Want to fight dark circles? Look for these ingredients in your next eye cream

Nikhita Mahtani, CNN Underscored
Updated Thu October 3, 2019

If you've been plagued with dark circles and have no idea what causes them, you're not alone.

"There are many things that can cause dark eye circles, and top of the list are lack of sleep, dehydration and genetics," says Shea Amiruddin, director of skincare education at national skincare studio Heyday. "Iron deficiencies can weaken blood vessels and lead to pooling of blood in certain areas. In addition, your body repairs itself during deep sleep, so lack of sleep can inhibit this action, leading to poor circulation in these areas, along with deoxygenated blood."

And while you can certainly try to figure out the root cause of your dark circles and fix them through various lifestyle changes, realize that there are also certain helpful ingredients that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine. They have different benefits and are known to reduce the look of dark circles. Check out a few you should absolutely look for:

Vitamin C

"One of the best ingredients to find in eye creams is vitamin C because it gets rid of free radicals and brightens the skin," says Amiruddin. Vitamin C is also a potent collagen booster, and so, the addition of vitamin C to your nightly regimen can help thicken the delicate under-eye area and conceal discoloration.

Vitamin K

"Vitamin K stimulates tissue renewal and is a potent antioxidant," says Amiruddin. An evaluation of a cotton pad containing vitamin K and caffeine found that the pad acted as an emollient and drastically reduced the appearance of under-eye circles.

Caffeine

"Caffeine is great at increasing microcirculation, which in turn can help reduce the appearance of dark circles," says Amiruddin. Caffeine is also a known depuffer, which is ideal if you struggle with getting enough sleep.

Ceramides

Ceramides are lipids (fats) that make up a component of the skin barrier and allow the skin to retain moisture, while protecting it against irritants like dust and pollution. "Creams and serums with ceramides and peptides (short-chain amino acids) will help hydrate and stimulate collagen and elastin production, which plumps the skin and pushes it away from the pooled blood," says Shannon McLinden, founder of natural skincare brand FarmHouse Fresh. Studies have also shown that since ceramides mimic the skin's natural moisturizing systems, they're even more effective in preventing dehydration, a common cause of dark under-eye circles.

And now, the products:

Containing caffeine, vitamins C and B3, and optic brighteners, the Olay Brightening Eye Cream ($20.63; amazon.com) was designed to specifically target the under-eye area using fast absorbing technology. Hydrating and soothing, you can use it both morning and night for glowing skin.

An all-in-one product, the Pure Biology Total Eye ($32.00; amazon.com) targets puffiness, dark circles, fine lines and dehydration using a unique combination of ingredients. However, if it's simply dark circles you're looking to prevent, the winning blend of caffeine, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid will work to brighten, increase circulation and hydrate the skin, allowing for a refreshed look in no time.

This is one serious game changer. The Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream ($64; amazon.com) contains five different types of vitamin C and a chain of eight peptides to help stimulate circulation and brighten dark circles. Soothing cucumber extract also works to refresh tired eyes. As the treatment is very rich, though, it's recommended only at night, so that the magical ingredients have time to work.

In the Herbal Dynamics Beauty Vitamin K and Green Tea Brightening Eye Cream ($22; amazon.com), vitamin K is the real star of the show. It stimulates skin renewal, thanks to its high antioxidant content. In addition, the caffeine from the green tea also increases circulation, leaving you with bright, refreshed eyes.

If you live in an area with tons of air pollution, the Mario Badescu Ceramide Herbal Eye Cream ($18; amazon.com) is the perfect fit. Consisting of ceramides and rose hip oil, this non-greasy, fast-absorbing eye cream works to restore the skin's natural moisture content in a noninvasive way.

Formulated with three essential ceramides that work to protect the skin's moisture barrier, the CeraVe Eye Repair Cream ($10.77; amazon.com) is an affordable option that works miracles. The formula includes patented MVE controlled-release technology that slowly delivers ceramides over time, allowing for prolonged hydration. This fragrance-free formula is also ideal for sensitive skin types, as it won't irritate the eyes.

With a gel-like consistency that's perfect for daytime, the L'Oreal Paris Dermo-Expertise Eye Defense ($11.83; amazon.com) is a moisturizing dream consisting of hyaluronic acid and caffeine to boost the skin's elasticity and ability to retain moisture. It'll also work to fight puffiness and fine lines, making it a multipurpose product you should absolutely pack for your next weekend getaway.

The Eyes Eyes Baby Anti-Aging Eye Cream ($21.99; amazon.com) from Fleur & Bee is a super rich and moisturizing eye cream made from natural ingredients and free from parabens, sulfates and artificial fragrances. It features vitamins B3 and E that help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and even out your skin tone. Caffeine works to lessen dark circles and puffiness while squalane, an ingredient derived from olive oil, aims to soothe and hydrate your skin.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer's listed price at the time of publication.