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Clinique Pep Start Eye Cream Review: Will This Eye Cream Transform Your Skin?

Eye cream is one of the staple products in any skincare routine. Many experts believe that you should use a specialized product for the eye area to ensure you’re not irritating the thin skin around your eyes.

So, which eye cream should you use? You’ve probably heard of Clinique’s Pep-Start Eye Cream. Clinique promotes this eye cream as awakening your eye area, even if you didn’t get eight hours of sleep. But does it really work? Did it eliminate my undereye circles?

Here, I review this notable eye cream, considering multiple aspects, such as its effectiveness and packaging.

Clinique Pep Start Eye Cream

Key Features

  • Peptides energize the skin
  • Hydrating
  • Lightweight to wear under makeup


  • Contains peptides and antioxidants that are great for the skin
  • Extremely moisturizing
  • Doesn’t have a fragrance
  • Protective packaging


  • Doesn’t make my eyes look more awake
  • Doesn’t reduce my undereye circles
  • Many people say the applicator results in a wasted product (though I disagree, I still don’t like the packaging)

At a Glance

  • Targets signs of fatigue in the eye area, dryness, dehydration, and rough skin
  • Costs $37 CAD (about $30 USD)
  • Contains effective ingredients such as squalane, multiple peptides, hyaluronic acid, and algae

About Clinique

We shouldn’t need an introduction for Clinique, but I will include one in case you don’t know about this brand.

Clinique was formed in 1968 when a beauty editor asked a dermatologist if one can create great skin. From here, Clinique was born. Ever since then, Clinique has been the leading name in skincare. Let’s put it this way. My grandma used only Clinique skincare and makeup, and always had beautiful skin.

Clinique still holds the same mission they had back in the 60s. They only produce effective formulas that are safe for the skin. Their products don’t contain phthalates, parabens, or any fragrance.

What Is the Pep-Start Eye Cream?

Clinique created this eye cream in response to the average person’s busy life of juggling a career, family, paying bills, etc. Yes, there are times when we get less sleep than we should, but that shouldn’t take away from our appearance. Pep-Start promises to make your eyes look refreshed with simple yet effective ingredients that hydrate the eyes. The applicator tip also massages the eye area.

While Clinique doesn’t promote it as a miracle product, it does make some overhyped claims. I’m quoting the product description on the Sephora page:

“An instant brightening and hydrating eye cream that features a blend of peptides to help combat the visible effects of your busy life.”

The word I don’t like here is instant. No product can instantly improve any skin problems. This claim is likely why the eye cream only receives a 3.7-star rating.

About My Eyes

So before I start my review, let’s go into my unique eye situation.

At 29 years old, I don’t have wrinkles (phew!) but I do have some loose skin on my eyelid. I’ve still been using eye cream daily ever since my early 20s. All of this is for aging prevention. That, and I like the way my eyes feel after using an eye cream. They feel hydrated and smooth. Eye creams also improve makeup application for me, which is another main reason why I use them.

But I’ve had one main problem with my eyes: dark undereye circles. Unfortunately, they’re genetic. No eye cream (except for Shiseido White Lucent, which I will discuss later) has been able to reverse them, nor any concealer can properly cover them up (though NARS does a pretty good job). Even if I get plenty of sleep, I still have those nasty circles.

What attracted me to this undereye cream is how it brightens and makes your eyes look awake. But this eye cream doesn’t live up to those expectations.

What the Eye Cream Does

Clinique promises many benefits with this eye cream. But what does it do for me?


I will say, this eye cream is extremely hydrating. That’s because of ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, which helps your skin retain more moisture. Even though this eye cream is lightweight, the formula is rich that feels wonderful on the skin. Your eyes don’t look shiny and the skin doesn’t feel greasy. I honestly think this is a better moisturizing eye cream than anything.


While my dark circles slightly improved, they’re still there. My dark circles are slightly lighter but I see the difference around the entirety of the eye. Also, the results aren’t too dramatic. My undereye circles are still visible, though slightly lighter.

The only thing I will say is this isn’t a permanent solution. Your eyes will have normal dark circles when you wake up.

Puffiness and Fatigue

I’m fortunate I get enough sleep every night, so I don’t struggle with fatigued eyes and skin. I also don’t struggle with puffiness, so I can’t say the product improved that for me.


Okay, I’m stupid. I’ve been using this product wrong. The product has a round tip that you use to roll on the eye. I’ve been dispersing the product on my fingertip and dabbing it on my eye.

Even though I already used the eye cream this morning, I decided to try applying it the correct way for this review. After taking the top off, you have to pop up the circular end (it took me a bit to figure that out, Clinique’s instructions aren’t good at all).

I put a tiny bit of pressure so a little product comes out of the end. Then, I move the end across my eyes, starting at the inner corner and working my way to the outer corner and onto the upper lid. The round end feels nice on the eye, but I don’t notice a seriously drastic difference. This is supposed to reduce puffiness. I don’t have puffy eyes, but I don’t see this improving puffiness. Other products can help more with this.

The only other thing I will say is a little bit of product goes a long way. Again, no need to disperse a ton of product and waste it. Only apply enough pressure so a dab is released, then remove the pressure and apply the product.

When Do You Start Seeing Results?

I’ve been using this eye cream twice a day for several days now. I didn’t see results right away, but I’m starting to now. Again, these results aren’t permanent. I think it’s more of a way for your eyes to look more awake for the interim and it won’t permanently target your dark circles.

I read other reviewers who said they used this product for over a month and didn’t notice a change. That’s because I think this product is only designed for certain people.

Who Should Use This Product?

If you have serious wrinkles, steer clear of this product. There are better products out there that will target fine lines and wrinkles.

I recommend this product mainly to younger people who are looking to prevent aging symptoms. While this eye cream isn’t a miracle product, it does contain powerful ingredients like hyaluronic acid and peptides that will improve the skin and retain moisture. All of this will hydrate the eye area and prevent aging symptoms.

This is also good for anyone who needs a quick perk in the mornings, especially if you tend to sleep less or if you simply live a busy life. As I said, I think this product is best as a temporary booster and not one to use if you want long-term effects.


While I don’t think this is a bad eye cream, it’s more of a prep and a temporary treatment. Honestly, I don’t see a point in this. If I’m using an eye cream, I want results, and I’m sure others feel the same way. So here are other eye creams that can deliver the results that you want.

Shiseido White Lucent Anti-Dark Circles Eye Cream

Shiseido White Lucent Anti-Dark Circles Eye Cream

I’ve only used one line that truly brightens the skin and that’s the entire Shiseido White Lucent line. One time, I had a bad reaction to a benzoyl peroxide acne product and it left my skin so red. I not only purchased some recovery and calming skincare products but also the Shiseido White Lucent Face Wash. The redness went away almost immediately and my skin was so luminous.

As you can see by the title, this eye cream targets your undereye circles. The formula is also rich and moisturizing, ideal for both young and mature skin.

Your eyes will look more radiant and youthful. Shiseido’s formula is unique because it not only targets pigmentation issues but also circulation problems, which is the cause of dark circles. Shiseido uses its unique Dark Circle Diminishing ingredients to target the root cause, infuse radiance, and prevent dark circles from forming.

belief Moisturizing Eye Bomb

belief Moisturizing Eye Bomb

If you’re trying to target puffiness, I recommend this eye cream. I’ve personally used it before and yes, it’s extremely refreshing. It’s also lightweight, perfect to wear under makeup. I don’t struggle with puffy eyes, but I do like to moisturize my eyes. This eye cream is also great for mature eyes since it boosts elasticity.

Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Eye Cream

Another great pick-me-up product alternative is Paula’s Choice Omega Eye Cream. It moisturizes dehydrated skin around the eyes.

Not only that, but it retains moisture. That’s thanks to the omega complex and ceramides, which also reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also made with niacinamide and other plant extracts to brighten the eyes. The texture is also lightweight, perfect for wearing under makeup.

Physician’s Formula RefreshMint Cucumber & Bamboo Eye De-Puffer Gelee

Physician's Formula RefreshMint Cucumber & Bamboo Eye De-Puffer Gelee

If puffiness is what you want to target, look no further than this drugstore eye de-puffer. This gel-based eye cream targets multiple eye concerns and makes your eyes looking more awake. Cucumber, peppermint, and aloe give the eyes a cooling dose of moisture so your eyes feel refreshed all day. The eye cream also includes an applicator that massages the eyes to reduce puffiness.

La Roche Posay Pigmenclar Eyes

La Roche Posay Pigmenclar Eyes

I’ve never used this brand but I also heard this is a good product for undereye circles. This cream is enriched with light-reflecting pigments to brighten the eye area. It also contains caffeine and PhE-Resorcinol to target dullness and makes your eyes look more awake.


Question: Is This Eye Cream Good for Sensitive Skin?

Answer: I would say so. I have pretty sensitive skin and had no problems with this product or any other Clinique product. It doesn’t look like any other reviewers said they had problems with this product, either.

Question: Is Pep-Start Better for De-Puffing or Dark Circles?

Answer: As stated previously, this eye cream didn’t do much for my undereye circles. I don’t struggle with puffy eyes, but other reviewers said this is a good eye cream for puffy eyes.

Question: Do Dark Circles Go Away on Their Own?

Answer: It depends. For some, dark circles are only temporary and they represent a lack of sleep. Some people get dark circles naturally, because of genetics or age. These people may need to use eye creams or other treatments to reduce discoloration around the eyes.

Question: Is There a Way to Remove Dark Undereye Circles Permanently?

Answer: Unfortunately no. Other than using eye creams, other ways to reduce the appearance of undereye circles is to get more sleep (duh), applying a cold compress, sleep elevated, stay out of the sun, consume more food with vitamin C (or take a supplement), and placing two soaked caffeinated tea bags under the eyes.

Clinique Pep Start Eye Cream Review: Bottomline

It seems like I’m always on the hunt for the perfect eye cream, which is why I was curious to try the Clinique Pep-Start Eye Cream. I was enticed by the claims, saying the cream will brighten the eye area and will make it look more awake. While it slightly improved the look of my eyes, I didn’t notice a drastic difference. In addition, the difference I noticed was only temporary.

While it’s a good hydrating eye cream, there are better and cheaper options out there. I suggest looking into other eye creams before sticking with this one.

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