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28 Under-Eye Creams That Actually Work

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Retailers

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While logging a full night’s sleep seems like a reasonable fix to dark under-eye circles, it sadly doesn’t work for most of us. Regardless of how well rested you are, dark circles can be caused by genetics, pigmentation, allergies, and thinning skin. Luckily, the best eye creams on the market can help smooth, hydrate, and brighten the under-eye area to make darkness less noticeable and easier to conceal. Read on to shop 24 of our all-time favorites for every skin type and concern.

Our top picks:

The Overall Best Eye Cream

$22

Key Ingredients: Retinol for smoothing fine lines

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 without spending a small fortune. It’s lightweight and non-greasy, so it applies like a serum as opposed to a thick moisturizer. Highly effective yet gentle, this eye cream is also great for sensitive skin because it’s hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic.

The Best Nighttime Eye Cream

Key Ingredients: Vitamin C for brightening

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. Although it’s expensive, the texture of this cream feels so luxurious and worth the money. Plus, a little goes a long way with this concentrated formula, so one jar will last you several months.

The Best Gel Eye Cream

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid for hydrating, vitamins E and B3 for smoothing

This is by far the best-reviewed eye cream on Amazon, with close to 31,000 five-star reviews. It contains hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and three different plant extracts. Reviewers love its affordable price point, and praise its ability to soothe chapped, irritated, and very sensitive skin. It absorbs quickly, so it’s shopping editor Hanna Flanagan’s favorite go-to eye cream when she’s in a rush and needs to apply makeup directly after her skin care.

The Best Brightening Eye Cream

Key Ingredients: Vitamin C for brightening

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 (so has the 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. Flanagan reaches out for this eye cream after a long night out because it instantly brightens the skin and makes her look more awake. Also, she finds that her concealer applies smoothly and doesn’t crease as much throughout the day when she uses this vegan and cruelty-free cream.

The Best Clean Eye Cream

Key Ingredients: Retinol for smoothing fine lines

This is kind of a cult favorite, racking up literally thousands of reviews for its natural, hydrating ingredients like rose hip, hibiscus, and rosemary-leaf extract, which make it smell like tea and helps moisturize your under-eye area. Overall, it feels hydrating, and it brightens and blurs. It’s a good deal: One small pump is enough to moisturize both eyes. If you’re on a clean beauty journey, consider incorporating this caffeine-free eye cream into your routine.

The Highly Requested Eye Cream

Key Ingredients: Vitamin C ester and red algae for brightening, Chaga mushroom for depuffing

When kinship’s founders reached out to their Gen-Z community, they were surprised to find the top request was a hydrating eye cream for under-eye circles. The brand delivered. With a naturally yellow tint, this eye cream brightens and blurs dark circles and fine lines. Some of the key ingredients are chaga mushroom to hydrate and vitamin C to add radiance. Overall, it feels really moisturizing and cooling under the eye, and you can reapply it periodically for a little pick-me-up.

The Best Eye Cream for Sensitive Eyes

Key Ingredients: Peptides and hyaluronic acid for smoothing, niacinamide for brightening

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 hydrating hyaluronic acid and skin-barrier-strengthening peptides. It comes with a metallic tip so it feels extra refreshing and soothing on impact, plus the cooling sensation helps de-puff the under-eye area.

More tried-and-true options:

The Best Tightening Eye Cream

$41

Key Ingredients: Peptides and algae extract for hydrating and tightening

“This lightweight hydrating gel has been proven in clinical instrumental testing to increase skin’s elasticity 44 percent after four weeks of twice-a-day application in women with an average age of 45,” Dr. Loretta says of her brand’s eye gel, which features algae extract to support collagen production and chromabright to help protect the skin from free-radical damage caused by pollution. “Since improved elasticity translates into bounce back of skin, this will tighten contour and lessen puffiness.”

The Best Eye Cream With Nature’s Retinol

Key Ingredients: Bakuchiol for smoothing and brightening

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 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 TikTok-Favorite Eye Cream

Key Ingredients: Niacinamide for smoothing and brightening

This product went viral on TikTok after user @RamenaSaidWow called it easily one of her “top three” eye creams. She posted before and after pictures, showing how her under eyes brightened and became smoother after two weeks of use. Sephora reviewers (nearly 2,000 of them) agree with her and love the unusually nonirritating retinoid formula and the cooling ceramic-tip applicator.

The Best One for Makeup Prep

Key Ingredients: Retinol for smoothing fine lines

Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Eye Rescue is basically the equivalent of their cult-favorite Magic Cream for the under-eye area. The dense and moisturizing cream features retinol to help brighten and reduce fine lines over time. However, the immediate effect is a smoother, moisturized under eye, making it the perfect base for concealer. It creates that blurred filter effect on the skin and looks especially good in photos.

The Smoothest Eye Cream

Key Ingredients: Vitamin C for brightening

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. Since it has a brightening effect that makes the skin look more awake, Flanagan applies it when she wants to look presentable but doesn’t want to wear concealer.

The Supportive Eye Cream

Key Ingredients: Ceramides for smoothing, hydrating and barrier support, niacinamide for brightening

If you’re noticing thinness and fine lines around your eyes, ceramides are just what the doctor ordered. Thankfully, Dr. Jart’s added an eye cream to its popular Ceramidin line. It’s packed with the line’s signature blend of five ceramides, plus niacinamide to support your body’s natural ceramide supply, so your skin barrier is supported and strengthened over time.

The Best Refillable Eye Cream

Photo:

Key Ingredients: Diamond dust and tint for brightening

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. In addition, this option features a sustainable refill system so the bottle can be reused when you run out of product (instead of ending up in a landfill).

The Best Eye Cream With Retinol

Key Ingredients: Retinol for smoothing fine lines

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 Blue-Light-Fighting Eye Cream

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid for smoothing and hydrating

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 Best Eye Cream for Dewy Skin

Key Ingredients: Ceramides, squalane, and peptides for smoothing, hydrating, and barrier support

Applying this intensely moisturizing eye cream is like pouring your puffiness 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 Best Splurge Eye Cream

Key Ingredients: Retinol for smoothing fine lines

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 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.

The Most Concentrated Eye Cream

Key Ingredients: Diamond dust for brightening

If your under-eye area is super-dry, this is the one to grab. Seriously. A little goes a very long way. Packed with ingredients like peptides and diamond powder for very fancy brightening, the formula promises to not only brighten but also smooth the under-eye area. If you’re a bit impatient, the immediate results are pretty good too, since the formula instantly depuffs and deeply moisturizes your skin.

The Best Affordable Option

Key Ingredients: Vitamin C and turmeric extract for brightening, green tea extract for depuffing

With ingredients like green tea extract, vitamin C, and turmeric, this newer launch from the Gen-Z-favorite brand Bubble targets fine line, brightens your skin, and depuffs the area.

An All-Over Eye Cream

Key Ingredients: Niacinamide and flower extracts for brightening, microalgae for depuffing

If you were disappointed when Glossier discontinued its Bubblewrap eye and lip cream, the brand’s latest launch might brighten your mood and your eyes. Full Orbit is formulated with hyaluronic acid to help tackle dry skin. Plus, instead of caffeine or vitamin C, it contains niacinamide and plant extracts to target discoloration and puffiness.

The Best Eye-Cream Duo

Key Ingredients: Retinol and peptides for smoothing fine lines and brightening

Your eyelids need love too, which is why this eye-cream duo features a peptide-rich gel for moisturizing the lids and retinol-based cream for smoothing, brightening, and tightening the skin over time.

Another Affordable Option

Key Ingredients: Bakuchiol for smoothing and brightening, coffeeberry extract for depuffing

TruSkin’s vitamin-C serum is an Amazon favorite, and the brand’s latest launch is no different. The under-$30 gel cream has racked up several five-star reviews already. With bakuchiol as one of the key ingredients, this is a great affordable option for brightening over time. It also depuffs and leaves your under-eye area feeling moisturized.

Another Luxury Splurge

Key Ingredients: Seaweed extract for brightening and hydrating

Unfortunately for my wallet, this splurge is pretty good. The soothing and cooling applicator helps you easily apply the thick but fast-absorbing cream while depuffing.

A Moisturizing Eye Cream

Key Ingredients: Kojic acid for brightening, snow mushroom for depuffing

The three kinds of mushrooms in this formula sound like ingredients in a salad, but they’re the key to a brighter, nourished under eye. Reishi and lion’s mane smooth the skin while snow mushroom hydrates and depuffs. Goat’s milk gives the formula a milky texture, and the immediate results are softer, brighter under eyes. The formula is on the thicker side, but it does settle in nicely.

The Brightening One

Key Ingredients: Vitamin C for brightening, peptides for hydrating and smoothing

Fashion and beauty writer Asia Milia Ware recommends Innbeauty’s gel cream for brighter eyes. Using several types of vitamin C (three, to be exact), bakuchiol, and a handful of hydrating ingredients, the formula cools and brightens your under eye over time.

The Spa Favorite

Key Ingredients: Red-vine extract for brightening, caffeine for depuffing

Another of Ware’s favorites comes from the French luxury brand Sisley Paris. The luxe eye brightener is less a cream than a gel that melts into the skin with the ceramic applicator.

The Luxury Option

Key Ingredients: Caviar-component blend to smooth and brighten

La Prairie’s Skin Caviar line is beloved for its hydrating benefits; it’s also one of Ware’s favorite luxury eye creams. The Eye Lift serum blends two formulations into one pump of product. It will save you a few filler appointments because of how firm it makes the under-eye area over time.

FAQs

What’s causing your under-eye woes?

Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare, suggests taking a few selfies during different times of the day to see if you see any variability in the appearance of your under-eye circles. For example, puffiness is something that can come and go and often looks worse when you have been eating poorly or drinking alcohol. Fat pads on the other hand? Those are a little harder to deal with, because they tend to stay consistent in their appearance.

Are eye creams actually worth it?

“If your problem is true puffiness and not fat pads, a clinically based eye product can work, yes!,” Dr. Loretta says. Of course, using an eye cream won’t banish dark circles, but a select few creams really do 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 appearance.

If it seems too good to be true, we thought so too. However, as with all beauty products, consistency is key.

What should you be looking for in an eye cream?

Dr. Loretta recommends starting with an eye-cream regimen as soon as you can and aim for products you can use on your eyelids as well. “As far as formulation and benefits, you should look for a product proven to increase skin’s elasticity,” she says. “Starting in our late 20s, we lose about one percent elasticity a year, and the eyes are the first place to show this.” With that caveat in mind, read on for a list of our (and our reader’s) favorite under eye creams. But be warned, if you purchase them and don’t incorporate them accordingly into your beauty routine, you may be spending way more money than you should.

How should you apply eye creams?

You’ll want to use a light hand since the under-eye area is more delicate than the rest of your face. “I recommend applying with your ring finger because it has the lightest touch and won’t pull on the skin,” explains board-certified dermatologist and medical director of Dermstore Dr. Ashley Magovern.

Her recommended dosage is around a pea-size amount since eye creams are concentrated. She suggests starting with the inner corner of the eye and working outward, patting or dabbing the eye cream into your skin. Lastly, she says she likes to layer a moisturizer or “hydrating product on top to help the eye cream work more effectively.”

Our Experts

28 Best Under-Eye Creams for Dark Circles