Is there a shadow under your eyes that often takes you by surprise, when you look in the mirror?
Dark circles can range from a light, smoke-like effect to something resembling a bruise, which is why it might be one of the trickier aspects to manage in skincare. While you’ll likely find success in hiding it with a concealer, if you’re looking for a deeper solution, you might have to figure out what’s causing the dark circles in the first place.
We spoke with Dr Anna Zakhozha, specialist dermatologist at Hortman Clinic Dubai, who explained that not all dark circles are the same – they can have many different patterns and causes. Scroll down to see her advice.
Based on our expert’s recommendations, we curated a list of the best eye creams to tackle different kinds of dark circles. Pick your favourite with Amazon Prime, and have it delivered to you as early as tomorrow.
1. Best Overall: La Roche Posay Pigmentclar Dark Circles Eye Cream
Great for daily use, La Roche Posay’s eye cream targets both blue and brown dark circles with its ultra-light formula. The eye cream uses key ingredients, from retinol to reduce the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles, to caffeine to decrease the appearance of under-eye bags and dark circles, to thermal spring water that’s rich in selenium, a natural antioxidant. The light reflective pigments in the eye cream instantly brighten the eye contour, and reviewers especially appreciate the cool metal applicator that gently allows them to apply the cream to their sensitive under-eye area.
2. Best for Hyperpigmentation: Neostrata Brightening Eye Cream
This powerful brightening cream is Dr Zakhozha’s recommendation for people with dark circles that are caused by hyperpigmentation, which occurs when the body produces excess melanin, often from prolonged exposure to the sun. The formula in Neostrata’s eye cream blends antioxidants, peptides, algae extracts, and vitamins C and E, to target dark circles. It also includes five per cent PHAs (polyhydroxy acids) to gently boost the skin’s natural hydrating matrix and help cushion and brighten the appearance of the skin under the eyes. Happy reviewers say they’ve seen a visible improvement in just two days.
3. Best for Blue Pattern Dark Circles: Obagi Medical ELASTIderm Eye Serum
If you feel your under-eye skin growing thinner and more transparent, with visible veins, Dr Zakhozha recommends trying Obagi Medical’s ELASTIderm Eye Serum. Our expert states that blue pattern dark circles require treatment with ingredients like caffeine, retinol and stem cell extract. This serum uses caffeine as an antioxidant to reduce puffiness under the eyes. It also features a bi-mineral contour complex that harnesses zinc, copper and malonate to promote the development of healthy elastin, which improves the skin’s strength, firmness and resilience. Reviewers like that the bottle has a rollerball, which makes application quick, easy and mess-free.
4. Best for Puffiness: Sunday Riley Auto Correct Brightening and Depuffing Eye Contour Cream
Another excellent choice that uses caffeine, is Sunday Riley’s eye contour cream. Its formula blends caffeine with Brazilian ginseng root extract, horse chestnut, watermelon extract and the antioxidant lutein to de-puff, hydrate and brighten under-eye skin. Reviewers have noticed a reduction in not just dark circles, but fine lines, too, leaving tired eyes looking less puffy and more energised. Some say it’s light and offers good coverage, but doesn’t feel cakey under make-up. The eye cream is phthalate-, sulfate- and fragrance-free.
5. Best for Firming: Paula’s Choice Clinical Ceramide-Enriched Firming Eye Cream
This rich and velvety eye cream by Paula’s Choice is formulated with retinol, vitamin C and a concentrated blend of five ceramides that strengthen the skin and improve its elasticity. Reviewers who were looking for an anti-ageing eye cream that also tackled dark circles, found their match in this product. Its formula includes a low dosage (0.01 per cent) of anti-ageing retinol, along with peptides, plant-derived brighteners, and four forms of the antioxidant vitamin C. Reviewers love how rich and moisturising the eye cream feels on the skin, never drying out the under-eye area, and providing the youthful firmness they’re looking for.
6. Best for Mature Skin: SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex
As we age, we’re bound to find changes in our skin, so it requires an alteration in our skincare regimen, too. Popular American skincare brand SkinCeuticals’ A.G.E Eye Complex improves the appearance of 10 signs of visible ageing in the eye area, from crow’s feet and dark circles to elasticity, crepiness and wrinkles. Packed with antioxidants, like blueberry extracts and peptides, along with caffeine and optical diffusers to disperse light, the formula works to improve the radiance of dull-looking eyes across all skin tones. Reviewers have found visible improvement in just one application.
7. Best Vegan Eye Cream: ILIA Beauty Bright Start Activated Eye Cream
Do you often experience dryness or redness from actives in skincare products? ILIA’s Bright Start delivers the benefits of retinol, without the drawbacks. The key ingredient here is sea fennel extract, a plant-based retinol alternative, which is safe for sensitive skin and eyes, safe for daytime use, doesn’t require you to build up tolerance for it, and can even be used alongside products containing vitamin C, unlike retinol. Formulated with caffeine and peptides that visibly depuff and revive tired eyes, along with sheer, light-reflecting pearls to bring radiance to the skin, the eye cream helps reduce dark circles over time. Reviewers claim the cooling ceramic tip is the highlight of the clever product – it doubles as a massage tool, allowing application to become a calming part of their morning or night routine.
What causes dark circles and how can I prevent it?
Dr Anna Zakhozha, specialist dermatologist at Hortman Clinic Dubai, said: “Sometimes, when it’s related to volume loss, we can see hollowness under the eyes. Other times, it’s because of a genetic predisposition – when the skin under the eyes becomes very thin and [almost] transparent, we can see a bluish discolouration from the veins underneath. Also, people with dark skin types can experience light brown pigmentation under their eyes.”
Having once assessed the nature and cause of the dark circles, dermatologists are then able to recommend different eye creams.
One of the key ways to prevent the formation of dark circles is to take control of your lifestyle choices. Dr Zakhozha shared some behaviours that could help: “Enough sleep, a healthy lifestyle that increases oxygenation for tissues in the body, and of course, sun protection, because [exposure to the] sun is the number one reason for skin ageing.”
If you have trouble falling asleep, perhaps using sleep headphones, or adding sleep essentials can improve your nighttime routine. And if you’re looking for the perfect sunblock, check out our expert-recommended lists of the best zinc sticks, sun protection customised for the face, trending Korean sunscreens and Japanese sunblocks.
Do eye creams actually work against dark circles?
Once you’ve identified the cause of your dark circles, and are working on ways to improve your lifestyle routine, you could then look to eye creams to help reduce their impact.
According to Dr Zakhozha, eye creams do work, but only “if the reason for dark circles is identified correctly”. She explained: “For hollowness under the eyes, creams wound be less effective than an injectable treatment that would replace volume loss. But for bluish patterns and hyperpigmented dark circles, eye creams are really beneficial.”
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