skincare treatments

It Took Me Three Years to Find A Moisturizer That Fixed My Dark Circles

Photo: Natasha Marsh

I’ve been quite lucky in the skin department. Aside from sun spots and subtle hyperpigmentation from breakouts, my skin is normal and easy. When I keep up with my water intake (a gallon a day), it’s even glow-y. Despite my good fortune, I couldn’t help but fixate on my dark under-eye circles.

I started noticing them during the pandemic when I was seeing myself on screens for multiple hours a day. Eventually, I couldn’t unsee them: I stared at my phone after selfies. I noticed them in both full length mirrors while shopping and in my rearview driving around Los Angeles.

That was three years ago, and in that time I’ve tested dozens of eye creams. Kiehl’s, House of Gro, Fresh Beauty, and Lumen to name a few. Generally I tried eye creams from brands I trust, but sadly they didn’t move the needle. Even after using House of Gro Eye Detox for three months — the longest I had tested a single product—the only real noticeable change was less puffiness. To sum up the testing, most of the creams took up to 11 weeks to see even a slight reduction in color, but nothing did the job fully.

Reviews and conversations with other beauty editors brought me to eye patches next. As occlusives, I learned, they could help intensify the effects of eye creams. So I started doubling up. I tried several including Dieux Skin, Skin Gym, Peter Thomas Roth, and Patchology. The best result I got wasn’t even dark circle related. I have really bad seasonal allergies and some days I wake up with puffy, irritated eyes. One night when my allergies were running high, I put on Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment and layered on Dieux Skin Forever Eye Mask. The next morning my eyes were de-puffed and itch-free (but still dark).

Before all this eye cream testing, I had a simple three-step routine: gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Adding in an additional step or two just wasn’t sitting right with me. I found it tedious. And ultimately, pretty pointless because I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. Which is why I was so excited to receive Shiseido Vital Perfection Advanced Cream from the brand last July. I’m a longtime fan of Shiseido (the White Lucent Overnight Cream and Mask is my go-to, especially when I travel).

The Perfection Advanced Cream claims to increase firmness and brighten skin, and since I was eager to get back to a routine sans eye cream, I crossed my fingers and hoped it would work for my dark circles too. When I first opened the jar and saw the creamy texture, I was nervous it would be too heavy. But it absorbed quickly after I applied it. Even after I layered on my sunscreen, I noticed a glow on my cheekbones. But nothing noteworthy happened with my dark circles for the first ten weeks.

Around week 11, things started to shift. While reporting on outdoor activities in Iceland, I took a lot of selfies in incredible forests, rainforests, reservoirs, and glaciers. I was stunned to see my dark circles were significantly lighter than before I started using the Advanced Cream. They had started to blend in with the rest of my skin.

Fast-forward to months four to six, and I wasn’t even checking for dark circles in photos anymore. Coworkers and friends started asking what I was doing. Suddenly I was “annoying” for having such a great glow. This was when I knew Shiseido Vital Perfection Uplifting and Firming Advanced Cream works-works.

And honestly, I shouldn’t have been so surprised that it worked that well. Like I said, I’ve been using Shiseido products for more than six years and this moisturizer has some strong ingredients — most noteworthy a proprietary safflower (found only in Japan) that’s said to the firm skin. There’s also the better known ginseng root extract and caffeine that brighten under eyes too. I’ve tested it for eight months now, and it keeps incrementally improving the darkness.

I’ve had the same 1.7 ounce jar for the entire eight months and am only now starting to reach the bottom (you only need a teeny amount per application). So even though it is on the pricier side, at $140, Shiseido Vital Perfection Advanced Cream is well worth it. After my three-year quest, I’ve finally found a simple routine that fixed my dark circles, and I couldn’t be happier.

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This Shiseido Moisturizer Fixed My Dark Circles