9 best eye creams for dark circles - tried and tested by our beauty editor

Waken up your under-eye area with one of these recommendations

eye cream bottles including No7, Estee Lauder, Boots and The Ordinary scattered on a wooden background
(Image credit: Stephanie Maylor)

The best eye creams for dark circles provide a solution to shadowy, tired-looking undereyes. Our beauty editor has tried and tested the best products to help parents battling with exhaustion feel a little more fresh.

Parents will know better than anyone that tiredness can take a toll on your complexion. Sleep deprivation might as well be part of the job description, and along with dullness and fine lines, this often results in dark circles. One of the most effective ways to get rid of dark circles under your eyes, besides drinking more water, cutting alcohol consumption and eating a vitamin-rich diet, is to apply topical creams containing active ingredients that will help you look less tired. “For anyone concerned about signs of ageing, I recommend trying topical treatments before other methods, as it’s often preventative,” explains Dr Zoya Diwan, Expert in Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. There are specific ingredients that work specifically on improving the skin tone under the eye, according to Dr Angela Tewari, Consultant Dermatologist at The Lister Hospital, who says, “Using an eye cream with ingredients with vitamin C, and retinol can help brighten the under-eye area and reduce the appearance of dark circles.”

The thing about the eye area is it’s much more fragile than the skin across the rest of the face. This means it’s not only likely to suffer from dehydration and show signs of ageing much more easily, but also makes it more sensitive. Your best moisturiser and facial oils are likely to be much too heavy for this area, and can actually make puffiness and dark circles worse. Instead, you need a dedicated eye cream that's gentle and light enough for this puff-prone area. From high street favourites to luxurious formulas with anti-ageing benefits, our selection of the best eye creams for dark circles will help pare down bags, restore hydration and brighten up tired under-eyes - even when your kids have been keeping you up all night.

What to consider when looking for the best eye cream for dark circles

  • Star rating: Our in-house star-rating system is based on peer reviews. We’ve tried and tested the eye creams and awarded stars based on factors such as product quality, ease of use, customer feedback, awards and value for money. Products that have received a five-star status are rare and considered exceptional, going above and beyond our reviewer’s expectations.
  • Active ingredients: The best eye creams for dark circles contain potent active ingredients, such as antioxidants, caffeine, peptides, retinol and brightening ingredients like vitamin C. Some eye creams on this list contain optical brighteners that provide an immediate improvement. 
  • Cruelty-free: More and more beauty brands have realised that testing on animals is not a humane or sustainable practice. We’re keen to select products from brands that follow this ethos.
  • Packaging: Eye creams come in many forms - whether that’s a snazzy pump dispenser or squeezy tube. Both forms help to keep the active ingredients fresh to maintain their potency, as well as being a more hygienic option than a jar that you have to scoop from. And of course, sustainability is a serious concern - anything that is non-recyclable is a no-no for us.

Best eye creams for dark circles

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How long does eye cream take to work for dark circles?

“I would say to stick with an eye cream for at least three months,” says Dr Tewari. “Remember that everyone’s skin is different, so it may take some trial and error to find the right eye cream for you. It’s important to follow the instructions on the product and be patient, as it can take time to see results.”

According to Prudvi Kaka, “The amount of time it would take to see results varies greatly depending on the ingredients included in the formulation, how consistent you are with the use of the product and the initial condition of the skin.”

Supplementing a great skincare regime with a healthy, vitamin-loaded diet will help brighten the under eyes and speed up visible results. “Internally, focus on hydration by sticking to a water-rich diet that contains foods high in vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K,” advises Dr Murad. “Infused sources of vitamin C can be found in oranges and berries, rich vitamin E can be found in nuts and whole grains, and leafy vegetables are a great source for vitamin K.” 

Lifestyle changes will help make an impact on dark circles too. “Make sure you are getting a full and restful night’s sleep,” says Murad. “During the sleep cycle your skin rebuilds and repairs itself, so it is imperative to allow your body and your mind enough time to rest and rejuvenate. Follow these simple tips daily and see how small changes can add up to big results!”

What is the best time to apply under eye cream? 

Eye cream should be applied twice a day, morning and evening. Always apply eye cream on clean skin, after face serum and before moisturiser. Dot a grain of rice-sized amount around each eye, tapping with your ring finger using light pressure. 

If applying in the morning, you may want to choose a lighter formulation that will play nicely with makeup. In the evening, you can afford to use a richer cream with ingredients restricted to nighttime use, such as retinol.

Looking for more expert beauty advice? We've rounded up the best winter skincare tips for busy mums, as well as a list of the best hand creams. You might also want to find out what slugging skin is

We spoke to the following skin-care experts:

Dr Zoya Diwan
Dr Zoya Diwan

Dr Zoya Diwan is an expert in Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. Together with her partner, Dr Sanjay Trikha, Dr Zoya runs an award-winning medical aesthetics clinic in Mayfair London, Trikwan Aesthetics. Here she treats patients with a variety of skin concerns including ageing. Through her treatments, Dr Zoya aims to educate and empower her patients to feel confident in their skin. 

Dr Angela Tewari
Dr Angela Tewari

Angela is a GMC registered and UK trained Consultant Dermatologist, practicing dermatology for over a decade. Angela holds her NHS Consultant Dermatologist post at the prestigious King’s College Hospital in London and has extensive experience in all aspects of adult and paediatric general dermatology. Angela has a PhD so she understands the effects of sunshine on your skin and the appropriate treatment measures.

Dr Howard Murad
Dr Howard Murad

Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, is recognised around the world as a leading visionary for his unmatched scientific innovations. A board-certified dermatologist and trained pharmacist, Dr. Murad has personally treated over 50,000 patients. For more than 30 years, Murad has been committed to developing clinically proven, cruelty-free products that meet the meticulous standards for safety, efficacy and care you’d expect from a doctor. 

Prudvi Kaka
Prudvi Kaka

Prudvi Kaka began his career in pharmaceutical and cosmetics sciences over ten years ago. Prudvi joined DECIEM in 2014 as a Compounding Supervisor in a hybrid role created to bridge the gap between lab and compounding. Now, as Chief Scientific Officer, Prudvi spearheads over 100 employees spanning Formulation Development, Clinical Research, Microbiology, Analytical Chemistry, Regulatory Affairs, and Quality Management.

Stephanie Maylor
Beauty Editor

Stephanie is a Beauty Editor across five national women’s magazine titles, with more than fifteen years’ experience working within the beauty industry. She has been shortlisted for multiple awards at the J&J Beauty Journalism Awards, and was the runner-up at the Wella Hair Journalism Awards in 2009. She has written for many brands, including Grazia, Now, More!, Fabulous, Woman & Home, NW, Woman, Woman's Own, Woman's Weekly, Essentials, Best, Chat, Pick Me Up and OK! Online. In 2010 she launched her own beauty blog, which was also shortlisted for Best Beauty Blog in the 2011 and 2012 J&J Beauty Journalism Awards.