Your eyes are the first thing people look at when they speak to you, so it goes without saying that dark under eye circles may be a cause for concern for some, as concealer can only go so far.
We’ve spoken to dermatologists and skincare experts to decipher the real answers to your questions about eye creams. We’ve also pinned down the best eye creams for dark circles on the market today.
Keen to learn more? Keep reading…
Read more: Don’t miss these best skincare picks of 2022
What are the causes of dark circles?
Before we jump into top solutions for under eye circles, you may be wondering why you even get them, so let Dr Sam, one of the UK’s leading cosmetic dermatologists and founder of the bestselling Dr Sam’s Skincare range, explain.
‘Dark circles occur for a number of reasons,’ Dr Sam says. ‘As we age, the thin skin around our eyes just gets thinner, which is the most treatable cause. The dark structures underneath our skin (like muscle and blood vessels) are more visible as this happens, which creates a dark shadow — compare it to wearing a black bra under a white t-shirt versus a thick jumper. We want our skin to be more like the jumper!’ Dr Sam continues that dark circles can also be hereditary, typically for those with darker skin tones, where one’s upper eyelids may also be darker.
Other contributing factors include tiredness and dehydration. ‘Fatigue, ageing, not drinking enough water, allergies, eyestrain (too long looking at bright screens), sun exposure and health concerns like anaemia can all contribute to dark under eye circles’, adds Anna Brightman, founder of renowned UK-based beauty brand UpCircle.
What ingredients should I look for in eye creams that tackle dark circles?
Whilst it’s important to wear sunscreen everyday (yep, even in winter) to protect your skin from sun damage, it also plays an important role in eye care.
‘Sunscreen and antioxidants help to preserve our collagen. My preference is for a mineral, hydrating SPF as this doesn’t sting the eyes, allowing us to apply it up to the lash line, which also helps plump fine lines and maintain the thickness of our skin’s dermis,’ Dr Sam comments. ‘Then at night, we should use ingredients that build new collagen to further thicken the skin. I swear by a cocktail of retinol, niacinamide and vitamin C.’
Does under eye cream for dark circles actually work?
Dr. Enrizza Factor MD, a dermatologist who specialises in treating skin condition vitiligo, is certain that they do work, as well as having several other benefits.
‘Eye creams hydrate the under eye area and may help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as lessening the appearance of dark circles and puffiness. They also prepare skin for makeup and strengthen and protect the under eye area,’ she says.
However it’s important to note that in the case of hereditary dark under eye circles, eye creams are sadly unlikely to make a difference.
How should I apply eye cream for dark circles?
Being gentle is key with this delicate skin, so a light tapping motion is best and certainly not any pulling or dragging. Use your ring finger as it is the weakest of all your fingers, to ensure you don’t apply too much pressure.
To reduce puffiness and dark circles and contribute to healthier-lookng skin, Face Yoga Expert Danielle Collins advises to try these gentle techniques immediately after applying your eye cream.
‘Tap around your eye area (above your eyebrows and under your eyes) with your ring finger. Do three times in one direction and then three times in the other with a light touch. This will help to boost circulation and reduce the appearance of lines, dark circles and puffiness,’ says Danielle. ‘Next, gently hold a Gua Sha (or the back of a teaspoon straight from the fridge) under each eye for 30 seconds to instantly reduce inflation and dark circles.’
Is there anything else I can do to reduce dark circles?
The first and perhaps most important thing is to get good quality sleep, Dr Sam stresses.
‘Quality consistent sleep helps, as does keeping your dietary salt content under control to avoid puffiness, which can make shadows look worse,’ she advises. ‘Sleep in a cool room and avoid bright lights after 10pm to maximise your restorative sleep. Both encourage the release of sleepy hormone, melatonin.’
Brightman takes it a step further, recommending a cool compress. ‘It’s not only soothing, but it can also reduce the dilated blood vessels under the eyes. It’s therefore one of the best tips for how to get rid of dark circles under the eyes, fast. It only takes around 20 minutes and you should see an immediate improvement.’
Aromatherapy brand Spritz Wellness have eye pillows filled with dried lavender and chamomile, which are not only relaxing and soothing, but can also be placed in the freezer to create a cold compress — perfect.
The best eye creams for dark circles
Now you know the causes of dark eye circles, the ingredients to look for in an effective eye cream and the best application technique, let’s find the ultimate products to tackle dark circles…
The Inkey List is universally loved for its affordability, unisex packaging and products that actually give results. This retinol eye cream from the brand uses 3% slow release retinol, meaning it’s slowly released over time, to avoid any irritation that may come with retinol based products and skin that’s on the sensitive side.
Nobody likes puffy eye bags, so if you’re suffering, the CeraVe Eye Repair Cream is for you. It boasts three ceramides and hyaluronic acid to de-puff eye bags quickly and efficiently, reduces the appearance of dark circles and uses niacinamide to help keep your skin barrier healthy.
Advanced Night Repair (or ANR to those in the know) is famed in the beauty industry for its powerful results and impressive technology. Dark circles, fine lines, wrinkles and puffy eye bags are all reduced thanks to this wonder eye cream, with the formula including a Visco-Elastic Polymer and multi-molecular weight hyaluronic acids.
Olay is a brand you can trust, and we reckon this is one of the best collagen eye creams out there. It contains Olay’s highest amount of collagen peptides (so far) and keeps the delicate under eye area hydrated for 24 hours, as well as penetrating up to 10 layers of the skin’s surface. We love.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant renowned for its brightening properties, so it’s a key ingredient to have in your eye cream, and this one from Origins has it in spades. It also includes niacinamide to reduce dark circles and caffeine to energise, making it a worthy addition to your evening skincare routine.
French beauty brands love to make waves in skincare, so it’s no surprise this cream made it onto our list. It’s a gel-cream hybrid formula, ideal if you don’t want anything too heavy on your under eyes, and works hard to reduce puffiness, fine lines and dark circles. Tick, tick, tick.
This Kiehl’s eye cream is a cult favourite due to its smooth and creamy texture, making for luxurious application. It includes nourishing ingredients such as shea butter and its namesake avocado oil, which also provides a relaxing eye mask — simply leave it on for 10 minutes before gently removing.
Charlotte Tilbury has been making up the faces of celebrities for decades, so we listen when she issues a new addition to her highly successful makeup and skincare line. This eye cream is in a silky smooth serum texture, with a metal tip on the applicator that works to de-puff and refresh the under eye. It’s also got some pretty impressive ingredients, namely Swiss ice wine essence to tighten the under eye area, helping you look more youthful.
Founder of UpCircle Anna Brightman says that the caffeine from the coffee in this eye cream brightens your skin tone, removing the dullness associated with dark circles. ‘Hyaluronic acid locks in hydration and leaves skin looking plump, cucumber extract soothes and nourishes tired eyes, and maple bark extract will boost collagen production and strengthen the skin barrier,’ she reveals.
A Goldfaden best seller, this eye cream is specifically formulated for targeting dark under eye circles, using finely ground mica to brighten the area, with soy peptides to even out skin tone and reduce fine lines, and seaweed for its high antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
One for those who suffer with dry skin around their eyes is this offering from Swedish brand Verso. The ingredients include hyaluronic acid, fatty acids, antioxidants and ceramides; basically, all of the good stuff that you want especially to tackle those (dry) under eye circles and get them as near to gone as possible.
For us the best under eye cream with natural ingredients has to be awarded to this impressive offering from Balance Me. It’s 99% natural, containing cucumber oil, virgin coconut oil, hyaluronic acid and witch hazel for a soothed and smoothed eye area.
What doesn’t this eye cream have? A huge five different forms of Vitamin C, eight different peptides, together with ceramides and antioxidants, this is possibly the number one eye cream available today. Consider dark spots or pigmentation reduced, the under eye area brightened and fine lines plumped (thanks, ceramides). It’s an anti wrinkle formula in a bottle.
Our verdict: Which are the best eye creams for dark circles?
There are some incredible formulas and impressive science and technology behind these eye creams, and we’d be hard pressed to choose a favourite.
But in our opinion, the best eye cream for dark circles would be the Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream, which boasts a highly impactful formula of peptides, ceramides and antioxidants to really reduce those dark eye circles so many of us are plagued with.
But if you don’t want to spend a great deal, the The Inkey List Retinol Eye Cream is a fantastic budget option at just over a tenner, and the Origins GinZing Eye Cream is packed full of ideal eye cream ingredients (Vitamin C, niacinamide and caffeine) at an affordable middling price point.
Prices updated on 05/12/2022. We are not responsible for any changes made to the prices listed.