This Peptide-and-Vitamin-C Eye Serum Faded My Dark Circles During a Week of *Very* Little Sleep

Photo: Getty Images/ JGI/Jamie Grill
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If you’ve been searching for a serum that's gentle enough for the delicate skin around your eyes but is also efficacious, this one's for you. Youth to the People (YTTP)—the California-based skin-care brand known for its plant-derived formulas and commitment to sustainability—just launched the Peptides + C Energy Eye Concentrate ($48), which promises to immediately illuminate and visibly brighten dark undereye circles and reduce puffiness.

The gel-serum formula packs a one-two punch of vitamin C and peptides (along with caffeine, the best-of-the-best ingredient for faking a full night's sleep), which work synergistically and “complement each other, as vitamin c is an antioxidant that helps provide environmental protection and peptides help stimulate collagen and repair,” says Michele Farber, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist with the Schweiger Dermatology Group in Philadelphia, PA.

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This all sounds incredible, but if I’m being honest, I’m a little reluctant when it comes to eye products. I don’t expect miracle results, but I’ve been burned in the past with products that have extraordinary claims but really don’t do much at all. This product was different. After testing it out during one very sleep-deprived week with three sick kids under the age of 7, my under-eye area looks visibly brighter and my dark circles are not as pronounced. Keep reading to find out more.

The Benefits of Youth to the People Energy Eye Concenrate

YTTP already has a 15% Vitamin C and Energy Serum ($69) in its collection that focuses on brightening, and the success of that formula inspired the team to start thinking about a targeted product that was gentle enough to use around the eyes. The resulting Peptides + C Energy Eye Concentrate is a gel serum that heroes vitamin C and peptides with caffeine, yerba mate, and gac seed extracts.

“It always starts with ingredients. Ingredients are our muse. We look for a unique combination to create a powerful formula and multitasker,” says Greg Gonzalez, who co-founded the brand alongside his cousin, Joe Cloyes. He explains this thoughtful combination of ingredients should deliver an "immediate impact of illumination, radiance, and blurring" after the first application, but the benefits don't stop there.

Vitamin C (ascorbyl glucoside)—one of the formula's two top-billed actives—is well-known for its antioxidant properties that help brighten and firm the skin while addressing free radicals. “Vitamin C helps with circles and protects the skin against the sun and hyperpigmentation, [which] is very important around the eye," says Dr. Farber. Although it’s “possible to get mild irritation with vitamin C in sensitive skin, the combination is generally well-tolerated,” she says.

Next up, peptides. The formula's polypeptide complex firms and tones the eye area while helping diminish the appearance of dark circles and under-eye bags. "Peptides help with stimulating collagen—they’re your repair ingredient so use it to repair damage and restore collagen and the skin barrier," says Dr. Farber. The result, according to Gonzeles is a long-term "reduction in dark circles and puffiness as well as a brightening effect."

Other star ingredients in the formula include lab-made synthetic mica, which helps with more of the immediate effects, like brightening the skin and blurring imperfections. A super tea blend of caffeinated extracts, like yerba mate and guayusa, helps awaken and energize the skin. Pomegranate is “designed to help with brightening pigmentation while the gac fruit is known to be a rich source of vitamin c,” says Gonzalez. “And taurine from red algae is a great partner for caffeine that helps with depuffing."

The serum is designed to work on all skin types, and according to a 90-person consumer survey conducted by the brand over four weeks, 85 percent of people agreed their under-eye area looked brighter and healthier, 95 percent noticed a hydrated and smoother appearance, and 82 percent felt that makeup application looked better throughout the day.

What happened when I tried it

The YTTP team recommends integrating the serum into your a.m. and p.m. routines, so that's exactly what I did. After I wash my face, I massage one to two pumps of Energy Eye under and around my eye area until it’s fully absorbed and top it off with my usual Doré La Crème Daily Moisturizer ($36).

The eye concentrate has a smooth satin texture with a cooling effect upon application—two things that will make you want to use the product over and over. “[After ingredients], it’s really about texture and performance," says Gonzalez. "The best formulas are the products that you use consistently. You can have the best-sounding thing on paper but if you can’t use it all the time, you’re not going to use those benefits. Skin care needs consistency.” I, for one, genuinely enjoyed the ritual of using it every morning and evening.

My honest thoughts? I came in with a healthy dose of skepticism but truly love the product. I plan on continuing to use it in my morning and evening skincare routines for a much-needed energy boost around my eyes.

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