This Eye Cream Makes Dark Circles Look Brighter and More Supple 'in Seconds'

Shoppers say their puffy under-eye circles look instantly more awake and smoother.

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Bright Start Retinol Alternative Eye Cream

Travel + Leisure / Pamela Jew

Anticipating how your skin is going to react when you’re traveling can oftentimes be a losing game. But, one thing you can count on is puffy, dark under-eye circles after a long flight, train ride, or road trip. If that second (or third) coffee still hasn’t turned up the brightness on your skin, shoppers say the best course of action is to recruit the help of the Ilia Beauty Bright Start Activated Eye Cream

The newest launch from the editor-loved brand, the Bright Start Activated Eye Cream makes the ultimate travel companion with its multitasking formula, innovative applicator, and TSA-friendly packaging. It's designed to address key under-eye concerns like dark circles, puffiness, fine lines and wrinkles, and dryness so you can embark on your trip with brighter, firmer, and more hydrated skin. And, it does so without any irritating ingredients. 

Bright Start Retinol Alternative Eye Cream


To buy:, $46  

In fact, at the center of the lightweight and fast-absorbing formula is sea fennel extract, which is a sustainably sourced and gentler alternative to retinol (a popular skin care ingredient known for its powerful anti-aging benefits). Like its counterpart, sea fennel extract boosts collagen production to visibly brighten, firm, and smooth away texture sans the over-dryness and irritation — which is good news if you're someone with sensitive skin. 

Dark circles and puffiness answer to avocado extract. The formula uses an upcycled version of this soothing and radiance-boosting ingredient, which will help your under-eyes look more rejuvenated. Energizing caffeine and hydrating peptides come together to revive tired-looking under-eyes, while light-reflecting pearl pigments instantly turn up the brightness on your skin, making it look like you spent the morning catching up on sleep and not stuck on a red-eye flight. 

Related: The 11 Best Travel Makeup Bags & Cosmetic Cases of 2023

Potent ingredient list aside, the Bright Start Activated Eye Cream is an all-star for depuffing because of its genius ceramic applicator tip, which feels cool against the skin and instantly soothes. Just apply the product directly to the skin and massage it in with the applicator; the massaging motion will simultaneously enhance absorption and reduce the look of puffiness. It's basically like packing a mini facial device in your toiletry bag so you can have a "little spa moment," as one reviewer described it. 

Despite being such a new addition to the Ilia Beauty family, shoppers have already left the Bright Start Activated Eye Cream an impressive 4.5-star rating for its ability to create an "instant change" in brightness, smoothness, and hydration. A reviewer wrote, "I have finally found an eye product that helps with eye wrinkles and dark/puffy under-eyes." In fact, one buyer said, "I noticed my under-eye area brightened up after the first application," and another shopper exclaimed, "It really works in seconds and smooths my eyes in seconds."

Bright Start Retinol Alternative Eye Cream


To buy:, $46  

Chiming in, one Ilia Beauty customer added that they've "noticed an instant brightness and suppleness to my under-eyes" after using the Bright Start Activated Eye Cream for two weeks. Similarly, a shopper shared, "Automatically, I could see less puffiness under my eyes, and it left me with an illuminating glow instead. It has the benefit of retinol but it's less harsh on the skin." 

Speaking to its gentle formula, another reviewer commented, "Other brands I’ve used will literally start burning from constant use, but this hasn’t [and I’ve been using this daily for three weeks now." They were also happy to report, "Throughout the day, I see how my under-eyes are not puffy anymore and not as dark." 

Related: People Say Their Skin Looks Years Younger After Using This 'Smoothing' Face Cream

But, of course, the Bright Start Activated Eye Cream's biggest benefit is making you look instantly more awake. One reviewer said, "I wake up every morning very early and have dark circles [and] puffiness, and I still look tired even after a full night of sleep… I can notice a difference pretty quickly after application and my eyes look less puffy, smoother, and more even." A shopper with self-described "very dry and crepey under-eyes" added, "I noticed an instant wake-up and brightening effect." 

When you get to your destination, follow this reviewer tip to really maximize its depuffing magic: "I placed my eye cream in the fridge for 15 minutes, then after applying, I noticed briefly after my eyes were awake. The darkness, puffiness, and some lines were smoothed out."  

Trust us, your future, sleep-deprived self is going to be so happy that you brought the Bright Start Activated Eye Cream on your trip. Get one at Ilia Beauty today, and prepare to be amazed by its fast-acting formula. 

At the time of publishing, the price was $46. 

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