Eye Balm: What Under Eye Creams Actually Work?


Ever wonder why you have dark under-eye circles? Or how to get rid of them? I’ve had them my whole life and they always make me feel like I look old and tired, even if I’m not!

There is no way to actually completely get rid of dark circles. Dark circles can be diminished, however, by quality eye creams and by tear trough enhancement with dermal fillers, like Restylane. Drugstore brands of eye creams may have some ingredients that can help to moisturize the eye or tighten the skin slightly, but generally the quality and chemical stability of those products will not render dramatic results.

If you’re not ready for tear trough enhancement (filler under the eye area), you can help diminish your dark circles (or puffiness) with products that contain these ingredients:

  • Caffeine

  • Vitamin C

  • Human growth factors

  • Hyaluronic acid

Why do we see those dark circles, hollowness or bags under our eyes…especially as we get older?

Apparently the most common factor is heredity. Yep. Thanks mom! Dark circles can also often be caused by volume loss in the under eye area. As we lose collagen in our skin from age and sun damage, our skin appears thinner, begins to sag, and has less of the volume we see in younger skin. The fat pad beneath the skin diminishes, causing the skin to appear even thinner and the hollowed-out appearance under eyes. That volume loss allows the orbital bone, which is just under the tear trough and sits at the top of the cheek, to show more, and this creates the hollow trough that appears as a dark circle. The hollowness can also create a shadow that contributes to darkness under the eye.

The eye area also has extremely thin skin, and so it is one of the first areas on the face to show aging. Dilated blood vessels that sit close to the thin under-eye skin are another cause of dark circles. Environmental allergens, which cause blood to pool underneath the skin, can worsen the appearance of dark circles. Lack of sleep can be a factor, and sun damage can make dark circles worse (hyper-pigmentation). The skin around the eyes also has less collagen and elastin, and fewer sebaceous glands (which produce sebum to lubriate the skin) and this also lessens as we age.…sigh, the inevitability of changing and aging skin.

Why do these four ingredients work to help get rid of under eye circles?


Constricts blood vessels

Tightens skin

Caffeine for eye puffiness:

Puffy eyes, which can be caused by everything from diet to normal aging to lack of sleep, can be diminished by an product with caffeine because itt constricts the blood vessels under the skin, reducing the puffiness. It also has a tightening effect on the skin.

Caffeine for dark circles:

Much the same way, caffeine helps treat dark circles that are caused by aging, genetics, or sleep problems by tightening the fine blood vessels underneath the thin eye skin, making dark circles less visible.

Vitamin C:

Stimulates collagen growth

Strengthens skin



By boosting collagen growth in the skin, Vitamin C can strengthen skin, helping to minimize the dark look of the blood vessels visible underneath the skin. It also gives you a brightening effect.

Vitamin C also provides antioxidant protection, helping shield you from free radicals (constant environmental stressors like pollution and sun damage) that contribute to premature aging.

It also helps improve skin’s natural healing response and increases the effectiveness of sunscreens.

Hyaluronic acid:

This is a naturally occurring substance in the human body, and is also the substance that is in fillers like Restylane and Juvederm. In topical form, it provides excellent hydration and collagen stimulation.

Human Growth Factors:

These help heal the skin and promote collagen growth to strengthen and improve skin tone and texture, which can in turn lessen the appearance of dark circles. It can also help to diminish fine lines and wrinkles.

Two of our favorite eye creams?

Neocutis LUMIÈRE

This eye cream has human growth factors to help heal skin and promote new collagen growth. Other ingredients include caffeine and hyaluronic acid. LUMIÈRE helps to alleviate skin puffiness with caffeine, plump up the appearance of skin with the hydrating power of hyaluronic acid, and visibly diminish the appearance of under eye darkness.

Skin Ceuticals AOX+ Eye Gel

Contains a synergistic antioxidant combination to help protect the delicate eye area from oxidative stress, while targeted actives revive under-eye skin and helps reduce the appearance of puffiness.

Helps fight signs of aging, Visibly improves signs of photo damage, helps reduce the appearance of puffiness and under-eye bags. Combats signs of fatigue to restore a fresh, vibrant appearance.