Plus, two recipes and three tools to help

Walk into any beauty store on the hunt for a brand new eye cream and you’ll walk into a dizzying array of options. Between brands, ingredients, purported benefits — and potential drawbacks like cost — it can be a lot to consider.

It might seem like the eye creams marked a few hundred dollars are a sure bet, but if there’s anything we know about eye cream, a holy grail answer has yet arrive.

Plus, the science behind fading circles and wrinkles isn’t all there yet.

But it may not be necessary to choose between beauty and your bank account. That’s because some skin care experts and savvy DIYers have nailed down recipes to homemade eye creams — and in some cases, the science stacks up.

“Experimenting with homemade products can sound intimidating, but if you’re someone who likes to know exactly what you’re putting on your skin, making your own can be an awesome solution,” says Los Angeles-based makeup artist Allie Renee.

“Additionally, doing it yourself means it’s highly customizable. And as an added benefit, you’re lowering the amount of waste you are producing!”

1. Freeze coffee ice cubes

Research has shown that caffeine does more than rev up your brain when a deadline looms — it also stimulates circulation when applied to the eye area and has antioxidant properties that may help reduce the risk of wrinkles and even protect against further damage from free radicals.

By freezing java into ice cubes, you can conveniently cool your lids while constricting blood vessels, reducing swelling, and brightening up tired skin.

2. Use green tea bags

Coffee isn’t the only antioxidant-rich beverage that doubles as an under-eye treatment. Green tea is another caffeine-rich kitchen staple that may help calm inflammation when applied to puffy lids.

“It helps protect skin from environmental stressors and can aid in firming and tightening the skin due to the caffeine present,” Renee says. Try soaking cotton pads in a cooled brew or apply cold tea bags directly to your eye area.

3. Take vitamin E capsules

This important nutrient found in foods like nuts and sweet potatoes isn’t just essential for eye health when absorbed through food — it’s also a powerful under-eye protector when applied topically.

“It’s especially amazing and universal!” Renee says. “It’s a strong antioxidant that has hydrating and anti-aging properties as well as promotes healing by aiding in cell regeneration.”

Research has shown topical application of the antioxidant (found in oil or capsule form) can protect against photo aging and minimize inflammation.

4. Mix in some vitamin K

One of the most widely hailed natural dark circle fighters known to researchers is this fat soluble vitamin that’s been shown to be an effective hyperpigmentation fighter when used in conjunction with retinol (vitamin A).

“It’s amazing when added to an under-eye cream or serum because it has blood clotting and healing properties [and can] help reduce the appearance of wrinkles over time,” Renee says. “Dark circle warrior!”

While the ingredient is now widely found in over-the-counter beauty products, it’s naturally derived from foods like broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

In addition to incorporating more of those power greens into your diet, you may want to try mixing a store-bought formulation with coffee — a 2015 study found that applying caffeine pads containing vitamin K showed significant improvements in dark circles.

5. Soothe with coconut oil

Though it won’t combat circles, coconut oil has been touted as a solution for fine lines and dry under-eye skin.

This common kitchen staple has been called a “superfood” for its nutritional properties, but its high concentration of small-chain fatty acids also makes it an inflammation-reducing beauty salve that can be carefully applied to your under eyes for extra moisture.

6. Lock moisture in with olive oil

Because this common cooking ingredient is rich in fat-soluble vitamins (including E and K, described above), it may be good for at-home under-eye hydration.

There’s no solid research to back up its effectiveness on dark circles and wrinkles, but dabbing a bit on damp skin may help lock in moisture.

7. Depuff with aloe vera

If you happen to have an aloe vera plant at home, you might try applying some of the juicy leaves’ contents to dry skin (including the delicate parts underneath your eyes).

Research has shown the plant is full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fatty acids, and has anti-inflammatory properties that could help with puffiness.

8. Massage with arnica oil

If the bluish tint under your eyes is due to dilated blood vessels, a dab of arnica may help. The topical oil formulation of the herb has been shown to improve the appearance of bruises and other skin maladies.

If you’re ready to try your hand at homemade eye cream, consider this recipe from Renee who says it helps brighten under-eye skin:

Mix all the ingredients together and apply morning and night.

  • 1 tsp. vitamin E oil
  • 1 tsp. lavender essential oil
  • 1 tsp. arnica essential oil
  • 1 tsp. vitamin K
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Caution: While essential oils may last up to 3 years, it’s best to make a fresh batch each week to avoid contaminants and bacteria growth. Immediately discard if irritation occurs.

Make your own anti-puffiness under-eye pads:

  1. Boil 2 cups water.
  2. Add 2 green tea bags in the water and leave to cool.
  3. Soak cotton rounds in solution.
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Now that you know which ingredients may help make a difference in the appearance of your under eyes, you might be wondering how to apply them for the maximum benefit. You have a few options:

Your fingers

The simplest application tool is right at your fingertips…literally.

“If you’re using your fingers, I recommend using your middle fingers to pat from the inner corner to the outer corner,” Renee says.

Experts often recommend your middle or fourth finger because you have less control over the pressure, meaning you can be more gentle with this sensitive area.

Gua sha

This natural alternative therapy stimulates microcirculation of soft tissue through gentle scraping.

Gua Sha rollers and scrapers are intended to help increase blood flow and refresh under-eye skin, and while there’s no real research to indicate their effectiveness in that realm, many people swear by the tools.

“Using a Gua Sha can help reduce dark circles, puffiness, and firm skin,” Renee says. “Using this tool can help soothe, stimulate, and tone the delicate under-eye skin.”

Stone cold rollers

Rollers made from jade and other materials like rose and amethyst have been popping up at cosmetic stores with promises of wrinkle reduction and boosted collagen.

There isn’t too much hard science to back up the claims, but some people find that smoothing on products with a roller seems to help ingredients penetrate the skin and stimulate blood flow for a rosy finish.

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist, marketing specialist, ghostwriter, and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, and more.