Eye Serum Vs Eye Cream: What’s The Difference?

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is an eye cream or an eye serum better

Eye Serum Vs Eye Cream

While most of us have our favorite face serums, moisturizers and creams we use on a daily basis, but what about products for your delicate under eye area? Sure most of us have heard of eye creams, but there’s actually a more powerful option out there that can provide better results. So what exactly is the difference between an eye serum vs eye cream? Let’s dig in and find out.

What Is An Eye Serum

eye cream vs eye serum for dark circles

An eye serum is a highly concentrated serum designed for the delicate under eye skin. It’s pretty much the same thing as a face serum, just formulated for the eyes, which can sometimes need special ingredients because the skin is delicate and thin.

Like facial serums, eye serums are thin and can be watery or thicker like a gel, depending on the formulation.

Eye serums often contain potent anti-aging ingredients like peptides, antioxidants, and retinol to help reduce puffiness, dark circles, and wrinkles and prevent aging of the under-eye area.

They usually contain high concentrations of active ingredients that can penetrate deeper into the skin.

Eye serums can target dark circles, crows feet, under eye bags, puffiness and help to promote a more youthful looking under eye area.

What Is An Eye Cream

eye cream vs eye serum for puffiness

An eye cream is a thicker, more moisturizing treatment than eye serums. They’re also made for the delicate eye area and usually contain anti-aging ingredients like peptides, antioxidants, and retinol to help reduce puffiness, dark circles, and wrinkles and prevent aging of the under-eye area.

They often contain more moisturizing ingredients like butters and oils to keep the under eye area hydrated and nourished.

An eye cream is like a face cream or moisturizer, but formulated for specific concerns of the under eyes. Although most eye creams do contain active ingredients like retinol, vitamin c, peptides or caffeine, eye creams typically have a lower concentration of these ingredients.

Eye creams can also help to immediately brighten the under eye area and are often formulated with ingredients like light reflecting pearls or banana powder.

Eye creams can range from gel-like to a thick cream and can also help to prevent creasing and extend wear of makeup.

Benefits Of Eye Serums & Eye Creams

is an eye cream or eye serum better

Now you might be wondering why you should you eye cream or eye serums. There are tons of benefits of using products formulated specifically for the delicate under eye.

While the formulation and ingredients between eye serums vs eye creams will depend on the product. Some eye products will target puffy eyes and dark circles, while others will target fine lines, crows feet and sagging skin. In general, here’s some things that eye creams and serums can help with:

  • Hydrate
  • Moisturize
  • Reduce fine lines
  • Brighten dark circles
  • Reduce puffiness
  • Reduce crows feet
  • Firm and lift sagging skin
  • Stimulate collagen and elastin production
  • Protect against free radical damage

Best Ingredients To Look For In Eye Serums & Creams

Both eye serums and creams can have the same active ingredients that can help to target specific skin concerns you may have. Some ingredients will differ. First, we’ll look at some of the best active ingredients to look for in eye creams and serums to target what concerns you have.

  • Peptides – peptides are an incredible anti-aging ingredient and are a must-have in any eye product. Peptides help to stimulate collagen and elastin production which helps to reduce fine lines, wrinkles and crows feet as well as thicken the skin under the eyes to keep them looking youthful. Elastin can help lift the skin and reduce eye bags and sagging skin
  • Vitamin C – Vitamin C is a mutli-tasking ingredient that can help to target many different under eye concerns. It helps to brighten darkness to help with dark circles and pigmented skin. It also provides antioxidant protection to defend against free radicals that cause premature aging and skin damage. Vitamin C also stimulates collagen and elastin production to keep skin plump and youthful looking
  • RetinolRetinol or Retin-A is another multi-tasking ingredient that smooths fine lines, wrinkles and crows feet while stimulating collagen production to plump and smooth the under eye area to help reduce dark circles, bags and sagging skin
  • Caffeine – If puffy eyes plague you, caffeine is a must have. Caffeine is a stimulant that works to boost circulation and keep skin looking bright and awake. It can help reduce puffiness, dark circles and help smooth out fine lines
  • Antioxidants Antioxidants protect the skin from enviromental damage from UV rays, pollution, etc. These free radicals can damage the skin and cells causing premature aging, darkness, fine lines and sagging skin
  • Hyaluronic Acid – Hyaluronic acid is your skin’s natural hydrator and will help to add moisture and hydration. It can help to instantly plump the skin and smooth fine lines, wrinkles while stimulating collagen and elastin production. Other humectants like panthenol, honey and glycerin are great ingredients as well
  • Ceramides – Ceramides are naturally found in our skin that help to protect the skin and keep it moisturized. They work to strengthen the skin’s protective barrier and lock in moisture
  • Butters – Butters are ultra-hydrating to the skin. They work to deeply moisturize the skin and keep it plump, hydrated and smooth. Shea butter, Cocoa Butter and Mango Butter are great choices. Keeping skin hydrated and moisturized is key to keeping skin youthful!
  • Fatty Acids – Fatty acids are an essential skincare ingredient that help to reduce inflammation in the skin. They work to strengthen and protect the skin’s barrier. Fatty Acids can also help to reduce fine lines, wrinkles and dark circles by stimulating collagen production
  • Oils – Plant oils help to add moisture and hydration to the skin while locking in moisture. They work to soften fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin and keep it plump and youthful by hydrating. Many oils also have antioxidant properties which can add even more benefits
  • Occlusives – Occlusives work to moisturize and soften skin while working as a barrier over the skin to lock in moisture. Silicones, butters, waxes and petroleum jelly are all great occlusive ingredients

Related Post: Retinol Vs Hyaluronic Acid

An eye serum will typically have lighter ingredients to help deliver products deeper into the skin and provide hydration to keep the eye area plumped. Eye serums will typically have higher concentrations of active ingredients (the ones listed above). So in addition to those ingredients, here’s some other hydrating and repairing ingredients typically found in eye serums.

Eye creams, will be thicker and more nourishing to help moisturize and soften the skin. Creams will have lower concentrations of active ingredients and also contain more moisturizing ingredients like oils, butters and occlusives. They will also contain barrier repairing ingredients such as ceramides or fatty acids, although eye serums can have these too.

Eye Serum Vs Eye Cream


A big difference between eye cream and eye serum is the texture. Eye serums are thinner and more watery so they’re lightweight and sink into the skin quickly. Eye creams, on the other hand are thicker, richer and creamy.

Since eye serums are so light weight, they generally don’t have any heavy ingredients like oils or butters that are often found in eye creams. This means they sink into the skin quicker and don’t leave behind a heavy feeling like eye creams often do.

Since eye creams have more moisturizing ingredients like occlusives, oils and butters, they will for a protective barrier on the skin that locks in hydration and moisture, which is something eye serums cannot do.


Another big difference between an eye serum and an eye cream is ingredients. Eye serums tend to have more potent ingredients and higher concentrations of actives like retinol, vitamin c or peptides.

Eye creams can still have these ingredients, but they are typically found in lower concentrations. Butters, emollients, oils, etc. make up most of the eye creams formulation, leaving little room for lots of active ingredients.

Eye serums will have higher concentrations of ingredients which generally means they work better and faster. However, eye serums are more lightweight than eye creams, so they won’t be as moisturizing on the skin.

Skin Type

Both eye serums and and creams are suitable for all skin types but one may be better than the other depending on what skin type you have.

Since eye creams are richer, they are best for dry and mature skin. Eye serums are lightweight and thin so they’re great for combination and oily skin. And since they are more powerful, if you’re trying to target specific concerns like lines are darkness, eye serums will be more beneficial.

Eye creams, on the other hand, are ideal for keeping the under eye area moisturized which can help reduce fine lines. Eye creams also tend to have ingredients like peptides, retinol, etc. which can help to prevent signs of aging. They’re idea for those that are wanting to prevent instead of correct.

Eye Serum Vs Eye Cream: Similarities and Differences

ProductPotencyTextureBest ForUse
Eye SerumVery potent – has high concentration
of active ingredients
thin- can be watery or thicker like a geltargeting specific concernsday or night
Eye CreamLess potent – has more moisturizing ingredients like butters and oils and less active ingredientsthick – can be gel-like, lotion or a thick, rich creammoisturizing and preventing signs of agingday or night

Should I Use Eye Serum Or Eye Cream?

So is eye serum or cream better?

At the end of the day it comes down to personal preference and what concerns you want to target. Some prefer serums, while others want a creamier texture and more moisturization. Here’s a helpful guide on how to choose between eye serum vs eye cream for your specific concerns.

  • If you have dark circles – an eye serum or cream will work. A serum will have more potent ingredients that can help to brighten the skin, while many eye creams have light reflecting particles that brighten and illuminate the eye area. Look for Vitamin C, peptides, retinol and caffeine to brighten up darkness.
  • If you have puffiness or bags – An eye serum all the way. An eye serum for puffy eyes will have a higher concentration of caffeine to help instantly de-puff and brighten the eye area. Try keeping the serum in the fridge to help de-puff even more
  • If you have fine lines or crows feet – both! An eye serum will contain more active ingredients to smooth away wrinkles while a moisturizing eye cream will keep skin from getting even more wrinkled. Look for peptides, retinol, vitamin c and moisturizing ingredients

Keep in mind, you may have to try out both to see which you like best. And of course, you can always use both an eye serum and and eye cream in your routine.

How To Use Eye Serum And Eye Cream

Eye Creams

Eye creams can be used day or night. While most people prefer to use them at night because of their thicker texture, some eye creams are actually formulated to wear under makeup to extend wear and prevent creasing of makeup and concealer under the eyes.

However, if your eye cream contains retinol, you always want to use it only at night. Sunlight degrades retinol and will make it ineffective.

Eye serums

Eye serums are lighter in texture and can be used both day and night. Many people prefer using serums during the day, but it all just depends on your skin and the formulation of the product. Just like eye creams, if the serum contains retinol, only use it at night.

Naturally, there are exceptions. People with oilier or drier under eyes should choose eye products that will complement their skin type. But ultimately, the decision to use eye creams, gels, or serums depends on your personal preference and what works best for you.

Can You Use Both Eye Serum And Eye Cream?

If you’re trying to decide between an eye cream vs serum, you don’t have to!

Yes, you can use both an eye serum and an eye cream together in your routine. In fact, using both make quite the pair and you’ll see some great results by using a powerful eye serum and a moisturizing eye cream.

You can layer them by using an eye serum followed by an eye cream or use an eye serum in the morning and an eye cream at night.

Using an eye serum and eye cream together can help to firm, brighten and moisturize the under eye area while diminishing signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles.

Do I Use Eye Serum Or Eye Cream First?

Now you’re probably wondering “what goes first eye cream or serum?”

Always use the eye serum before eye cream because the serum will have a thinner texture. When it comes to skincare, you generally want to follow the thinnest to thickest rule, which means whatever product has the thinner consistency should go first.

Is Eye Serum Or Cream Better?

So now that we know the differences between eye serum and eye cream, which one is better? While one is not better than the other, it comes down to personal preference, skin type and skin concerns.

Eye serums are best for those wanting to firm and correct and those with oilier skin. Eye creams are best for those with dry or mature skin and those wanting to prevent signs of aging rather than correct signs of aging.

Eye Serum Vs Eye Cream FAQ’s

Do I need both eye cream and eye serum?

No, you don’t need to use both an eye cream and an eye serum. Although you can use them together, it’s not necessary to have both in your routine. Just pick whichever one is more suited to your skin type and skin concerns.

Can I Use Eye Serum And Eye Cream Together?

Yes, you can absolutely use eye cream and eye serum together. While you can always use them separate (one during the day and one at night) you can also layer them together as long as the ingredients don’t cause any issues when combined.

For example, you don’t want to layer a retinol eye serum with a retinol eye cream – that’s too much retinol and will certainly be irritating! You can, however layer a caffeine eye serum with a vitamin c and peptide eye cream.

You really just want to be careful with retinol and vitamin c.

Best Eye Serum And Eye Cream

Now that we know all about eye cream vs eye serum, you’re probably wondering what is the best eye serum or eye cream. Here are 8 hand-picked, well-loved eye products to target all your different concerns.

The Ordinary Caffeine 5% + ECGC Depuffing Eye Serum

Ingredients We Love

  • Caffeine
  • EGCG
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Glycerin

A super potent depuffing and brightening eye cream that instantly helps to awaken the under eye area thanks to high concentrations of Epigallocatechin Gallatyl Glucoside and caffeine. Hyaluronic Acid and Glycerin instantly plump the skin and reduce fine lines. With such a high concentration of caffeine, this is the best eye serum for puffy eyes hands down.

Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Dark Circle Reducing Vitamin C Eye Serum

Ingredients We Love

  • Vitamin C
  • Tri-peptide Blend
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Amino Acids

A powerful brightening eye serum designed to diminish dark circles, brighten the under eye area and reduce signs of aging. Packed with 10% Vitamin C to sitmulate collagen and brighten darkness, plus peptides and hyaluronic acid to plump the skin and smooth fine lines, wrinkles and crows feet. This is a great under eye serum that can target a wide range of skin concerns and prevent signs of aging.

Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Triple Correction Eye Serum

Ingredients We Love

  • Retinol
  • Ferulic Acid
  • Caffeine
  • Hyaluronic Acid

An anti-aging eye serum designed for the under-eye, lids and above the eyes for 360-degree power. Retinol and Bakuchiol, a plant dervied retinol, smooth lines and stimulate collagen to lift and firm the skin. Ferulic acid and Ubiquinone provide antioxidant protection and caffeine and hyaluronic acid de-puff, smooth and brighten the skin.

L’Oreal Revitalift Derm Intensives Hyaluronic Acid plus Eye Serum

Ingredients We Love

A power-packed eye serum with hyaluronic acid and caffeine to instantly plump fine lines and wrinkles, de-puff the skin and brighten the look of under eye circles. The cooling massage applicator helps to stimulate blood flow for brighter looking eyes and de-puff. It’s a great eye serum for puffy eyes.

Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème

Ingredients We Love

  • Shea butter
  • Vitamin C
  • Banana Powder

A brightening and smoothing eye cream designed to help improve makeup wear and reduce creasing under the eye area. Vitamin C helps to brighten and reduce lines and wrinkles. Brightening banana powder instantly corrects blue and purple dark circles under the eyes. Amino acids help plump the skin and smooth wrinkles and crows feet. Shea butter hydrates and nourishes the skin and prevents dryness.

Origins GINZING™ Vitamin C Eye Cream

Ingredients We Love

  • Shea butter
  • Vitamin C
  • Caffeine
  • Ginseng

A cult favorite eye cream that instantly helps to depuff and brighten the delicate under eye area. Ginseng and Caffeine depuff the eyes and brighten the look of dark circles. Vitamin C helps to diminish darkness overtime and smooth wrinkles and fine lines. Jojoba oil and Shea Butter provide nourishment and moisture to smooth the under eye area.

Paula’s Choice CLINICAL Ceramide-Enriched Firming Eye Cream

Ingredients We Love

  • Retinol
  • Vitamin C
  • Peptides
  • Squalane

A firming eye cream packed with anti-aging ingredients to reduce the look of lines and wrinkles while keeping skin moisturized and smooth. Retinol reduces signs of aging and stimulates collagen production to help firm and lift the skin. Peptides plump the under eye area and help to brighten darkness. Vitamin C brightens dark circles and firms the skin. Ceramides and squalane moisturize and smooth the skin while strengthening the skin’s barrier.

Summer Fridays Light Aura Vitamin C + Peptide Eye Cream

Ingredients We Love

  • Shea butter
  • Light reflecting particles
  • Vitamin C
  • Peptides

A multi-tasking eye cream that helps to hydrate, brighten, smooth and reduce lines and wrinkles. It instantly brightens the look of dark circles thanks to light reflectors, while Vitamin C helps to diminish dark circles overtime and reduce signs of aging. Peptides firm and lift the eye area for younger looking skin. Shea butter, hyaluronic acid and avocado oil provide hydration and moisture.

What’s Better An Eye Serum Or Eye Cream? Wrap Up

Eye serums and creams can both be beneficial products to add to your routine. If you’re trying to decide between eye serum vs eye cream, it can be helpful to consider your skin type and concerns. Serums may be better for more oily skin types or those that want to see better, more immediate results. Eye creams can be helpful for those with drier and aging skin or those that are just wanting something more preventative. However, both can be used and create the perfect pair for healthy, brighter, more youthful under eyes.

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