If you have dark circles under your eyes, you'll find a huge number of products on store shelves claiming to solve the problem. However, there isn't much science behind the claims. Popular ingredients for treating dark circles include vitamin K, which is thought to repair blood vessels that create a bluish hue under the eyes, and kojic acid and hydroquinone, compounds that have some skin-lightening abilities. While you might see some lightening after regular use, no topical cream can get rid of dark circles completely.
Contrary to popular belief, dark circles aren't caused by lack of sleep. Instead, they can be triggered by myriad causes, including allergies that can lead to extra pressure in the sinuses, dark shadows caused by the depth of the eye socket, leaking capillaries that can lead to a bruised appearance and excess pigmentation under the eyes due to genetics. Experts at Dermatology Times, a monthly publication for dermatologists, say, "Under-eye circles are remarkably resistant to treatment."
Most skin-care professionals say cosmetic surgery and laser treatments are the best ways to eradicate chronic dark circles, since these procedures will reduce the prominence of visible veins. Several options are available, most of which require multiple treatments and cost between $250 to $1,500 per treatment, depending on where you live, the type of therapy you choose and your surgeon. Consult a doctor for more information on which procedure best suits your needs.
For more mild cases, reviewers say a treatment designed to disguise dark circles like our Best Reviewed Clinique Even Better Eyes Dark Circle Corrector (*Est. $40 for 0.33 oz.) might help somewhat. Allure magazine gives the formula a Best of Beauty award for containing ingredients that may fade dark circles gradually and offering an instant brightening effect with light-reflecting pigments. Clinique's eye cream contains titanium dioxide for brightening, mica for luminescence and shimmer, and iron oxides that impart a flesh-toned color. The effects are purely cosmetic, however.
Begoun says Even Better Eyes contains "a beautiful array of anti-aging ingredients to help strengthen skin around the eyes (or elsewhere on the face) so it is better able to resist signs of aging that make dark circles look worse." Notable ingredients include vitamins C and E, green tea extract, caffeine and cholesterol. The formula is too new to have received many user reviews.
Recently discontinued by the manufacturer but still widely available in stores and online, Aveeno Positively Radiant Eye Illuminator is another formula praised for its ability to reduce the appearance of dark circles. It has earned beauty awards from Health, Self and Redbook magazines for containing ingredients that instantly brighten shadowy eyes and treat dark circles over time. However, editors don't say how the formula is tested or compare it to other eye creams.
Aveeno's Eye Illuminator contains an "impressive blend of smoothing ingredients along with antioxidant soy and the cell-communicating ingredient niacinamide," says Begoun. On the downside, it also contains fragrance, which she says could potentially cause irritation especially in the delicate eye area. In addition, there's nothing on the ingredients list that can diffuse light away from dark circles as claimed by the manufacturer, she notes.
Because of the discrepancy among professional reviewers, the lack of user reviews, Aveeno's inclusion of fragrance and, recently, its discontinuation, we list Clinique Even Better Eyes as a Best Reviewed product.