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12 best eye creams to smooth, brighten and banish dark circles

Expert-approved eye creams that actually work

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Hollie Brotherton
Lifestyle & Commerce Senior Writer
Updated: May 29, 2024
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Looking to add an eye cream to your skincare routine? Specifically designed for the delicate skin around your eyes, new advanced formulas can transform the area from dull, dark and puffy to smooth, soft, refreshed and revitalised.

For eye creams that actually work, keep reading, as I've found the best products on the market to target every skin concern. I've also been in touch with Harley Street's Dr Sam Bunting for her expert opinion on the benefits of using an eye cream, as well as her top tips on how to tackle puffy eyes.

The best eye creams at a glance

  • The bestseller: Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Supercharged Gel Eye Cream, £44.80 (save 20%) / $61.20 (save 15%)
  • The best with caffeine: The INKEY List Caffeine Eye Cream, £10 / $11
  • The best for sensitive skin: L’Oreal Revitalift Eye Serum, £15.99 (save 50%) / $27
  • The best with retinol: Dr Sam's Flawless Nightly Eye Serum, £40 / $50
  • The best for dark circles: REN Clean Skincare Radiance Brightening Dark Circle Eye Cream, £49 / $38 (save 25%)
  • The best for wrinkles: Elemis Pro-Collagen Eye Renewal, £74 / $115
  • The best for dry skin: Beauty Pie Triple Hyaluronic Acid Elastic Lifting Eye Serum, £60 (£18 for members) / $65 ($22 for members)
  • The best for mature skin: Murad Retinal ReSculpt™ Eye Lift Treatment, £92 / $92

What are the benefits of using an eye cream?

"I see an eye cream as serving multiple functions, if correctly formulated (and that’s a big if!), it can protect against oxidative stress from environmental stressors," says Dr Sam Bunting. "It can also help build the delicate skin barrier - the skin here is the thinnest on the body and it's often the first to show signs that we’re using something irritating on our skin. Finally, it can also build collagen to keep skin thick and crease-resistant, as it’s an area that’s constantly squeezed by the muscles around the eyes when we smile."

How to apply an eye cream?

The area around our eyes is so delicate, it's important to apply products gently to avoid damage and irritation - pat it in instead of dragging, and try using your ring finger for lighter pressure. As a general rule the thinnest products with the most active ingredients should be applied first in your skincare routine, this usually means your eye cream will come after your serum and before your moisturiser. Remember, products containing retinol should only be applied at night, while you'll benefit the most from formulas containing vitamin C when they're used in the morning.

"It is absolutely crucial to apply sunscreen on the eye area, a zone many consumers skip," adds Sam. "After all, 80% of ageing is due to our environment and is preventable. This protects both your collagen and elastin, the protein that gives skin it’s snap - try using a mineral sunscreen like Flawless Gossamer SPF 50 if you have sensitive eyes to avoid stinging."

How I chose the best eye creams

As well as speaking to industry experts and the beauty obsessives on HELLO!'s Shopping Team, I've searched verified reviews to bring you the most-loved eye creams available online. I've included options suitable for a range of budget and skincare concerns, so there's something for everyone.

Best eye creams

  • Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Supercharged Gel Eye Cream

    Estee Lauder eye cream

    The bestseller: Estée Lauder Eye Cream

    Why we love it

    • Lightweight and fast absorbing
    • Suitable to wear under makeup
    • Targets damage from blue light exposure (caused by too much screen time)

    Estée Lauder's Advanced Night Repair is one of the bestselling skincare franchises of all time, so if you want to try a new eye cream, it's a pretty safe bet. Formulated with a potent infusion of hydrating Hyaluronic Acid, as well as patented technology which brightens dark circles, it's one of those products that works instantly as well as over time. Its silky, water-gel texture is ideal to use under makeup.

  • The INKEY List Caffeine Eye Cream

    Inkey List eye cream

    The best with caffeine: The INKEY List Eye Cream

    Why we love it

    • Formulated with de-puffing and brightening Caffeine
    • Contains Matrixyl 3000 peptide to smooth fine lines
    • The price

    What do your morning coffee and The Inkey List's popular eye cream have in common? They both wake you up using caffeine. A natural antioxidant, it reduces the appearance of puffiness and dark circles, as well as providing oxidative protection from environmental stressors.

  • L’Oreal Revitalift Eye Serum

    L'Oreal eye serum

    The best for sensitive skin: L’Oreal Eye Cream

    Why we love it

    • Easy-to-use bead applicator 
    • Formulated with hydrating Hyaluronic acid and de-puffing Caffeine
    • Affordable

    Karen Silas, HELLO!'s Senior Lifestyle Editor, says: "If you have sensitive eyes and are looking for a lightweight serum, L’Oreal’s Revitalift is my go-to when I want a cooling effect and to look instantly more awake. It's the triple-roller wand that does the trick - not only does it apply a precise amount of the serum, it also gives a gentle, cooling massage - just what I need in the morning. It's dermatologist tested and fragrance free, and in my opinion the formula, with hyaluronic acid and caffeine, easily competes with some of the more expensive options I've tried."

  • Dr Sam's Flawless Nightly Eye Serum

    Dr Sam

    The best with retinol: Dr Sam's Eye Cream

    Why we love it:

    • Created by Harley Street doctor, Sam Bunting
    • Formulated with Granactive Retinoid, which targets the signs of ageing without irritation
    • Contains brightening Niacinamide and collagen-boosting Ascorbyl Glucoside

    Dr Sam Bunting says: "In truth, a lot of eye creams are just over-priced moisturisers and this was a product I personally tended to skip. This motivated me to formulate my ideal eye product myself. It’s a truly active formula designed to strengthen, brighten and plump your eye area, leaving skin refreshed and refined. The perfect antidote to tired eyes, it combats fine lines, dark circles and recharges your skin barrier with Granactive Retinoid, Niacinamide and Vitamin C. This creates space in your morning routine - just apply moisturiser, SPF and go."

  • REN Clean Skincare Radiance Brightening Dark Circle Eye Cream

    REN eye cream

    The best for dark circles: REN Eye Cream

    Why we love it

    • Vegan and fragrance-free formula 
    • 95% natural-origin ingredients, including a zero-waste byproduct Elderberry Flower Extract and sustainably-sourced Glycogen

    Designed to specifically target dark circles, REN's bestselling eye cream uses vegan, natural ingredients to brighten and firm the under eye area. It has an irritation-free formula that's suitable for sensitive skin.

  • Elemis Pro-Collagen Eye Renewal

    Elemis eye cream

    The best for wrinkles: Elemis Eye Cream

    Why we love it

    • There's an instant visible difference, with the eye area looking firmer and brighter
    • Super hydrating

    If reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles is your top priority, this Elemis eye cream is clinically proven to do so. It's also formulated with hydrating Padina Pavonica and nutrient-rich Chlorella and Blue Green Micro-Algae to help firm and tone the delicate skin around your eyes.

  • Charlotte Tilbury Magic Eye Rescue

    Magic Eye Cream

    Makeup artist-approved: Charlotte Tilbury Eye Cream

    Why we love it

    • Formulated with time-released retinol to smooth and contour the appearance of the skin around your eyes
    • Winter Daphne Stem Cell Extract helps strengthen the skin's barrier function
    • Eco-friendly refillable pot

    Charlotte Tilbury's Magic Cream is universally adored - used on photoshoots and backstage at runway shows - but if you specifically want to target your eyes, try her Magic Eye Rescue. The rich cream formula is super nourishing while also providing a cooling, soothing effect. Its hero ingredient Retinol is released slowly to gently smooth your skin over time.

  • Teoxane Cosmeceuticals Advanced Filler Eyes Contour

    Teoxane

    The best tinted formula: Teoxane Eye Cream

    Why we love it

    • Roll-on applicator immediately decreases swelling and calms the skin
    • Tinted formula to colour correct
    • Contains Resilient Biophytex to aid circulation for a fresh, youthful appearance

    Carla Challis, HELLO!'s Commerce Partnerships Editor, says: "I think I've found the grail of eye serums in Teoxane's Cosmeceuticals Advanced Filler Eyes Contour. It's slightly coloured, so instantly covers dark circles, and the cooling roll-on application helps to depuff immediately. I was finding myself looking more tired than ever and now I've found this eye serum, I skip under eye concealer most days - it's magical. It also targets fine lines and wrinkles, which I've not seen an improvement in yet but I'm hopeful. It's expensive, granted, but a little goes a long way."

  • Beauty Pie Triple Hyaluronic Acid Elastic Lifting Eye Serum

    Beauty Pie eye cream

    The best for dry skin: Beauty Pie Eye Cream

    Why we love it

    • Super hydrating with three different kinds of Hyaluronic
    • Added Caffeine tackles puffiness and dark circles
    • Cute and easy-to-use packaging

    Formulated with three different forms of Hyaluronic Acid, Beauty Pie's eye cream helps to plump and hydrate through all layers of the skin for a smoother under-eye area. It also contains Caffeine to reduce puffiness and inflammation.

  • Murad Retinal ReSculpt™ Eye Lift Treatment

    Murad resurgence eye

    The best for mature skin: Murad Eye Cream

    Why we love it

    • Specially designed for age 40+
    • Formulated with encapsulated retinal for multiple anti-aging benefits, while still being gentle on your skin

    Murad's new eye cream has a potent but gentle formula that tackles the signs of ageing, from reducing the appearance of deep-set wrinkles to visibly lifting and firming droopy, sagging eyelids. Suitable for all skin types, it contains science-backed encapsulated retinal and works while you sleep.

  • Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado

    Kiehl's eye cream

    The natural formula: Kiehl's Eye Cream

    Why we love it

    • Made with 99% natural ingredients
    • Formulated with nourishing Avocado Oil

    Looking for a natural formula? This Kiehl's eye cream is 99% natural and rich in Fatty Acids & Vitamins B+E (like the hero ingredient - Avocado Oil), which keep the skin around your eyes nourished and hydrated. The inclusion of caffeine also wakes up dull, tired eyes.

  • MUDMASKY Vitamin-Infused Eye Serum

    MUDMASKY eye cream

    The best with Vitamin C: MUDMASKY Eye Cream

    Why we love it:

    • Infused with brightening and firming Vitamin C
    • Highly nourishing with its blend of marine plants
    • Comes in a squeezy tube

    Katherine Robinson, HELLO!'s Senior Lifestyle Editor says: “I love this eye serum - which is actually a leave-one eye mask - and I can definitely notice the difference in my under eye skin on days I accidentally skip it. The consistency is great and it’s worked wonders for puffiness and dark circles. A little goes a long way so although it’s not cheap, it lasts for ages. I use it with the brand’s new serum-infused moisturiser, and my skin has never looked better.”

What are the causes of dark circles?

Dr Sam Bunting says: "Dark circles occur for a number of reasons. As we age, the thinnest skin on our body, which lies around our eyes, gets thinner. This is the most treatable cause. The dark structures underneath our skin (like muscle and blood vessels) are more visible as this happens and create a dark shadow - think about wearing a black bra under a white t-shirt versus a thick sweater. We want our skin to be more like the sweater! Some individuals, typically with darker skin-tones are born with a tendency for dark circles - their upper lid will also usually be darker too. Finally, there are temporary things, like lack of sleep, that can worsen the appearance of the under-eye area as blood vessels dilate and show through more."

What's the best trick to de-puff your eye area?

"Avoid excessive salt in the diet as this is a common cause of a puffy eye area. Topical caffeine can be a useful ingredient as it constricts blood vessels and can reduce puffiness. Look for it in an eye product or alternatively try making a pot of green tea and freezing in an ice cube tray. Then wrap the ice cubes in a muslin cloth and hold on to the puffy eye area - the cold provides additional de-puffing power.  Good quality sleep is also important if we want to avoid puffy eyes. Try sleeping in a cool room and avoid bright lights after 10pm to maximise your restorative sleep. Both encourage the release of the sleepy hormone melatonin."

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