It's an unfortunate twist that retinol is universally beloved for its ability to tighten wrinkles, but the same strength that makes it so effective leaves tons of people miserable. Dry, flaky skin anywhere is the worst, let alone around your eyes, where skin is thin and even less up to protecting itself. But one French brand prized for its gentle products has created the golden ticket: A formula that combines a baby dose of retinol and an ultra-moisturizing formula to vastly improve fine lines and puffiness.
The hit comes from Avène, which excels at forgiving skincare that still produces staggering results. Shoppers rave about the balancing act the Retrinal Eyes cream manages — even those with finicky skin write that they've felt zero itchiness or discomfort. One person crowns it "magic" for their dark circles and puffy eyes, while others say they've noticed deep wrinkles around their eyes smooth out so successfully, they never want to go without it.
The worst case scenario for retinol is that it'll thin your skin barrier, but shoppers note that the Retrinal eye cream has the opposite effect, transforming their dry under-eye areas into ones that are nourished and bright. Per the brand's description, that's thanks to five hard-working ingredients. There's the obvious retinol, then hyaluronic acid in a size that the brand says mimics our body's natural one, so it can penetrate and visibly plump and firm skin.
Those are joined by dextran sulfate, a salt that helps reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness; a brown algae derivative called "collactintm" that lifts and targets pronounced wrinkles; and Avène's trademark thermal spring water to soften and calm skin.
Shop now: $49; aveneusa.com
It's so mild, one person writes that their dermatologist recommended it after another retinol gave them a severe rosacea attack. With use, the texture of their skin, fine lines, and crows feet improved. Another shopper experienced something similar: Their dermatologist sent them home with a sample of the eye cream, and a few dots of the formula set their puffy eye bags on the path to extinction.
Even those with hereditary dark circles say they've seen them lightening, noting an obvious boost in their crows feet and the permanent "I look like I haven't slept in nine years" image they say they sport. One shopper goes so far as to say it does a much better job at erasing dark circles and bags than their longtime go-to La Mer, and at $49, it's half the cost.
"I am grateful to have found this eye cream," another person shares. "Finally a good, easy, and natural solution to my swollen, sagging looking eyes."
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