First, the bad news: Under-eye puffiness is oftentimes not something that can be remedied with an eye cream or serum. You might have swelling in the lower lid because of too much salt, lack of sleep, too much sun exposure, or dehydration, but in severe cases, the puffiness is actually displaced fat due to the lining of the orbital septum settling and pushing the fatty tissue outward. According to medical professionals, the only long-term way to truly address this is through invasive procedures like filler placed along the troughs of the eye to fill out the depressions that cause the bulging to appear more prominent as well as repositioning the fat throughout the area so that it's more evenly distributed.
But for nature-bred puffiness, creams and gels can help to decrease the appearance of excess fluid under the eye, like those with peptides to boost collagen and antioxidants to ward off free radicals. The catch, though: According to esthetician Sandra Velandia, you should avoid using under-eye creams at night since they can cause fluid retention, especially when you're lying down for hours on end.
Dark circles, on the other hand, are usually due to thin skin acting as a window for stagnant blood vessels that are pooling blood due to lack of sleep or hyperpigmentation. In the case of the former, you'll need something to "beef up" the skin and make it plumper, like a collagen cream or retinol. For hyperpigmentation, a lightening formula with AHAs or hydroquinone should help.
Keeping this in mind, we turned to Amazon to see which of the above formulas are working best for real women and men to decrease puffiness and minimize darkness. Their picks, below.
Packed with peptides and vitamin C to boost collagen as well as caffeine to increase blood flow, this fragrance- and paraben-free serum has over 1900 five-star reviews on Amazon.
Standout review: "I've bought three bottles, and am about to purchase 4th. The cream goes on lightly and leaves my eye area feeling refreshed in the morning. It works just as well as the more expensive creams that I've purchased. Great quality ingredients, with no irritating perfumes, dyes or chemicals. I highly recommend this product."
This retinol-reach, non-greasy cream conceals dark circles and puffiness within four weeks and promises to decrease the appearance of fine lines in 12 weeks.
Standout review: "I wish I took a before and after picture! I have genetic dark circles caused by thin under-eye skin, which leaves dark purple circles and visible oil glands (those white raised bumps under your eye). I thought I was cursed to look sickly for the rest of my life, but I'm already seeing a difference after three weeks of using this! My boyfriend's mom even told me I look well rested, a compliment I've never heard in my life. I may need to move up to a higher strength of retinol one day to completely get rid of my dark circles because they're pretty bad, but you're supposed to gradually work yourself up to higher concentrations to avoid side effects, so this is a good starter retinol product."
It's rare to find as high a percentage of caffeine as 5% in a skincare product, which is what makes this serum such a winning formula. Caffeine helps move stagnant, oxidized blood and constrict the blood vessels to reduce puffiness.
Standout review: "Hot damn! I just got this today and I can tell you confidently that I will be buying it again and again until the day I die. It’s incredible! I have three kids and don’t remember the last time I got enough sleep so my bags are pretty prominent. I am incredibly self conscious about them and have been unsuccessful in covering them with makeup. But my life has changed forever and I’ve bid my bags adieu! The results are obvious within twenty minutes."
While this serum is meant to be used all over, users rave about its ability to ward off dark circles and tighten the under-eye area.
Standout review: "In a couple of days, I could see results. My skin is so soft and the blemishes I had disappeared and my skin has lightened up a lot and the dark circles under and around my eyes have almost disappeared and it's unbelievable how good this product works."
Over 1000 Amazon customer reviews cite how well this ice roller works not just for constricting blood vessels and draining excess fluid, but also, interestingly, for treating migraines. Just place the roller head in a bag and store in the freezer when you're not using it to reap its cooling, soothing benefits.
Standout review: "I use this on my face and eyes in the morning and it de-puffs the eye area as well as makes my skin smooth before I apply my makeup. Wash your face with hot water then put your serums on before rolling and it will seal it in your skin! Makes my makeup look extra amazing!"
Cooling on contact, this cream delicately hydrates and soothes the eye area while plumping it with peptides.
Standout review: "OH YES!!! Better than other very expensive treatments that I have used. Love this! Fast results! So soothing when applied at night too. Don’t be hesitant."
If incorporating real gold into your skincare routine sounds more fancy than efficacious, know that it actually helps reduce inflammation and brighten the skin, according to NYC dermatologist Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank. The hydrogel eye patches also boast collagen-boosting vitamin C, hydrating hyaluronic acid, brightening licorice, and soothing rose oil and oat peptides.
Standout review: "These masks really work!! I've been dealing with some pretty dark circles under my eyes for the past few months and have been looking everywhere for a solution. I popped one of these in the fridge and put them under my eyes for 30 minutes. They reduced all of my puffiness and my eyes were SIGNIFICANTLY lighter!! So so happy!!!"
The elusive "majestic" blue ingredient in this eye gel is Mediterranean blue algae extract, a peptide found to plump thin under-eye skin and conceal dark circles.
Standout review: "This is a great under-eye creme. It really takes away the appearance of the dark circles under my eye, and I can feel it firming up my skin when I use it. Plus, I love the neat push-down pump bottle this comes in!"
A micro-infusion delivery system developed in Japan sends liquid retinol deep into the skin to help firm and tighten the under-eye area along with collagen-boosting hydroxyproline. These cotton patches contour perfectly to the lower lid without the slip so you can freely go about the rest of your tasks while caring for your delicate under-eyes.
Standout review: "I have struggled with dark circles (blue/purple hues) my entire life and I've tried many lotions as well as eye masks to no avail. Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 works to constrict the blood vessels and make my circles less blue/purple which has been great."
Like a shot of espresso for your under-eyes, this serum stimulates blood flow and constricts blood vessels to help move along the stagnant blood that's causing the look of dark circles. This blend also features nourishing rosehip and pomegranate seed oil to repair the skin barrier and lock hydration in.
Standout review: "This product has given amazing results within days. A tiny drop for the area around both eyes has reduced lines, puffiness and makes me look younger. I am now using it on my frown line and around my mouth. At 71, I believe that I have found a miracle product. And there's no irritation. I LOVE IT!!"
Reviews have been edited and condensed for content.
Opening image: Lolita Says So