The 10 Best Eye Creams for Dark Circles in 2022

Sunday Riley Auto Correct Eye Cream does so much more than just brighten.

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The 10 Best Eye Creams for Dark Circles in 2022

Sephora / Ulta

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Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to get a full eight hours of sleep. For those nights when an impending deadline is keeping you up or a crying baby just won’t quit, eye cream might be your very best friend come morning. Sure, concealer will always work to cover up those dreaded dark circles, but it’s a moisturizing eye cream that’ll really contribute to your skin’s overall health, brightening your under-eye area with long-term results. 

To find the best eye creams to lean on when you aren’t able to catch the proper amount of zzz’s, we consulted with experts, read thousands of reviews, and tried out some of the top-rated ones available. In doing so, we identified the top ten eye creams that revitalize under-eyes, depuff skin, and reduce the appearance of dark circles. In the end, Sunday Riley Auto Correct Brightening + Depuffing Eye Cream came out on top as our best overall pick because of its antioxidant-rich formula that does so much more than just brighten. 

After your morning coffee, read on to discover our 10 best eye creams specifically formulated to diminish dark circles. 

Best Overall: Sunday Riley Auto Correct Eye Cream

Sunday Riley Auto Correct Brightening + Depuffing Eye Cream

Sephora

What We Love: This caffeine and antioxidant-rich formula multitasks to brighten dark circles, firm crepey skin, and depuff bags. 

What We Don’t Love: The cream contains light-reflecting particles that can have a subtle shimmer effect. If you’re not down for the dewey highlighted look, this won’t be for you.

When it comes to brightening dark circles, Sunday Riley Auto Correct is what I always reach for — and many beauty experts share the same sentiment. “It really does a great job of making dark circles less apparent and also [helps to] depuff,” says beauty director turned content creator, Kristina Rodulfo. Thanks to a multi-tasking formula of caffeine, watermelon extract, and ginseng, it energizes tired eyes, provides blue-light protection (something that’s especially important if you stare at a screen every day), and deeply hydrates. Plus, it works as an excellent base layer for concealer and, if you’re into a subtle highlight, the light-reflecting particles will deliver a brightening boost of shimmer that makes you look well-rested (even if you just pulled an all-nighter). 

Price at time of publish: $55

Active Ingredients: Caffeine, Watermelon extract, Ginseng  | Size: 0.5 oz | Benefits: Brightens, firms, depuffs

Best Budget: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Cream

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair

Ulta

What We Love: This regenerating eye cream offers both scented and fragrance-free versions to suit your personal preference. 

What We Don’t Love: The formula does contain retinol, so start by incorporating it into your routine every few days if you have sensitive skin.

We love an eye cream packed full of essential hydraters like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. With a price tag just under $40, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck — a highly-concentrated retinol that’ll quickly smooth over fine lines — in a generous container size that can last upwards of four months. Meanwhile, the moisturizing ingredients plump and brighten the delicate under-eye area. Note that the scent on this is a bit strong, so we appreciate that the brand noticed customer feedback and moved to offer a fragrance-free version as well. 

Price at time of publish: $29

Active Ingredients: Retinol, Hyaluronic acid | Size: 1.7 oz | Benefits: Smooths fine lines, plumps skin 

Best Splurge: La Mer The Eye Concentrate

4.6
La Mer The Eye Concentrate Eye Cream

Nordstrom

What We Love: This ultra-luxe cream comes with a cooling applicator that works to lift and soothe while massaging the product in.  

What We Don’t Love: It’s not a realistic pick for all budgets.

When it comes to top-of-the-line skincare, La Mer is the first name that comes to mind. Their products have a cult-following amongst celebrities, influencers, and editors for their high-powered anti-aging effects. The Eye Concentrate is no different. The formula features the brand’s patented Miracle Broth™, a cell-renewing elixir that uses sea kelp and other highly potent nutrients to hydrate, rejuvenate, and brighten the under-eye area. We love the fact that this cream comes with a silver-tipped applicator that has a cooling effect and works to lift and soothe the skin without having to dip your fingers into the jar (doing so can harbor bacteria). Although the price is quite steep, this is a one-of-a-kind luxury that’s worth the investment. 

Price at time of publish: $260

Active Ingredients: Sea kelp, Magnesium, Eucalyptus | Size: 0.5 oz | Benefits: Brightens, hydrates, smooths fine lines 

Best for Sensitive Skin: Biossance Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel

Biossance Squalane + Peptide Brightening & De-puffing Eye Gel

Sephora

What We Love: This clean beauty eye gel is lightweight, fragrance-free, and safe for sensitive skin. 

What We Don’t Love: Because the formula is so lightweight, it doesn’t provide the deep moisturization of richer creams.

This Biossance formula is not a cream, it’s a gel — meaning it's super lightweight and intended to specifically boost brightness and depuff the under-eye area as opposed to directly addressing dry skin concerns like fine lines. We love it for its weightless and refreshing feel, making it the perfect base layer for underneath makeup. It absorbs into the skin and dries quickly, while nourishing ingredients like niacinamide and squalane provide long-lasting brightening, smoothing, and hydrating effects. The best part? You’ll only need a drop, so the bottle should last you a few months. 

Price at time of publish: $56

Active Ingredients: Caffeine, Hyaluronic acid, Squalane | Size: 0.5 oz | Benefits: Brightens, depuffs

Best for Instant Results: Osea Ocean Eyes Age Defying Eye Serum

Osea Ocean Eyes Age Defying Eye Serum

Credo Beauty

What We Love: The rollerball will feel so good on your skin (especially if you keep the product in the refrigerator), instantly waking up tired eyes. 

What We Don’t Love: The rollerball can sometimes get stuck, so we recommend quickly wiping it down after each use to prevent that from happening.

Another lightweight pick, Osea Ocean Eyes Serum firms, brightens, and depuffs skin in one easy swipe. The roll-on formula is different from all other options on our list, providing a unique feel that’ll instantly awaken your under-eyes with a cooling jolt. We love that the application feels like a soothing ritual, but doesn’t add unnecessary time to your skincare or self-care routine — just note that the rollerball can sometimes get stuck, but a quick wipe down before putting it back on the shelf should prevent that from happening. Hydrating ingredients like seaweed, hyaluronic acid, and peptides work to reduce fine lines and dark circles, while plumping skin without an oily residue. Plus, as a “clean” brand, you know Osea is always using the highest quality natural ingredients. 

Price at time of publish: $58

Active Ingredients: Seaweed, Hyaluronic acid, Caffeine | Size: 0.58 oz | Benefits: Soothes, brightens, depuffs, firms

Best Hydrating: Shani Darden Skin Care Intensive Eye Renewal Cream

Shani Darden Intensive Renewal Eye Cream

Sephora

What We Love: Ultra moisturizing ingredients make this a rich eye cream that’s ideal for dry skin.

What We Don’t Love: Due to the pump-bottle packaging and thick formula, it can be hard to get every last drop of cream.

If your under-eye area tends to be on the drier side, you’ll love this extra rich cream with nourishing ingredients. “My under-eye area is quite dry, so I like ingredients like shea butter and ceramides — both of which you'll find in this eye cream,” says Rodulfo, proclaiming it another favorite. Peptides promote collagen production and elasticity, firming the skin, while silk tree extract helps to fade dark circles. We particularly appreciate this airless pump-bottle packaging that preserves the life of the formula and makes for a clean and easy application, but one downside of this clean bottle is that it’s difficult to use up every last drop.  

Price at time of publish: $68

Active Ingredients: Peptides, Squalane, Niacinamide, Shea butter | Size: 0.5 oz | Benefits: Firms, lifts, hydrates, brightens

Best Firming: Drunk Elephant Ceramighty AF Eye Balm

4.9
Drunk Elephant Ceramighty AF Eye Balm

Sephora

What We Love: This creamy, whipped consistency is firming and fast-absorbing. 

What We Don’t Love: Avoid this if you have super sensitive skin as it can sometimes cause  irritation.

Interestingly enough, this is not Drunk Elephant’s eye cream that specifically targets dark circles (that one is the C-Tango Vitamin C Eye Cream — which we also love and recommend). But, we chose this one for its deep moisturization and increased elasticity benefits, while still providing instant (and amazing) brightening effects. With a blend of ceramides, lipids, nourishing fatty acids, and essential vitamins, this cream actually works to strengthen the skin barrier and soothe signs of fatigue around the eye-area. Apply daily and you’ll start to notice refreshed eyes fast — you'll wake up looking rested no matter the kind of night you had. While it is great for most skin types, we recommend avoiding it if you have super sensitive skin as it can sometimes cause irritation. 

Price at time of publish: $60

Active Ingredients: Ceramides, Omega-lipid complex, Vitamin F | Size: 0.5 oz | Benefits: Restores elasticity, firms, soothes

Best with Retinol: Kate Somerville +Retinol Firming Eye Cream

4.6
Kate Somerville +Retinol Firming Eye Cream

Ulta

What We Love: This innovative packaging makes for easy application (plus, a cooling tip!). 

What We Don’t Love: This retinol is strong, so you should use it in combination with a moisturizing product.

Retinol and eye cream can be a tricky pairing — it’s a harsh ingredient to formulate for one of the most sensitive areas of our face. But, this Kate Somerville cream nails it. It provides a strong dose of wrinkle-reducing retinol with the ultra-nourishing hyaluronic acid for a dynamic combo that lifts, firms, and hydrates all at the same time. You’ll be able to feel the firming and brightening effects immediately. But, take note, you may want to use the product alongside a rich cream (especially if you’re new to retinol) to reduce some of the ingredient’s sensitivity and drive home moisturization. And, always be aware of best practices when incorporating retinol into your routine. 

Price at time of publish: $98

Active Ingredients: Retinol, Hyaluronic acid | Size: 0.5 oz | Benefits: Firms, brightens, hydrates, increases elasticity 

Best Brightening: Summer Fridays Light Aura Vitamin C + Peptide Eye Cream

Summer Fridays Light Aura Vitamin C + Peptide Eye Cream

Sephora

What We Love: Ideal for morning use, this cream will brighten dark circles, leaving you looking rested and refreshed all day long. 

What We Don’t Love: Similarly to Sunday Riley’s Auto Correct Cream, this one contains light-reflecting particles that cause a subtle shimmer effect — we love it, but it’s not for everyone.

“I love applying this eye cream in the morning because it has an immediate brightening effect and de-puffs with caffeine, but it also contains ingredients like a wrinkle-targeting peptides and vitamin C for long term benefits, too,” says Rodulfo. Backed by clinical results (in a four-week consumer study, 97% of users reported their eyes looking “refreshed”), there’s no doubt why this product is beloved by beauty experts and TikTok alike. The mixture of brightening vitamin C, depuffing caffeine, and firming peptides create an overall regenerating effect for tired skin and dark circles. Though, if you’re prone to dry skin, the sparkly light-reflecting particles can contribute to dryness. 

Price at time of publish: $42

Active Ingredients: Vitamin C, Peptides, Caffeine | Size: 0.5 oz | Benefits: Brightens, firms, increases elasticity, depuffs, energizes

Best Anti-Aging: Elemis Pro-Collagen Eye Revive Mask

Elemis Pro-Collagen Eye Revive Mask

Ulta

What We Love: It’s a multitasking formula that can be used as an overnight eye mask, an under-eye primer, and a hydrating balm.  

What We Don’t Love: The gel consistency can have a sticky feel, similar to Vaseline. 

This multitasking eye mask truly does it all: The moisture-rich formula can be used as an overnight mask for extra plumping, an under-eye primer for morning brightening, and a rejuvenating boost of hydration all day long. The gel consistency feels bouncy and cooling (albeit, a little sticky) upon application, making for a refreshing moment that soothes the skin with long-term benefits. Bush clover, a rare ingredient harvested in South Korea, works to reduce the appearance of dark circles, while flash filler hyaluronic acid is a supercharged version of the ingredient that's known to instantly plump skin. 

Price at time of publish: $85

Active Ingredients: Watermelon snow algae, Bush clover, Flash filler hyaluronic acid | Size: 0.5 oz | Benefits: Plumps, brightens, reduces fine lines

What to Keep in Mind

Ingredients

Ingredients are the main factor that differentiate eye creams that are specifically formulated to target dark circles versus products that achieve other effects, like wrinkle-reduction or improving elasticity. “Creams targeting fine lines may contain retinol (which is the gold standard for anti-aging since it promotes collagen production), peptides (for smoothing and firming skin), or hyaluronic acid (for that immediately plumping effect that minimizes fine lines),” explains Rodulfo. 

Alternatively, she says, “Eye creams that target dark circles usually have Vitamin C — an antioxidant often used for evening out skin tone — light-reflecting pigments for an immediate brightening effect, and caffeine, which constricts blood vessels and makes that blueness below the eyes less obvious.” Although, there is plenty of overlap, as you can see with our recommendations above. For example, Kate Somerville Retinol Firming Eye Cream and Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair both contain retinol and hyaluronic acid, but they also utilize antioxidants with brightening benefits.  

Skin Type and Needs

Eye creams come in many different formulation consistencies and application styles — creams, gels, serums, pump bottles, roll-on products, and more. While richer creams like Shani Darden Intensive Renewal Eye Cream and La Mer The Eye Concentrate Eye Cream will help dry skin, and lighter serums like Biossance Squalane + Peptide Brightening & De-puffing Eye Gel are better for oily skin, the product of your choice really comes down to personal preference. “I really love creams because the skin beneath my eyes is sensitive and gets irritated from all of the eyeliner, lash glue, mascara, etc. that I apply, so I need something that feels really cushiony and comforting,” says Rodulfo. 

According to board-certified dermatologist, Rachel Nazarian, M.D., you should also be mindful of your skin’s response as you incorporate a new product into your routine. “Monitor for signs of irritation, such as itchiness, redness, or dry skin, and minimize use as tolerated," she advises. "Even using one [eye cream] just a few times a week will add up to skin benefits in the long run."

Your Questions, Answered 

Can eye creams actually eliminate dark circles? 

Sleep is the ultimate ingredient to cure dark circles, but sometimes that’s just not realistic. In those moments, eye creams are a close second and a great daily ritual that will lead to seeing long-term effects over time. “The right eye cream can contain ingredients that speed up the breakdown of pigment in the skin, and can slow down the production of pigment in the skin," says Dr. Nazarian. "Some eye creams encourage stimulation of cell turnover, bringing new skin cells to the surface, resulting in a more even skin tone and less dark circles.” 

How do you apply eye cream? 

People often make the mistake of tugging upwards at their under-eye skin while applying eye creams, while the motion that is most useful is actually dabbing. Gentle circular motions can also be useful, so as not to pull on delicate skin. Some formulas, especially thick night creams, may take a few minutes to fully absorb — just be patient and they’ll work their magic. 

When should you apply eye cream? 

Eye cream can be applied morning and night during your usual skincare routine. “Personally, I like to apply eye cream first before other products in my night time routine because I want to make sure I don’t inadvertently apply strong active ingredients like tretinoin in the sensitive eye area (which can cause irritation),” says Rodulfo. Similarly, she says, “I do the same in the morning before I apply things like mandelic acid. It’s a barrier of protection from any active ingredients that might be too harsh.” 

Why Shop With Us

Linne Halpern is a freelance beauty, fashion, and lifestyle writer. She is a member of InStyle’s evergreen commerce team where she extensively researches and reviews countless products. For this story, she interviewed beauty expert and content creator Kristina Rodulfo to hear all her knowledge about eye creams, brightening ingredients, and favorite products. Commentary from New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, M.D., rounds out our expert-backed advice.

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