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.
Luckily, 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 treating the under-eye area.
Eye cream products can target:
- dark circles
- fine lines
“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, the 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.
Eye creams are not 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.
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 is essential.
Dr. Deanne Mraz Robinson, the chief medical officer of Ideal Image and co-founder of Modern Dermatology PC, recommends creams with hyaluronic acid, as well as peptides and ceramides, to keep skin supported and hydrated.
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.
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 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.
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.
Stop by any drug store or beauty retailer, and you may feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of eye creams on the market.
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 hold a customer rating of at least 4 or 5 stars and include ingredients dermatologists recommend for targeting dark circles.
- Price: $$
- Key ingredients: vitamin C complex, 8-peptide blend, cucumber, superoxide dismutase, hesperidin methyl chalcone, ubiquinone, and vitamin E
- Helps treat: fine lines, wrinkles, dryness, dark circles, and loss of firmness
- Pros: helps lighten dark circles over time
- Cons: some reviewers reported sensitivity after use
- Best for: skin care fans who want to try a beauty community favorite
Beauty gurus and skin care aficionados flock to Drunk Elephant’s line of trendy products. While the pretty packaging and hype stand out, the formulas do the heavy-lifting needed to target skin conditions.
The C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream includes a complex of five forms of vitamin C to brighten the under-eye area. Rich in hydrating peptides and soothing active ingredients, like cucumber extract, the formula refreshes the under-eye area and brightens the appearance of dark circles.
The formula is also fragrance-free and doesn’t include any scented essential oils. While many reviewers saw dramatic results, some did complain of sensitivity and redness after use.
- Price: $$
- Key ingredients: 3-O-Ethyl ascorbic acid, GABA, and an energy complex
- Helps treat: tired eyes and dark circles
- Pros: firms under-eye skin, minimizes fine lines, and brightens dark circles
- Cons: pump dispenser can be difficult to use
- Best for: those wanting a vitamin C infused staple
Dr. Dennis Gross is a familiar name for many skin care enthusiasts.
This formula includes 3-O-Ethyl ascorbic acid — a vitamin C complex that tackles the hydro and lipophilic phases of the cell to minimize the appearance of hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles. Vitamin C also brightens the under-eye area, leaving tired eyes looking more awake and livelier. The formula’s antioxidants also help aid in the production of collagen.
Reviewers rave about noticeable lightened and brightened under-eyes seen within the first few weeks.
While a few reviewers dislike the product dispenser, others find it to be helpful in delivering the exact amount needed for the application without being wasteful.
- Price: $$
- Key ingredients: resveratrol grape juice extract, squalane, and rose of Jericho
- Helps treat: wrinkles, fine lines, dark circles, and puffiness
- Pros: hydrating and de-puffing with an easy-to-use applicator
- Cons: one reviewer shared difficulties with the product clumping in the applicator
- Best for: anyone looking for natural ingredients
Fans of organic beauty will love Inika Organic Phytofuse Renew Resveratrol Eye Cream. The applicator gently glides across the under-eye area to deliver a formula of natural actives.
Grape juice extract carries resveratrol, an antioxidant that helps to neutralize free radicals from the environment and support collagen production. Similarly, squalane is used to fight off skin damage from environmental factors and also helps protect the skin’s barrier. Rose of Jericho works with these ingredients to lock in moisture.
This eye cream is vegan, cruelty-free, and ideal for the socially conscious shopper.
- Price: $$
- Key ingredients: vitamin C, collagen, and banana pigments
- Helps treat: dark circles and fine lines
- Pros: isn’t greasy and brightens, smooths and color corrects, according to reviewers
- Cons: some reviewers report allergic reactions
- Best for: those looking for a lightweight and…
Read More:Tired of Pesky Under-Eye Circles? These 15 Eye Creams Can Help