The best eye cream for dark circles

Target those pesky bags with the best eye cream for dark circles in 2020

Pots of skincare with cotton buds on a marble backdrop
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Choosing the best eye cream for your needs can be tricky, especially if you’re looking for one that can help reduce dark circles. Why? Because dark circles are the result of an infuriatingly wide range of causes, both environmental or lifestyle-related. 

Factors such as lack of sleep, smoking, dehydration and diets high in salt, caffeine and alcohol can all contribute to this problem. Allergies can too, as they can lead to congestion, sluggish circulation and veins becoming more dilated and visible underneath thin under-eye skin. This is what often gives some dark circles their distinctive blue tone. If the circles under your eyes are more brown in colour though, they could be the result of pigmentation, a common condition where the skin becomes darker due to excess or uneven melanin distribution. Causes include sun damage, hormones and ageing, as well as genetics. 

As if that wasn’t enough in the way of potential contributing factors, as we age, skin naturally loses volume around the eye area due to dwindling fat and collagen stores. This results in eyes appearing more sunken, with veins and dark circles becoming more pronounced.

We know, it’s a lot to take in, but it does help if you can pinpoint any particular things that may be contributing to your own dark circles. As you’ve probably guessed by now though, as much as we’d like it to, an eye cream won’t provide a silver bullet. What we apply topically is just a piece of the puzzle, but it’s worth considering the options out there in the way of eye creams. 

What to look for in an eye cream for dark circles

Managing expectations is key, as dark circles caused by loss of volume and genes can be particularly hard to address. No eye cream can get rid of them entirely however, they can tone them down. Look for ingredients that brighten and even skin tone (vitamin C and retinol), hydrate and temporarily plump (hyaluronic acid), decongest and constrict blood vessels (caffeine), support skin barrier function (niacinamide and ceramides) and boost collagen production (peptides, vitamin C and retinol). 

Do you really need a separate eye cream though? Some argue that you can just take the skincare that you’re using on the rest of your face up to the eye area (provided that it doesn’t say otherwise);  if it doesn’t cause any stinging or sensitivity, that might work well for you. However, due to how delicate the skin around the eye area is (up to four times thinner than the skin around the rest of the body) and its bevy of specific concerns, a specially formulated, thin-textured eye cream could be a more preferable option. This is especially true if you’re prone to puffy eyes that can be exacerbated by heavy and rich-textured products that you may be using elsewhere on the face. 

There’s a wide variety of eye creams out there that claim to reduce dark circles, but which ones stand out from the rest of the pack? With ingredients lists, textures and formulas in mind, these are the ones that could make it worth parting ways with your cash. We also recommend that you combine your chosen product with lifestyle tweaks, as well as wearing sunglasses and a gentle broad spectrum SPF 30/50 sunscreen to see optimal results.

The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream

(Image credit: INKEY List )

The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream

The best budget eye cream for blue-toned dark circles

Specifications
RRP: £8.99
Size: 15ml
Key ingredients: caffeine, albizia julibrissin bark extract, squalane, Matrixyl 3000
Texture: lightweight cream
Fragrance-free:
Reasons to buy
+Affordable price+Works on puffiness too
Reasons to avoid
-Not effective on pigmentation-If deep-set wrinkles are also a priority

A fast-absorbing fatigue-fighter that won’t break the bank

If your dark circles are more blue-toned and often accompanied by a case of puffiness, this pleasantly affordable pick could be for you. Caffeine constricts the blood vessels underneath the skin, making the colour around the eye less visible, and also eases congestion too (making it ideal for use first thing in the morning). It’s more than a one-trick pony though; this cream also contains peptide Matrixyl 3000, which encourages collagen production with the aim of helping to reduce fine lines. 

La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Eyes

(Image credit: La Roche Posay)

La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Eyes

The best eye cream for dark circles and puffy eyes

Specifications
RRP: £25.50
Size: 15ml
Key ingredients: niacinamide, caffeine, ginkgo biloba extract, ferulic acid, PhE-Resorcinol
Texture: lightweight cream
Perfume-free:
Reasons to buy
+A great all-rounder for targeting signs of tiredness+Formulated for sensitive skin
Reasons to avoid
-If you prefer a traditional nozzle -If wrinkles are also a priority

Tones down brown- and blue-toned dark circles and, thanks to its cooling applicator, also works on puffiness

When it comes to brands that provide impressive results at a mid-range price point, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that does it better than La Roche-Posay. This eye cream is a great example of that. With a formula containing decongesting caffeine, as well as ingredients that help even out skin tone, it’s a good fit for softening down both blue- and brown-toned dark circles. Additionally, its formula also contains light-reflecting pigments and its tube comes with a cooling applicator to help gently massage away puffiness too. 

Murad vita C Eyes Dark Circle Corrector

(Image credit: Murad)

Murad Vita-C Dark Circle Corrector

The best overall eye cream for dark circles

Specifications
RRP: £56
Size: 15ml
Key ingredients: ascorbic acid, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, glutathione, niacinamide, red algae, giant kelp extract
Texture: lightweight cream
Fragrance-free:
Reasons to buy
+Impressive antioxidant and brightening properties+Multi-faceted formula
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive price point

High-performance, potent and protective cream, with a generous serving of vitamin C

It’s this eye cream’s brightening and skin-firming vitamin C complex that sets it apart: pure L-ascorbic acid, a vitamin C derivative called tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (or THD if you want less of a tongue-twister) and glutathione. This, in combination with de-puffing red algae, giant kelp extract and subtle light-reflecting micro minerals provide an effective team of fatigue fighters. It also has a lovely creamy consistency that absorbs well into skin.

Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream

(Image credit: Drunk Elephant)

Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream

The best eye cream for dark circles, with fine lines and wrinkles

Specifications
RRP: £54
Size: 15ml
Key ingredients: vitamin C, peptides, ceramides, cucumber extract
Texture: lightweight cream
Fragrance-free:
Reasons to buy
+Improves skin firmness+Hydrating and brightening
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive price point

A great all-rounder for addressing a wide variety of needs

Containing eight peptides, five forms of vitamin C, ceramides and cucumber extract, this restorative eye cream helps firm, even out skin tone and soothe in one fell swoop. A great all-rounder that meets the unique needs of more mature delicate under-eye skin in particular, glowing reviews online gush about its fast-absorbing hydrating texture and eye-brightening effects.

La Roche-Posay Redermic [R] Retinol Eye Cream

(Image credit: La Roche Posay)

La Roche-Posay Redermic [R] Retinol Eye Cream

The best retinol eye cream for dark circles and fine lines

Specifications
RRP: £27
Size: 15ml
Key ingredients: retinol, caffeine, sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid)
Texture: lightweight cream
Fragrance-free:
Reasons to buy
+Low risk of irritation +Also reduces fine lines and wrinkles 
Reasons to avoid
-Especially sensitive skin may still require a little time to get used to it -If you’re looking for a daytime product (retinol is best used at night)

Formulated to bring the benefits of your retinol face serum to the sensitive skin around the eye  

Retinol has become the favoured ingredient among experts and beauty insiders over the past few years, and its benefits apply as much to the eye area as it does the rest of the face. This gentle-yet-effective nightly eye cream contains 0.1% of the stuff to help eyes look less sunken (by stimulating collagen production) and to even out skin tone (by increasing cell turnover and exfoliation). A dose of 0.2% caffeine also acts as a helpful vasoconstrictor and reduces congestion too. As with all retinol products, a slow-and-steady approach is best, so start by applying it two nights a week and see how you get on.

Vichy Mineral 89 Eyes

(Image credit: Vichy)

Vichy Minéral 89 Eyes

The best eye cream for dark circles and dry skin

Specifications
RRP: £20
Size: 15ml
Key ingredients: sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid), caffeine, Mineralising Thermal Water, dermochlorella
Texture: gel-cream serum
Fragrance-free:
Reasons to buy
+Provides an instant plumping and smoothing effect+Decongesting
Reasons to avoid
-More effective options for pigmentation-Better suited to use in the summer months

Re-energising and plumping, this eye serum provides instant hydration for parched under-eye areas and eyelids

Lightweight and refreshing, this eye serum provides an instant shot of hydration courtesy of water-holding sodium hyaluronate. Combined with draining and decongesting caffeine and a brightening and firming oligopeptide derived from algae, it leaves delicate under-eye skin smoother, softer and more supple.

The Ordinary Caffiene Solution 5% ECGC

(Image credit: The Ordinary )

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

The best budget eye cream for disguising signs of fatigue

Specifications
RRP: £5.80
Size: 30ml
Key ingredients: caffeine, hyaluronic acid, EGCG, oxidised glutathione
Texture: lightweight serum
Fragrance-free:
Reasons to buy
+Effective on blue-toned dark circles and puffiness+Double the amount of product (compared to other eye creams)+Affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Best used as a short-term option-Won’t address pigmentation

The ideal morning-after-a-heavy-night tonic for tired eyes

Much like your morning coffee order, there are some mornings when a run-of-the-mill milky latte won’t do. Think of this as the espresso of caffeine eye creams; it contains a hefty 5% dose to help dilute the blue tone of dark circles by constricting blood vessels, EGCG from green tea leaves to deflate puffiness and hydrating hyaluronic acid to provide an instant (albeit temporary) plumping effect. 

CeraVe Eye Repair Cream

(Image credit: Carave)

CeraVe Eye Repair Cream

The best eye cream for sensitive skin

Specifications
RRP: £12
Size: 14ml
Key ingredients: niacinamide, ceramides, hyaluronic acid
Texture: lightweight cream
Fragrance-free:
Reasons to buy
+Soothes irritated skin+Hydrating and protective
Reasons to avoid
-If deep-set wrinkles are also a priority

A suits-all option enriched with ceramides to support the skin’s natural barrier

This replenishing eye cream’s cocktail of calming ingredients gives it far-reaching appeal; it caters for everyone, from the least sensitive of skins to the most, and has been given the seal of approval from the National Eczema Association. Ceramides, which support and maintain skin’s natural barrier, lie at the core of this formula, while hydrating hyaluronic acid plumps, glycerin moisturises and fantastic all-rounder niacinamide brightens and soothes