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Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: Sadly, there’s truly no way to completely eliminate dark circles. Because the skin under the eye area is so thin, it’s easy to see what’s going on underneath, in this case the prominent blood vessels that create a discolored or dark appearance, explains dermatologist Corey L. Hartman, MD, of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama. He adds that everything from dehydration to a lack of sleep to allergies to genetics can all impact how bad these dark circles look, which is why they’re particularly tough to treat; it requires an approach that often involves a mix of products and procedures, he says. The bottom line? There’s no one topical product that will ever completely eliminate dark circles. (Hey, we’re just the messengers.)
But here’s the good news: Topical products can most definitely improve the situation, not to mention deliver a whole host of other benefits for tired, stressed out eyes. The latest peeper protectors tout ingredients to improve the look of this delicate skin both instantly and over time. One of our favorite categories? Eye masks. Pop one on and in as little as a few minutes they get to work, brightening, firming, and hydrating.
Ahead, the best eye masks for dark circles that will generally make you look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Best Overall: Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery Eye Mask
This mask works so well that you only have to use it once a week to reap the benefits, namely serious brightening. They contain both caffeine and coffee extract to help constrict blood vessels (which minimizes the look of dark circles). Also noteworthy: The fact that they come dry. Break the seal on the liquid chamber to saturate them with the formula only when you’re ready to use them, ensuring the ingredients stay at their most potent and efficacious.
What Our Testers Say
"While this mask is not meant to be used more than once a week, the day after using it, I found that my under-eye area was less puffy than usual, and the delicate skin was significantly more hydrated." — Leigh Weingus, Product Tester
Best Firming: Joanna Vargas Bright Eye Firming Mask
Not only do these patches brighten, as the name suggests, but they’re also packed with a youth-boosting peptide to reduce the look of puffy, saggy skin. Hydrolyzed silk protein and hyaluronic acid add a double hitter of moisturizing benefits on top of that, leaving your eyes looking more youthful in minutes.
Hydrolyzed silk protein is a protein obtained from natural silk that has moisture binding properties and can hold 10,000 worth its weight in water. It has the ability to deeply penetrate the skin and provide a silky, smooth appearance.
Best for Lines: Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Pure Retinol Express Smoothing Eye Mask
The thin skin around your eyes is where signs of aging (read: pesky fine lines) typically show up first; that’s why we love that this option is infused with retinol, the gold standard wrinkle-fighter, coupled with Japanese micro-infusion technology to ensure better penetration into the skin. They’re also made of a super stretchy cotton that won’t slip and slide, always important criteria in our book when talking about eye patches.
Best Cooling: Milk Makeup Cooling Water Eye Patches
Think of these as the equivalent of putting cucumbers on your eyes…just much less messy and no trip to the kitchen required. The water-based patches are innately cooling, though we highly recommend doing as we do and stashing them in the fridge to further up the chill factor (which feels oh-so-good on sleepy mornings). They’re also infused with caffeine to help both brighten and de-puff.
Best Moisturizing: Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Revitalizing Eye Mask
Eye creams certainly have their place, but for an extra powerful hit of hydration, this formula can’t be beaten. A favorite of Dr. Hartman’s for providing tons of moisture, not only is it rich in hydrating ingredients, but the mask itself is also made of a unique, coconut-derived biocellulose material that forms a complete barrier. Why does that matter? It ensures all those hydrators get sealed into skin. It also contains protective antioxidants, and brightening licorice extract, too.
Best for Overnight: Elina Organics Leave On Under Eye Recovery Mask
Unlike the patches in this bunch, this looks more like an eye cream but acts like a mask. It contains more than a 30% concentration of vitamin C, a known skin brightener, along with white truffle extract (fancy) to also help reduce discoloration. Mango butter and aloe give it a nice and creamy consistency that stays put, not to mention that the formula is squeaky clean and free of any kind of chemicals or preservatives. Apply it before bedtime and wake up to fewer dark circles.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Tarte SEA Pack Your Bags Undereye Patches
Because the skin around your eyes is so thin, it can be even more susceptible to experiencing unsightly irritation and reactions. These patches are fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and tested by both dermatologists and ophthalmologists, so whether you have sensitive skin, eyes, or both, you’re good to go. Coconut oil and jellified algae moisturize and illuminate in just 15 minutes. In fact, in a consumer study, a whopping 90% of women said the skin around their eyes appeared brighter after just one use.
Best Natural: 100% Pure Bright Eyes Mask
There are no questionable ingredients to be found in these patches. What you will find is a variety of organic, potent naturals. Think green coffee to improve circulation, antioxidant-rich green tea, and yerba mate tea to boost elasticity. Even the patches themselves are natural, made of 95% aloe juice and 5% plant cellulose. Plus, the vibrant green color is made for a selfie moment.
Best Gel: Patchology FlashPatch Rejuvenating Eye Gels
Gel masks are ideal for those who like an extra cooling, soothing sensation, thanks to their innately high water content. We’re big fans of these, which use both caffeine to improve micro-circulation and hydrolyzed collagen to boost tone and elasticity. Also nice: They work in just five minutes, and despite the fact that they aren’t individually wrapped, never dry out in the jar.
Best Budget: Yes to Cucumbers 2-Step Eye Kit
For less than a latte, you get both a single-use mask and an eye cream, both packed with cucumber and caffeine to help de-puff and de-dark circle-ize (not a word, but you get the idea). Apply the paper mask for 10 minutes first, then follow up immediately with the cream to further lock-in and maximize all those benefits.
Runner-Up, Best Budget: Bliss Eye Got This Under Eye Mask
This eye mask is ready to tackle everything from puffiness to dark circles to fine lines. The serum-rich mask hugs the skin so you can multitask while it gets to work without worrying about slippage. Best of all, the eye mask is totally free of any nasties including parabens, phthalates, SLS, and more.
Best for Mornings: Clarins Hydra-Essentiel Moisturizing Reviving Eye Mask
Pop this on for 10 minutes while you blow-dry or get dressed and thank us later. The gel-cream uses horse chestnut extract to minimize the look of dark circles, as well as soothing Irish moss. It’s also a great choice to use in the AM because it contains quinoa extract, which works to protect skin from environmental aggressors. You know, everything that your skin gets attacked with the second you leave the house. But if you want to save it for nighttime you totally can; it doubles as a leave-on mask that can be used overnight once or twice per week.
Best Splurge: Knesko Rose Quartz Antioxidant Eye Mask
An eye mask that also infuses the healing powers of crystals? Be still our hearts. Dr. Hartman lauds it for containing a, “potent mix of antioxidants,” including Vitamin C and licorice extract, which help to combat discoloration. (Also nice: There’s plenty of leftover serum in the mask tray, which you can use to apply elsewhere on your face). And the patches are in fact made with rose quartz, the crystal known for helping to promote universal love. We’re in.
There’s no shortage of eye masks to choose from, but the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery Eye Mask really takes the cake, so effective that you only have to use it weekly to see results. If you’re also looking for an extra hit of moisture (always a good thing for your eyes), try the Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Eye Mask; if you’re battling both dark circles and lines, go for the retinol-infused Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Pure Retinol Express Smoothing Eye Mask. Clean beauty queens will appreciate the all-natural formula of the 100% Pure Bright Eyes Mask, another one of our go-tos.
What to Look for in an Eye Mask for Dark Circles
Another one of Dr. Hartman’s suggested ingredients, this is commonly found in all kinds of eye products, thanks to its ability to constrict blood vessels, tamping down puffiness and dark circles.
Any type of product that’s going around the eye should contain moisturizing ingredients because the skin in this area is innately drier, Dr. Hartman explains.