If you’re anything like the author of this post, you’ve been struggling with dark circles your entire life. People keep telling you to rest, take a break, sleep a little more, but you’re already sleeping eight (fine, seven) hours a night, and hydrating, and wearing under-eye sunscreen like your life depends on it. What else is there to do, when it looks like your dark circles just won’t go away? Well. You can always look into eye creams for dark circles.
You read that right, for dark circles. When you’ve been struggling against dark circles for a while, it’s not enough to just slap on any old moisturizer. You’ve got to bring out some truly effective, targeted products, and those can be hard to find. We’ve prepared a shortlist with some of our best recommendations–but first, let’s have a little chat about what’s been causing our dark circles.
Types of Dark Circles (& What Causes Them)
When we talk about dark circles, we’re talking about a number of different things. As a rule, it’s safe to consider that there are two main types of dark circles: brown, or blue-purple. If you’d like to known which one you have, try a simple undereye pinch test: pinch the darkened skin under your eyes (gently!), and lift it slightly away from your face. If the skin remains dark, your dark circles are probably “brown” and due to hyperpigmentation; if it brightens up slightly, then you’re probably dealing with “blue-purple” or vascular dark circles.
Brown dark circles
Brown dark circles are often associated with hyperpigmentation. They tend to be hereditary, and they are more common in darker skin tones. People of Mediterranean and South Asian descent, for example, tend to struggle with brownish dark circles. That’s not to say other people won’t ever experience them; after all, brown circles can also appear as a result of sun damage or hormonal changes.
Blue-purple dark circles
Blue or purple dark circles have a different cause, often associated with a vascular problem (aka poor blood circulation). Lack of sleep, dehydration, seasonal allergies, or dietary changes can cause the veins under your eyes to dilate, causing a darker appearance as a result.
There’s a third “type” of dark circle which isn’t quite a dark circle: it’s more of a shadow. These “dark circles” may look dark brown, black, or even greyish, and they appear in shadowed areas of the face. Perhaps your skin has sunk slightly with age and caused a shadow to appear; perhaps your bone structure just naturally creates a little valley under your eyes. This type of dark circle can’t be improved with skincare, because, like we said, it isn’t a “dark circle” at all. It’s a shadow, and you should treat it as such, using a targeted concealer for dark circles to brighten up the affected area.
Dark circles vs eye bags: Are they the same?
It’s also important to make a distinction between dark circles and eye bags. These two words are sometimes used interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing at all! Dark circles are “flat” on your skin, so to speak; they are patches of darkened skin, which often appear in the undereye area but may extend all around the eye (we see this a lot with people who have hyperpigmented dark circles).
Eye bags, on the other hand, are swollen areas that appear just below the eyes. They have many causes, and their location may vary slightly, but they are not dark circles. However, you may find that some creams that help minimize dark circles are also effective in minimizing eye bags.
How to Prevent Dark Circles
Dark circles may be hard to prevent, especially if they’re of the brown, hyperpigmented variety. However, there are some things you can try to prevent dark circles or, at least, to minimize their appearance:
- Wear sunscreen, including around your eyes. This is particularly important if you have pigmentation-based dark circles, which may actually get darker with sun exposure;
- Follow a healthy diet, rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and “good” fats (think salmon, nuts, olive oil, etc). This will improve the overall condition of your skin and, hopefully, minimize the appearance of your dark circles;
- Avoid excess alcohol and caffeine, and consider quitting smoking. Alcohol, caffeine, and smoking can all cause dehydration, which may make your dark circles more visible;
- Get enough sleep. A lack of sleep doesn’t directly cause dark circles, but it can make your skin look tired and dull, which in turn will exaggerate the appearance of dark circles around your eyes;
- Always remove your eye make-up. Not only is it a good habit to have, it will keep you from waking up in the morning with extra darkness around your eyes. “Raccoon eyes” can be fun as a makeup trend, but they’re not as fun as a side effect of incomplete makeup removal.
Our Favorite Eye Creams for Dark Circles
Now that you know a little more about dark circles, we can dive straight into the product recommendations. In pots or in tubes, with or without applicators, the eye creams you will find below all have one thing in common: they are designed to help you win the fight against dark circles. It’s all about finding the right one for you. Which one will you pick?
Filorga Optim-Eyes Eye Contour Cream
This intensive eye contour care offers a triple-action effect. It minimizes dark circles, reduces under-eye bags, and smooths wrinkles and fine lines, all at the same time. Designed with a refreshing texture, this is one of those eye creams that are just perfect to store in the fridge in between uses. The cool temperature will amp up the decongestant effect, allowing you to deflate that morning puffiness in no time.
Clinique All About Eyes
Best “replacement” for a good night of sleep
This Clinique eye cream is a classic, and for good reason; infused with the energizing properties of caffeine, vitamin A, B, and D, and a wealth of antioxidants and fatty acids, Clinique All About Eyes is often referred to as “8 hours of sleep in a bottle.” Perfect for early mornings as well as late evenings, this refreshing gel-cream melts seamlessly into the skin. It minimizes the appearance of both under-eye puffiness and dark circles in a single gesture.
APIVITA 5-Action Intensive Care Eye Serum
Best natural eye cream
For fans of hardworking botanicals, APIVITA 5-Action Intensive Care Eye Serum is an instant classic. This white lily serum revitalizes and rejuvenates the eye contour area. Lightweight and comfortable, it provides the delicate skin around the eyes with 5 unique benefits: it restores firmness, reduces wrinkles and lines, offers long-lasting hydration, minimizes dark circles, and downplays any signs of fatigue. Oh, and it’s also packed with antioxidants. Need we say more?
ISDINCEUTICS K-Ox Eyes Cream
Best for stubborn dark circles
One of the hardest working eye creams for dark circles, this is a skincare staple for many of our writers here at Care to Beauty. K-Ox is named after vitamin K oxide, a unique active that gradually brightens the eye area by preventing the congestion of blood vessels under the eyes. If you too struggle with those purplish dark circles that never seem to go away, this is the cream for you.
Lierac Diopticerne Dark Circle Correction Brightening Fluid
Best for instant under-eye radiance
There are purple dark circles and brown dark circles, and you may not know which one is yours. It’s no big deal! Lierac Diopticern is an eye cream that safeguards against both types of dark circles; while arnica extract reduces the appearance of purple dark circles associated with blood vessel congestion, vitamin C brightens brown dark circles associated with hyperpigmentation. All with a little added tint, for maximum radiance!
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Concentrate Matrix
Best for prevention and repair
This award-winning formula improves the overall appearance of the eye area: from signs of aging to dehydration, from dark circles to under-eye puffiness, there’s nothing this Eye Concentrate Matrix can’t tackle. Powerful ingredients work in tandem to offer a restorative experience: we’re talking vitamin C, probiotics, hyaluronic acid, and soybean extract, all of which hydrate and strengthen the delicate skin around the eyes, thus preventing the onset of any and all imperfections.
Sesderma K-Vit Anti-Dark Circles Serum Clarifying
Best for under-eye pigmentation
Not only does this hardworking serum help correct dark circles, it also reduces wrinkles and fine lines around the eyes. Due to its unique composition, which features vitamin K oxide, this serum reduces the build-up of blood pigments underneath the eyes, which is often responsible for the purple, shadowed appearance of many dark circles. It is also rich in hyaluronic acid and organic silica, which improve micro-circulation in order to revitalize the eye contour area.
Esthederm Intensive Hyaluronic Eye Serum
Best for “sunken” eyes
This high-concentration eye contour serum re-plumps wrinkles and hollow areas under the eyes. As we age, the tear trough, which is the area underneath the eyes, begins to lose density, creating a sunken, hollow curve that looks a lot like dark circles. This serum, rich in encapsulated hyaluronic acid of high molecular weight, can reduce the depth of the tear trough by 47%, thus restoring light and luminosity to the eye area.
Hopefully you’ve found your eye cream match among our recommendations. Looking for something a little more intensive, for when eye cream just won’t cut it? Then make sure to look through our favorite eye patches and eye masks: they might just be what you need!
Beauty Writer & Editor