This $7 Caffeine-Powered Serum Is Like Coffee for My Dark Circles

And it's super affordable.

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3.7

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

What We Like
  • Super affordable

  • Sinks in fast

  • Research-backed ingredients

  • Bottle lasts for months

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't work for all types of dark circles and puffiness

  • Doesn't hydrate the skin

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG won’t make a massive difference for all dark circles and puffiness, but if it works for you, it’s an affordable and effective option.

3.7

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

We purchased The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG so our writer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.

At first glance, The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG eye serum is everything I love about The Ordinary. For one, it’s super affordable, but most importantly, it incorporates research-backed ingredients to target skin concerns.

However, dark circles and puffiness aren’t usually so easily remedied. As a lifelong recipient of the phrase you look tired—even after the best nights of sleep due to my chronic dark circles—I’ve mostly accepted that concealer is the only solution (well, that or fillers).  

Still, I’m always excited to try something new, so with that in mind, I used The Ordinary's Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG eye serum for a couple of weeks to see if it made any major changes to my circles.

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

Best for: All skin types

Uses: Dark circles, puffiness

Potential Allergens: Glycine soja (soybean) seed extract

Active Ingredients: Caffeine, epigallocatechin gallatyl glucoside (EGCG)

Byrdie Clean?: Yes

Price: $6.70

About the Brand: Skincare brand The Ordinary incorporates science-backed ingredients into powerful and affordable products.

About My Skin: Genetic dark circles

Other than dark circles that just won’t quit, the skin around my eyes looks healthy. I don’t have fine lines to deal with (yet) or any major puffiness. The skin is thin, which means I can see veins around my skin, and I’m sure that contributes to my dark circles, too. I do have some dryness under my eyes, but nothing too bothersome. My skin is pretty normal—neither too oily nor too dry—and even though I experience breakouts, my skin isn’t too sensitive or over-reactive to products.

Confession: I don’t typically use eye care products—I typically carry my face products over to the area. But during my testing period, I used The Ordinary's Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG morning and evening all over my eye area, from my dark circles up to the brow bone.

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG
 Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

Ingredients: Caffeine and EGCG

This product improves the look of puffiness and dark circles with two key ingredients: caffeine and EGCG. It uses a 5% caffeine solution, which the brand calls “extremely high,” to reduce eye puffiness. Caffeine helps with under-eye bags because it increases skin circulation and might even dissolve fat under the skin (one reason it’s often included in products formulated to reduce cellulite). However, it’s worth noting that these anti-puffiness effects aren’t long-term solutions. 

EGCG, AKA epigallocatechin gallate glucoside, is the other star ingredient, here. It’s made from green tea leaves and has soothing and anti-aging properties. It also protects the skin from environmental stressors.

Lastly, this serum is free of alcohol, oil, silicones, nuts, and gluten, and is vegan and cruelty-free.

The combination of EGCG and caffeine is like a refreshing cup of tea for your eyes—it wakes them up and gets them ready to face the day.

The Feel: Super light serum

Everything about this serum is light. The clear liquid has a barely-there tint, and just slightly more viscosity than water. This means it spreads easily over the eye area and disappears almost as quickly (although I can sometimes feel it on my skin if I apply too much). I find that it dries enough to apply other products on top of it almost immediately, so it won’t hold up your routine.

The Results: Depends on your situation

To see results with this eye serum, the cause of your dark circles and puffiness matters. If your dark circles are caused by pigmentation, this might work for you. If your eyes are puffy due to a bad night of sleep or a major cry session, it might bring them down. But, if like me, your dark circles are a combo of thin skin and shadows, you might not see a big difference.

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG
Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

The Ordinary even highlights a few cases in which you might not find success with this product. The first is if dark circles are caused by a hollowness in the eye contour due to fat or bone loss. While this looks like dark circles, it’s actually a shadow and therefore this product—or any topical remedy—won’t help. The second situation where this product (and again, any topical product) won’t work is if eye puffiness is due to fat deposits under the eye.

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG
Byrdie / Joline Buscemi 

If you have under-eye dryness, you’ll need something else for that, too. While this serum didn’t make my eyes any drier, it didn’t improve them, either.  

Ulimately, to find success with this product, make sure that your issue is one that it—or any topical product, for that matter—can fix. If it is, this serum is packed with ingredients that can help.

The Ordinary is known for its extremely affordable products, and at $6.70, this eye serum lives up to that reputation.

The Value: Insanely affordable

It’s not only cheaper than most other products, but the 30 ml will last you a long time—I only need about one drop for both my eyes.

Similar Products: Lots to choose from

The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream: Another extremely affordable eye product is this one from The Inkey List. This one uses caffeine too, plus Matrixyl 3000, a peptide that targets fine lines and wrinkles. This formulation is more hydrating than The Ordinary’s, and might be a good choice for drier skin.

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG
Byrdie / Joline Buscemi 

Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème: If dark circles are more of an issue, something like this semi-tinted eye cream might be a good choice. It uses vitamin C to target signs of aging, and the creamy consistency works well with concealer. It’s more expensive than The Ordinary, at $39 for 15 milliliters, but you’ll only need to use a little bit each time.

Final Verdict

The Ordinary's Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG won’t work for everyone, but if you’ve got dark circles caused by pigmentation or puffy eyes after a late night, the high concentration of caffeine and EGCG will help. Plus, the bottle should last for months—all for less than $10.

Specs

  • Product Name Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG
  • Product Brand The Ordinary
  • SKU 769915190670
  • Price $6.70
  • Weight 1 oz.
  • Ingredients Water, Caffeine, Maltodextrin, Glycerin, Propanediol, Epigallocatechin Gallatyl Glucoside, Gallyl Glucoside, Hyaluronic Acid, Oxidized Glutathione, Melanin, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, Urea, Pentylene Glycol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Xanthan gum, Lactic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Propyl Gallate, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Ethoxydiglycol, Benzyl Alcohol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol
Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Herman A, Herman AP. Caffeine’s mechanisms of action and its cosmetic useSkin Pharmacol Physiol. 2013;26(1):8-14. doi: 10.1159/000343174.

  2. Kim E, Hwang K, Lee J, et al. Skin protective effect of epigallocatechin gallateIJMS. 2018;19(1):173. doi: 10.3390/ijms19010173.

  3. Schagen S. Topical peptide treatments with effective anti-aging resultsCosmetics. 2017;4(2):16. doi:10.3390/cosmetics4020016

  4. Telang P. Vitamin C in dermatologyIndian Dermatol Online J. 2013;4(2):143. doi: 10.4103/2229-5178.110593.

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