Sure, eight hours of sleep, a balanced, nutritious diet, and a completely stress-free life is what we need. But life is not necessarily set up that way—and our poor eyes suffer from lack of all of the above. If you wake up with dark, shadowy circles under your eyes, it could mean a few different things. "Under-eye circles may be caused by a variety of different factors, and identifying your specific type of factor will determine the best way to treat it," NYC-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner MD explains.
For example, shadows could mean there's a barrier between the smoothness of your under eye and cheek area, according to Zeichner. "This causes a shadow that you perceive as darkness," he explains. "If this is your issue, you may be a candidate for injectables from your dermatologist. Or, look for over-the-counter creams that contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which helps with hydration and plumps under-eye skin."
Zeichner points out that dark circles can also come from pigmentation problems. "In some cases, because of age, inflammation, and sun exposure, you may have true pigment deposited under the eye leading to darkness. If this is the case, look for vitamin C-containing creams, which interfere with abnormal pigment production and can help brighten pigmentation." Here, the Marie Claire beauty team and Zeichner share the best eye creams for kicking dark circles to the curb.
"I like to layer this formula on at nighttime—it’s rich and sumptuous and makes puffiness and darkness under the eyes look instantly better. It’s packed with goodness—hydrating silk proteins, plumping rosehip oil, as well as baobab and larch bark which are natural sources of alpha hydroxy acid (and what I suspect to be doing the heavy lifting on my dark circles). As someone with very young children, I am never not tired, and forever impressed by this results of this treatment." —Ying Chu, Acting Beauty & Health Director
"While I love a goopy, cloud-like layer cream on my face once in a while, I’m partial to lighter textures when it comes to my eye area. This air-light formula meets that qualification and more. A one-two punch of Vitamin C and ferulic acid help neutralize free radicals that add years to your little bags, and caffeine minimizes puffiness and plumps the area to make circles less prominent. Level up and stick it in the fridge between boxes of past-its-prime takeout for a soothing cooling effect first thing in the morning."—Taylore Glynn, Associate Beauty & Health Editor
It's hard to rival the luxuriating effects of applying caviar on your eyes, which an iconic signature ingredient of Swiss skincare brand La Prairie. I mean, just look at this product sitting so pretty—its hefty price tag means its bound to over-deliver. The rich cream uses golden caviar and lumidose combined with shea butter, ginseng, and licorice root extracts to increase moisture, luminosity, and cellular regeneration, while smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, and decreasing puffiness. It's peak opulence and your eyes are worth it.—my pick
"This eye cream has the best gel texture that feels so refreshing in the morning. It’s just as moisturizing as an eye cream, but it doesn’t leave any oily residue that messes up my eye makeup. I always get the sense that any sleep-deprived eye bags shrink when I apply this." —Tatjana Freund, Beauty Freelancer
"This eye serum is lightweight and it contains my all-time favorite skincare ingredient, Vitamin C. It really combats dark circles, de-puffs, and leaves my under-eye feeling nourished." —Chelsea Hall, Assistant Fashion & Beauty Editor
“When I feel low, this girl brings me right back up. I understand that's a dramatic statement, but trust me, one use of this, and you'll understand. The refreshing orange scent that welcomes me and my skin in the morning makes me not want to snooze my alarm. Its formula of panax ginseng and coffee beans is the ultimate wake-up call for my dark circles and I. (I usually follow with the gel moisturizer from the same line for when I want my skin to feel extra perky, btw.)”—Bianca Rodriguez, Fellow
"I know, the price gives me heart palpitations, too. But ever since I started using this potent cream, I’ve seen crazy results: the arbutin in the formula instantly brightens my undereyes so the purple circles fade away, and a peptide called argireline minimizes those baby wrinkles that make us look haggard in the morning. I barely even need to use concealer anymore, which is a game changer on no makeup days."—Taylore
"The name speaks for itself. Mere minutes after tapping this into my orbital area, I look like I’ve gotten another few hours of sleep, thanks to the formula’s caffeine and ginseng. Whenever this comes through the MC beauty closet, someone usually drops it at my desk because they know I’m a devotee."—Taylore
"Do I think a person needs eye cream? I do not. But a person needs sun protection around their eye area, and it helps if that sun protection doesn’t sting and comes in an illuminating formula that disguises under-eye shadows. Lately, Dermadoctor’s DD Eye Dermatologically Defining Eye Radiance Cream SPF 30 ($28) has been checking all those boxes for me. I can’t promise it will get rid of dark circles completely (you’d need hard-core skin brighteners, laser treatments, or sometimes even surgery, depending on the cause) but it’ll definitely make you look less tired. Plus, it’s got SPF 30, so it’s preventing all the damage UV light causes. Gotta love that." —Jennifer Goldstein, Former Beauty & Health Director/Features Editor
"I've been using this eye cream for months now, and can say it’s definitely worth the price tag. Its highly emollient formula and lightweight consistency practically evaporates on contact. It moisturizes without leaving a greasy residue. It also takes a maximalist approach with a cocktail of high-tech ingredients like hematite–a magnetically-charged mineral with regenerative properties–to stimulate circulation, and help visibly disguise the look of dark circles." —Hana Hong, Former Beauty Assistant
"For starters, this formula is extracted from harvested green tea in South Korea with their dual-infusion extraction technology, which counteracts factors affected by circadian rhythm. Circadian variations affect skin functions, this cream can help renew cells and erase dark circles over time. Not to mention the creamy blend is super moisturizing, and slides on like butter, which feels heavenly in the morning. Although I’m not too concerned with wrinkles yet, I love that it’s infused with higher concentrations of amino acids and catechins to prevent future signs of aging. Never too early to start, right?" —Hana
"I know eye cream with diamond dust sounds super extra, but hear me out: the diamond particles instantly illuminate and brighten the undereyes for a quick “eight hours of sleep” look. It’s my go-to cheat product for mornings when I’ve missed my beauty sleep. And the medley of hyaluronic acid, palm kernel extract, and mango-seed butter does wonders for locking in moisture."—Hana
Okay, honesty moment: I don't always wear eye cream. But when I wake up with post-martini puffiness from a lit night, and need some extra help waking up my sleepy eyes, I slather this stuff all over. I love that it's made with banana, which is rich with vitamin C, and we all know what that's the best at: brightening. It's also the perfect primer, and makes my concealer glow like crazy. —my pick
Since the skin on the eye area is the most delicate, dryness is the last thing I want. This super moisturizing blend full of botanical extracts, binds to your skin's natural ceramides to increase moisture barriers and brightness. The hydration lingers for hours on end. —my pick
"I love using this for my sensitive but flaky skin. It has a lightweight texture that brightens my dark under eye circles after a late night. I leave it in the fridge so that it de-puffs my eye bags, and makes me feel refreshed in the morning. Plus, the packaging is in my favorite color: baby pink—so, what’s not to love?"—Nina Huang, Former Beauty Intern
"This eye cream saved my skin this winter. It’s ultra creamy and moisturizing, and the light green color makes me feel like I’m slathering avocado right onto my under eye. Even though this cream is on the more expensive end, it’s so thick that one jar lasts such a long time."—Emily Cavanagh, Former Beauty Intern
This cult-loved eye cream has over 14,000 reviews on Amazon, and 8,000 of them (yep, almost half) are raving claims that this stuff is magic. It's almost half-off right now, so you better hop on this deal before it's too late. Reviewers swear that this cream miraculously erased dark circles, improves fine lines, crow's feet, the list goes on. How is it so good? Well, its killer anti-aging combo of vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, organic licorice, and Matrixyl 3000 has a lot to do with it. —the "People's Choice"
"Retinol in an eye cream does you so much good because it stimulates collagen production to strengthen the skin's foundation." —Zeichner, MD
"This cream contains botanicals, which help brighten, underwrite darkness, and firm the skin."—Zeichner
"This is an anti-wrinkle cream with lots of antioxidants to help strengthen the skin and brighten hyperpigmentation." —Zeichner
For more stories like this, including celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter (subscribe here).