a dupe for the ordinary caffeine solution 5% + EGCG

If there’s one product that’s let me down this year, it’s The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG.

Not that’s it a bad product. It makes my puffy eyes disappear faster and helps me keep crow’s feet away. But when it comes to treating dark circles, it fails.

So when I heard The Inkey List released a (slightly more expensive!) dupe for The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG called Caffeine Serum, I wondered if that can do the job?

Let’s find out!

What Do These Caffeine Eye Serums Have In Common?


Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor: it tightens the blood vessels in the eye area, making your dark circles and puffiness look less obvious.

The catch? It works only if your dark circles are caused by leaky blood vessels. Mine aren’t, so hard luck. Neither serum can help me here. *sighs*

FYI, here’s a little test to know if your dark circles are caused by leaky blood vessels: make some pressure on the dark circle and see what happens.

If the darkens temporarily disappears, leaky blood vessels are the culprit. I can’t guarantee caffeine will make them go away for good, but it can certainly help you.

Even if caffeine won’t help your dark circles, there’s still another good reason to use it: it’s a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals, protects skin from UV damage and prevents premature wrinkles. 

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG has a whooping 5% caffeine. I know it doesn’t seem like a massive amount but when it comes to skincare, IT’S A LOT. If you’ve got sensitive skin, this much caffeine can irritate it.

The Inkey List Caffeine Serum doesn’t tell you how much caffeine it contains. Smart, because judging on how low it’s on the ingredient list, there’s only a drop of it here.

It’ll probably won’t work as well but hey, it’s way less irritating. It’s up to you to judge if the trade-off is worth it.

Related: Caffeine In Skincare: What It Does (And What It DOESN’T Do)


Have you noticed hyaluronic acid is everywhere?

It’s for a good reason: this moisture magnet attracts water into the skin and binds it there. It’s so powerful, it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water!

Skin loves all that extra moisture: it plumps it up so fine lines and wrinkles look smoother, makes it softer and gives the complexion a luminous glow.

Related: Why You Should Add Hyaluronic Acid To Your Skincare Routine

the ordinary caffeine solution 5% + EGCG


Both serums can help slow down premature aging, but in different ways.

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG uses Epigallocatechin Gallatyl Glucoside (we’ll call it EGCG, too). It’s a more stable version of Epigallocatechin-3-gallate, the key antioxidant in green tea.

EGCG fights wrinkles in 3 ways:

The Inkey List Caffeine Serum uses Matrixyl 3000, a peptide that’s super popular at the moment for its ability to boost collagen production, firm skin and reduce wrinkles.

The press jumped on it like it’s the best thing since sliced bread. The truth is a little different: the only studies that prove Matrixyl 3000 can do all that are from the manufacturer.

I’m not saying they’re lying. But they have a vested interested in making Matrixyl 3000 sound as awesome as possible. Take these claims with a pinch of salt.

You’ve guessed it. The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG wins this showdown.

Related: Do Peptides In Skincare REALLY Work?

Want more affordable dupes for expensive skincare products? Download your FREE “Skincare Dupes” cheatsheet and start saving money (without compromising on results) today:

Struggling to put together a skincare routine that minimises wrinkles, prevents premature aging, and gives your complexion a youthful glow? Download your FREE “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):

What Else Is In These Caffeine Eye Serum?

I don’t think you can say The Inkey List Caffeine Serum is a dupe for The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG.

Sure, They Inkey List is riding the wave of The Ordinary’s success and creating products that look and sound similar BUT take a look at the ingredient lists of both products and you’ll see they have almost nothing in common.

The Ordinary uses higher doses of active ingredients and has a sprinkle more of antioxidants – and yet it’s the cheaper of the 2!

Related: The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG Full Review

What’s The Texture Like?

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG has a lightweight and fast-absorbing texture.

The Inkey List Caffeine Serum has a creamy, lightweight lotion texture that feels a little tacky on.

What’s The Packaging Like?

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG comes in a dark bottle with a dropper applicator.

The Inkey List Caffeine Serum comes in a black and white tube.

Both are sleek and practical. What you pick depends on personal preference.

How To Use Them

Morning and/or night, just before moisturiser. Apply them with your ring finger, it’s the gentlest.

Which Of The Two Should You Go For?

Let’s get one thing out of the way: if you’re looking for an eye serum that treats dark circles NOT caused by leaky blood vessels, neither of them is a good option for you.

If you’re satisfied with an eye serum that just prevents wrinkles and gives you a little extra hydration, The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG has the upper hand. It’s loaded with more effective actives – at higher concentrations, too.

Only if your skin is sensitive and easily irritated, go with The Inkey List Caffeine Serum. It’s not as effective but a little gentler on the skin.

Related: Dark Circles: Causes + Cures

The Inkey List caffeine serum

Price & Availability

The Inkey List Caffeine Serum (£8.99): available at Cult Beauty and Feel Unique

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG (£5.99): available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique

Is The Inkey List Caffeine Serum A Dupe For The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG?

The Inkey List Caffeine Serum isn’t a dupe for The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG. It just looks like one. Neither of them can treat most types of dark circles, but The Ordinary Caffeine Solution is better at preventing wrinkles.

The Inkey List Caffeine Serum Ingredients:

Propanediol, Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Jojoba Esters, Glyceryl Dibehenate, Albizia Julibrissin Bark Extract, Squalane, Caffeine, Polyglyceryl-3 Beeswax, Phospholipids, Tribehenin, Ethylhexylglycerin, Xanthan Gum, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Extract, Polysorbate 60, Disodium Edta, Glyceryl Behenate, Butylene Glycol, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterol, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Hyaluronic Acid, Carbomer, Darutoside, Polysorbate 20, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Phenoxyethanol

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG Ingredients:

Aqua (Water), Caffeine, Propanediol, Maltodextrin, Glycerin, Epigallocatechin Gallatyl Glucoside, Gallyl Glucoside, Hyaluronic Acid, Oxidized Glutathione, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, Polypodium Vulgare Rhizome Extract, Cetraria Islandica Thallus Extract, Sphagnum Magellanicum Extract, Urea, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Xanthan gum, Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Propyl Gallate, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Ethoxydiglycol, Benzyl Alcohol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol.