I often wake up in the morning with eyes that look like I got into a knock-out fight with my organic sheets and—defying all logic—managed to lose that battle. The bag of tricks below, though, has bailed me out many times:
Step 1: Tatcha Deep Hydration Revitalizing Eye Mask ($95 for 10 sets; tatcha.com)
Put these biocellulose patches on while you make breakfast, drink your coffee, etc. The blend of plant extracts they contain (including circulation-boosting red algae and discoloration-busting licorice extract, which together help lift the dark shadows) leave your under-eyes smoother and brighter in ten minutes. Keep them in the fridge—the cool temp helps to instantly de-puff.
Step 2: La Roche Posay Pigmentclar Eyes ($43; dermstore.com)
Post-mask, wash your face with a gentle cleanser (even though the serum the patches leave behind makes your eyes look super dewy, you don't want it to cause pilling and creasing later). Then swipe a dot of this cream under each eye, tapping it along the orbital area (a.k.a. your eye bone), going all the way up to the tail of your brow. This is like a magic eraser for dark circles: It's made with caffeine and mica, which give an immediate illuminating effect, and niacinamide, which strengthens the thin skin around the eyes over the long-term, making the darkness that lurks below the surface less noticeable.
Step 3: Givenchy Mister Light Instant Corrective Pen ($35; sephora.com)
There are lots of brightening pens out there, but this one comes in seven shades (thank you, Givenchy!), so you can find the hue that best matches your skin tone and your dark circles. It's not a concealer—it simply counteracts the shadows under your eyes. I use shade 1, a peach tone, to balance the blue in my under-eyes.
Step 4: It Cosmetics CC+ Eye Physical SPF 50 Color Color Correcting Concealer ($20; itcosmetics.com)
You only need a little bit of this concealer—it's incredibly pigmented and thick (but creamy!). When I first tried it, I applied too much and it was terrifying. When I applied just a dab under each eye, though, I looked like I'd slept for eight-plus hours every night of my life. In addition to a combo of line-obliterating ingredients like peptides, algae and hyaluronic acid, it has SPF50+. This is key; sun damage is one of the major causes of dark circles.
Step 5: Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes Inner Rim Brightener ($ 20; tartecosmetics.com)
Have you ever heard the tip about wearing white eyeliner to perk up your eyes? Forget it. It just makes you look like you're wearing white eyeliner. What you really need is a nude shade. By matching your own skin tone, you enlarge your eyes and make them look more alert (it sounds crazy, but it works). This one is perfect for fair to medium shades, but if you're darker, try NYX Cosmetics Wonder Pencil in Deep ($5; nyxcosmetics.com).