This Eye Cream Is A Shot of Espresso For Your Eyes

Faking being well-rested has never been easier.

ILIA Bright Start Retinol Alternative Brightening Eye Cream


While I've tested many eye creams, very few have actually wowed me. But one that I've been using since its debut back in January has officially made it into my personal pantheon of best beauty products of all time. I'm talking about the Ilia Bright Start Retinol Alternative Brightening Eye Cream.

Whether or not you, like me, feel exhausted all the time, it's common knowledge that this fatigue can manifest as dark circles and puffy eyes. The number-one fix to that is to get into a regular sleep schedule so that you get enough sleep and rest to function the next day. That's easier said than done.

The number-two fix — when it comes to your skin-care routine, at least — is to find a good eye cream to help correct those pressing skin concerns. "Eye creams help to reduce puffiness and improve the appearance of dark circles, fine lines, and wrinkles," says Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology in New York City. "By helping to hydrate the skin around the eye area, they can help to improve the overall appearance of the under-eye skin."  

The Ilia Bright Start Retinol Alternative Brightening Eye Cream has become my go-to eye cream for many reasons. First up: its gentle and vegan formulation. It uses sea fennel extract, a plant-based retinol alternative that contains a high concentration of vitamin A, offering skin benefits similar to retinol — think firmer, brighter skin — without any of the harsh side effects such as excess dryness and irritation.

Retinol alternatives are popular right now, and for good reason. "For some people who are unable to tolerate retinol near the eye area, some retinol alternatives may be gentler on the skin, minimizing the potential for irritation," says Dr. Garshick. In addition to this perk, the eye cream is also infused with peptides to boost collagen production and hydrate skin, caffeine to reduce puffiness, and avocado extract to soothe and nourish.

ILIA Bright Start Retinol Alternative Brightening Eye Cream


To Shop: $46;

Then, there are the results: It actually improved the appearance of my eye area. The formula itself feels lightweight and blends seamlessly into the skin. After just a few uses, I've noticed how awake and refreshed I look, even if I don't feel it. And, now that I've used it for a month, I've seen my puffiness become practically nonexistent, with the skin around my eyes looking brighter.

Better yet: Thanks to the retinol alternative, it's gentle enough to use daily. Dr. Garshick recommends dispensing a small amount of product before using the ceramic tip applicator, which has cooling properties for an added soothing effect, to blend it into the under-eye area for best results.

Whether you're after the benefits of retinol without the downsides — especially in an area as sensitive and delicate as the eyes — or just looking for an eye cream that actually delivers its promise of brighter and smoother skin, trust me — the Ilia Bright Start Retinol Alternative Brightening Eye Cream won't disappoint.

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