11 Eye Creams That Treat Dark Circles and Puffiness, According to the Experts
Dark circles happen to virtually everyone, but they occur for many reasons. Los Angeles-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Onyeka Obioha notes that the main culprits are genetics, aging ("The loss of the deep fat under the eye causes the blood vessels under the skin to look more apparent, which in turn creates a shadow or darkness," she says), and chronic rubbing and irritation from allergies or eczema.
And while anyone can be prone to dark circles, they impact various skin types and tones differently. "Those with lighter skin may have dark circles that result from the visibility of blood vessels, giving rise to a blue-gray color," says Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology. "Those with darker skin types may be more prone to hyperpigmentation, resulting in brown discoloration underneath the eyes." (Dr. Obioha agrees, adding that people of Middle Eastern or Southeast Asian descent are typically more prone to genetically-induced dark circles). Those with fair skin, in contrast, often have circles that look more severe, and that's simply because of the very visible appearance of the blood vessels under the paler skin, Dr. Obioha says.
The best way to treat dark circles, regardless of your skin tone? Invest in an effective eye cream. "Eye creams help to reduce the appearance of dark circles and prevent them from forming by incorporating ingredients that lighten and brighten the area," notes Dr. Garshick. "They also nourish, support, and strengthen the skin and boost collagen production to prevent and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles."
When searching for a formula, be sure to focus on the right ingredients. Dr. Jeannette Graf, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says the following agents are key. Even better? Some have de-puffing benefits, as well. Look for coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which protects against sun damage, as well as SPF (in addition to protecting your skin from the sun's harmful UV rays, it also helps stave off wrinkles). You'll also want peptides, which support collagen production, and ceramides, which help maintain a strong skin barrier. Similarly, hyaluronic acid provides moisture to the skin and helps with elasticity, and a mix of vitamins C, E, and K improve skin health under the eyes. If you're dealign with hyper-pigmented skin under your eyes, look for a formula with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). Struggling with dark under-eye circles? A caffeine-laden eye cream will help diminish their look as well as decrease puffiness.
With all that in mind, we asked Dr. Garshick, Dr. Graf, and Dr. Obioha for the eye creams they most often recommend to treat dark under-eye circles and puffiness. Discover their picks below, then choose the right formula for your skin type and tone.
"This niacinamide-containing eye cream evens out skin tone and reduces hyperpigmentation to improve under-eye discoloration," says Dr. Garshick. "While hyperpigmentation can affect all skin types, it may be more commonly seen in those with darker skin." She adds that this option contains retinol and a blurring technology to reduce the appearance of fine lines, as well.
Shop Now: Ponds "Rejuveness" Lifting and Brightening Eye Cream, $7.99, bedbathandbeyond.com.
Those with darker, deeper skin types should should look for an eye cream that targets pigment, notes Dr. Obioha. She likes Alastin's Restorative Eye Treatment; it contains tetrapeptide, an antioxidant that will inhibit pigment and stop dark circles from forming, she shares.
Shop Now: Alastin Restorative Eye Treatment, $85, alastin.com.
Dr. Obioha likes these eye gels for those with lighter skin; they use green tea extract to help improve microcirculation and lighten the appearance of dark circles.
Shop Now: Patchology FlashPatch Illuminating Eye Gels, $15, dermstore.com.
First Aid Beauty
"This easy-to-apply eye cream includes niacinamide, pumpkin seed extract, and caffeine to improve dark circles by reducing discoloration and puffiness," Dr. Garshick explains. "Some people have dark circles that are related to both brown and bluish discoloration—this can address both." And while it's suited for all complexion types, it is especially calming on dry, sensitive skin; it contains sodium hyaluronate to boost moisture.
Shop Now: First Aid Beauty "Eye Duty" Niacinamide Brightening Cream, $36, sephora.com.
"With growth factors (to strengthen the skin and improve fine lines and wrinkles), antioxidants, glycerin, sodium hyaluronate with glycyrrhetinic acid (to help lighten the under-eye area), and caffeine (to reduce puffiness), this formula improves the overall appearance of dark circles," says Dr. Garshick. "It is gentle enough to be used twice per day and won't clog the pores."
Shop Now: Neocutis Lumiere Illuminating Eye Cream, $97, dermstore.com.
Dr. Jeannette Graf
"I created the Triple Action Peptide Eye Cream," says Dr. Graf. "[It] has peptides for dark under-eye circles, bags, fine lines, and wrinkles."
Shop Now: Dr. Jeannette Graf, M.D. Triple Action Peptide Eye Cream, $36, lovelyskin.com.
Dr. Garshick loves this option, which contains SPF 35 and provides broad-spectrum coverage using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. "It comes in various shades to match all skin tones," she notes. "Not only does it protect against further UV damage, but this lightweight eye cream also has a cooling applicator to reduce puffiness."
Shop Now: Colorscience Total Eye 3-in-1 Renewal Therapy SPF 35, $69, dermstore.com.
Dr. Graf calls this option a "powerful eye recharger." It has a patented technology that delivers caffeine, peptides, niacinamide, and vitamin C to the skin—and helps de-puff and brighten the eye area.
Shop Now: Skinbetter Science "Interfuse" Treatment Cream Eye, $105, skinbetter.com.
Another one of Dr. Graf's favorites? She likes this eye cream because it combines ingredients like vitamin K oxide, hyaluronic acid, and peptides eyeliss and haloxyl to constrict the amount of blood flow around the eye area, which ultimately tightens the dermis and reduces swelling and dark circles.
Shop Now: ISDIN K-Ox Eye, $85, isdin.com.