If you’ve been plagued with dark circles and have no idea what causes them, you’re not alone.
“There are many things that can cause dark eye circles, and top of the list are lack of sleep, dehydration and genetics,” says Shea Amiruddin, director of skin care education at national skin care studio Heyday. “Iron deficiencies can weaken blood vessels and lead to pooling of blood in certain areas. In addition, your body repairs itself during deep sleep, so lack of sleep can inhibit this action, leading to poor circulation in these areas, along with deoxygenated blood.”
While you can certainly try to figure out the root cause of your dark circles and fix them through various lifestyle changes, there are also certain helpful ingredients, which have different benefits and are known to reduce the look of dark circles, that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine. These are a few you should absolutely look for:
“One of the best ingredients to find in eye creams is vitamin C because it gets rid of free radicals and brightens the skin,” says Amiruddin. Vitamin C is also a potent collagen booster, and so the addition of vitamin C to your nightly regimen can help thicken the delicate under-eye area and conceal discoloration.
“Vitamin K stimulates tissue renewal and is a potent antioxidant,” says Amiruddin. An evaluation of a cotton pad containing vitamin K and caffeine found that the pad acted as an emollient and drastically reduced the appearance of under-eye circles.
“Caffeine is great at increasing microcirculation, which in turn can help reduce the appearance of dark circles,” says Amiruddin. Caffeine is also a known de-puffer, which is ideal if you struggle with getting enough sleep.
Ceramides are lipids (fats) that make up a component of the skin barrier and allow the skin to retain moisture while protecting it against irritants like dust and pollution. “Creams and serums with ceramides and peptides (short-chain amino acids) will help hydrate and stimulate collagen and elastin production, which plumps the skin and pushes it away from the pooled blood,” says Shannon McLinden, founder of natural skin care brand FarmHouse Fresh. Studies have also shown that since ceramides mimic the skin’s natural moisturizing systems, they’re even more effective in preventing dehydration, a common cause of dark under-eye circles.
Best eye creams for dark circles
Olay Brightening Eye Cream ($21.99, originally $24.99; amazon.com)
Containing caffeine, vitamins C and B3, and optic brighteners, Olay Brightening Eye Cream was designed to specifically target the under-eye area using fast-absorbing technology. Hydrating and soothing, it can be used both morning and night.
Herbal Dynamics Beauty Vitamin K and Green Tea Brightening Eye Cream ($22; amazon.com)
In Herbal Dynamics Beauty Vitamin K and Green Tea Brightening Eye Cream, vitamin K is the real star of the show. It stimulates skin renewal, thanks to its high antioxidant content. In addition, the caffeine from green tea also increases circulation for bright, refreshed eyes.
Best budget under-eye creams for dark circles
L’Oreal Paris Dermo-Expertise Eye Defense ($11.79, originally $14.29; amazon.com)
With a gel-like consistency that’s perfect for daytime, L’Oreal Paris Dermo-Expertise Eye Defense is a moisturizing dream, containing hyaluronic acid and caffeine to boost the skin’s elasticity and ability to retain moisture. It’ll also work to fight puffiness and fine lines, making it a multipurpose product you should absolutely pack for your next weekend getaway.
Mario Badescu Ceramide Herbal Eye Cream ($18; amazon.com)
If you live in an area with lots of air pollution, Mario Badescu Ceramide Herbal Eye Cream is a great choice. With ceramides and rose hip oil, this nongreasy, fast-absorbing eye cream works to restore the skin’s natural moisture content in a noninvasive way.
E.l.f. Illuminating Eye Cream ($10; target.com)
This affordable option from E.l.f. can still get the job done with a rich formula that includes jojoba, vitamin E, cucumber and more to hydrate your eye area and minimize dark circles.
Best under-eye creams for sensitive eyes
Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream ($64; amazon.com)
A serious game changer, this eye cream contains five different types of vitamin C and a chain of eight peptides to help stimulate circulation and brighten dark circles. Soothing cucumber extract also works to refresh tired eyes. As the treatment is very rich, it’s recommended only for nighttime use.
Fresh Rose Hydrating Eye Gel Cream ($41; sephora.com)
With hyaluronic acid, rosewater and golden root extract, this luscious under-eye cream is sure to give the sensitive skin underneath your eyes new life.
Best under-eye creams for dark circles and puffiness
Pure Biology Total Eye ($32; amazon.com)
An all-in-one product, Pure Biology Total Eye targets puffiness, dark circles, fine lines and dehydration using a unique combination of ingredients. However, if it’s simply dark circles you’re looking to prevent, the winning blend of caffeine, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid will work to brighten, increase circulation and hydrate the skin, allowing for a refreshed look in no time.
Eyes Eyes Baby Anti-Aging Eye Cream ($22; amazon.com)
This eye cream from Fleur & Bee is a super rich and moisturizing formula made from natural ingredients and is free from parabens, sulfates and artificial fragrances. Vitamins B3 and E work to help reduce fine lines and even out your skin tone, while caffeine targets dark circles and puffiness. Squalane, an ingredient derived from olive oil, aims to soothe and hydrate your skin.
Best all-in-one concealer eye creams
Tatcha Pearl Tinted Eye Illuminating Treatment ($48; sephora.com)
If you’re looking for a two-in-one concealer and eye cream, this blend from Tatcha is a solid option formulated to minimize the appearance of dark circles, dullness and fine lines. Made with akoya pearl extract, hyaluronic acid and more, it supports natural collagen production and inhibits hyperpigmentation so you can go into your day bright-eyed.
Huda Beauty Overachiever High Coverage Concealer ($30; sephora.com)
With 20 different shades, this concealer and eye cream combo can match nearly any skin color, and it’s packed with green tea to target signs of discoloration and stress.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.