Shopping for eye cream can be more overwhelming than any other skincare product — not only are there so many on the market, but they all claim to target different things, from dark circles to fine lines. Plus, so many brands out there still test on animals, which can rule out a few popular options for many conscious consumers.
Fortunately, there is a growing number of vegan, eco-friendly, and cruelty-free eye creams both in stores and online these days.
To help you find the perfect option for you, Green Matters recently spoke with a few skincare experts to identify some of the best cruelty-free eye creams, at varying price points.
They also each shared their best advice for choosing a new eye cream, since everyone has different needs — though all three options on this list could benefit any skin type.
Best all-around cruelty-free eye cream: UpCircle’s Eye Cream With Hyaluronic Acid & Coffee
Christie Maass, a licensed esthetician and the co-owner of Lace Skin Studio in New York City, has nothing but positive things to say about UpCircle’s Eye Cream With Hyaluronic Acid & Coffee. Not only does she incorporate the product when giving facials to clients, but she recommends it for home use to people with all different skin types.
“Other than having great ingredients like hyaluronic acid to plump, caffeine to brighten, and maple bark extract as an anti-inflammatory, it is 100 percent vegan and cruelty free,” Maass tells Green Matters in an email, speaking about the UpCircle eye cream. “This eye cream is also one of my favorites because it's made with coffee oil extracted from repurposed grounds, primarily from coffee shops around the U.K.”
Maass notes that the zero-waste eye cream can help “diminish puffiness and dark eyes while simultaneously helping the environment.” UpCircle is fully vegan, cruelty-free, uses mostly plastic-free packaging, and “gives salvaged natural ingredients a new lease of life” by upcycling them into new products, according to the company’s website.
At around $25 per pot, it’s actually a fair price for a high-quality eye cream — as long as you don’t mind dipping your fingers into a glass pot, rather than squeezing product from a tube.
Maass also likes that UpCircle’s eye cream is made with “high quality ingredients,” rather than unnatural fillers or preservatives. Overall, she advises that when looking for skincare items — especially for eye creams — shoppers should always seek out products with high quality ingredients, such as the ones used by UpCircle.
In addition to UpCircle’s website, as of publication, you can shop the brand’s Eye Cream With Hyaluronic Acid & Coffee via Amazon ($23.97), Credo Beauty ($25), Zero Waste Store ($22.50), Petit Vour ($23), and in Whole Foods stores.
Best mid-range eye cream: Biossance Squalane + Marine Algae Eye Cream
“This eye cream is made with plant-delivered ingredients and is free from harmful chemicals,” Dr. Geria tells Green Matters. “It contains marine algae, squalane, and hyaluronic acid, making it effective at reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It's lightweight and non-greasy, making it an excellent option for all skin types.”
According to the brand, in addition to being vegan and cruelty-free, the Squalane + Marine Algae Eye Cream is also EWG Verified, nontoxic, and free of parabens, PEGs, and synthetic fragrance. This eye cream costs $56, but as of publication, you can purchase a two-pack for $56.25. This product also comes in a pot you’ll have to dip your fingertip in, though the pot is made from plastic, not glass.
Overall, when shopping for eye cream, Dr. Geria has a few pieces of advice. “When shopping for an eye cream, consumers should look for products specifically formulated for the delicate skin around the eyes,” he says. Then, if you have any specific concerns, such as dark circles or fine lines, you might look for a cream that targets that issue.
He also advises focusing on eye creams that contain gentle, nourishing ingredients such as retinol, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and ceramides, especially for anti-aging. And, try to avoid eye creams with potential irritants, such as alcohol or fragrances.
Best cruelty-free eye cream for anti-aging: Dermalogica’s Age Reversal Eye Complex
“It contains retinol which helps with fine lines and discoloration, as well as niacinamide, which is anti-inflammatory and improves hyperpigmentation and blotchiness,” Dr. Wattenberg tells Green Matters, speaking about the Dermalogica product. “It also contains Vitamin C which helps to improve dark circles and puffiness. Overall, it addresses most of the problems around the eyes.”
In general, Dr. Wattenberg explains that when shopping for eye cream, you should “look for products that address the issue that is concerning you” — such as puffiness, pigmentation, dryness, or dark circles — since “most eye creams address one or two problems but can’t target everything.”
That said, while the Dermalogica Age Reversal Eye Complex targets dark circles, wrinkles, and signs of aging, the brand says it can be used for all skin types. It usually costs $75 per bottle, though, which may be steep for many consumers.
In general, Dr. Wattenberg advises that shoppers “be wary of fancy packaging, what matters is inside the packaging.” She also recommends testing any new eye cream on a small area of skin for a few days before applying it to the entire under eye area.
Meet the experts:
Christie Maass is an esthetician and the co-owner of Lace Skin Studio, which offers facials and microneedling to clients. One of her favorite things is doing the massage aspect of the facial; she also loves the ingredients turmeric and gotu kola for their anti-inflammatory properties. Her mantra when approaching skincare is to keep it simple yet effective — you want progression, not aggression.
Dr. Debra Wattenberg, MD, specializes in cosmetic dermatology and performing procedures that reverse the effects of aging, while also identifying and treating early stages of skin cancer. The practice she founded, NY Skin RX, focuses on complete skincare and the whole patient. Dr. Wattenberg designs individual treatment regimens for each patient and encourages wrinkle reduction by the combination of procedures and topical therapy. She believes the key to looking younger is healthy skin, and healthy skin requires a healthy lifestyle.
Dr. Aanand N. Geria, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology. He is the founder of New Jersey’s Geria Dermatology, which aims to provide compassionate treatment using innovative technology and evidence-based practices. In 2022, Newsweek named Dr. Geria as one of the top 20 cosmetic dermatologists in the U.S., and he is a member of various dermatological societies, including the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery and the Skin of Color Society.