Eye creams for dark circlesShare on Pinterest

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The appearance of dark under-eye circles is a common skin concern. Whether you’re sleep-deprived, sniffling from seasonal allergies, or simply experiencing signs of aging, dark circles arise for a multitude of reasons. Dark circles, often accompanied by under-eye bags, may make you look more tired.

But pesky dark circles aren’t invincible. Getting a full night’s sleep and drinking enough water can help reduce the appearance of dark circles over time. For more stubborn cases, sometimes caused by genetics or skin aging, an eye cream can soften their appearance.

The skin under the eyes is extremely thin and often shows the first signs of aging. Because the skin is so delicate, you’ll want to use a dedicated product made for the under-eye area.

Eye cream products can target:

  • dark circles
  • puffiness
  • fine lines
  • wrinkles
  • hyperpigmentation

“Treating the delicate eye contour area is all about prevention, so the earlier you start using an eye contour product, the better,” says Dr. Luigi L. Polla, the founder of Forever Institut and Alchimie Forever.

Aging isn’t the only culprit to take into account. Dr. Erum N. Ilyas, CEO and founder of AmberNoon, finds that many of her patients have noticed dark circles as early as their teen years.

Read on to learn how to pick the right eye cream for your needs.

Stop by any drugstore or beauty retailer, and you may feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of eye creams on the market. We gathered our recommendations with the following in mind:

  • We interviewed dermatologists around the globe for their personal favorites and top recommendations for patients.
  • Our list of recommended products also includes bestselling products that have a customer rating of at least 4 or 5 stars.
  • The products include ingredients dermatologists recommend for targeting dark circles.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $50
  • $$ = $50–$90
  • $$$ = over $90

Best for skin care fans who want to try a beauty community favorite

Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 0.5 ounces (oz.)
  • Key ingredients: vitamin C complex, 8-peptide blend, cucumber, superoxide dismutase, hesperidin methyl chalcone, ubiquinone, and vitamin E
  • Helps: fine lines, wrinkles, dryness, dark circles, and loss of firmness
  • Fragrance-free: yes
  • Paraben-free: yes

Beauty gurus and skin care aficionados flock to Drunk Elephant’s line of trendy products. While the pretty packaging and hype stand out, the formulas do the heavy lifting needed to target skin conditions.

The C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream includes a complex of five forms of vitamin C to brighten the under-eye area. Rich in hydrating peptides and soothing active ingredients, like cucumber extract, the formula refreshes the under-eye area and brightens the appearance of dark circles.

The formula is also fragrance-free and doesn’t include any scented essential oils. While many reviewers saw dramatic results, some did complain of sensitivity and redness after use.

Pros

  • made with five forms of vitamin c to brighten under-eye skin
  • peptides and active ingredients included to hydrate and refresh
  • no essential oils added

Cons

  • some reviewers report sensitivity after use
  • some reviewers report a tacky feel

Best for those looking for a lightweight brightening cream

Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Cream

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 0.5 oz.
  • Key ingredients: vitamin C, collagen, and banana pigments
  • Helps: dark circles and fine lines
  • Fragrance-free: no
  • Paraben-free: yes

Australia-based dermatologist Dr. Robert Goldman loves to recommend this Banana Bright Eye Cream to people looking to brighten dark circles. The product features brightening vitamin C and collagen to support skin elasticity.

One special ingredient that sets this powerhouse product apart is the banana powder. The yellow pigments act as a color corrector for the under-eye area to reduce the appearance of dark circles upon application.

Reviewers tout the product’s smooth application and lightweight formula.

Pros

  • isn’t greasy
  • helps brighten, smooth, and color correct
  • lightweight with smooth application

Cons

  • some reviewers report allergic reactions
  • not fragrance-free

Best for anyone who loves face masks

Good Molecules Caffeine Energizing Hydrogel Eye Patches

  • Price: $
  • Size: 30 pairs
  • Key ingredients: caffeine and niacinamide
  • Helps: tired, puffy eyes and dark circles
  • Fragrance-free: yes
  • Paraben-free: yes

While it’s not exactly an eye cream, dermatologist Dr. Adam Mamelak finds that eye gel patches and under-eye masks have “concentrated ingredients [that] work much faster than the under-eye cream you apply each day or night.”

“If you feel like you always have dark circles, no matter how many hours of sleep you get, find eye masks or patches with ingredients, such as tea extracts, vitamins C and K (to brighten or reduce the appearance of dark circles), water from extra-pure locations, and hyaluronic acid,” he says.

There are many eye gels on the market, but we love the perk that Good Molecule’s caffeine-infused eye gels give after a sleepless night. The soothing, cool-to-the-touch patches can also help reduce puffy and swollen eyes.

Pros

  • fragrance-free
  • feels soothing on skin
  • concentrated ingredients

Cons

  • product design may be too slippery and slide off, according to some reviewers
  • not actually an eye cream

Best for those on a budget

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Gel-Cream

  • Price: $
  • Size: 0.5 oz.
  • Key ingredients: sodium hyaluronate
  • Helps: dry skin and dark circles
  • Fragrance-free: yes
  • Paraben-free: yes

You don’t need to spend big to see results. Drugstore brands, like Neutrogena, have products that target dark circles and fine lines for a fraction of the price. Ilyas recommends Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Gel-Cream due to its moisturizing hyaluronate.

“With hyaluronate, this product packs in extra hydration around the delicate eyelid skin. [It’s] an effective cream to improve the turgor of the thin eyelid skin,” Ilyas says.

The product has an average of 3.9 out of 5 stars on the Neutrogena website, with a majority of happy shoppers. Many reviewers find that the product left their skin feeling plumper, smoother, and more awake.

Pros

  • low price point
  • feels extra hydrating
  • well reviewed

Cons

  • some reviewers saw little change in the appearance of dark circles
  • some reviewers experienced allergic reactions after use

Best for sensitive skin

Alchimie Forever Rejuvenating Eye Balm

  • Price: $
  • Size: 0.5 oz.
  • Key ingredients: European blueberries (anthocyanins, quercetin, resveratrol), alfalfa (vitamin K), grape seeds (anthocyanins, catechin, quercetin, resveratrol), cocoa butter, and jojoba
  • Helps: dark circles, fine lines, and wrinkles on all skin types
  • Fragrance-free: yes
  • Paraben-free: yes

Alchimie Forever has a dedicated fan base who love the brand’s no-nonsense, science-based approach to skin care. The family-owned brand, founded by Polla, formulated this antioxidant-rich balm to fend off dark circles and premature aging.

“[Our] Rejuvenating Eye Balm features one of our signature ingredients, the European blueberry, which has powerful vaso-constricting and vaso-protective properties, so it is wonderful to help minimize dark circles,” Polla explains.

“The eye area is often dry, as there are fewer sebaceous glands than in the rest of our facial skin, so I chose jojoba and cocoa butter to help nourish the skin,” he continues.

Pros

  • provides ample hydration
  • can help defend against signs of aging
  • absorbs quickly, with no greasiness

Cons

  • may cause mild stinging, according to a few reviewers

Best cooling applicator

La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Eye Cream

  • Price: $
  • Size: 0.5 oz.
  • Key ingredients: caffeine, glycerin, dimethicone, niacinamide, silica, iron oxides, phe-resorcinol, titanium dioxide, and La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water
  • Helps: dull, darkened under-eye area
  • Fragrance-free: yes
  • Paraben-free: yes

Skin sensitivity is a common concern when shopping for products and testing new items.

La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Eye Cream is a caffeine-infused product that’s gentle for those who experience skin irritation with harsh ingredients.

The metal applicator is a nice bonus to the dark circle warrior. It provides a cooling feeling under the eye that can help depuff tired eyes and soothe swollen skin.

Pro tip: Try putting your product in the refrigerator before use for an extra-chilly and soothing treatment.

Pros

  • cooling metal applicator helps depuff and soothe skin
  • designed for sensitive skin
  • good price point

Cons

  • some reviewers report the product didn’t look good under makeup
  • some reviewers didn’t notice an improvement

Best for noticeable results on a budget

Sweet Chef Turmeric + Vitamin C Booster Eye Cream

  • Price: $
  • Size: 0.5 oz.
  • Key ingredients: vitamin C, turmeric extract, and niacinamide
  • Helps: dullness, dark circles, and signs of aging
  • Fragrance-free: yes
  • Paraben-free: yes

Graf recommends the Sweet Chef Turmeric + Vitamin C Booster Eye Cream as a “gentle, everyday eye cream” to treat dehydrated and sallow under-eye areas.

“It’s a cooling and hydrating eye cream that also brightens with a blend of turmeric, vitamin C, ginger, niacinamide, and probiotics,” Graf says. “It’s very lightweight and wears well under makeup.”

The anti-inflammatory properties in turmeric give this product an extra dash of flair. Some reviewers swear by the budget-friendly buy and saw noticeable results.

Pros

  • clean cruelty-free formula
  • feels very lightweight
  • ingredients are rich in antioxidants

Cons

  • some reviewers report an allergic reaction after use
  • some reviewers didn’t notice an improvement

Best for reducing the appearance of fine lines

SkinMedica TNS Eye Repair

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 0.5 oz.
  • Key ingredients: human fibroblast conditioned media (HFCM), palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7, palmitoyl oligopeptide, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, tocopheryl acetate, retinyl palmitate, N-hydroxysuccinimide, chrysin, and boron nitride
  • Helps: dark circles, discoloration, wrinkles, and fine lines
  • Fragrance-free: no
  • Paraben-free: yes

“I often recommend TNS Eye Repair by SkinMedica — formulated to improve fine lines, wrinkles, tone and texture, [and] dark circles,” Mamelak says.

While the product is a splurge, it targets dark circles and fine lines with a powerful lineup of ingredients. The smoothening under-eye cream is great for anyone concerned about dark circles and signs of aging.

Pros

  • smooths under-eye skin
  • can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • formula feels very hydrating

Cons

  • high price point
  • not fragrance-free

Best for a lightweight, nongreasy cream

Neocutis Lumière Illuminating Eye Cream

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 0.5 oz.
  • Key ingredients: vitamin E, antioxidants, and hyaluronic acid
  • Helps treat: damage from free radicals and puffiness
  • Fragrance-free: yes
  • Paraben-free: yes

Another favorite of Mamelak’s is the Neocutis Lumière Illuminating Eye Cream.

Reviewers love the lightweight formula and find that it quickly absorbs into the skin. One review says, “​​Very little is needed for each application, and it is very effective in maintaining the health of the delicate skin underneath the eyes without clogging pores or leaving a greasy effect.”

The formula’s hyaluronic acid and vitamin E help keep the skin hydrated throughout the day and ward off damage from free radicals.

Pros

  • reviewers say cream is lightweight and absorbent
  • many reviewers say cream helped address puffiness and tighten skin in addition to brightening dark circles
  • a little goes a long way

Cons

  • some reviewers say they didn’t see any improvement
  • high price point

Best for those in need of a hydration boost

Origins Eye Doctor

  • Price: $
  • Size: 0.5 oz.
  • Key ingredients: cucumber, rosemary, and ginseng
  • Helps treat: dry, crepey under-eye skin and fine lines
  • Fragrance-free: no
  • Paraben-free: yes

“This eye cream combines ingredients, such as cucumber, ginseng, wheat germ, and algae extracts, to reduce puffiness around the eyes. It also has green tea extract that has an antioxidant effect to fight the signs of aging around the eyes,” Ilyas explains.

Pros

  • cream feels cooling
  • helps smooth fine lines
  • ingredients designed to reduce puffiness

Cons

  • several reviewers report irritation after use
  • not fragrance-free

Best depuffing eye cream with caffeine

Sunday Riley Auto Correct Brightening and Depuffing Eye Contour Cream

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 0.5 oz.
  • Key ingredients: caffeine, Brazilian ginseng root extract, horse chestnut extract, watermelon rind extract, and lutein
  • Helps treat: puffy eyes and dark circles
  • Fragrance-free: no
  • Paraben-free: yes

Sunday Riley’s chic packaging and clever product names have contributed to the skin care brand’s wild popularity. The Auto Correct Brightening and Depuffing Eye Contour Cream leaves Sunday Riley devotees with alert and awake eyes sans dark circles.

With staple ingredients like caffeine and ginseng, this eye cream creates a lifted look that complements your morning coffee habit.

Pros

  • helps depuff and leaves eyes looking more awake
  • lightening and brightening

Cons

  • some reviewers dislike the container
  • not fragrance-free

Best for dry, normal, and mature skin

SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 0.5 oz.
  • Key ingredients: flavonoid, peptides, blueberry extract, caffeine, and proxylane (a hydrating SkinCeuticals solution)
  • Helps treat: dark circles, puffiness, and crow’s feet
  • Fragrance-free: yes
  • Paraben-free: no

Mraz Robinson is a big fan of the SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex.

The anti-wrinkle eye cream helps improve the appearance of dark circles, puffiness, and crow’s feet associated with aging.

According to the brand, advanced glycation end-products (A.G.E.) contribute to the aging process. This peptide and caffeine-packed eye cream targets dark circles, puffy eyes, and wrinkles caused by aging.

Pros

  • helps reduce puffiness, fine lines, and dry skin around eyes
  • very well reviewed
  • free of alcohol and dyes

Cons

  • high price point
  • not paraben-free

Best for anyone looking for a safe retinol eye cream

skinbetter science EyeMax AlphaRet Overnight Cream

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 0.5 oz.
  • Key ingredients: retinoid, ​​alpha hydroxy acid, and antioxidants
  • Helps treat: dryness, crepiness, puffiness, fine lines, wrinkles, and darkness
  • Fragrance-free: yes
  • Paraben-free: yes

Another staple in Mraz Robinson’s toolkit is the skinbetter science EyeMax AlphaRet Overnight Cream. The eye cream combines retinoid and alpha hydroxy acid to reduce the appearance of fine lines around the eyes that often come with age.

In contrast to your regular prescribed retinoid, this eye cream is gentle enough to support the thinning skin under and around the eye. The formula’s hydrating properties and peptides also fight off environmental aggressors and dryness.

Anyone with mature-looking skin can benefit from a small dab of this overnight cream.

Pros

  • retinol helps address signs of skin aging
  • formula feels very hydrating
  • made with a more gentle retinoid than prescription versions

Cons

  • high price point
  • can only be used at night

Best vegan, cruelty-free cream for fine lines

Thrive Causemetics Defying Gravity Eye Lifting Cream

  • Price: $
  • Size: 0.5 oz.
  • Key ingredients: green tea, caffeine, red algae extract, allantoin, rooibos leaf extract
  • Helps treat: puffiness, fine lines, dryness, sagginess, darkness
  • Fragrance-free: yes
  • Paraben-free: yes

This lightweight eye cream is made with ingredients designed to hydrate skin, calm puffiness, and brighten dark circles. Caffeine and antioxidants constrict blood vessels to reduce puffiness and minimize the appearance of dark circles.

It’s a vegan, cruelty-free formula that’s made with no parabens, phthalates, sulfates, or synthetic ingredients.

Pros

  • great reviews and price point
  • vegan and cruelty-free
  • reduces puffiness and lightens dark circles

Cons

  • some reviewers didn’t experience much improvement

Best all-in-one eye cream

Eight Saints All In Eye Cream

  • Price: $
  • Size: 0.5 oz.
  • Key ingredients: squalane, MSM, cocoa butter, cucumber hydrosol, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C
  • Helps treat: dark circles, puffiness, wrinkles, dryness
  • Fragrance-free: yes
  • Paraben-free: yes

This eye cream has an ultra-lightweight feel, but its gentle formula packs a punch. Vitamin C and caffeine help brighten and tighten delicate under-eye skin, while olive oil-based squalane is hydrating for a plumping effect.

It’s a cruelty-free formula that’s well reviewed. Plus, it’s cruelty-free.

Pros

  • great price point
  • designed for a multipurpose effect
  • great reviews

Cons

  • some reviewers note it doesn’t work well under makeup

Best eye serum

QMS Medicosmetics Intensive Eye Care Day & Night Eye Cream

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 0.5 oz.
  • Key ingredients: hyaluronic acid, peptides, caffeine
  • Helps treat: puffiness, darkness, fine lines, dryness
  • Fragrance-free: yes
  • Paraben-free: yes

This protective eye serum is a little different than a standard eye cream. It’s made with peptides for a more youthful look. “Peptide technology is a newer entrant into the eye serum market, and can be helpful in a variety of ways, including signaling changes in the skin that can lead to an improved appearance,” says Dr. James Wang of Metropolis Derm.

In this formula, peptides are combined with hyaluronic acid and caffeine to boost hydration, repair the skin barrier, and shrink blood vessels that can give the appearance of a blueish hue. Plus, the ceramic tip applicator is naturally cooling.

“It has the essential components of a gentle, light eye cream that does not irritate,” says Wang. “The results should be subtle, but durable.”

Pros

  • made with key ingredients for a youthful look
  • ceramic tip applicator is naturally cooling
  • effects are subtle but long lasting

Cons

  • high price point
  • not a traditional eye cream

Best retinol alternative eye cream

Orvos Satin Eye Gel Cream

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 0.5 oz.
  • Key ingredients: green tea extract, coffee seed extract, bakuchiol, kakadu plum extract, fig extract
  • Helps treat: redness, discoloration, dark circles, fine lines
  • Fragrance-free: yes
  • Paraben-free: yes

This gel eye cream is made with USDA certified organic ingredients, including a retinol alternative. “Bakuchiol is derived from the Psoralea corylifolia plant and is often used as a retinol alternative as it has similar benefits to retinol without the potential irritation retinol can cause (dryness, redness),” says Dr. Corey L. Hartman, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology. “It helps regulate cell turnover to reveal new, brighter skin with a more even texture.”

It’s a gel cream rich with antioxidants. Plus, the cooling massage applicator helps calm puffy skin.

Pros

  • uses bakuchiol as a retinol alternative for less irritation
  • massage applicator tip has a cooling, calming effect
  • made with USDA-certified organic ingredients

Cons

  • high price point

PriceSizeKey ingredientsHelps treatFragrance-free?Paraben-free?ProsCons
Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream$$0.5 oz.vitamin C complex, 8-peptide blend, cucumber, superoxide dismutase, hesperidin methyl chalcone, ubiquinone, vitamin Efine lines, wrinkles, dryness, dark circles, loss of firmnessyesyes• made with five forms of vitamin C to brighten under-eye skin

• peptides and active ingredients included to hydrate and refresh

• no essential oils added
some reviewers report sensitivity after use
and a tacky feel
Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Cream$$0.5 oz.vitamin C, collagen, banana pigmentsdark circles, fine lines noyes• non-greasy

• helps brighten, smooth, and color correct

• lightweight with smooth application
• some reviewers report allergic reactions

• not fragrance-free
Good Molecules Caffeine Energizing Hydrogel Eye Patches$30 pairscaffeine, niacinamidepuffy eyes, dark circles yesyes• fragrance-free

• feels soothing on skin
• concentrated ingredients
• product design may be too slippery and slide off, according to some reviewers

• not actually an eye cream
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Gel-Cream$0.5 oz.sodium hyaluronatedry skin, dark circlesyesyes• low price point

• feels extra hydrating

• well reviewed
• some reviewers didn’t see improvement in dark under-eye circles

• some experienced allergic reactions
Alchimie Forever Rejuvenating Eye Balm$0.5 oz.European blueberries (anthocyanins, quercetin, resveratrol), alfalfa (vitamin K), grape seeds (anthocyanins, catechin, quercetin, resveratrol), cocoa butter, jojobadark circles, fine lines, and wrinkles on all skin typesyesyes• provides ample hydration

• can help defend against signs of aging

• absorbs quickly with no greasiness
may cause mild stinging, according to some reviewers
La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Eyes Dark Circle Skin-Evening Corrector$0.5 oz.caffeine, glycerin, dimethicone, niacinamide, silica, iron oxides, phe-resorcinol, titanium dioxide, La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Waterdull, darkened under-eye areayesyes• cooling metal applicator helps depuff and soothe skin

• good price point
• some reviewers note the product didn’t look good beneath makeup

• some reviewers didn’t notice an improvement
Sweet Chef Turmeric + Vitamin C Booster Eye Cream$0.5 oz.vitamin C, turmeric extract, niacinamidedullness, dark circles, signs of aging yesyes• clean cruelty-free formula

• feels very lightweight

• ingredients are rich in antioxidants
• some reviewers report allergic reaction after use

• others didn’t notice an improvement
SkinMedica TNS Eye Repair$$$0.5 oz.human fibroblast conditioned media (HFCM), palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7, palmitoyl oligopeptide, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, tocopheryl acetate, retinyl palmitate, N-hydroxysuccinimide, chrysin, boron nitridedark circles, discoloration, wrinkles, fine lines noyes• smooths under-eye skin

• can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles

• formula feels very hydrating
• high price point

• not fragrance-free
Neocutis Lumière Illuminating Eye Cream$$$0.5 oz.vitamin E, antioxidants, hyaluronic aciddamage from free radicals, puffiness yesyes• lightweight and absorbent

• helps address puffiness and tighten skin

• a little goes a long way
• some reviewers say they didn’t see any improvement

• high price point
Origins Eye Doctor$0.5 oz.cucumber, rosemary, ginsengdry, crepey under-eye skin, fine linesnoyes• cream feels cooling

• helps smooth fine lines

• ingredients designed to reduce puffiness
• several reviewers report irritation after use

• not fragrance-free
Sunday Riley Auto Correct Brightening and Depuffing Eye Contour Cream$$0.5 oz.caffeine, Brazilian ginseng root extract, horse chestnut extract, watermelon rind extract, luteinpuffy eyes, dark circlesno yes• helps depuff and leaves eyes looking more awake• some reviewers dislike the container

• not fragrance-free
SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex$$$0.5 oz.flavonoid, peptides, blueberry extract, caffeine, proxylane (a hydrating SkinCeuticals solution) dark circles, puffiness, crow’s feet noyes• helps reduce puffiness, fine lines, and dry skin around eyes

• well reviewed

• free of alcohol and dyes
• high price point

• not paraben-free
skinbetter science EyeMax AlphaRet Overnight Cream$$$0.5 oz.retinoid, ​​alpha hydroxy acid, antioxidantsdryness, crepiness, puffiness, fine lines, wrinkles, darknessyesyes• retinol helps address signs of skin aging

• formula feels very hydrating

• made with a more gentle retinoid than prescription versions
• high price point

• can only be used at night
Thrive Causemetics Defying Gravity Eye Lifting Cream$0.5 oz.green tea, caffeine, red algae extract, allantoin, rooibos leaf extractpuffiness, fine lines, dryness, sagginess, darknessyesyes• great reviews and price point

• vegan and cruelty-free

• reduces puffiness and lightens dark circles
some reviewers didn’t experience much improvement
Eight Saints All In Eye Cream$0.5 oz.squalane, MSM, cocoa butter, cucumber hydrosol, hyaluronic acid, vitamin Cdark circles, puffiness, wrinkle, drynessyesyes• great price point

• designed for a multipurpose effect

• great reviews
some reviewers note it doesn’t work well under makeup
QMS Medicosmetics Epigen Depuff Pollution Shield Eye Serum$$$0.5 oz.hyaluronic acid, peptides, caffeinepuffiness, darkness, fine lines, drynessyesyes• made with key ingredients for a youthful look

• ceramic tip applicator is naturally cooling

• effects are subtle but long lasting
• high price point

• not a traditional eye cream
Orvos Satin Eye Gel Cream$$$0.5 oz.green tea extract, coffee seed extract, bakuchiol, kakadu plum extract, fig extractredness, discoloration, dark circles, fine linesyesyes• uses bakuchiol as a retinol alternative for less irritation

• massage applicator tip has a cooling, calming effect

• made with USDA certified organic ingredients
high price point

Eye creams are not all created equal.

“The key to choosing the right product for under the eyes is understanding what is causing those dark under-eye circles in the first place,” Ilyas explains.

Different formulas can treat the root cause of your eye concerns. Some key ingredients to look for include the following:

Hyaluronic acid

Want plump, hydrated skin? Hyaluronic acid is your new BFF.

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring glycosaminoglycan found throughout the body’s connective tissue. It holds water onto the skin to keep it hydrated. Since the under-eye area can often be dry, hydration and support are essential.

Dr. Deanne Mraz Robinson, chief medical officer of Ideal Image and co-founder of Modern Dermatology, recommends creams with hyaluronic acid, as well as peptides and ceramides, to keep skin supported and hydrated.

Caffeine

Caffeine isn’t just a cure-all to get through the work-day slump. It turns out that caffeine in your daily latte can be just as effective for the eyes.

“Caffeine is a well-known and beloved ingredient you’ll often find in under-eye products, as it works to constrict the blood vessels under the eyes,” Polla says.

Caffeine can also brighten the under-eye area and leave tired eyes looking more awake.

Vitamin C

Dull skin under the eyes is a common companion of dark circles.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can brighten the under-eye area, strengthen thinning skin, and boost collagen production — aka the protein that keeps your skin plump and supple. Adding an eye cream that’s rich in vitamin C can help perk up your under-eye area.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a popular ingredient in eye creams due to its healing properties. It’s sometimes used after surgeries to aid in blood clotting and heal incisions.

“Vitamin K promotes cellular metabolism and has anti-inflammatory properties, with known effects to help with blood clotting,” says Dr. Jeannette Graf, a dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.

Its ability to aid blood clotting makes it a formidable ingredient to combat dark circles.

Retinoid

As people age, the skin under their eyes can become thinner and create a crepe-like appearance. Fine lines, often called crow’s feet, can begin to form over time.

“If thinning skin is a culprit, find an eye cream with a gentle retinoid that can help thicken the skin over time,” Graf notes.

Retinoids help slow the body’s natural reduction of collagen production by helping with skin cell turnover.

One caveat is that retinoids are incredibly potent, so proceed with caution. Find a formula that’s specially made for the under-eye area. When applying a retinoid cream, a little goes a long way.

Dark circles can be difficult to treat without knowing their root cause. Ultimately, Polla notes that dark circles are a vascular problem.

“The skin in that area is fair and very thin, and thus the deeper blood vessels are more visible to the naked eye,” he explains.

Blood vessels in the under-eye area can become more noticeable due to fatigue, eyestrain, and other reasons.

Below, we spoke with dermatologists about the most common causes of dark circles they see in patients.

Genetics

Genetics can make you predisposed to dark under-eye circles that can appear as early as childhood.

Whether your facial anatomy makes dark circles more noticeable or you have a family history of periorbital hyperpigmentation, genetic factors can contribute to the appearance of your skin.

Allergies

Those with allergies may notice that their sniffles come with a side of dark circles. Mraz Robinson refers to these dark circles as “allergy shiners” that are triggered by seasonal allergies.

“Inflamed sinuses lead to swollen blood vessels, which dilate and darken the veins in the under-eye area,” she explains.

For those who experience itchiness from allergies, rubbing the under-eye area can exacerbate the appearance of dark circles and cause harm to the delicate under-eye skin.

Lack of sleep

Getting adequate sleep can prevent dark circles, yet many people complain of insufficient sleep. Whether pulling the occasional all-nighter or battling insomnia, missed sleep is a common cause of dark circles seen in Graf’s office.

“Lack of sleep is a common cause due to blood vessels dilating around the eye, which makes dark circles look more prominent,” she explains.

Eyestrain

We hate to break it to you, but watching hours of TikTok and binging your favorite TV shows comes at a price.

Staring at your screen for an extended period of time can cause eyestrain, which enlarges the blood vessels around your eye. The enlarged blood vessels can darken the appearance of your under-eye skin.

Aging

Signs of aging are often first noticed in the under-eye area.

“As we age, the collagen and elastin in our skin break down, which makes our skin thinner and more translucent to the vascular structures below,” Mraz Robinson explains. “Additionally, the under-eye is one of the more prominent areas where fat loss stands out, creating a hollow appearance that casts a shadow and gives a dark appearance.”

Treatment for dark eye circles depends on the underlying cause. However, there are some home remedies that can help. Some of the more common methods include:

  • applying a cold compress
  • getting extra sleep
  • elevating your head
  • soaking with tea bags
  • concealing with makeup

Some medical treatments that may help treat under-eye circles are:

  • chemical peels to reduce pigmentation
  • laser surgery to resurface the skin and enhance skin tightening
  • medical tattoos to inject pigment into thinning skin areas
  • tissue fillers to conceal blood vessels and melanin that are causing skin discoloration beneath your eyes
  • excess fat and skin removal to reveal a smoother and more even surface
  • surgical implants of fat or synthetic products

Before deciding on any cosmetic procedure, make sure to discuss your options with a doctor.

Can a cream get rid of dark circles permanently?

No. An eye cream may help momentarily lighten and brighten the skin under the eyes, but it won’t cure dark circles. Dark circles primarily develop from lifestyle (such as not getting enough sleep), allergies, or genetics.

Do creams for dark circles really work?

Yes and no. Certain ingredients in eye creams, such as caffeine and vitamin C, can help brighten and depuff the under-eye area. But if you have bags under your eyes, it might be hereditary. This means no amount of eye cream will minimize their appearance. Under-eye fillers may be of more help in that case.

You can try making small lifestyle changes, like reducing salt intake, but there’s no guarantee these methods will work.

How often should I apply eye cream?

You can apply eye cream at various times of the day. However, you’ll need a different eye cream for different times.

You can apply eye cream:

  • In the morning: Use a lightweight formula, as it will feel more comfortable under makeup if you wear any. Look for a product with SPF to protect from sun damage.
  • In the evening: When you apply eye cream in the evening, the ingredients can absorb into your skin overnight. Choose a richer cream with hydrating ingredients and no SPF.
  • In the morning and evening: To enjoy all of the above benefits, use eye cream at both times. You’ll need two different formulas, so keep this in mind when shopping for products.

The ideal time depends on your preferences and goals. No matter when you use eye cream, only apply it once every 12 hours. There’s no need to reapply the same product throughout the day or night.

Dark circles may be a nuisance, but there are plenty of eye creams to add to your arsenal. If you’re experiencing dark under-eye circles, determining the root cause can help you find effective ingredients to address your concerns.

Adding an eye cream to your morning and night routine can help you reduce the appearance of dark circles and prevent signs of aging.


Jillian Goltzman is a freelance journalist covering culture, social impact, wellness, and lifestyle. She’s been published in various outlets, including Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Fodor’s Travel Guide. Outside of writing, Jillian is a public speaker who loves discussing the power of social media — something she spends too much time on. She enjoys reading, her houseplants, and cuddling with her corgi. Find her work on her website, blog, Twitter, and Instagram.