Dark Circles Deep Dive!

Eye Cream for Dark Circles

Today we are going to talk about dark circles. Every time I do a Q&A on Instagram, I will get asked: “what’s the best eye cream to get rid of dark circles?!?” And I hate being the bearer of bad news but I also want to be honest: the sad truth is that topically (topically means products that you apply to your skin like a cream, etc.) there is no way to actually get RID of dark circles. You can, however, do a few things to help reduce the appearance of dark circles.

Eye Cream for Dark Circles

You can cover them up with concealer (duh), you can use an eye cream with light diffusing or reflective particles which will lessen their appearance, and you can strengthen the skin by using an eye cream that contains niacinamide. If the skin is stronger, dark circles underneath the skin will be less visible. The only way (at least in my knowledge) to really “get rid of them” is by having a dermatologist inject a small amount of filler to the under eye area. And even that will only last 12-18 months. I have no personal experience with this (yet, lol) so I can’t speak to it. So we are going to talk about a few good products today that I think do a good job with those other things.

Sidebar: Puffiness is a much easier situation to fix in my opinion. I recommend a few things. If the situation is really dire (like you are running on no sleep and/or drank the night before) I always suggest putting on a gel eye mask (these and these are my favorite – for bonus points, keep them in the fridge!) and then gently ice rolling the area. If it’s just a little puffiness I really love this eye cream. It gives a more lifted look INSTANTLY. (you can also do this after you do a gel mask + ice rolling). But truly, ice rolling is the solution. I have a whole post about that right this way!

above left: No makeup. Above right: with the Olay Ultimate Eye Cream.

Alright. So let’s talk about BRIGHTENING eye creams.

I have been testing a BUNCH. What I look for in a brightening eye cream is as follows:

  • Has a slight tint and contains light reflecting particles.
  • Contains niacinamide (also known as B3)  which can help to strengthen delicate skin.
  • Won’t pill under concealer (so many do, and for me I still need a little concealer, no matter how wonderful the eye cream is!)

Note – the creams I tested do other things too but I really wanted to hone in specifically on dark circles.

My two (interchangeable!) holy grails

Olay’s Ultimate Eye Cream and First Aid Beauty’s Niacinamide Eye Cream are basically interchangeable. Seriously. I’m sure there are superficial differences between the two products but I can’t tell the difference. I had been testing the Olay one first, and then I bought the First Aid Beauty one because I love niacinamide as an ingredient. But they are so similar. Both contain brightening particles, both have a beige coloring that will self adjust to any skin tone, both contain niacinamide, and both work nicely under concealer.

WTF is niacinamide!? Niacinamide is Vitamin B3. If you see B3 listed as an ingredient, it’s the same thing as niacinamide – just depends how the brand is marketing the product. We talked about niacinamide as an ingredient a little bit in this post, but it’s right up there with retinol and hyaluronic acid as a fav ingredient as it’s so great at strengthening the skin (making it excellent in eye creams since at least for me, the skin under my eyes is much more delicate). It does a slew of other good things too and has even been called the fountain of youth!

Two other favs

Supergoop Bright-Eyed Eye Cream is very similar to the eye creams above except it doesn’t contain niacinamide, but it does contain SPF 40. I really like this one, especially if I am going to be outside which is most days. So for summer I’ve been using this one the most. My eyes are very sensitive and I like that it brightens and perks them up while also protecting the skin around my eyes.

BeautyPie Brightening Eye Fix is unique as it doesn’t have light reflecting particles in it (or niacinamide), but it has some kind of sorcery in it as it definitely helps wake your eyes up immediately. What I like most about it is how much it brightens the undereye area (without any tint or sparkle) and how quickly it absorbs into your skin and how well it primes the undereye area for concealer. If I am wearing a lot of makeup I usually use this eye cream as it pairs so well with concealer.

My go-to under eye concealer

My go-to under eye concealer is the KOSAS one. I was very into the Ilia one for a while (and still like it) but find that this one has a bit better coverage. And I wrote more about this concealer in this post (which beware, has several more amazing clean beauty favs) but it is hands down, my favorite holy grail concealer. I wear shade 3.

At night…

Lastly: for night, I do find that dark circles are less visible the next day when I use this eye serum from Kiehl’s. You know how I swear by the original product for my forehead lines… this does that for your eyes. I mostly find that it’s great for targeting crows feet and fine lines but a side effect has been that when I wake up, the next day my under eye area is definitely brighter than usual.

Eye Cream for Dark Circles
olay eye cream + kosas concealer

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Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment


  1. Thanks for the detailed reviews! I use that eye cream from Kiehl’s myself and I love it! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    7.14.20 Reply
  2. Carolyn Horn:

    I am really surprised you did not mention the two tried and true classics. Cle de peu concealer and touché eclat brightener. They are a great favorite of make up artists and regulars world wide. What is your opinion on these products?

    7.14.20 Reply
    • hey carolyn,

      If you’ve been reading here a while you know my expertise is more skincare vs makeup so that will always be my focus. I like Touche Eclat but prefer to use a brightening eye cream + a more full coverage concealer. That seems to be my perfect formula.

      I haven’t tried the Cle de Peu concealer yet! My priority is more toward clean brands which is one of the things i love about kosas!

      7.14.20 Reply
  3. Thanks for sharing! I struggle with dark circles so I’m always looking for new products!

    xx Chelsea Finn

    7.14.20 Reply
  4. Dana Mannarino:

    Puffiness is definitely an issue I have – I have hereditary bags/puffiness under my eyes, especially when I smile. Thanks for sharing these recs, Grace!

    Dana | It’s Casual Blog 

    7.14.20 Reply
    • Aw hope it helps! Sounds like ice rolling + a cool eye gel mask would be your best friend!

      7.14.20 Reply
  5. Megan:

    I have zero interest in botox/fillers/other injectables, but the thing that might make me cave at some point is my terrible dark circles! Ha. In the meantime, I’m always on the search for anything to help even a little bit! This Olay eye cream will be my next purchase for sure. I’m using the Olay Retinol one at night (because of your recommendation!) and love it, so I’m sure this one will be great too!

    7.14.20 Reply
    • I know, I feel the same way! I’m starting to see some hollowness under my eyes, and that combined with dark circles has me thinking maybe someday.

      7.14.20 Reply
  6. Rachel:

    Love this Grace! You have me tempted to try an eye cream when I’ve never really considered it before.

    7.14.20 Reply
  7. Raychel:

    I have been struggling with this forever , I’m so glad you did a post dedicated to dark circles!

    So I recently bought the glow screen from supergoop, would the eye cream just be overkill? I know they do different things, but I don’t want to have two such similar products.
    Do you recommend the Olay over the Kiehls? And if I get the kiehls , is only getting eye cream cheating myself – should I get both products mentioned to get a better result?

    Thank you so much for your insight, truly appreciate it!

    7.14.20 Reply
    • Hi! I would not put the Glow screen by your eyes! I’d use Bright Eyed around your eye area and Glow screen on your face. Super different products for super different areas of your face.

      And the Olay vs Kiehl’s… Kiehl’s is for night and the Olay is for day – again they’re super different! I’d do either Supergoop or Olay Ultimate eyes for day (you only need one), and Kiehl’s at night for best results. Hope that helps!

      7.14.20 Reply
      • Raychel:

        Thank you!

        7.14.20 Reply
  8. Caitlin:

    Where would you rank the Banana bright eye cream with these? Why didn’t you include that in this post?

    7.14.20 Reply
    • Hi! I stopped using Banana Bright last year when people started having reactions to it. I loved it and it never did anything bad to me, but I can’t recommend something that made so many people have reactions. These are a replacement. If you want to know more about the reactions it’s on the Estee Laundry instagram page, you just have to scroll back a few months. xo

      7.14.20 Reply
  9. Kathryn Jankowski:

    Hi Grace! Thank you for this!!

    I know you’ve spoken really well of the Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Cream — do you feel like these are a replacement or do they have a different function?


    7.14.20 Reply
    • Hi! I stopped using Banana Bright last year when people started having reactions to it. I loved it and it never did anything bad to me, but I can’t recommend something that made so many people have reactions. These are a replacement. If you want to know more about the reactions it’s on the Estee Laundry instagram page, you just have to scroll back a few months. xo

      7.14.20 Reply
      • Kathryn Jankowski:

        Good to know! Thank you!

        7.14.20 Reply
  10. Seems the Olay cream makes wonders, I found a similar one from Originz, the Ginzinc, it is amazing and it has a brightening effect as well!
    Miki x


    7.15.20 Reply
  11. Sharon:

    Love that you addressed this! I feel like this is something we ALL deal with in our 30s… I never used to notice mine, until I turned 36. Once I did, I could not un-notice them! You have beautiful skin and bone structure. You really are aging beautifully.

    All that to say, I love filler under my eyes. It is a splurge for sure, but makes such a difference and a tiny bit goes a long way.

    7.15.20 Reply
  12. Sabrina:

    For my dark circles it seems only concelers work. Creams make me feel good but I rarely see much of a difference.
    I really appreciate you testing it for us!
    Nars stick is my Go To for under eye concealer

    For puffiness I recently got the Monat under eye magic thing. A little goes a long way and it instantly sucks up puffiness. I don’t use it every day but next time I do, I’ll take a side by side of one eye with it and one with out and send to you

    7.15.20 Reply
  13. Natalie Ann Redman:

    These are something I need!

    8.3.20 Reply