We Ask a Derm: Should You Use a Retinol Eye Cream?

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When it comes to fending off fine lines and wrinkles, the ingredient that probably gets the most acclaim is retinol. (If retinol were a movie and the American Academy of Dermatology were the other Academy, it would win best picture—no contest.) But for something that’s so beloved and prevalent in skin care, it is still very much misunderstood and misused. 

Case in point: One of the questions we get asked most from friends (and friends of friends) is whether or not retinol can be used under their eyes. So we called Dr. Gretchen Frieling, a board-certified dermatopathologist in Boston, for a definitive answer.

Her response? "Retinols are a great choice for the under-eye area because they boost collagen production, which makes them ideal for smoothing existing fine lines and preventing new ones from forming." But she also adds, "the area underneath the eyes is thinner and therefore more sensitive than the rest of the skin on your face, [so] you want to choose a retinol product designed specifically for the eyes, otherwise it could be too potent and lead to irritation and dryness."

One final note: Though retinols can help smooth the appearance of fine lines, "if you’ve already developed crow’s feet (which are deeper), the only way to make them disappear are with injectables that need to be repeated every few months."

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Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...