Best drugstore eye creams: Affordable options with great results, tried and tested

Eye creams that balance affordability and quality

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Ellie Davis1 November 2023
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Eye cream is a surprisingly divisive product.

The sheer mention of it will have even the most committed skincare enthusiasts complaining about adding yet another element to their regimes – and this typically comes down to cost.

Eye creams can be expensive, and many will believe their face moisturiser will do the job just as well. Think again.

It’s as simple as this. The area around your peepers is incredibly delicate. Dr Vanita Rattan, a Hyperpigmentation Aesthetic Practitioner, says “The pH has to be correct around the eye area, as the skin around the eyes is more sensitive than the rest of the face”.

Your existing skincare may be too rich and could clog the pores or lead to milia bumps forming under the skin. A great eye cream will be packed with active ingredients without overloading the thinner periorbital area.

It’s also important not to neglect this. It’s the first place on your face to show signs of ageing, a result of blinking 14,400 – 19,200 times a day as well as environmental factors, lifestyle or genetics.

But hard-working eye cream formulas need not cost an arm and a leg. You can secure a budget-friendly eye cream that will still smooth the appearance of fine lines, brighten dark circles and reduce puffiness – you just need to know where to look.

What does eye cream do?

Eye creams are designed to counteract common concerns like crow’s feet and under-eye bags that just won’t budge. Dr Simon Ourian, founder of Simon Ourian M.D., explains “The skin around your eye is the thinnest in your face. Its lack of subcutaneous fat and constant movement make it more wrinkle-prone. Not to mention that they are not forgiving when it comes to sleepless nights or other changes in our daily routine. Because of that, it's very important to use a specific product to take care of this region”.

He continues “A great eye cream – used in both your AM and PM routines – moisturises the area to build a healthier skin barrier that is less disposed to showing any of your concerns”.

Dr Vanita Rattan CEO and Cosmetic Formulator at SkincarebyDrV adds that “Eye creams should target three main concerns - dark circles, fine lines, and puffiness. When choosing an eye cream, pay attention to the key active ingredients and their percentages”.

She uses the example of retinol to break it down. “While your face cream might include potent vitamin A derivatives, it's important to select milder concentrations like 0.1% Retinaldehyde and 0.1% Retinol for your eye cream to prevent hypersensitivity.”

Do eye creams work?

To answer this question, you must pay close attention to the ingredients used in your eye cream. “What I can say is that ingredients work,” says Dr Ourian. “The efficacy of the eye cream depends on which ingredients are in the formula and what concerns they address”.

Dr Rattan advises to look out for key actives. These include “0.1% Retinaldehyde, 0.1% Retinol, 2% Tranexamic acid and 1% Alpha arbutin for a brightening, anti-ageing effect. Also, ensure your eye cream is ‘NAFE SAFE’, so it contains no denatured alcohol, fragrance, or essential oils, as this can irritate the sensitive skin around the eyes and cause premature ageing”.

Both also stress the importance of consistency. “Eye creams, as any other skincare, also depend on the consistency of the usage” confirms Dr Ourian. Dr Rattan stresses patience as it may take “between 8-12 weeks to see what the full results may be”.

How to apply eye creams

The periorbital region is 10 times thinner than the rest of the face and thus a gentle approach to application is essential. “Pat, do not rub” recommends Dr Ourian. He adds that you should also “be sure to give it 15 minutes to settle in before adding makeup or other products”.

In terms of order, Dr Rattan simplifies the process:

  1. “Double cleanse your face with a gentle micellar gel wash and then apply your super hydrating toner, to prep the skin”.
  2. “After you have prepped the skin, pump the eye cream onto your fingertips and then rub your fingertips together, to ensure even distribution of the product”.
  3. “Gently pat the cream under your eyes and onto your eyelids so it absorbs into the skin”.
  4. “After that, apply your serums and moisturiser to cover both the entire face and eye area. This sequence ensures that the eye cream is properly absorbed before the rest of your skincare.”

What is the difference between expensive and cheap eye creams?

“A good eye cream doesn’t mean it has to be more expensive” reveals Dr Rattan. “What truly matters is the percentage of active ingredients in the product. In fact, most luxury eye creams contain fragrance in them which can contribute to premature ageing”.

But she warns that “if the eye cream is extremely cheap, it’s unlikely it will have all the key actives you need in it. Therefore, you may not see any benefit from incorporating it”.

Below we’ve sought out the eye creams that hit the sweet spot.

Shop the best affordable eye creams below

La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Anti Dark Circles Eye Cream

La Roche-Posay

French pharmacy label La Roche-Posay is known for two things: gentle formulations that soothe sensitive skin. Two, it’s incredibly affordable.

Formulated with the brand’s signature thermal spring water, this is a hydrating eye product that will smooth, brighten and disguise a heavy night with an instantly absorbed texture. There are even light-reflecting pigments that have an illuminating effect and best of all, the applicator is immediately cooling.

Buy now£24, Boots

CeraVe Eye Repair Cream


CeraVe is a drugstore brand that packs efficacious active ingredients into a no-nonsense affordable package. The label is backed by dermatologists, and this means you’ll find hard-working components to tackle concerns like dark circles and puffiness.

Inside the Eye Repair Cream formula is a moisture-rich combination of ceramides, hyaluronic acid and a marine and botanical complex. It can be used on all skin types and comes ophthalmologist-tested.

Buy now£14, lookfantastic

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye-Awakening Gel Cream


Despite the modest price tag, this is truly a game-changing eye cream. The gel-cream texture feels like an ice-cold glass of water for puffy eyes, immediately cooling and soothing on application.

It’s lightweight too so shouldn’t clog pores, something that will be appreciated by those with blemish-prone complexions. The ingredient lineup includes hydrating heroes like hyaluronic acid and vitamin E as well as amino acids and electrolytes.

Buy now£7.12, Amazon

Super Retinol Anti-wrinkle Eye Cream (1% Retinol Complex)

Beauty Pie

Here’s the thing, this eye cream from Beauty Pie is not necessarily affordable if you buy it outright. It will set you back £75. However, if you subscribe to the membership, it can be yours for just £15. No girl math required, this is worth your while. It costs £59 annually or just £10 a month. Best of all, there’s a 30-day free trial.

The retinol-based eye cream really works. Use at night and follow with SPF in the morning and it imparts its active powerhouse of slow-release retinol microcapsules to smooth out the appearance of fine lines and the hydrating duo of hyaluronic acid and natural Ficucell Vita. It’s sensorial too with a luxurious texture.

Buy now£15, Beauty Pie

No7 Protect & Perfect Advanced Eye Cream


A well-rested appearance should not be difficult to achieve – even after a night on the tiles. The No7 Protect & Perfect Advanced Eye Cream leaves you with perky peepers by targeting dark circles and fine lines specifically.

Even with its concentrated combination that includes anti-ageing ginseng extract, it remains hydrating and suitable for the delicate area eye area by setting the aforementioned alongside nourishing shea butter and hyaluronic acid.

Buy now£17.80, Amazon

The INKEY List Caffeine Eye Cream

The INKEY List

Caffeine is an ingredient you’ll spot in many eye creams, chosen for its revitalising bright-eyed results. It takes centre stage in this formula from The INKEY List – an affordable label that cuts through the noise with simplified ingredient line-ups.

It can be used by all skin types, even those with sensitivities due to its fragrance-free nature, and works to combat puffiness and brighten the look of dark circles. You can even layer under makeup without fear of balling or flaking.

Buy now£9.99, The INKEY List

The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Eye Serum

The Ordinary

A buzz ingredient in the beauty space, peptides are lauded as an anti-ageing hero, but products containing the component don’t come cheap. Or at least, they didn’t. The Ordinary has done it again, making skincare more accessible without sacrificing efficacity.

The Multi-Peptide Eye Serum is a lightweight, water-based formula that is packed with advanced multi-technology to tackle crow’s feet, bags, wrinkles and dark circles, the latter of which through the inclusion of balancing niacinamide.

Buy now£19.90, The Ordinary

BYOMA De-Puff and Brighten Eye Gel


As the dermatologists above stressed, consistency is key. It is through the continual use of this formula from BYOMA that you will notice a more awake, illuminated appearance around your peppers that lasts. The science-backed skincare label harnesses the expertise of Korean chemists to create a gel serum that is brightening and a treat to apply.

The De-Puff + Brighten Eye Gel has a soothing tri-ceramide complex set alongside triple hyaluronic acid to reach the deeper layers of skin and the glow-giving component of vitamin C.

Buy now£12.99, Cult Beauty