Global beauty care vitamin c eye cream — eye creams are hit or miss. Despite sweeping promises to make us look more refreshed, awake, and yes, more youthful, some don’t deliver much more than a temporary moisture boost. Those that harness the power of antioxidants (more specifically, vitamin C) follow through on those bold claims, immediately brightening the under-eye area with just a few pats.
This game-changing ingredient has become a hero in every skincare category, but it’s particularly effective at improving the appearance of dark circles and melisma around the eyes. That’s because vitamin C is a brightening agent that inhibits the production of melanin, the culprit behind many of our eye area concerns. Plus, it offers some protection against environmental stressors like UV rays, which contribute to advancing signs of aging. And while there are additional ways to improve dark circles, like getting better sleep and wearing sunscreen, a vitamin C eye cream can help you see results even faster.
We know it can be tricky to choose the perfect vitamin C eye cream — after all, everyone’s skin is different — so we conducted major research and reached out to three board-certified dermatologists to find the best options for every skin type and concern. The products that made our list will keep you looking fresh and bright-eyed, even when you pull an all-nighter.
Inspired by banana powder, a yellow-tinted cosmetic powder used to brighten dull skin, Banana Bright+ immediately color corrects dark circles while its triple vitamin C complex works to reduce hyperpigmentation over time. One unique aspect of the formula is the gold-complexed delivery system that “gets vitamin C into the surface layer of the skin,” says New York-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Anna Karp. Essentially, the powerful antioxidant is encapsulated in gold. This helps it penetrate deeper into the epidermis, ultimately enhancing potency and the beaming results.
The velvety vegan eye cream also contains anti-inflammatory ingredients, like jojoba oil and shea butter, that boost hydration, de-puff, and intensely nourish the area, creating a one-stop eye enhancer that tackles multiple concerns. And, as a bonus, it layers well under makeup, serving as a foolproof base for concealer and foundation.
Overall, almost all skin types can use and benefit from this product, but those with sensitive skin should use caution. Because vitamin C can be irritating, we suggest patch testing on your arm before slathering it on the delicate eye area.
Skin Type: Normal, dry, combination, and oily | Active Ingredients: Triple vitamin C complex, bioflavonoids, hardy orange extract | Benefits: Diminishes dark circles, firms wrinkles, and color corrects | Size: 0.5 oz
This luxurious eye cream doesn’t just improve the appearance of fine lines, dark circles, and sun damage; it protects against environmental stressors, too. The magic comes down to a proprietary blend of antioxidants that Augustinus Bader calls TFC8: This patented complex (which contains vitamin C) activates the body’s stem cells to encourage collagen production, ultimately promoting healthier, firmer skin in the long run.
Along with the brightening results, we love how hydrating and weightless the fragrance-free formula feels. And, of course, the packaging is incredibly fancy. The heavy blue and bronze container contributes to the luxe factor and looks gorgeous on any vanity.
Skin Type: All | Active Ingredients: TFC8, vitamin C, vitamin B3 (niacinamide), vitamin B5, pennywort, seaweed, and arjun tree extracts | Benefits: Improves under-eye circles, puffiness, dark shadows, fine lines, and wrinkles | Size: 0.5 oz
This serum stick from Peace Out combines the powers of vitamin C, caffeine, and peptides to brighten, de-puff, and hydrate the eye area. Designed to be the last step in your skincare routine, it’s quick and easy to use: Just glide it in a crescent-like motion under the eyes and tap to blend it in. You can also apply it as a spot treatment to address other hyperpigmentation concerns on the face.
Since incorporating the treatment stick into our routine our eye area looks smoother and brighter. And although we have sensitive skin, we haven’t experienced any adverse reactions. The creamy texture intensely moisturizes but doesn’t settle into creases or cause an issue when layered with makeup. That said, use it sparingly. If you apply too much of the rich formula, milia can form.
Skin Type: All | Active Ingredients: 6% vitamin C blend, peptide blend, caffeine | Benefits: Brightens the under-eye area and firms skin | Size: 0.1 oz
When it comes to skin-rejuvenating ingredients, many dermatologists refer to retinol as the holy grail. “Using an eye cream with retinol will help stimulate cell turnover, reduce fine lines, and help minimize dark circles,” says Dr. Hartman, who — along with Dr. Karp — recommends this eye cream.
To put it in layman’s terms, retinol speeds up the skin’s process of shedding dead cells, including wrinkles and pesky hyperpigmentation. In a formula that also includes vitamin C, retinol clears the way for the antioxidant to brighten that newly-exposed skin, leaving your under-eyes looking thoroughly refreshed. This Paula’s Choice eye cream also includes hydrating ceramides and soothing licorice root extract that help combat redness and irritation often associated with retinol.
Skin Type: All | Active Ingredients: Retinol, vitamin C, and ceramides | Benefits: Reduces fine lines, minimizes dark circles, moisturizes | Size: 0.5 oz
Kiehl’s is one of the most trusted names in beauty: The brand continuously churns out noteworthy, results-driven skin saviors, and its vitamin C eye serum is one of our favorites. Formulated with 10 percent pure vitamin C, tri-peptides, and hyaluronic acid, the lightweight, silky formula is designed to smooth and brighten the skin around the eyes in just seven days. Although the results are fast-acting for skincare standards, the serum also has a bright yellow tint that helps to immediately color correct dark circles. The hue can look a little harsh on those with lighter skin tones, but it does blend fully after a few minutes.
Skin Type: All | Active Ingredients: 10% pure vitamin C, tri-peptides, hyaluronic acid | Benefits: Brightens and firms the under-eye area and reduces the look of dark circles | Size: 0.5 oz
What to Keep in Mind
When choosing a vitamin C eye cream, it’s important to consider not just your skin type, but any eye area concerns you may have. Dark circles, puffiness, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles can all play a part in making your eyes look less than alert, and many of the formulas on our list are made to address multiple issues.
Take Paula’s Choice Clinical Ceramide-Enriched Firming Eye Cream, for example. It combines 0.01 percent retinol with vitamin C, soothing licorice root extract, and hydrating ceramides to not only brighten the under-eye area but also hydrate it and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Where puffiness is an issue, formulas infused with caffeine, niacinamide, and vitamin E can help. “Caffeine reduces puffiness under the eyes as it constricts blood vessels and tightens the skin,” Dr. Hartman says. “Niacinamide also works to de-puff the area by reducing inflammation, and vitamin E is an anti-inflammatory that helps with redness and irritation.” A quick swipe of Peace Out’s Vitamin C Glow Stick — which includes a heaping dose of caffeine — will have you looking more lively and ready to take on the day.
All of the products on our list include vitamin C, but what exactly does it do? Also known as ascorbic acid, this powerhouse ingredient tackles numerous concerns, helping to improve dark circles and hyperpigmentation as well as defend against free radical damage. According to Dr. Hartman, L-ascorbic acid is the best type of vitamin C you can get in a skincare product. “It has the most skin-related research, and when properly formulated, it helps create younger-looking, firmer-feeling skin while fading signs of uneven skin tone and spots,” he says.
Beyond vitamin C, retinol is an ingredient often found in eye creams. This form of vitamin A regulates cell turnover. It’s prized by dermatologists for its exfoliating properties, which help to fade discoloration, reduce acne, and smooth fine lines and wrinkles. All of these benefits can apply to the eye area, but remember, the skin around our eyes is extremely delicate. Some people with increased sensitivity, eczema, or rosacea can’t tolerate retinol. In fact, retinol can make their skin concerns worse. Consult with your doctor before incorporating retinol into your routine.
Additionally, as we explained above, caffeine, niacinamide, and vitamin E are all effective treatments for redness and puffiness around the eyes.
Dr. Hartman notes that the container your eye cream comes in is important: “Vitamin C is sensitive to air and light and it breaks down over time if exposed to them. For optimal performance, your vitamin C eye cream should be in an opaque, air-restrictive bottle or pump container to help ensure the ingredients remain stable.” For example, the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Under Eye Cream comes in a solid pump tube that helps keep the ingredients potent. That’s not to say that formulas that come in screw-top jars, like our best overall pick OleHenriksen Banana Bright+ Vitamin C Brightening Eye Crème, are bad. Typically, the size is small enough that you can finish up the product before oxidation starts to take place. To extend the life of these products, store them in a cool dark place away from direct sunlight.
Your Questions, Answered
What causes dark under-eye circles and dark spots?
Not all dark circles are created equal, and it’s helpful to understand which type you have before investing in an eye cream. Yes, some are caused by lack of sleep, but as Dr. Karp points out, there can be numerous other factors. “Dark circles can stem from excess melanin production, thinning skin, allergies, dehydration, or lifestyle habits like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption,” she explains. “Some people have a tear trough deformity that creates the illusion of dark circles, too.” And, as we age and lose elasticity in our skin, they can look even more pronounced.
Dark spots, or melasma, on the other hand, are caused by an overproduction of melanin. “Some common causes of dark spots include sun exposure, hormonal changes, or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (ie. following a rash or breakout),” says Dr. Karp. “These spots can appear anywhere on your skin, but dark circles are found only on the lower eyelids.”
Does vitamin C help diminish dark circles?
In short, yes. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that neutralizes damaging oxidizing agents. (Think UV radiation and pollutants that wreak havoc on skin cells.) It also hinders melanin production, which is what gives it a reputation as a brightening ingredient. “Vitamin C inhibits the action of the enzyme tyrosinase (an important part of melanin production) which makes it great for any type of hyperpigmentation,” says board-certified dermatologist and founder of RVL Skincare, Dr. Rita Linkner. These benefits apply to dark circles and dark spots alike, making vitamin C an ideal active ingredient to brighten the area around the eye.
What other treatments can help with stubborn dark circles?
In addition to vitamin C, products with ingredients such as retinol, niacinamide, caffeine, and vitamin E can all help to reduce dark circles. Because they work so well together, these ingredients present a multi-pronged approach to both the appearance and underlying causes of dark circles.
Beyond topical treatments, there are other professional options that have been proven to reduce or eliminate dark circles, such as microdermabrasion, non-ablative laser facials, and dermal fillers. “If you’ve been using over-the-counter topical products consistently for two to three months and are not seeing the results you desire, make an appointment with a dermatologist,” says Dr. Hartman. “I usually recommend a combination of in-office and at-home options to fully address stubborn dark circles.”