Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2019. We’re republishing it because it is now enabled with on-site shopping, so you can buy all of Rio’s favorite items for brightening (and even healing) your dark under-eye circles without leaving this page. Read more about our on-site shopping tool here.
A few years ago, I wrote about my all-time favorite skin-care and makeup products for eradicating my chronic dark circles — or, as I like to call them, serial-killer eyes. Between then and now, a delightful new development has emerged: My under-eye area has also grown increasingly dry and sensitive. I’ve found that the wrong product, or a lack of treatment, can lead to tiny milia bumps, tenderness, and dry patches. As a result of this, I’ve had to discard some of my once-beloved under-eye solutions (like Drunk Elephant C Tango, whose vitamin C content is too high for my newly irritable under eyes) and seek out new products that are equal parts healing and darkness-erasing. I’ve also been looking for things that have anti-aging properties, because, well, protection is the best prevention. Which is all to say: I have some new, and very beloved, under-eye products to share. If you have sensitive skin and tend to wake up looking, as I do, like Uncle Fester, you’re going to love these
The Petitfee Gold and Snail eye patches used to be my go-tos for hydrating and healing my dark, sunken under eyes. But when my under eyes started getting super-dry and irritated, I found they were just not doing enough to heal them. So I looked for a replacement and, very happily, found these Benton guys. Like the Petitfee’s, these are also snail-based (as a reminder: snail turns over cells to brighten things up), but unlike the Petitfees, they’re also ultramoisturizing and healing on the skin (they incorporate tea tree leaf and seaweed extract), and help create the perfect smooth, replenished based for my concealer. They’re unreal. I use them once or twice a week, or any time my under eyes are feeling extra dehydrated and sunken.
I’ll be honest, I initially bought these eye patches because I thought they were supercute and seasonally appropriate. It wasn’t until after I applied one, took a thousand selfies, then took it off that I realized that it’s actually an amazing product — my under eyes looked freshly plumped and hydrated. Some research revealed that these masks are actually packed with some serious, all-star ingredients: centella for calming, fermented honey for plumping up fine lines or wrinkles, and a very low concentration of vitamin C for gentle brightening effects. It’s not as insanely hydrating and healing as the Benton patches, but the addition of vitamin C means it’s more brightening — a great choice for someone who has dark eyes and sensitive skin, but isn’t dealing with active irritation.
Something to know about dark circles is they’re often a sign that your skin is under-moisturized. The best antidote I’ve found for that particular issue is this night cream, which K-beauty blogger 50 Shades of Snail wrote about a couple of months back (though it’s not specifically meant for the under eyes, she found it did an exceptional job hydrating the sensitive skin in that area). This makes sense: snail secretion, as we know, contains collagen, elastin, and a superhigh concentration of antioxidants; it’s, in other words, an anti-aging, ultramoisturizing super-potion. And this cream contains a lot of snail secretion: 92 percent (for comparison, the Petifee Hydrogels only contains one percent snail). Fiddy did not lie: This cream knocks out under-eye dryness fast — if I have allergies, or if I notice my under eyes are darker and drier than usual, I apply this straight-away.
This is definitely the most brightening under-eye cream of the bunch. You won’t notice an overnight transformation, but if you keep at it for a month or so, you’ll be so pleasantly surprised: After I used it for a couple of weeks, my dark marks were faded, some crows filled out, and my under eyes were generally smoother. The stuff is made up of 80 percent collagen (which means it’s incredible for plumping up that under-eye skin), as well as niacinamide (one of the best brightening ingredients out there). And best of all, it does all of this without creating any irritation, which is the main reason it won a spot on my Google Doc list this year. The balmy consistency of this product is also great for creating a really smooth, nourished base for under-eye makeup. I reach for this one on days where my eyes are calmer and less irritated, so I can give them some much-needed, intensive brightening treatment; if you don’t deal with under-eye irritation, you could get away with using it daily.
I went through my YSL Touche Eclat a little too quickly to rationalize the (exorbitant) price. So I decided to hunt for a product that was slightly cheaper but equally lightweight and creamy. I tried this one from Urban Decay on a whim and quickly fell in love with it. It’s really easy to buff into the skin, and slightly more full coverage than my Touche Eclat (which means a little bit goes a long way). When you layer this underneath a concealer, you can’t see it at all. And if you just want to have a really subtle cancellation of your dark circles, you can wear this alone.
My go-to under-eye concealer right now is this cult-y one (Lily Aldridge is a fan) from RMS. It’s lightweight, really easy to use with your fingers, and never cakes or creases. I use this on its own if my under eyes are just moderate bad, and in combination with the above Color Corrector on days where I haven’t had any sleep, have gotten off a long flight, or if my under eyes are just randomly looking particularly rough. It knocks out the pigment, while letting your skin look like skin.
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