While logging a full night’s sleep seems like a reasonable fix to dark under-eye circles, it doesn’t work for most of us. Regardless of how well-rested you are, dark circles can also be caused by genetics, pigmentation, allergies, and thinning skin. Using an eye cream won’t banish dark circles, but a select few creams really work, mostly by using high-tech ingredients to constrict blood vessels (which cause dark shadows), diffuse light, and brighten pigmented areas for a noticeable improvement in their appearance. Read on for a list of our favorites.
This highly emollient formula practically evaporates on contact and moisturizes without leaving a shiny finish. It contains a cocktail of high-tech ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and skin-lightening niacinamide to suppress dark shadows. The drugstore price is nice, too.
At first glance, you’d be justified in confusing the pearlescent formula for an illuminator. After applying this easy-to-blend cream, mineral pigments go to work, diffusing light to detract from stubborn under-eye circles. In addition to its eye-brightening benefits, it’s also loaded with anti-aging actives like niacinamide (to fade dark spots), vitamin E (to defend against environmental aggressors), and an anti-wrinkle peptide (to smooth creases and crow’s-feet).
This might be the internet’s current favorite eye cream for treating dark-eye circles. It has over 2,000 four-star reviews at Sephora, we’ve tested it and loved it (and so has Strategist too). The secret is in 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 eye shadows.
Is it a concealer? Is it an eye cream? After trying this lightly tinted formula, we’ve determined it’s both — although those with darker tones may need to layer a separate concealer to be safe. Dispensed from a cooling metal tip (which provided 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.
Similar to the Ole Henrikson, this is a bit of a makeup and skin-care product in one. Silk powder, niacinimide, and plant botanicals all help to smooth lines and moisturize the under-eye area and de-puff bags. Pearl powder has a tiny bit of pigment which helps to reflect light and slightly conceal dark eye circles. Best of all, it comes in three different shades.
This cream from loved “natural” beauty line Drunk Elephant takes a maximalist approach. It contains not one but five different types of Vitamin C. It’s a creamy, soothing mixture that blends easily into the thin area under the skin to lighten the darkness of dark-eye circles.
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 does plump parched skin with hyaluronic acid, olive oil, and mango-seed butter. After dabbing the luminous golden cream under my eyes (the texture is similar to a crème eye shadow), dark areas were instantly brightened.
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 credits a blend of licorice root (a known skin lightener) and caffeine for reducing darkness and puffy patches.
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.
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.
With a reputation for natural products that deliver results, it’s no surprise the Greek pharmacy brand nailed this formula. The silky cream spreads evenly for a potent dose of wild rose oil (rich in vitamin C) to even and fade bluish tones. Add to that: rose-gold optical brighteners that act as a highlighter for an incandescent effect.
More than just a fast fix, this gel/serum hybrid brightens and tightens the delicate skin around the eyes with two forms of hyaluronic acid. After I gently patted it on, it quickly dried without a sticky residue, and the eye area felt smoother, plumper, and looked more radiant. The clever formula contains two forms of hyaluronic acid to fill fine lines, while light-reflective pigments camouflage the telltale signs of fatigue.
A triple-duty beauty, this occlusive balm primes skin for eye makeup, fills fine lines, and treats dark circles with a few dabs. Alguronic acid (known for its skin smoothing benefits) combines with brightening vitamin C and circulation stimulator caffeine to promote a more youthful appearance.
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.
Boasting the benefits of the cult-classic serum in an eye cream, this cushiony gel glides on seamlessly and works overnight to fade dark circles and repair damage from environmental aggressors. ChronoluxCB technology (a blend of hyaluronic acid and antioxidants) has been clinically proven to reduce wrinkles and boost radiance.
While $210 is a lot to drop on an eye cream, this silky formula has the science to back its claims. Packed with proven plant extracts including padina pavonica (to promote collagen), orange blossom (to fade dark circles), and licorice (to lighten skin), the appearance of the eye area improved significantly with continued use.
This article was originally published October 31, 2018. It has been updated throughout. Additional reporting by Aimee Leabon. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.