We don’t have to tell you that logging a full night’s sleep isn’t always in the cards. For those mornings after a late night of working or a series binge session, the best eye cream for dark circles can make all the difference. And while you might have a great concealer to cover up those dreaded raccoon eyes, it’s a moisturizing eye product that will contribute to your skin’s overall health and provide long-term results. The truth is clocking eight hours’ sleep isn’t always the answer to under-eye ailments—genetics, pigmentation, allergies and thinning skin are all common contributors to dark circles. Plus, the skin around your eyes is thinner than other areas of your face, which makes it most prone to pigmentation and signs of aging, like fine lines and wrinkles.
Regardless of your sleep schedule, an eye cream is a smart addition to any skincare routine (and may we recommend the best under-eye patches, too). And since not all are created equal, we’re sharing the most effective products that tout tried-and-true ingredients, target your most burning skin concerns and work for every budget. Scroll through to find the pick-me-up you’ll need the next time you end up pulling an all-nighter.
Inspired by banana powder, a yellow powder used by makeup artists to neutralize blue and purple tones under the eyes, this eye cream doubles as a skincare staple and an instant brightener. The formula is packed with vitamin C, a proven ingredient for treating hyperpigmentation and promoting brightening, and collagen to firm the skin around your eyes over time. Plus, the weightless texture is light enough to wear under makeup.
Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, works by stimulating collagen production to strengthen the skin. Known for successfully tackling a host of under-eye concerns, including puffiness, dark circles, fine lines, uneven texture and crow’s feet, retinol makes for an excellent addition to an eye cream like this one. Just note that with all retinol-infused products, it’s important to slather on sunscreen (at least SPF 30) during the day and consider only using the product at night because it makes skin more sensitive to the sun. Major anti-aging benefits aside, you’ll love that this drugstore favorite is also packed with hyaluronic acid and glycerin to keep your under-eye area hydrated and plump.
La Mer is as luxurious as it gets, and this splurge-worthy pick, expensive as it may be, is worth the investment. It’s infused with hematite, a magnetically charged mineral rich in iron that helps with dark circles and other discoloration, sea kelp to hydrate and brighten the under-eye area and antioxidant-packed lime tea to protect the skin from environmental damage. Finally, it comes with a cooling applicator that helps to boost circulation while you massage the product in. It’s also a nice touch, considering you can dip into your eye cream without using your fingers and harboring bacteria.
Like a tall glass of water for your under-eye area, this cooling cream promises 26 straight hours of hydration and moisture. Every application floods tired and dehydrated skin, leaving it supple and making it a smooth canvas for crease-free makeup application. Tiger grass soothes the skin, while comfrey leaf and squalene help with hydration and pennywort herb boosts elasticity, all of which lead to rested, radiant, more youthful-looking eyes.
For those mature skin types experiencing dryness, lack of elasticity or crow’s feet, this antioxidant-packed eye cream can’t be beat. Pro-Xylane (a super moisturizer made of a synthetic hyaluronic acid), peptides and blueberry extracts help combat dry skin and puffiness without feeling heavy. We also love that it contains built-in light diffusers that instantly brighten dark circles and make eyes look younger and more awake.
If you can’t decide whether it’s an eye cream or concealer kind of day, this makeup-skincare hybrid gives you a one-two punch that addresses all your concerns in a single application. This lightweight, non-creasing formula helps correct red and blue undertones and conceal the appearance of dark circles, while the cooling metal applicator helps wake you up first thing in the morning. And while you can reap the benefits of hydrating hyaluronic acid and brightening vitamin C by wearing it on its own, it layers like a dream under makeup, too. Plus, it comes in 12 shades so you’ll be sure to find a match that’s right for you.
Retinol can sound like a scary concept when it comes to the eye area, but this active cream manages to strike a balance that’s gentle and hydrating (thanks to hyaluronic acid), but also works wonders for lifting, firming and rejuvenating tired, puffy eyes. Formulated with a strong dose of retinol and bioretinol (a natural ingredient that mimics the effects of retinol), this wrinkle reducer improves the texture and elasticity of the under-eye area more with every application—trust us, you’ll feel it working. Just note that retinol makes skin sensitive to sunlight, so be sure to take extra precautions when leaving the house. Sunscreen, hats and sunglasses are all excellent ways to ensure your eye area is protected.
What To Look For In An Eye Cream For Dark Circles
Before investing in an eye cream, consider your skin type and the improvements you hope to make in your under-eye area. While some may need a daily boost of hydration, others may require more active ingredients to combat signs of aging. Here’s what to consider.
Dermatologist Dr. Aanand Geria says that the most common ingredients in eye creams include vitamin C, kojic acid, retinol and neuropeptides. “Vitamin C is a great collagen booster and kojic acid helps improve dark circles by slowing down pigment-producing cells and lightening the under-eye area,” he says. As for retinol, he explains it can stimulate collagen production, making the skin thicker and improving the appearance of under-eye circles. “Using peptides to help eliminate dark circles is also an effective option, as it contains proteins that repair and smooth the skin by stimulating collagen production,” he says.
Like most moisturizers, eye creams are available in various textures and consistencies, from creams to gels to serums. Geria says, “Both eye creams and eye gels contain similar ingredients that help with anti-aging and restoring the skin,” but recommends heavier creams for dehydrated skin and gels with a cooling effect for those with inflammation.
“If you suffer from puffy, irritated eyes, choose an anti-inflammatory eye cream with caffeine as an ingredient,” says Geria. For those with fine lines and wrinkles, he recommends a hydrating cream that has anti-aging properties (like retinol) to help restore the under-eye area. “If you have dark circles or heavy bags under your eyes, choose an eye cream or a similar brightening serum with vitamin C as the main ingredient in the product to help reduce the appearance of dark circles by stimulating collagen production,” he says.