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Eye Serum vs. Eye Cream: Which One to Use?

Kristina Cadwell  
March 13, 2024  

The skin around the eyes is thin, making it more susceptible to factors that cause signs of premature aging, such as crow’s feet and dark under-eye circles. Botox and dermal fillers are the best solutions to visibly rejuvenate the eye area, but consistent skin care is the foundation of all beauty efforts.

This article focuses on two skincare products targeting the eye area: eye serum and eye cream. We’ll explain their differences and similarities and how to use them for the best results.

Eye serum vs. eye cream

‌What Is Eye Serum?

An eye serum is a skincare product with a high concentration of active ingredients that can improve crow’s feet, dark circles, puffiness, and under-eye hollows. Eye serums have a reparative purpose but may also provide brightening, anti-aging, or tightening effects.

Note: Gua sha is an excellent tool for the eye area, helping to relieve symptoms of tired and aging skin.

What Is Eye Cream?

An eye cream has a richer texture and a lower concentration of active ingredients, which don’t penetrate the skin as quickly as those in eye serums.

Its primary purpose is to hydrate the area and reduce aging signs caused by a lack of moisture. Eye creams form a thick layer on the skin’s surface to prevent water loss and protect the skin from environmental factors. ‌

Note: Learn more about moisturizers, how they help you get rid of dry skin, and other reasons why they are one of the three staples of skin care.

Eye Serum vs. Eye Cream: What Are the Differences?

Though they target similar concerns, eye serums and creams have different uses. The following table sums up their characteristics.

Eye SerumEye Cream
TextureLightweight, watery, gel-like.Thicker, creamier, oilier.
IngredientsRetinol, caffeine, niacinamide, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid.Vitamin C, E, retinol, hyaluronic acid, peptides, ceramides, growth factors, plant extracts.
Mode of actionSmaller molecules penetrate quickly into deeper skin layers.Larger molecules stay on the skin’s surface.
Skin typeAll skin types, especially oily and mature.Dry, aging, sensitive.
Eye concernWrinkles, puffiness, dark circles.Dryness and related aging signs.
How to useLightly pat around the eyes in the morning and evening after cleansing/toning and before moisturizing.Lightly pat around the eyes in the morning and evening as the final step in your skincare routine.

Eye Serum vs. Eye Cream Texture

The texture is perhaps the main difference between eye creams and serums.

Eye Serum

Eye serums are usually lightweight, with silky liquid or gel-like texture that the skin quickly and fully absorbs. The product reaches deeper skin layers than a cream, repairing the skin more intensely. It doesn’t leave any residue on the skin’s surface.

Eye Cream

Eye creams have a thicker, oilier, and creamier consistency. They feel heavier on the skin than serums. That’s why applying makeup after using a cream may be more difficult.

Eye Serum vs. Eye Cream: Active Ingredients

Eye serums have fewer ingredients than creams but a higher concentration of active ingredients. They often include humectants to draw more moisture into the skin, but no occlusives and emollients, which have a sealing effect. Eye creams typically contain all three.

Active ingredients are found in both products, but their range, type, and concentration differ. The most common ingredients include:

  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Retinol
  • Caffeine
  • Niacinamide
  • Peptides
  • Ceramides
  • Growth factors
  • Squalane
  • Plant extracts

Note: Learn how antioxidants in skincare products (such as Vitamin C, E, retinol, niacinamide, etc.) help improve the complexion and reduce aging signs.

Eye Serum vs. Eye Cream Skin Type

Eye serums and creams are appropriate for different skin types due to differences in their texture and formulation.

Eye Serum

All skin types can use an eye serum because of its lightweight texture. Oily skin may benefit more from a serum than a cream because its watery texture doesn’t clog pores. However, sensitive skin may be more prone to irritations due to a higher concentration of active ingredients.

Alastin’s Restorative Eye Treatment is one of Vibrant Skin Bar’s top recommendations for tired skin. It helps battle wrinkles, puffiness, and dark circles with powerful TriHex Technology® designed to promote collagen and elastin synthesis.

ALASTIN Skincare Restorative Eye Treatment

Note: For more recommendations and skin care tips for oily skin, check out our guides:

Eye Cream

Eye creams contain more oils and hydrating agents, making them suitable for dry and aging skin. Since they contain emollients with a soothing effect, they are more appropriate for sensitive skin than serums.

SkinMedica’s Instant Bright Eye Cream is one of Vibrant Skin Bar’s bestselling and most effective eye treatments. It uses patent technologies, Lytera® 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum and HA5® Rejuvenating Hydrator, to provide maximum nourishment and protection to all skin types.

SkinMedica Instant Bright Eye Cream

Note: If you are concerned about potential irritation, choose from our list of the best eye creams for sensitive skin.

Eye Serum vs. Eye Cream Skin Concern

Eye cream for skin concerns around the eyes

Eye serums and eye creams address different skin concerns.

Eye Serum

Eye serums are more intense and primarily focus on repairing skin damage. Their role is to firm, tone, and brighten the skin, diminishing wrinkles, puffy bags, and dark circles.

ZO Skin Health Growth Factor Eye Serum is a potent eye treatment with clinically proven rejuvenation effects. Our cosmetic professionals recommend it to visibly brighten, smooth, plump, and revive the area around the eyes.

ZO Skin Health Growth Factor Eye Serum

Eye Cream

The main function of eye creams is to replenish and seal in moisture, helping to relieve aging signs caused by dehydration.  

Youth Eye Complex by iS Clinical has it all to infuse delicate skin with moisturizing ingredients, improve elasticity, plump the under-eye area, and help reduce aging signs.

iS Clinical Youth Eye Complex

Eye Serum vs. Eye Cream: How to Use Them?

The best way to feel the power of an eye serum and cream is to incorporate them into a regular skincare regimen and use them consistently.

Eye Serum

Different eye serums may slightly differ in their use, so be sure to read the instructions on the label. The following steps apply to most of them.

1. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser.

2. Apply a toner (optional).

3. Use an applicator that comes with the serum or your index finger to place a drop or two of the serum onto your under-eye area. Lightly tap until the skin absorbs it.

Eye serums are usually applied twice daily, in the morning and evening. If the product contains retinol, it is used only in the evening.

Note: Learn more about retinol in products and how retinol serums and creams differ.

Eye Cream

Eye creams are applied in the morning and evening. They come after other lightweight products – cleansers, toners, and serums.

Take a small amount with your finger and apply it under the eyes. Lightly tap the cream, starting from the inner and working toward the outer eye corner.

You can apply the eye cream before or after the facial cream. Make sure to follow with sunscreen in the morning.

Note: Learn why sunscreen is the most important product in skin care.  

Eye Serum vs. Eye Cream: Which One Is Better?

Eye serums and eye creams have different purposes, so it isn’t easy to compare their efficacy.

Serums are more intense in reducing skin damage. If crow’s feet are your primary concern, an eye serum can be more beneficial than an eye cream.

A hydrating cream may be a better solution if your dark circles and wrinkles are caused by mature, thinning skin.

The best way to choose an ideal product is to refer to a cosmetic professional who will evaluate your skin type and determine which ingredients and products may provide the best results.

Note: Read our ultimate skincare guide to learn more about your skin type, daytime and nighttime routine, and how to maintain a youthful complexion with different skincare products.

Should You Use Eye Serum and Eye Cream Together?

An eye serum and eye cream serve different purposes, and it makes sense to incorporate both into your skincare regimen. The serum can help repair specific skin concerns, while the cream provides the necessary hydration and locks in the previously applied, beneficial ingredients.

However, if you prefer a minimalist approach to skin care, choose one product your eye area needs more, or alternate between the serum and the cream in the morning and evening. ‌

Note: If you're looking for alternative, non-invasive solutions that yield faster results, check out our in-depth guides:


The signs of aging, tiredness, dehydration, and stress often first appear in the area around the eyes. Serums and creams can be effective in promoting a more radiant look. However, not all products are effective for every eye concern and skin type.

If you need help choosing between an eye serum and eye cream and finding an effective product, let our skin experts at Vibrant Skin Bar be your guide.

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About the Author:
Kristina Cadwell
PA Kristina Cadwell graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. She then completed the Physician Assistant program at A.T. Still University graduating with a Masters of Medical Science degree. Kristina has been working in the Aesthetic Medical field for over 10 years. She is certified in neurotoxin cosmetic injection, dermal fillers, Plasma Pen skin tightening, chemical peels, and laser therapy. She is known for producing natural results and has extensive knowledge in diet and exercise allowing her to help you achieve vibrant skin from the inside out.
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