a number of great formulas, but this one is specifically geared to illuminate the eye area and in turn reduce the severity of dark shadows.
These French eye gels kind of fly under the radar, but they're one of my favorites for multiple reasons. I always notice an immediate difference in the severity of my dark circles, and they add the prettiest luminous finish. They're also reusable, and each pair has up to three uses!
"IS Clinical Youth Eye Complex is by far my favorite eye cream. It's so good, and it's the first eye cream I ever tried where I could notice a difference in my eye area other than just adding hydration."
"Red eyes are among my biggest pet peeves in life, so I'm hopelessly devoted to these drops from Lumify. They wake up the look of sleepy eyes and also improve dryness and irritation that can come from staring at the computer screen for hours on end."
"Under-eye concealer is a quick and easy way for me to brighten up my face, even when I'm not in the mood to apply a full face of makeup. I'm going to sound like a broken record, but Nars's Radiant Creamy Concealer really is the best in my book. I use the color Amande, which is about two shades lighter than my actual skin tone, and it's perfect for downplaying the shadows in my face for a brighter, more youthful-looking complexion."
"I'm a cat-eye enthusiast, so a good liquid eyeliner is something I always have on deck. Glossier's Pro Tip is a great one. It's skinny enough to fit right between your lashes and eyelid for a super-tight line, but it's also super easy to build for a more impactful look."
I honestly have a hoarding problem when it comes to eye cream and eye serums, but this one from Sisley Paris has been such a winner for me recently. It instantly brightens up my circles, looks amazing under makeup, and keeps everything well moisturized (without veering oily) for hours and hours. A little goes a long way, so if your finances allow, I say it's definitely one of those worth-the-splurge products.
This is kind of random, but I love rolling this tool from Nurse Jamie over my eyes whenever they're feeling puffy or congested. I'll roll it over bare skin, but it's even more magical if you roll the smooth end over your eye gels to really help push the ingredients in. It's game-changing I promise!
I've always been a huge concealer girl, and I never feel like my makeup application is complete without it. The name doesn't lie, and this one from Charlotte Tilbury really is magical. Circles are instantly obliterated, and it's also enriched with lots of lovely skincare-grade ingredients so you're giving under-eyes a nutritious treat instead of just painting over them.
If I could only use one beauty product for the rest of my life, no joke, it would probably be an eyelash curler. I love my mascaras, eye creams, and concealers, but when I need to look wide-awake in five seconds' time, there's nothing like the instant lift this curler delivers. I've tried a lot of lash curlers over the years, and even though you'd think they'd be all the same, they definitely aren't! I come back to this iconic rose-gold one from Tweezerman again and again.