Let me tell you this: Applying your face moisturizer around your eyes will hardly do anything for your dark circles, puffiness, bags, wrinkles, and fine lines. In fact, some products can even irritate this area and worsen those unsightly signs.
If you really want to look younger, you’ll have to invest in a specialized eye cream. And because this blog is big on natural beauty products, this list features the best cruelty-free eye creams that weren’t sourced nor tested on our lovely animals. Let’s get going!
What’s Special About Your Under-Eye Area?
Let’s be honest, many people think that having a special cream for the under-eye skin is unnecessary, especially if you already have a wide arsenal for cleansing, seruming, toning, masking, and so forth. After all, the skin around your eyes is similar to the rest of your face, right? Well, no! Let’s see why:
Almost every bit of your body is covered by a thick layer of skin that measures between 2 and 3 mm. On the other hand, the skin around your eyes is only 0.5 mm thick!
That relative thinness makes this area more susceptible to damage from the constant movement of the muscles.
Furthermore, because there’s not enough tissue to mask blood vessels, this area tends to look darker than the rest of your face.
Try swiping your under-eyes with the tip of your finger. Now do the same for your nose, forehead, or cheek. You’ll probably notice that your finger will get oily whenever it slides over any part of the face, except the under-eyes. Why? Well, simply because it has zero oil glands.
It Rests Over an Open Space
Due to the current pandemic, most of us work from home. And while some people can keep track of their time, others keep procrastinating until they have to pull an all-nighter to meet the deadline.
Without proper sleep, the cortisol levels will skyrocket in your blood, which will directly increase the possibility of fluid retention.
But where will this fluid go? It can’t collect under your forehead, cheek, or similar areas that have a direct bony base. However, it can seep around your eyeballs, which is why it’s extremely common to wake up with puffy eyes after a stressful night.
Eye creams are specifically built to care for the delicate skin around your eyes. They often have a higher amount of moisturizers that can make up for the absence of oil glands. And let’s not forget about the peptides and polymers that add a bit of elasticity to mask the relative thinness of that area.
How to Ensure That You’re Buying Cruelty-Free Products?
If you’re unfamiliar, many cosmetic brands test their products on live animals before releasing them into the market. Much to my dismay, the list includes famous names, such as Olay, L’Oreal, Origins, Clinique, Shiseido, and much more.
When people started to refrain from buying such products, several brands have been trying to find a way to deceive the public. Instead of directly testing on animals, some brands hire third-party labs to do this job off the record, and others buy animal-tested ingredients from uncertified suppliers.
So how can you ensure that no one is scamming you? You have to do your research. Before buying from any brand, look it up on the Leaping Bunny Program and PETA. These non-profit organizations will tell you all about the used ingredients, the suppliers, the trusted retailers, etc.
Vegan Creams Aren’t Necessarily Cruelty-Free
If a product has the “certified vegan” label, this only means that the formula isn’t based on any animal sources. However, it doesn’t say anything about animal testing. Any brand can test their vegan products on animals to make sure they’re suitable for humans.
The Best Cruelty-Free Eye Creams: Reviews
What are the ingredients behind each eye cream? How effective are they? And can they cause any adverse reactions? These are some of the questions that I’ll answer in each of the following reviews.
1. Dermalogica Age Reversal Eye Complex
With a formula that’s based on retinol, the Dermalogica Age Reversal Eye Complex is one of the most potent solutions for wrinkling, sagging, and almost all of the other aging signs.
The best thing about retinol is that it’s derived from vitamin A, one of the crucial vitamins that promote cell growth, specifically in the skin. Not only does it delay the breakdown of your skin’s collagen, but it also stimulates faster elastin production, making your skin look smoother and firmer.
But as you might’ve expected, this unparalleled effectiveness comes at a price.
Retinol is notorious for causing dryness and peeling for sensitive skins, especially in the first few days until your skin gets used to it. That’s why Dermalogica recommends using this cream on alternate nights for the first two weeks, after which you can use it nightly.
Additionally, you might need to wait a couple of months before you can reap the benefits of retinol. My dark circles started fading slowly after 2 weeks of using this cream, but puffiness needed more than a month to improve. More elaborate signs, such as fine lines, may need up to 6 months.
On the positive side, patience does pay off! As explained, the retinol’s effects will last a long time because it improves your skin’s cellular composition, unlike other creams that just moisturize it.
Although not everyone will appreciate this cream’s extravagant price tag, I think it’s worth every penny!
- Long-lasting effects
- Certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny and PETA
- 100% vegan
- Not suitable for pregnant and breastfeeding moms
- Not the most affordable cream on the market
2. Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream
Drunk Elephant’s C-Tango is the cream you’d want to use if you’re looking for an all-round solution. It’s formulated with an 8-peptide blend that can strengthen your skin to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It also contains 5 forms of vitamin C, which unify your skin tone and improve dark circles.
Less-important ingredients include superoxide dismutase and cucumber, both of which protect your skin against sun rays, pollution, and any other sources of free radicals.
When I tried this cream, I immediately fell in love with the packaging. It has some form of a pump embedded into the tube. In order to use this pump, you have to twist the tube’s top, which ensures that the formula stays intact for a longer time.
I started noticing the brightening effects within the first days. It also improved the skin texture, making the under-eye area seem smoother and more relaxed.
Almost all of the people who used this cream were happy about how it works well with any skin type. Whether you have dry, oily, sensitive, or even acne-prone skin, this cream would rarely pose any problems.
The only thing that I didn’t like in this cream was the less-than-ideal moisturizing effects. Drunk Elephant even suggests pairing this cream with Lala Retro Whipped Cream for additional moisture. But considering that the C-Tango is already pretty expensive, I think pairing it with additional products wouldn’t be a good idea for most people.
- Suitable for pregnant and breastfeeding moms
- Has a weightless, creamy texture
- Works well under a concealer
- Comes in a sanitary package
- Certified cruelty-free
- Not budget-friendly
- May not be moisturizing enough
3. Glow Recipe Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask
The first time I heard about Glow Recipe was back in 2017 when they released the amazing Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask, a cream that can do wonders to your dry skin in a relatively short time. So when they released the Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask, I couldn’t wait to see what it can do to my under-eyes.
Just like the Dermalogica Age Reversal Eye Complex, this cream is based around retinol. However, it also contains antioxidant-rich avocado oils, which make it more effective against wrinkles and environmental aggressors.
I absolutely like the light-green tone of the Avocado. It looks really cute in the vanity, yet it completely fades away when you massage it onto your skin.
The cream also contains coffeeberry, which grants an anti-inflammatory feature that can fight acne and reduce puffiness. The last main ingredient is niacinamide, a well-known form of vitamin B3, which is great for evening out your skin tones.
Since it contains retinol, I was worried that it might induce the same irritation and dryness that I experienced with Dermalogica. Thankfully, it turned out to be quite gentle, thanks to its rich supply of antioxidants.
After using this cream for two weeks, my skin started feeling much smoother and more elastic. Although it doesn’t give the same instant glow as the Watermelon Glow Mask, it grants deeper moisturizing with a gentler feel.
Price-wise, it’s not that affordable. However, it costs half as much as the Dermalogica Age Reversal Eye Complex.
- Reasonably priced
- Cute, subtle scent and color
- Effective yet gentle
- Suitable for many skin types
- Poor packaging: you have to scoop the cream with a spoon
4. EltaMD Renew Eye Gel for Dark Circles
EltaMD is well-known for making one of the best broad-spectrum sunscreens on the market, and they also happen to have an equally great eye gel.
The main ingredient in this cream is acetyl hexapeptide-3, a peptide that reduces wrinkles by blocking the nerves that control the superficial muscles around the eye.
Although this sounds similar to how Botox works, it doesn’t cause the same long-standing effects. It’ll probably wear off completely after you stop using the cream for a couple of days.
Since this cream doesn’t feature any ingredients that increase cellular turnover (like retinol), it suits all skin types, even the most sensitive ones.
The cream also contains sodium hyaluronate, which reaches deeper into your skin than the regular hyaluronic acid. As a result, you’ll get to enjoy a smoother, more uniform skin texture that actually lasts for a long time.
Because the EltaMD gel is built with an oil-free formula, it should be ideal for people who already have greasy skin. You can wear it under your makeup without worrying about inducing a bumpy look over the cheeks.
Last but not least, the package was pretty convenient to use, thanks to the well-designed pump.
- Suitable for sensitive skin
- Works well under makeup
- Grants deep moisture
5. Burt’s Bees Renewal Smoothing Eye Cream
The last cream on my list is geared for the people who don’t appreciate how harsh retinol can feel. The Burt’s Bees Renewal Smoothing Eye Cream is based around bakuchiol, a natural ingredient that promises the same rejuvenating benefits of retinol, minus the bothersome dryness and irritation.
Bakuchiol works with almost the same mechanism as retinol. It induces the production of new collagen while limiting the breakdown of the older cells. Recent research also says that it has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties.
When I read about all these benefits, I instantly concluded that it wouldn’t unleash its true potential right away. Just as imagined, it took about a month to improve the wrinkles and fine lines. However, it improved the dark circles somewhat quicker than most retinol products.
The only thing I don’t like about this cream is that it doesn’t dry down completely after application, which is probably a disadvantage of the bakuchiol. This means that you can’t wear it under makeup, or else you’ll end up with a rather greasy result.
I like the sanitary pump, even though it’s not as convenient as the Drunk Elephant C-Tango. But it’s important to mention that you might find it hard to pump the cream when you’re about halfway through the tube, which certainly defies the whole sanitary promise.
- A natural and gentler alternative to retinol
- Suitable for pregnant and breastfeeding moms
- Reasonably priced
- The pump could’ve used a better design
- Some people may not appreciate its pungent smell
The only product that seems to tick all the boxes for me is Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream. Because its formula is rich in several peptides and numerous forms of vitamin C, you can expect to notice visible changes within the first weeks. Best of all, none of the ingredients can irritate your skin, even if it’s already sensitive.
Remember, face moisturizers aren’t cut out for the special nature of your under-eyes. And don’t worry, you’ll forget about the extra money you spent when you gaze upon your beautiful eyes in the mirror!
You might also like our review of the best cruelty free concealer!
Lora is a native Californian currently living in the Southeast. She is an artist, designer, blogger and nature lover. Her hobbies include herbalism, cooking, baking, creating DIY aromatherapy recipes, sipping wine and listening to music. She also loves to go hiking and camping.