Over the last year or so, our everyday stresses seem to have been amplified tenfold and the most physical symbol of this comes from the large bags that have developed under our eyes that we just can’t seem to shift.
Have no fear, we have the dark circle solutions to help you fake a full night’s sleep.
But first, a little science lesson - what causes dark circles?
Dark circles can appear under the eyes for a whole host of reasons, from stress to sleepless nights as well as allergies, pigmentation, too much alcohol, an unbalanced diet or even just good ol’ genetics.
Dr Murad, Board Certified Dermatologist & Founder of Murad Skincare explains, “Lack of adequate sleep can contribute to the appearance of dark circles because of dilated blood vessels that create a dark tint under the eyes.
“Studies have shown that the hormone cortisol increases when we are stressed, which can lead to lacklustre skin and dark circles. Allergies are also a cause of dark circles as they can lead to fluid retention around the eyes, causing puffiness.”
He adds that you can determine the cause based on the appearance and colouring of the bags, "thin, translucent skin around the eyes is more likely to show discoloration and signs of aging. Whereas blue or purple shadows are a result of low microcirculation and thin skin around the eyes - the colour comes from an increased visibility of unoxygenated blood (which is blue). Brown marks under the eyes are usually a result of sun damage, irritation and genetics which can result in hyperpigmentation.”
Tweakments and cosmetic surgery may be more effective, quick fix solutions but if you aren’t ready or willing to head under the knife, there are topical alternatives.
What ingredients should you be looking out for?
Fortify the eye area and brighten your peepers with ingredients like hydrating hyaluronic acid, caffeine that works to constrict the blood vessels, vitamin c for all the brightening and antioxidant goodness, collagen-boosting peptides and the powerhouse anti-ageing product - retinol.
Dr Murad details, “Peptide-infused products will help decrease under eye bags; skin-quenching ingredients that will firm and awaken the eye area; while collagen and hyaluronic acid help plump out lines. Although certain skin tones are unable to rid their eye area of dark pigmentation, people experiencing dark under eye circles can look for an eye cream that contains Vitamin-C which is rich in antioxidants to brighten the skin. Also look for skin-quenching ingredients to firm and awaken the eye area, and light diffusers to immediately illuminate the eye area.”
He also stresses the importance of sleep and overall wellbeing, “During the sleep cycle your skin rebuilds and repairs itself, so you must allow your body and mind enough time to rest and rejuvenate. Finally, focus on hydrating your skin from within with water-rich foods that contain vitamins C, E and K. And pay close attention to the amount of salt you’re consuming, as foods with high salt content will bloat and puff the under-eye area.”
How should you apply eye cream?
The area around your eyes is 10 times thinner than the rest of your face and is extremely delicate. Don’t apply eye cream like you would with moisturiser to the rest of your face. It requires a far gentler application process.
Using your index finger, tap around the orbital area including the brow bone. Try not to pull or drag the skin. This application process also encourages circulation and maximises the protective benefits.
We have searched high and low for the best supercharged eye creams targeted specifically to tackle those pesky dark circles.
Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum
Not only is this one of the best eye creams for dark circles but it’s one of the best eye creams, period. It uses retinol - the anti-ageing powerhouse - to smooth and strengthen the delicate area around your peepers. It also uses an innovative Tri-Active Technology for fast-working and long-lasting effects yet still remains lightweight. There’s the added bonus of swertia flower and red algae for that desired lifted look. Crow’s feet, begone.
Special mention should also go to the brand’s Environmental Shield Vita-C Eyes Dark Circle Corrector with vitamin C for antioxidant defence. If you want to really treat yourself, use the retinol at night, and Vita-C during the day.
The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG 30ml
There is a reason why this is one of The Ordinary’s bestselling products. You may think that caffeine only serves a purpose in your morning brew but it actually packs a very impressive punch in skincare too. With scientific backing, it has been proven to reduce the look of puffiness and the dreaded dark circles. This product contains a high concentration of the good stuff and only requires a pea-sized amount that you can apply day or night. It has a cooling effect when applied and the price is also not to be sniffed at.
Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème 15ml
The Ole Henriksen Banana Bright range deserves every single piece of hype or accolade thrown at it, from the serum to the primer and of course, this eye cream. The gel texture melts into the skin, firming and hydrating as it goes. The main ingredient - Vitamin C - offers skin protection and revitalises with antioxidants. It has impressive brightening effects that are furthered by the illuminating “banana powder” that also has colour-correcting properties. Skin goodness in a pot.
Biossance Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel
Diminish the appearance of dark circles with the combination of squalane and peptides. The former is the brand’s signature ingredient and is renowned for its hydrating benefits as well as its ability to seal in moisture. Biossance is known for its effective, scientific formulas that are sustainable and ethically sourced and this gel is no different. Swiss apple stem cell extract minimises the appearance of fine lines, while eyeseryl and argireline complex tackles dark circles and puffiness to leave your eye contour looking brighter, nourished and firmer.
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex
Ask any beauty editor about Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair and they’ll all tell you the same - game changer. The eye cream is a featherweight gel-cream with a potent formula that gets to work delivering brightening and hydrating ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid to the vicinity around your eye to give you that soft skin-feel and protect from external aggressors that could expedite the ageing process. We saw an improvement after just a few night’s use.
Sunday Riley Autocorrect Brightening and Depuffing Eye Contour Cream
Sunday Riley formulates its dark circle combatant with caffeine, horse chestnut and Brazilian ginseng root extract that work in tandem for visible skin-boosting effects. Smooth, radiance and soothed are just a few of the benefits of this supercharged product.
NUXE Organic Anti-Puffiness, Anti-Dark Circles Reviving Eye Care
This certified organic formula from Nuxe stars Buckwheat extract in a light, fast-absorbing formula. Pat around the contour of your eyes to give the fragile area the protection that it needs against environmental aggressors. It will also reduced the appearance of fine lines, puffiness and of course, dark circles.
Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line-Reducing & Dark Circle-Diminishing Vitamin C Eye Serum
After a night out on the town where sleep has been eluded, this eye cream from Kiehl’s will be your new best friend. Eight hours in a bottle, it contains a potent blend of vitamin c, hyaluronic acid and tri-peptide that seamlessly blends into the delicate area to revitalise the contours of your eyes. Not ideal for sensitive skin.
Goldfaden MD Bright Eyes
The clue is very much in the name with this one. If it’s bright eyes you’re looking for, it’s bright eyes you shall get. With soy peptide, rice bran extract, organic red tea and arnica combined, this will have a noticeable effect on dark circles as well as fine lines and wrinkles. It absorbs easily and quickly into the skin with a pleasant aroma. You don’t need much but it works wonders in brightening and depuffing.
Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Eye Cream
Dr Dennis Gross is known for stepping outside of the box with his skincare line and the same is true for this eye cream. The product uses a unique retinol and ferulic acid delivery system to maximise its benefits. Retinol is derived from vitamin A and has impressive anti-ageing benefits, while ferulic is an antioxidant to protect against free radical damage and stimulates collagen and elastin. Together, they have a tightening and lightening effect with a real, noticeable difference.
Ren Clean Skincare Radiance Brightening Dark Circle Eye Cream
Oh too often, eye products have a heavy texture that seeps into your eyes with painful consequences but not Ren. The clean skincare label offers this nourishing formula that has a lovely light consistency that won’t cause unpleasant eye stinging. Use during the morning or at night to smooth out skin and minimise the look of dark circles.
While it’s not easy to choose just one of the supercharged skincare essentials that we’ve included above, results have never been as instantaneous as with Murad’s Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum. For those with sensitive skin or looking for a day alternative, Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème works wonders and The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG is a great purse-friendly price.