I Have This $18 Retinoid Eye Balm to Thank for Erasing My Fine Lines

I may only be 26 years old, but my eye area doesn’t look it. I blame it on three things. The first of which is my regrettable lack of sunscreen throughout most of high school. The second is my insanely near-sighted eyes, which lead me to squint whenever I forget my glasses (which is often). And the third is the enormous and incalculable amount of hours I’ve spent staring at my computer screen in order to write articles on skincare, hair, and makeup. (No complaints there). 

All of these things have added up over the years, and lo and behold, around age 25, I started noticing pesky fine lines, rough texture, and hyperpigmentation appear around the outer corners of my eyes. While it certainly doesn’t keep me up at night, I can admit that’d prefer a smoother and brighter look. That’s where eye cream comes in.

I’ve tested many different formulas throughout my time as a beauty writer. One of my recent favorites is from Versed, which is Who What Wear’s sister brand. It’s smoothing, hydrating, and plumping, and it’s all thanks to its star ingredient: granactive retinoid. Keep scrolling to learn all the reasons why this $18 eye balm has become a mainstay in my nighttime skincare routine. 

Here it is in all of its tiny glory. The smooth balm that’s encased in this little blue disc starts off solid before quickly melting into the skin on contact. Unlike other balms, this one isn’t heavy or greasy—it feels smooth and hydrating instead. 

Let’s start this ingredient deep dive with the star ingredient: granactive retinoid. It’s certainly a mouthful, but it’s actually a lot less complicated than it sounds. It’s simply a less irritating form of retinol (yes, the very same line and wrinkle-reducing ingredient we know and love). Just like traditional retinol, the retinoid in this formula smooths the texture of the skin to reduce the appearance of crow’s feet. 

Black currant seed oil and vitamin E are also included in the formula. Both provide an antioxidant function to protect the delicate eye area from free radicals. (ICYMI, free radicals are molecules that weaken and damage healthy cells.)

The final ingredient I want to call out is shiitake mushroom extract, which is an ingredient that supports and strengthens the skin’s moisture barrier. The moisture barrier is what keeps moisture in and irritants out, so it’s critical to overall skin health. When it’s damaged, it can manifest in things like dryness, irritation, inflammation sensitivity, roughness, and more. 

I’ve only been using it regularly for about two weeks now, but I can confidently say that my eye area is smoother, brighter, and more hydrated than it was before. Usually, I see fine lines on the outer corners of my eyes, along with hyperpigmentation (brown spots) from past sun damage. Over these past two weeks, the appearance of both has been minimized. The difference may be subtle to others, but it’s significant to me, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results after a couple of months of use. 

There’s one other thing I want to mention and that’s that I only use this eye balm at night. The creamy, melt-in texture is perfect for nighttime wear, but it doesn’t bode well for daytime eye makeup (trust me). Plus, since retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, it’s best to keep them regulated for nighttime use. And on that note, make sure you’re using sunscreen during the day! 

Speaking of sunscreen, this one’s a Who What Wear office favorite.

This body lotion was the last Versed product I waxed poetic about. 

This serum also contains microencapsulated retinol, which is another non-irritating form. 

This budget-friendly dermaplaning tool is one of the best I’ve ever used. 

This mask helps me lessen the appearance of past sun damage.

I use these Glow Drops alone and under makeup for a lit-from-within look.

This toner can hydrate and soften skin in a single swipe.

Okay, so it’s not a skincare product, but who doesn’t love a statement headband?

Next, I always get compliments on my skin texture—here are 14 products I swear by.