the inkey list caffeine serum review

The Inkey List Caffeine Serum is like a double espresso for your under-eye area. That’s the goal, at least.

Just like an espresso boosts your energy and helps you feel more alert, this caffeine serum promises to make you look fresh and awake. How?

The usual things: depuffing dark circles, getting rid of dark circles, and even reducing fine lines. But does it deliver?

Spoiler alert: I’m sticking to coffee. And concealer. Here’s why:

What’s In The Inkey List Caffeine Serum?


There’s a reason caffeine is one of the most popular ingredients in eye products. 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. This can’t help me. I’ll have to stick to concealer.

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 darkness 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. 

But, is there enough caffeine in The Inkey List Caffeine Serum to do the job? Not really. It’s fairly down the ingredient list, so don’t expect miracles here.

But hey, at least it won’t irritate skin (high doses of caffeine can do that). It’s up to you to judge if the trade-off is worth it.

Related: The Truth About Caffeine In Skincare: What Does It Really Do?


Hyaluronic Acid is another popular ingredient in eye creams (and any other skincare product you can think of).

Here’s why: 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


Matrixyl 3000 is 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.

Related: Do Peptides In Skincare REALLY Work?


Creamy, yet lightweight lotion. It feels just the littlest bit tacky on.


It’s fragrance-free.

How To Use It

Morning and night, after cleansing and serums.

Performance & Personal Opinion

Despite its name, The Inkey List Caffeine Serum feels more like a lightweight lotion than a liquidy serum. It takes a few minutes to absorb and it dries to a slightly tacky finish, but it never feels uncomfortable on.

Oh, and it layers well under sunscreen or makeup. I’ve never had any problems with pilling so far. Phew!

If your skin isn’t too dry, this will provide you will the moisture your skin needs. It’s fairly hydrating and leaves skin softer and smoother. But drier skin types definitely need to follow up with a richer moisturiser (your face cream will do).

But can it get rid of puffy eyes and dark circles? Not really…

I mean, it does help a little with puffy eyes – but that’s nothing that a tea bag won’t fix. Instead, it does nothing for dark circles. Caffeine only helps if yours are caused by leaky vessels.

If they’re genetic or caused by a bad diet, a poor sleeping pattern, or sun exposure, caffeine can do nothing against them. You’ll need a good old concealer for that. I’m sticking to that, too.

By the way, if you’re curious to know how it compares to The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG, check out my comparison here.

Related: Dark Circles: Causes & Cures (What Really Works)

The Inkey List caffeine serum

Who Is This For?

  • Puffy eyes (and don’t want to use tea bags instead)
  • If your dark circles are caused by leaky blood vessels, this can help a little

Who Is This Not For?


The Inkey List Caffeine Serum comes in an opaque squeeze tube with a needle-like applicator that keeps the active ingredients stable and effective. It’s hygienic, too.

Does The Inkey List Caffeine Serum Live Up To Its Claims?

Reduce dark circles. It can help only if they’re caused by leaky blood vessels.
Reduce puffiness. It can help a little.
Reduces fine lines. It has antioxidants that help prevent new fine lines, but it can’t single-handedly reduce the ones you already have.

Price & Availability

£8.99 at Cult Beauty and Feel Unique

Do You Need It?

No one needs an eye cream. But if you know that caffeine works for your skin (hint: for most people, it doesn’t), The Inkey List Caffeine Serum is an affordable option to consider.


Dupes & Alternatives


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