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Raccoon eyes, panda eyes, dark circles—call them what you will, they’re not cute. The bad news: The reasons for this unsightly under-eye discoloration often boil down to things you can’t control, i.e. genetics. Not to mention that, because the skin under and around your eyes is thinner than on the rest of your face, the area is more prone to signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, puffiness, and, you guessed it, discoloration, says Dr. Marina Peredo, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
And if we’re being totally honest, there aren’t many topical ingredients that will truly help alleviate these shadows for good. (At the end of the day, a good concealer is always going to be your BFF.) The good news: All of that being said, using an eye cream isn’t totally futile. Particularly when you’re talking about the latest formulas, which tout both tried-and-true ingredients such as vitamin C to help brighten the skin long-term, as well as things such as light-deflecting particles for an instant pick-me-up. Nab a concealer you love, pair it with one of these eye creams and you’ll look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, no matter how late a night or early morning (or both) you’ve had.
Read on for our picks of the best eye creams for dark circles.
Best Overall: Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème
There’s no actual banana in this superstar, rather, the name comes from the inspiration behind this dark circle defeater—banana powder. A light yellow powder used by makeup artists to counteract purple and blue-ish shadows, this has that same yellow tint to pull double duty as both an eye cream and an instant color corrector. Plus, it’s also packed with vitamin C to help brighten skin over time and is nice and lightweight, ideal for use under makeup.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: SkinMedica TNS Illuminating Eye Cream
This is a top pick for Peredo: “I love the unique ingredients it contains, like hydroxysuccinimide and chrysin, which help to improve circulation and eliminate blood pigmentation, which is what causes under-eye discoloration,” she explains. But the benefits don’t stop there. It also touts an optical diffuser to help reflect light, instantly minimizing the look of dark circles, as well as both growth factors and peptides to help combat lines and wrinkles.
Best Drugstore: La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Eye Cream for Dark Circles
“This is a great high-quality, affordable eye cream. I love that it contains light-reflective pigments that instantly brighten the undereye area,” says Peredo of another one of her picks. Bonus points for the cooling metal applicator, which both dispenses the perfect amount of product and delivers a cooling sensation as well. Not to mention that the formula is also paraben- and fragrance-free, a boon for those with sensitive skin.
Best Under Makeup: Tatcha The Pearl Tinted Eye Illuminating Treatment
Yes, this layers beautifully under concealer, but you could also wear it on its own. The makeup-skincare hybrid contains pearl extract to address pigmentation and thinning skin (which only makes dark circles look worse), and has brightening and firming niacinamide. It comes in three different shades that deliver a nice amount of tint as well. Plus, a little goes a long way, so the one (very pretty) jar lasts quite a while.
Best Hydrating: Algenist Complete Eye Renewal Balm
Fun fact: The skin around your eyes can innately tend to be drier than elsewhere on your face, making a hydrating eye cream all the more important. This one, a favorite of Byrdie Editor Holly Rhue, is an ultra-creamy balm that checks that box for sure. The multi-tasker is also ideal for knocking out both dark circles and puffiness, thanks to a combo of the brand’s patented alguronic acid, vitamin C, and caffeine, among other goodies.
Best Splurge: La Mer The Eye Concentrate
Pricey, yes. Worth it? Also yes. This splurge-worthy pick is infused with hematite—a magnetically charged, iron-rich mineral—that helps with not only dark circles but other discoloration, too. It’s rich and creamy and comes with a silver-tipped applicator to help you massage in the luscious formula.
Keep it in the fridge for a few minutes before using it to make the experience even that much more enjoyable.
Best for AM: Honest Honestly Bright Eyes Tinted Eye Cream
Part color corrector, part mega-hydrating eye cream, this is ideal for applying in the morning. Two types of hyaluronic acid impart plenty of hydration (24 hours-worth, to be specific) and also help make skin appear plumper. Still, because the formula is so lightweight, it absorbs quickly and won’t mess with your makeup. At the same time, it imparts the sheerest wash of tint to help quickly camo dark circles even before you apply concealer; we also appreciate that, unlike many other similar products, it comes in two shades.
Best for PM: Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex
Slather this on before bedtime to wake up looking like you got eight hours of sleep…even if you didn’t. The treatment works by boosting your skin’s own natural repair processes, targeting everything from lines to puffiness to dark circles, and yes, it hydrates, too. Peredo is a fan, lauding the ingredient list that contains tried-and-true actives such as antioxidants and hyaluronic acid, noting that it’s great for helping to restore and repair the skin.
Best Budget: Versed Vacation Eyes Brightening Eye Gel
Caffeine-rich coffee seed extract helps boost circulation to flush out excess fluid that can exacerbate the look of dark circles. It also has a trio of other brightening ingredients—niacinamide, vitamin C, and ginseng—and a cooling gel texture that feels oh-so refreshing on sleepy mornings.
Best Anti-Aging: SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex
The name of this product refers to the advanced glycation end-products it targets, major contributing factors to signs of aging, including crows’ feet, puffiness, and more. It’s a top choice for Peredo who says it not only evens out skin tone under the eyes almost instantly (credit optical diffusers) but also offers plenty of long-term, anti-aging benefits.
Best for Puffiness: Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream to Brighten and Depuff
Like a big ol’ cup of coffee for tired eyes, this formula does, in fact, contain caffeine-rich coffee, which helps flush out the excess fluid that contributes to both dark circles and puffiness. It also has optic brighteners to instantly make you look wide awake. Yes, please.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Clinique Even Better Eyes Dark Circle Corrector
The delicate skin around your eyes can often be more prone to irritation than the rest of your face—and that’s even more so the case if your skin is generally sensitive, to begin with. Enter this formula, a fragrance-free, ophthalmologist-tested, allergy-tested option. It knocks out dark circles on all skin tones and is another pick that boasts a cooling, de-puffing metal applicator tip.
Eye cream may not be the end-all-be-all solution to your dark circles, but it can definitely help. The Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Creme is one of our all-time favorites, offering both instant and long-term brightening effects. The SkinMedica TNS Illuminating Eye Cream is a derm-favorite, also delivering a litany of great results, and a top choice for helping to knock out wrinkles, too. If you’re shopping at the drugstore, nab the La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Eye Cream for Dark Circles; both it and the Clinique Even Better Eyes Dark Circle Corrector boasts cooling, metal applicator tips that are great for reducing puffiness. (The latter also gets our stamp of approval for those with sensitive skin.)
What to Look For In An Eye Cream for Dark Circles
A great brightening ingredient, this also has the added benefit of offering antioxidant protection and helping to stimulate collagen production to minimize the look of fine lines, too.
As far as fast fixes go, this ingredient choice. Because it helps constrict blood vessels, it can quickly minimize the look of both dark circles and puffiness.
Given that a topical eye cream can only do so much when it comes to combating dark circles, opting for a formula with optical diffusers or light-reflecting particles is one of the easiest ways to at least make skin appear brighter and more even.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She’s all about using a dedicated eye cream, especially one that helps combat the dark circles she deals with regularly.
Meet the Expert
Dr. Marina Peredo is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, the founder of Skinfluence NYC. She’s well-known for her advanced injectable techniques and use of laser technology that enhance her patients’ aesthetics in the most natural-looking way possible.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any eye creams from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.