Planes are one of the worst places to catch some zzz’s—the seats are uncomfortable and there’s always someone whose overhead light is on. Next time you find yourself on a long flight, fake a well-rested complexion by dabbing on some eye cream. Since the skin around the eye is extremely thin, it’s the first place to show signs of stress and fatigue, like puffiness brought on by cabin pressure or dark circles from lack of sleep. While an ice cube can work in a pinch, Dopp kit-friendlier solutions abound. After sifting through our own toiletry bags, we asked beauty experts and avid travelers alike to share the best eye creams, gels, serums, and more that keep them looking bright-eyed after a long-haul flight.
This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date. Additional reporting by Mara Balagtas.
Tata Harper Boosted Contouring eye balm
This luxurious eye cream was the most raved about product in our informal survey. David Gu, founder of mirror retailer Neutypechic, spends an unfathomable amount of time on planes; hollowed-out eyes are the tell-tale giveaway. That’s why he is a Tata Harper loyalist. “This eye cream helps to reduce puffiness, dark circles, and fine lines,” Gu says. “It also contains antioxidant-rich ingredients that help to protect against free radical damage and prevent future wrinkles.” The compact size makes it ideal for packing light, and the balm is thick enough that he never worries about spillage.
Charlotte Tilbury Cryo-Recovery eye serum
Raccoon eyes don’t stand a chance against this airy-light serum from Charlotte Tilbury. The vegan formula incorporates cooling aloe vera, buttery shea oil, and caffeine for a speedy pick-me-up. It’s the serum’s more unusual ingredients (amethyst, moonstone powders, and Swiss ice wine essence), however, that really give it an edge, lighting up a dog-tired face after the cruelest of red-eyes.
Zo Skin Health Growth Factor eye serum
Not only is this 15-ml wand TSA-approved, the soothing gel glides on seamlessly with the help of a smartly curved applicator. Neuropeptides in this slick, plant-based serum help conceal fine lines and wrinkles, while sodium acetylated hyaluronate moisturizes dry skin—a blessing during tarmac delays.
Summer Fridays Jet Lag mask
Cindy Ngo, founder of Ink + Porcelain design studio in Oakland, California, sings the praises of this cultishly revered, deeply moisturizing cream, calling it her “holy grail.” “I always have it in my bag for a quick fix and know that it’ll liven up my look,” Ngo says. She also likes that the formula, which contains hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, is clean and vegan.
Origins Ginzing Refreshing eye cream
Jessie Moore, the U.K.–based photographer and travel writer behind Pocket Wanderings, has road tested numerous eye creams over the years. Origins’ Ginzing is the only one she’s found that “genuinely brightens” the panda rings under her eyes. The cream is formulated with Vitamin C, ginseng, and a pop of caffeine—a combination fashion blogger Kiki Baltzi also credits for getting her through “zero sleep” fashion weeks. “This eye cream helps me fight puffiness,” says Baltzi, who applies it twice a day with a pink quartz roller that she keeps in the fridge. “It makes me look like I slept 10 hours.”
Korres Greek Yoghurt Wide Awake eye gel
This calming jelly, dispensed via a stainless steel roller ball, is the next best thing to glazing your face with Greek yogurt. The probiotics help reduce inflammation, Greek espresso acts as a stimulating antioxidant, and honeysuckle and jasmine give the gel a pleasant floral scent. Plus, the 15-ml vial is the perfect size to toss in your carry-on.
Dermalogica BioLumin-C eye serum
Travel consultant Katrina Warren has been using this serum for four years because “it’s small enough to fit in any travel kit and lighter than a cream.” The latter, she notes, is particularly important to her as a woman of color who has struggled with a white cast from other creams. The Vitamin C in BioLumin-C also helps Warren’s skin snap back to life after an exhausting flight.
Amorepacific Time Response eye cream
Jessie Kuo, co-founder of Los Angeles–based matcha retailer Nekohama, travels frequently for work and swears by Amorepacific’s Time Response eye cream, a green tea-powered cream that works wonders to counter dullness. She has been using it for four years to “brighten and moisturize” around her eyes after cross-country flights, patting it on before she boards and after she deplanes. The result: “You can’t tell that I’ve barely slept!” Kuo says.
Ole Henriksen Banana Bright eye cream
“I’ve been on more horrendous 10-plus-hour flights than I care to count,” says Alex Gillard, wildlife photographer and the founder of Nomad Nature Travel. “I’m also six-foot-two, so there is zero chance that I get even a single second of sleep in an economy class seat.” A flight attendant friend recommended Ole Henriksen’s collagen-infused Banana Bright eye cream to him a few years ago and he’s been slathering it on every flight since. “The difference is really striking,” says Gillard. “It hydrates the skin under my eyes so it doesn’t look so sallow, and it contains banana pigment, which brightens the skin.”
Lancôme Advanced Génifique wrinkle and dark circle eye cream
New York–based beauty and style expert Katya Bychkova deploys a double whammy for long-haul flights, starting with Dermalogica’s Awaken Peptide Eye Gel. “It contains caffeine, a known anti-inflammatory and de-puffing ingredient,” Bychkova says. She chases that with Lancôme’s Advanced Génifique wrinkle and dark circle eye cream, a formula punched up with Vitamin C and nourishing hyaluronic acid. “It quenches my dehydrated skin while I’m up in the air and visibly reduces the appearance of dark circles,” she says.
Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Hydra-Gel eye patches
Gold has been used to lift, firm, and brighten faces for millennia; even Cleopatra incorporated the precious metal into her beauty routine. These gilded eye patches from Peter Thomas Roth are super chic, but they’re also comfortable enough to wear in-flight, says Amy Siegel, a travel advisor at Valerie Wilson Travel. Siegel wears the luxe patches both on the plane and after she lands to combat dryness and puffiness. She likes them so much, in fact, she gifts them to clients before their own big trips.
Chanel Le Lift Eye Revitalizer
Vancouver–based content creator Kathryn Anderson travels often for work and says this combo kit keeps the zombie look at bay. “The powerful duo actually does what it says it does,” says Anderson of Chanel’s renewing roll-on serum and hydrogel eye patches. “The results are nothing short of incredible.” Whether she’s on a long-haul flight or a short evening jaunt, she slaps on the eye patches one hour before landing. “I don’t even need to wash my face or redo my makeup,” says Anderson. “Once the patches come off, I powder my face, apply a fresh coat of mascara, and voilà! I look refreshed and ready to take on the world.”
Glowoasis Refreshing Eye Duo
No matter how light you typically travel, you’ll want to make room for the ultra-hydrating Probiotics + Triple Peptide refreshing eye cream and rose quartz eye massager from Glowasis. The easy-to-grip massage tool rolls easily around the eye, boosting circulation and increasing absorption of the satiny, niacinamide-laced eye cream.
The Organic Pharmacy Rose Diamond eye cream
Acmella Oleracea, a natural alternative to Botox, is a star ingredient in this silky, rose-scented eye cream, but it’s the radiant diamond powder that gives it its pearlescent sheen. Working in tandem with hyaluronic acid and Persian silk extract, it’s a richly moisturizing formula that de-puffs and illuminates simultaneously—making it one of the more glamorous options out there.
The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG eye serum
Beyond a shot of caffeine, the secret to this wallet-friendly serum is Epigallocatechin Galatyl Glucoside—an ingredient derived from green tea and blessedly shorthanded as EGCG. The formula has been the go-to salve for Morgan Halaska, the marketing and communications director for a large brewery in the Upper Midwest, for years. “I have deep-set eyes, and I’ll do whatever I can to keep dark circles at bay,” she says, calling this minor miracle worker “the morning cup of coffee for my face.”
Avène Soothing Eye Contour Cream
Laura Roncagli, co-founder of MyBeautik and a professional makeup artist based in Italy, skips makeup altogether when flying. Instead she swipes on Avène contouring cream, followed by a spritz of the brand’s facial mist. The featherweight eye cream includes chamomile for depuffing, hyaluronic acid for hydration, and thermal spring water to calm frazzled skin. “Moisturizing during the flight is not only better for your skin health,” Roncagli says, “it makes you feel more comfortable during the entirety of the journey.”