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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 might show up for any number of reasons. But no matter what causes them, they can make you appear tired — especially if they’re accompanied by under-eye bags.

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

The skin under your eyes is extremely thin and often shows the first visible signs of skin aging. Because this 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.

Keep in mind that skin aging isn’t the only cause of dark circles. Dr. Erum N. Ilyas, CEO and founder of AmberNoon, says many of her clients noticed dark circles as early as their teen years.

Stop by any drugstore or beauty retailer and you may feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of eye creams on the market. But we’re here to help.

To create this list of recommendations, we:

  • interviewed dermatologists around the globe for their personal favorites and top recommendations for patients
  • opted to only recommend bestselling products that have a customer rating of at least 4 stars
  • chose products that include ingredients dermatologists recommend for targeting dark circles

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $50
  • $$ = $50–$90
  • $$$ = over $90
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PriceSizeKey ingredientsHelps treatFragrance-freeParaben-free
Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream$0.5 ozvitamin C complex, 8-peptide blend, cucumber, superoxide dismutase, hesperidin methyl chalcone, ubiquinone, vitamin Efine lines, wrinkles, dryness, dark circles, loss of firmnessyesyes
Good Molecules Caffeine Energizing Hydrogel Eye Patches$30 pairscaffeine, niacinamidepuffy eyes, dark circles yesyes
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Gel-Cream$0.5 ozsodium hyaluronatedry skin, dark circlesyesyes
Alchimie Forever Rejuvenating Eye Balm$0.5 ozEuropean blueberries (anthocyanins, quercetin, resveratrol), alfalfa (vitamin K), grape seeds (anthocyanins, catechin, quercetin, resveratrol), cocoa butter, jojobadark circles, fine lines, wrinkles on all skin typesyesyes
La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Eye Cream$0.5 ozcaffeine, glycerin, dimethicone, niacinamide, silica, iron oxides, phe-resorcinol, titanium dioxide, La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Waterdull, darkened under-eye areayesyes
Sweet Chef Turmeric + Vitamin C Booster Eye Cream$0.5 ozvitamin C, turmeric extract, niacinamidedullness, dark circles, signs of aging yesyes
SkinMedica TNS Eye Repair$$$0.5 ozhuman fibroblast conditioned media (HFCM), palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7, palmitoyl oligopeptide, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, tocopheryl acetate, retinyl palmitate, N-hydroxysuccinimide, chrysin, boron nitridedark circles, discoloration, wrinkles, fine lines noyes
Neocutis Lumière Illuminating Eye Cream$$$0.5 ozvitamin E, antioxidants, hyaluronic aciddamage from free radicals, puffiness yesyes
Origins Eye Doctor$0.5 ozcucumber, rosemary, ginsengdry, crepey under-eye skin, fine linesnoyes
Sunday Riley Auto Correct Brightening and Depuffing Eye Contour Cream$$0.5 ozcaffeine, Brazilian ginseng root extract, horse chestnut extract, watermelon rind extract, luteinpuffy eyes, dark circlesno yes
SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex$$0.5 ozflavonoids, peptides, blueberry extract, caffeine, proxylane (a hydrating SkinCeuticals solution) dark circles, puffiness, crow’s feet noyes
skinbetter science EyeMax AlphaRet Overnight Cream$$$0.5 ozretinoid, ​​alpha hydroxy acid, antioxidantsdryness, crepey skin, puffiness, fine lines, wrinkles, darknessyesyes
Thrive Causemetics Defying Gravity Eye Lifting Cream$0.5 ozgreen tea, caffeine, red algae extract, allantoin, rooibos leaf extractpuffiness, fine lines, dryness, saggy skin, darknessyesyes
Eight Saints All In Eye Cream$0.5 ozsqualane, MSM, cocoa butter, cucumber hydrosol, hyaluronic acid, vitamin Cdark circles, puffiness, wrinkle, drynessyesyes
QMS Medicosmetics Intensive Eye Care Day & Night Cream$$$0.5 ozhyaluronic acid, peptides, caffeinepuffiness, darkness, fine lines, drynessyesyes
Orvos Satin Eye Gel Cream$$$0.5 ozgreen tea extract, coffee seed extract, bakuchiol, kakadu plum extract, fig extractredness, discoloration, dark circles, fine linesyesyes

Ultimately, dark circles are a vascular issue, according to Polla.

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

Blood vessels in the under-eye area can become more noticeable due to fatigue, eyestrain, and other reasons — but the resulting dark circles can be difficult to treat unless you know their root cause.

Below, dermatologists share some of the most common causes of dark circles.


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 dark circles (also known as periorbital hyperpigmentation), genetic factors can contribute to the appearance of your skin.


If you live with allergies, you may notice your sniffles come with a side of dark circles. You can think of these dark circles as allergic shiners brought on by seasonal allergies, according to Mraz Robinson.

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

If you experience itchiness from allergies, rubbing your under-eye area can worsen the appearance of dark circles and damage delicate under-eye skin.

Lack of sleep

Missed sleep, whether a result of an occasional all-nighter or persistent insomnia, is a common cause of dark circles seen in Graf’s office.

According to Graf, not getting enough sleep causes blood vessels to dilate around your eyes, which makes dark circles look more prominent.

Try these tips to improve your rest.


Watching hours of TikTok or streaming an entire season of your favorite TV show may come 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.


You might first notice visible signs of aging in your 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.

Mraz Robinson goes on to say that the under-eye area is where fat loss often stands out, which can create a hollow appearance that casts a shadow.

Before applying your eye cream, it helps to understand the anatomy of the lymphatics around your eyes, Ilyas says.

“The lymphatics are a drainage system for fluid that accumulates in the soft tissue,” Ilyas says. “We do know that fluid tends to accumulate in the soft tissue of the face and around the eyes. It can worsen with allergies, rosacea, high blood pressure, and hormonal changes.”

According to Ilyas, the longer the fluid sits there, the more likely it may change the texture of skin on your face.

“Many people will note that their skin starts to look like the peel of an orange or the bags under their eyes seem more prominent,” Ilyas says.

With that in mind, these tips can help you get the most out of your eye cream application.

Gentle massage

To get facial fluid moving in the right direction, Ilyas recommends gentle massage to gently work it back into the lymphatic system and help control the effects of swelling.

“I’ll often tell patients to simply massage the skin around their eyes in an arc-like fashion. Working from the center of the face outwards around the eyes can help to reduce the look of bags under the eyes,” Ilyas says.

Pro tip: Applying your eye cream before your gentle eye massage is a great way to multitask your skin care routine.

Use your ring finger

Dr. Alberto de la Fuente Garcia, a board certified dermatologist at VIDA Wellness and Beauty, suggests taking a pea-sized amount of your eye cream and using your ring fingers to gently pat the product around your eyes. This might make a good plan for days you don’t have time for a gentle eye massage.

“The ring finger is the weakest finger and is best for eye cream application, as it puts less pressure on delicate skin,” de la Fuente Garcia says.

If you prefer, you can also use a cotton swab to apply the product delicately around your eyes, de la Fuente Garcia says. “Be sure to avoid tugging or stretching the skin, as the area around the eyes is very delicate and can be easily damaged,” he adds.

Use jade or ice rollers

Some eye creams, like the La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Eye Cream mentioned above, come with a cooling applicator. If your cream doesn’t include this tool, you can opt to use a jade roller or gua sha stone gently around the eyes, similar to the way you would massage with your fingers.

Ilyas says using jade or ice rollers to apply eye creams lets you take advantage of their coolness, which can promote vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood cells). It may also prevent your skin from drawing in more fluid.

You don’t need to use a facial tool every time you apply your eye cream. But you might opt for them every now and then for a soothing, relaxing experience that may improve the look of puffiness.

Refrigerate your eye cream before use

You can also toss your eye product in the refrigerator so it’s nice and cool when you’re ready to apply it, according to Ilyas.

Just check your product label carefully before doing so, in case your cream of choice needs a certain storage temperature for best use.

Other application tips

Again, de la Fuente Garcia stresses the importance of applying eye cream gently and using just enough product to cover the target area.

“Be sure to take your time, and don’t forget to add it to your skin care routine on a daily basis,” he says.

Eye creams come in many different formulas and consistencies, with a variety of ingredients designed to target a range of skin care goals.

“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.

The best product for you may depend on the root cause of your eye concerns. Some key ingredients to consider include:

Hyaluronic acid

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

This naturally occurring glycosaminoglycan is found throughout your body’s connective tissue. It helps your skin hold onto water so it stays hydrated.

Mraz Robinson recommends creams with hyaluronic acid, as well as peptides and ceramides, to keep the skin under your eyes skin supported and hydrated.


Caffeine can do more than help you make it through a workday slump. It can also have benefits for your 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.

This ingredient can also help 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, but choosing an eye cream rich in vitamin C may help perk up your under-eye area.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can brighten the under-eye area, strengthen thinning skin, and boost production of collagen — a protein that keeps your skin plump and supple.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a popular ingredient in eye creams due to its healing properties.

“Vitamin K promotes cellular metabolism and has anti-inflammatory properties, with known effects to help with blood clotting,” Graf says.

This ability to aid blood clotting makes it a formidable ingredient when it comes to banishing dark circles.


As you age, the skin under your eyes may become thinner and eventually take on 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 — and opt for a formula specially made for the under-eye area. When applying a retinoid cream, a little goes a long way.

Treatment for dark eye circles depends on the underlying cause, but a few home remedies could make a difference. Some of the more common methods include:

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

Better sleep for under-eye circles

According to de la Fuente Garcia, one of the most effective ways to manage dark circles is to ensure you’re getting enough sleep each night.

“Aim for 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep and add in some power naps during the day if needed,” he says.

Getting the right amount of sleep is often easier said than done, but de la Fuente Garcia says these moves may help you get there:

Lifestyle changes for under-eye circles

Along with getting better sleep and choosing an eye cream that works for you, de la Fuente Garcia adds that staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet is key for healthy skin all over your body — including around the eyes.

“Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day and make an effort to eat balanced meals full of vitamins and minerals. Always remember that what you put into your body is just as important for skin health as the products you put on it,” he says.

Medical treatments for under-eye circles

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

  • 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, it’s best to discuss your options with a dermatologist as a first step.

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 allergies, genetics, or lifestyle factors, such as not getting enough sleep.

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, these 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. Opt for products with SPF to help prevent 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.

When is the best time to start applying eye cream?

According to de la Fuente Garcia, experts generally recommend you start applying eye cream as early as your mid-20s, even if you have yet to notice visible signs of skin aging.

“This is because the skin around your eyes is delicate and can benefit from some extra TLC,” he says.

However, he notes that if you do have signs of aging, like fine lines or wrinkles, you may want to start using an eye cream right away.

If you’re experiencing dark under-eye circles, determining the root cause can help you find effective ingredients to address your concerns.

These circles may be a nuisance, but you have plenty of options for eye creams to help minimize their appearance.

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.