I could feel the crow’s feet burrowing deeper onto my face as I squinted behind my sunglasses all summer. Earlier mornings post-Labor Day, coupled with some extra sun exposure, also left my eyes puffy and with dark circles. Clearly not a look I’m going for. I realized that with 70% of my face now covered by a mask, I really want to make that other 30% shine — both in person and on Zoom calls. In an effort to up my eye game, I went in search of a quick, easy, painless and inexpensive fix with some under-eye patches. The goal: Appear less sleep-deprived and crinkly, more refreshed and glowy.
First, I wanted to know what was at the root of my issue. “Crow’s feet, lines, wrinkles, crepiness, and bags under the eyes generally have to do with loss of collagen,” says New York City cosmetic dermatologist Ariel Ostad, MD. “Our skin basically has a layer that we’re born with, but starting in our 30s as we get older, we start to lose that. The loss of collagen is due to sun exposure, use — meaning, things like squinting and smiling — and general pollution and oxidation from daily living.”
So how can under-eye patches help? “They trap moisture and stop trans-epidermal water loss,” Ostad says. However, not all under-eye patches are created equally: “The main ingredients to look for are ceramides, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide because they all work by hydrating your collagen layer, plumping it up and keeping it youthful. Retinol also helps stimulate collagen, but it can sometimes be irritating.”
With that intel in mind, I cast a wide net in my search. Here are the patches I thought were worth the hype, and they all transformed my eyes in 15 minutes or less.
This Patchology set comes with three different types of patches in each box— for rejuvenating, illuminating and restoring. They’re sort of slimy to apply at first, but they feel like a little slice of heaven once they're on your face. They’re unexpectedly cooling and relaxing, and they immediately took away that itchy, dry-eyed feeling I sometimes get when I'm sleep-deprived or haven’t put on enough eye moisturizer. Even better? They have derm-approved ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, hydrolyzed collagen and retinol.
These serum-packed little treats basically made me feel like I was walking around with a permanent airbrush filter. Packed with collagen and vitamin E (I rubbed the excess serum on after removing the patches), they reduced the appearance of my crow’s feet and gave off an overall bright-and-youthful vibe. Plus, at about $4 a pair, they’re economical and don’t require a ton of commitment with just one set per package.
Peace Out’s under-eye patches completely erased my “I had a late night” face after only 15 minutes of wear. When I opened these, they seemed kind of underwhelming, almost like a slippery, wet paper towel. But thanks to high-impact ingredients like niacinamide, ice plant stem cells and passion fruit extracts — and a special biocellulose material that promotes absorption into the skin — they made my eyes looked awake, refreshed and cheerful.
Best for dark circles
Backed in fabric and easy to apply, these have caffeine, aloe, lavender and seawater — a combination of ingredients that proved transformative for me. My dark under-eye circles lightened up a shade or two, and the cooling effect was both relaxing and energizing. So basically, perfect as a pre-work pick-me-up or as a hangover cure. My only issue with these patches is that the effects only lasted a couple hours, but they sure felt glorious while on my eyes.
While lots of high-end eye patches boast awesome results, I felt that these actually delivered and were worth the price tag. (30 pairs come in each tub.) They offer an all-star list of ingredients: In addition to cucumber, chamomile and aloe, they have niacinamide to improve skin tone, and hyaluronic acid and collagen to hydrate and plump. After 15 minutes, my eye area was no longer dull and droopy. Instead, I had a “I just woke up with radiant and glowy eyes” look that I haven’t had since before having kids.
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