Which retinol is best for use on the delicate eye area?

Dear Dr. Irwin, I'm a 33 year old with a little bit of sun damage. Only since turning 30 have gotten wise to daily sunscreen use, alas. Now, I'm looking for an anti-aging product to use around my eyes, even on my lower and upper eyelids if possible (I have fine lines now, and my mom has really droopy eyelids, so I know what's coming...). I use regular ol' .025% Tretinoin Cream on the rest of my face, and I think that's probably too much for the delicate eye area. Do you recommend that I buy a weaker OTC retinol for my eyes, like the SkinMedica .25% product, or should I look into something else? Thank you so much! Best, Chris (Washington, DC)

Thanks for writing Chris!   Since that skin is quite sensitive on almost everyone, I really vote for a product that is specifically formulated for the delicate eyelid skin.   There are starting to be some good ones on the market now.    Here’s a link to one for the eyelids that’s all-trans retinol.  

At your age, for great maintenance, consider doing the Thermage eyelid treatment which is FDA approved for the eyelids and quite comfortable to do.  It will keep the collagen healthier in that area.   Also an eyelid sunscreen is important if you are outdoors much. 

Dr. I


Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

Ask me your skincare question!

Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

  • All our content is written and researched by myself.
  • My medical office in Seattle has treated thousands of patients for 15+ years.
  • This site is not affiliated or financially tied to any product, treatment or device.
Ask Me Something
SkinTour Skincare
One of the best investments in your skin is your daily skincare. Why? Because you can prevent many problems with blotchy skin color, lack of glow, texture, some types of acne, and fine lines with good skincare products. You can also correct some of these problems with effective skincare products. Great skincare is often more expensive because quality ingredients are expensive. Some companies spend on research/development which benefits all of us and adds to the cost. Are they worth it? In general - yes! I have handpicked some of what I consider to be the best skin care products, and offer them for sale on SkinTour's shop. This is based on my team and I's testing and research at our clinic. Many of the products are in my own regimen. What could be better than using skin care products a dermatologist uses?!