Are Retinol Eye Creams Worth The Hype? The Experts Weigh In
Are Retinol Eye Creams Worth The Hype? The Experts Weigh In

Are Retinol Eye Creams Worth The Hype? The Experts Weigh In

5 minutes read

Have you ever considered using a retinol eye cream? From reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles to decreasing hyperpigmentation, there are ways in which using a retinol eye cream can transform your skin. But you should be aware of some things before you take the plunge. Dr Fadi Haddad, Cosmetic Dermatologist at Dr Kayle Aesthetic Clinic Dubai, explains all. 

What is retinol? 

“Retinol comes in various guises, and the term is used as an umbrella for many different grades and strengths,” says Dr Haddad.Vitamin A is the first generation of retinol in its purest form. He adds that this is medical grade retinol is available via prescription only,” he adds. Vitamin A is very active and must only be used under medical supervision. 

“Another type of retinol are retinoids. This refers to a larger family of retinols, categorised as second-generation retinols in higher concentrations. Retinol and retinoic acid, AKA Retin-A or Tretinoin, are classed in this group,” Haddad says.  

“Retinoic acid is the strongest (prescription-level) retinoid and is naturally occurring in the body, making this the only retinol that is bio-available,” he adds. Our skin must convert all other retinoids once they hit it.  

Not all retinoids are prescription strength, though, and whilst this category tends to be a little more mellow than Vitamin A, they should still be used according to professional guidance. 

“Retinol esters (such as retinyl palmitate) are third-generation retinols and the weakest member of the retinol family,” Haddad explains. “This form is found mostly in over-the-counter brands and is usually a ‘low and slow’ method of using retinol. But that doesn’t mean they don’t get results; it just takes much longer to achieve similar results to the stronger forms of retinol,” Haddad concludes. 


Benefits of retinol 

“Retinol boosts collagen and stimulates cell production,” Haddad explains. “This exfoliating effect 

unveils new, brighter, and more even-toned skin that boasts increased levels of collagen and elastin,” he adds. Retinol can also reduce the appearance of sunspots, fine lines and wrinkles. 

Natural retinol alternatives

Whether you have particularly sensitive skin or prefer a more natural approach, there are some natural alternatives to retinol that you can use to achieve similar results:

Harungana: Found in the Clarins Super Restorative range. A natural ingredient thatencourages skin cells to regenerate revealing a brighter complexion and reduced appearance of hyperpigmentation

Bakuchiol: This is a natural ingredient derived from the seeds of the Babchi plant that has been shown to have similar anti-aging effects as retinol, without the irritation.

Rosehip Seed Oil: This oil is rich in vitamin A and antioxidants, which can help improve skin texture and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Peptides: These are small proteins that can help stimulate collagen production and improve skin elasticity, which can lead to a more youthful appearance.

AHAs and BHA exfoliants: Alpha and beta hydroxy acids are chemical exfoliants that can help improve skin texture and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

What does retinol eye cream do? 

The skin around the eye area is about four times thinner than the skin on the rest of the body. 

Retinol helps to slow the natural breakdown of collagen as we age, as well as helping to stimulate new collagen andelastin production and increase cell turnover. This means it helps the skin to exfoliate itself more effectively, which makes the eye contour area appear brighter and more youthful in the long run. 

Best retinol eye creams 

Clarins Total Eye Lift, £62


For wide-awake eyes in a flash, apply a tiny amount of this genius cream (packed with a natural alternative to retinol) to your under eyes and watch the magic happen.

NaturaBisse Inhibit Retinol Eye Lift, £136 


A seriously effective eye cream that instantly works to fight fine lines, droopiness and any sagginess around the eye area, as well as minimising the look of dark undereye bags and shadows. 

Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Triple Correction Serum, £72 

dr dennis gross

A concoction of wrinkle-banishing ingredients such as retinol, rambutan, bakuchiol and ferulic acid that sink seamlessly into the delicate skin around the eyes. 

Kate Somerville +Retinol Firming Eye Cream, £82 


For eyes that need a lift, look no further. This hydrating, anti-ageing powerhouse works to produce noticeable results after just a week of use.  

Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum, £82 


A combination of three retinols that all work in tandem to firm, de-puff and brighten. 

Using a retinol eye cream 

Retinol can irritate the skin initially. To build up a tolerance for retinol, it’s always safest to start with a low percentage on alternate evenings and build up the strength gradually over weeks or months. 

Can I use a retinol eye cream in the morning? 

Retinol can cause sun sensitivity, so it’s always recommended to use retinol products in the evening only. 

Can retinol eye cream cause wrinkles?  

No – retinol doesn’t cause wrinkles. Instead, it promotes smoother, tighter, and more even skin by increasing collagen production and speeding up cellular turnover. 

Can retinol eye cream irritate the eyes?  

The skin around the eye is very delicate and has fewer sebaceous glands than facial skin. It may become very irritated, especially if you apply retinol too close to the lash line. 

Can retinol eye cream cause dry eyes?  

If applied too close to the lash line, then yes.Meibomian glands, located in the upper and lower eyelid, secrete lipids or oils that become part of the tear film,” Haddad says. “This helps prevent dryness, as the oils keep tears from evaporating too quickly. For this reason, avoid applying retinol or retinoid to the eyelids or even close to the lash line, as otherwise, we may be at risk of damaging the meibomian glands,”. 

Can you use retinol eye cream every day?  

Once you have built up your skin’s tolerance to retinol, it’s perfectly safe to use every day. However, you should only use it at night, as it can make your skin photosensitive.

Read next: The Best And Worst Beauty Products To Wear Under The Sun

Can you use retinol eye cream while pregnant?  

It’s always advised to avoid using retinol when pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive. 

NEXT READ: How to Relieve Dry Skin on the Face 


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