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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. 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.
Best for Puffiness: Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream
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 Hydrating: Saturday Skin Wide Awake Brightening Eye Cream
Hyaluronic acid attracts water to and holds it in the skin, instantly hydrating and making skin appear plumper. At the same time, the avocado protein in this formula works to help strengthen the skin barrier, ensuring moisture can’t escape. It’s a one-two punch that makes this extra moisturizing. An added peptide complex both fights wrinkles and brightens, too.
Best Brightening: Tarte Maracuja C-Brighter Eye Treatment
Whether you use this in the morning, at night, or both, you’ll reap the benefits. In the morning, you’ll appreciate the light-reflecting particles that leave skin looking more luminous. At night, you’ll appreciate the rich (though not greasy) texture and loads of antioxidants to undo the day’s free radical damage.
Best for Anti-Aging: Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Power Eye Cream
Vitamin C is a superstar in the skincare world when it comes to anti-aging, thanks to its collagen-boosting, antioxidant, and brightening benefits. But this cream takes it even one step further, using a unique form of the vitamin that’s 50 times more powerful than the standard stuff. Vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, and caffeine round out the ingredient list, helping to both firm, smooth, and brighten.
Best for AM: First Aid Beauty Triple Duty Eye Remedy
Right away, this delivers light-reflecting pigments to pep up tired eyes, while caffeine and licorice root extract works overtime to brighten skin. But it doesn’t stop there; this also contains retinyl palmitate to smooth away lines and wrinkles. Bonus points for the metal applicator tip, which both feels super cooling and boosts micro-circulation to help further knock out dark circles and puff.
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.
Best Luxury: 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. (Top tip: Keep it in the fridge for a few minutes before using to make the experience even that much more enjoyable.)
Best for Sensitive Skin: It Cosmetics Confidence In An Eye Cream
Choice for those with easily irritated skin, this has skin-barrier boosting ceramides and plenty of soothing and hydrating ingredients such as colloidal oatmeal and coconut oil. Not to mention that the apricot tint neutralizes the look of dark circles right away.
Best Cooling: Skyn Iceland Icelandic Relief Eye Cream
There’s no better way to both soothe and wake up tired eyes than with something chilly. This innately cooling formula is loaded with plant-based actives that work to minimize the look of dark circles, plus anti-aging peptides to reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
Best for Stubborn Bags: Shiseido White Lucent Anti-Dark Circles Eye Cream
For those shadows that really just won’t go away, reach for this formula. It targets dark circles in three ways, addressing the root cause, preventing them from forming, and boosting microcirculation to keep the delicate skin looking glowy and radiant. It also addresses surface discoloration and is creamy and hydrating.
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 Clean Formula: Edible Beauty Gold Rush Eye Balm
True to its name, this brand uses only food-grade ingredients. Here, it’s revitalizing coffee and cucumber extract that knock out both shadows and puffiness, plus antioxidant-rich blueberry and passionfruit extracts to protect the delicate skin around your eyes from free radical damage.
Best Under Makeup: Tatcha The Pearl Tinted Eye 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.