Dealing with dark circles is never fun. Your eyes are the first thing that people see. While you may be feeling refreshed and perky, when your eyes are puffy, lined and ringed by dark circles, you may look like you’ve only had a few hours of sleep. While the right concealer can cover them up in a pinch, if you’re looking for a more long-lasting treatment, a powerful eye cream is probably your best bet. With thousands of options in stores — and most of them targeting fine lines and wrinkles — finding an eye cream that is specially formulated for dark under-eye circles can feel downright daunting.
So to help you cut through the clutter, we turned to real reviews from shoppers to find out which eye creams will actually help diminish the look of dark circles. These top-rated products, outlined below, not only have near-perfect ratings, but they also have an overwhelming amount of glowing five-star reviews between them.
Firstly, To switch the focus back to your eyes rather than any imperfections, here’s a look at what causes under eye bags and puffiness, and some of the best eye creams for dark circles, puffiness and under eye bags.
Why Does Aging Show Up Around the Eyes First?
Call them laugh lines or crow’s feet. While they can be chalked up to plenty of holidays in the sun and good times spent laughing, crinkles around the eyes are an inevitable part of the aging process, which often shows up in the eye area first. Why? The skin around the eye area is delicate and thin, and it doesn’t produce as much oil as other parts of the body- which means it’s usually the first place you’ll see the signs of aging. As we get older, our levels of collagen and elastin, which support the skin, dip. This means that lines appear and the skin around the eyes becomes droopy and crepey.
What Causes Aging Around the Eyes?
Although genetics and skin color are a factor, other things play a role in how quickly fine lines appear. The sun’s damaging rays, squinting, smoking and rubbing your eyes all contribute to eye wrinkles. Your preferred sleeping position and even the material of your pillowcase play a role as constant creasing of the face can lead to wrinkles. Environmental factors and lifestyle habits can also be behind puffiness and dark circles.
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What Causes Dark Circles?
Perhaps you do everything right – you get eight hours of sleep, drink plenty of water and wear sunscreen religiously but no matter what you do, you still have dark circles under your eyes. Dark circles can make us look more tired and worn out than we really are, and can make people look older as well.
While lack of sleep can cause dark circles to appear, it’s not the only cause. The skin around the eyes is much thinner than elsewhere on the body, which means that habits and genetics show up here first. As our bodies slow down collagen production as we age, the veins around the eyes become more noticeable, making the under eye area look blue or purple. Hormonal changes can also exacerbate under eye circles, and genetics weigh in too. Those of us with olive and darker skin tones have more melanin under the eyes, which shows up as dark circles.
If you spend a lot of time in front of a screen, repetitive eye strain can cause blood vessels around the eyes to enlarge. This means the skin surrounding your eyes can darken, causing dark circles to appear. Allergies can also trigger dark circles, as can dehydration.
What Causes Under Eye Puffiness?
Puffiness is marvelous when it comes to things like kittens and marshmallows but there’s nothing cute about puffiness in the eye area. Many of us wake up to puffy eyes that unfortunately don’t deflate as the day goes on. Puffy eyes can be caused by a multitude of things ranging from lack of sleep to hormones and stress. Salty foods, stress and crying also contribute to puffiness, as do seasonal allergies.
Puffy eyes also become more common as we get older. As we age, collagen production dips and blood flow decreases, resulting in the dreaded puffy eyes. The sun, smoking and drinking also contribute to bags.
What Causes Under Eye Bags?
If you have ever wanted to send your under eye bags packing, we fully understand. Eye bags are one of the most common but frustrating ailments, and there are plenty of reasons why people develop them. Chalk them up to eating too many salty foods, which can draw water into the skin’s tissue. Poor circulation also causes under eye bags. The aging process and genetics also contribute to them. As we age, our skin becomes thinner and weaker, which means that under eye bags are more likely to appear. Add in some late nights and restless sleep, and as you get older you’ll see that your skin, especially the thin skin around the eyes, doesn’t “bounce back” like it used to. Skin color and genetics also play a role. Bags under the eyes are more common in people with olive skin.
What Are Some Home Remedies for Under Eye Bags, Puffiness and Dark Circles?
There are many ways to tackle under eye bags, puffiness and dark circles, and some people swear by home remedies. For generations women have been applying cold things to de-puff eyes, whether it’s slices of cucumber, chilled tea bags or spoons that were stored in the freezer. Applying something cold to the eyes makes sense – the cold helps depuff tired eyes by restricting the blood vessels. Tea bags provide an extra dose of ammunition as caffeine is a powerful antioxidant that can help shrink under eye bags by increasing blood flow to the area. Other options include a gentle application of chilled aloe vera gel, or flushing out your sinuses using a neti pot if you suspect that puffy, baggy eyes are caused by allergies. Jade rollers are also popular as a manual way to depuff eyes.
Best Ingredients for Dark Circles and Puffy Eyes
Although a tube of eye cream cannot fake a solid eight hours of sleep and a balanced diet, it can do wonders in a pinch. When you need to depuff tired looking eyes and lighten up dark circles, read the label on the eye cream carefully. Look for caffeine which helps to shrink puffy eyes, as well as vitamins A, C and E which work together to lighten and brighten skin. Nourishing hyaluronic acid and squalene gives the delicate eye area a much needed boost of moisture and helps to fill in fine lines. Many of the best eye creams contain green tea, which is high in caffeine, as well as antioxidants and skin strengthening peptides.
How Should I Apply Eye Cream?
Eye creams should be applied twice a day, in the morning and in the night. The eye area is delicate, and should be treated accordingly. Always apply the eye cream with a gentle tap using the pinky or ring finger. Do not pull or rub the cream into the eye. Eye creams should be applied below the eye, around the crow’s feet area and the brow bone area just below your eyebrows. If your eye cream for dark circles and puffiness contains retinol, avoid applying it to the upper eyelid, as it could seep into the eyes and cause irritation. Eye creams that come with metal applicator tips make application easy, and have an instant cooling effect on the skin. For extra “chill” to help with depuffing tired eyes, try storing your eye cream in the fridge.
19 Best Eye Creams for Dark Circles and Puffiness.
The Best Budget Eye Cream Dark Circles and Puffiness
RoC Retinol Correxion Anti-Aging Eye Cream
This well-rounded eye cream powered by retinol has a reputation for successfully tackling recurring eye related concerns: puffiness, dark circles, and crow’s feet. Because of its effectiveness and lower price tag, this anti-aging formula comes highly recommended by both dermatologists and people who want smoother under-eyes that don’t cost a small fortune.
The Best Highlighting Eye Cream for Dark Circles and Puffiness
Tarte Maracuja C-Brighter™ Eye Treatment
The vitamin C packed into this cream will make your skin brighter and firmer over time, but it’s also accompanied by light-reflecting particles that instantly brighten the under-eye area while you wait. In addition to a pretty, highlighted finish, patting on this rich formula treats under-eyes to hyaluronic acid for hydration, vitamin E to defend against environmental aggressors, and a complex of plant antioxidants to help fight signs of wear and tear.
The Best Eye Cream for Sensitive Eyes
Paula's Choice Resist Anti-Aging Eye Gel
If eye creams irritate your eyes and cause you to tear up, try an eye gel. This one feels light but still packs a serious moisturizing punch, thanks to a formula heavy in hyaluronic acid and peptides. It comes with a metallic tip so it feels extra cooling and soothing on impact.
The Amazon Favorite Eye Cream Dark Circles and Puffiness
Pure Biology Premium Total Eye Cream
This is by far the best-reviewed eye cream on Amazon, with close to 3,000 five-star reviews. It contains caffeine, an old-school ingredient that works to constrict blood vessels and temporarily lighten the appearance of dark eye circles.
The Internet Favorite Eye Cream Dark Circles and Puffiness
OLEHENRIKSEN Banana Bright Eye Crème
This is the internet’s current favorite eye cream for treating under-eye circles. It has over 2,000 four-star reviews at Sephora, and we’ve tested it and loved it (and so has Strategist). The secret is a mix of vitamin C, a proven ingredient for hyperpigmentation and brightening, and a “secret pigment” (most likely from the yellow color of the cream) that deflects and lightens the gray and purple tones of dark under-eye circles. Note that it’s scented, if you are sensitive to fragrances.
The Best Tinted Eye Cream
Clinique Even Better Eyes Dark Circle Corrector
Is it a tinted moisturizer? Is it an eye cream? After trying this lightly tinted and unscented formula, we’ve determined it’s both. Dispensed from a cooling metal tip (which provides relief to puffy eyes), the sheer, lightweight consistency helps disguise dark circles and leaves the thin skin in this area significantly smoother. Bonus: It was rated five stars by cosmetics cop Paula Begoun due to its impressive blend of antioxidants and plant extracts. Downside: It won’t work very well with darker skin tones, as it comes in only one shade.
The Best All-in-One Concealer and Eye Cream
TATCHA The Pearl Tinted Eye Illuminating Treatment
Similar to the Ole Henrikson and Clinique above, this is a makeup and skin-care product in one. Silk powder, niacinamide, and plant botanicals all help to smooth lines and moisturize the under-eye area and depuff bags. The pearl powder has a tiny bit of pigment which helps to reflect light and slightly conceal dark circles. Best of all, it comes in three different shades.
The Smoothest Eye Cream
Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream
This cream from beloved “natural” beauty line Drunk Elephant takes a maximalist approach with not one but five different types of vitamin C, known for its skin-lightening properties. It’s a creamy, soothing mixture that blends easily into the thin under-eye skin.
The “Natural” Eye Cream
Tata Harper Illuminating Eye Crème
You know a product is high end when it features diamond dust. While this pricey ingredient has been met with skepticism in the beauty industry, Tata Harper’s Illuminating Eye Crème has a luminous golden gleam and plumps parched skin with hyaluronic acid, olive oil, and mango-seed butter.
The Nongreasy Eye Cream
Aveda Botanical Kinetics Energizing Eye Creme
One of the original green-beauty brands, Aveda has produced a sophisticated option for those wanting to treat tired eyes naturally. Elegant in texture and not the slightest bit greasy, it boasts a blend of licorice root (a known skin lightener) and caffeine for reducing darkness and puffy patches.
The Best Eye Cream With Retinol
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum
Retinol is the gold standard of anti-aging ingredients, and this silky serum has plenty of it. The vitamin A derivative works to stimulate collagen production under the eyes, making dark circles less visible. The weightless, gel-like texture absorbs in seconds and provides surprising hydration, thanks to skin-smoothing antioxidants and plant-based ingredients. Bonus: It sits well under makeup.
The Best Eye Cream With Nature’s Retinol
Peach & Lily Pure Peach Retinol Eye Cream
This eye cream contains everything but the kitchen sink: in a good way. It’s one of the rare creams to contain bakuchiol — a plant-derived retinol, which can help to brighten and tighten dark eye circles. But it’s also gentle and cushiony, thanks to a blend of ceramides, niacinamide, and antioxidants. On the skin, you’ll have no idea how hard it’s working because it just feels like a pleasantly nourishing and thick cream.
The Best Eye Cream for Dry Skin
Origins Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Bright Dark Circle Minimizer
A little of this really rich formula goes a long way, so apply it sparingly. The ingredient list includes Rosa roxburghii, a flower containing brightening vitamin C to lighten brown spots and fade dark areas. Mica particles diffuse light to mimic a full night’s sleep, and the dense texture melts into skin when applied — making it ideal for super-dry types.
The K-Beauty Eye Cream
Glow Recipe Avocado Melt Sleeping Mask
Korean beauty is known for its effective usage of botanical ingredients. This one from Glow Recipe contains avocado extract and oil, which are chock-full of vitamins C and E. It takes things one step further with an encapsulated form of retinol that’s effective and gentle (so it won’t give you the “retinol uglies.”)
The Tightening Eye Cream
Ren Instant Brightening Beauty Shot Eye Lift
More than just a fast fix, this gel-serum hybrid brightens and tightens the delicate skin around the eyes (not in a painful way) with two forms of hyaluronic acid. After gently patting it on, it dries quickly without a sticky residue, and your eye area will feel smoother, plumper, and look more radiant. The clever formula contains two forms of hyaluronic acid to fill fine lines, while light-reflective pigments camouflage the tell-tale signs of fatigue.
The Japanese Beauty Eye Cream
Shiseido White Lucent Anti-Dark Circles Eye Cream
Dense in texture, this cream works on two levels — by breaking down melanin pigment (brown spots) and by improving microcirculation to banish blue rings, thanks to a dark-circle-diminishing blend that includes vitamin C. For a blurred effect, a multi-luminizing powder boosts radiance levels.
The Blue Light Fighting Eye Cream
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex
This cushiony gel is the eye cream version of the brand’s cult Advanced Night Repair serum (the serum you see advertised all over the world in airports and that your fancy relative owns). It glides on seamlessly and works overnight to fade dark circles and repair damage from environmental aggressors. Plus, it allegedly helps fight the damage caused by the blue light given off by our screens and phones.
The Thirst-Quenching Eye Cream
BELIF Moisturizing Eye Bomb
Applying this intensely moisturizing eye cream is like pouring your puffiness into a refreshing glass of ice water. The gratification is instant. As soon as you tap on the cooling formula, it floods tired, screen-fatigued eyes with a hit of hydration, and in true K-Beauty form, that invigorating formula is packed with things ready to get your skin looking as dewy and glassy as possible, including nutrient-rich tiger grass that soothes and smoothes and calming comfrey leaf to help with inflammation.
The Very Fancy Eye Cream Loved by Celebrities
CLÉ DE PEAU BEAUTÉ Enhancing Eye Contour Cream Supreme
This is the most luxurious eye cream in every sense (including price). Reviewers praise how indulgent, smooth, and rich this cream feels, and how it glides over dry eye skin and moisturizes with just a dab. The eye cream also comes with a tiny wand which you can use to massage and de-puff the under-eye area. Unsurprisingly, it’s Martha Stewart’s longtime favorite.