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If there’s one aesthetic concern most of us can say we’ve experienced in our lives, it’s puffy eyes. I, for one, have woken up with my face plagued with under-eye bags more times than I can count. And as I age, it seems that the puffiness gets harder and harder to get rid of.
Luckily, there are a ton of products on the market that can speed up the process of reducing puffiness. But before we list our top recommendations, it’s important to understand exactly what causes puffy eyes in the first place. Shop TODAY spoke with board-certified dermatologist Dr. Loretta Ciraldo to find out more.
What causes puffy eyes?
“While this is a problem that worsens with age, it is usually caused by fluid accumulation in delicate, thin eye skin,” said Ciraldo. “Since eye skin is some of the thinnest on our body, the loss of elasticity in both the skin itself and the vessels causes more leakage of fluid out of delicate and aging vessels, and the skin doesn't have the elasticity to resist puffiness from increased fluid caused by vessel leakage.”
Another cause of puffy eyes is the sagging of fat pads around the eyes, which are a genetic issue and often a result of aging. Allergies, lack of sleep and a high-salt diet — which causes fluid retention in the eye area — are also common causes of under-eye bags.
How do you reduce eye puffiness?
There are a ton of products available to help with puffy eyes (more on that later!), but there are also lifestyle changes that can help minimize bags as well. “Sleep on a couple of pillows to promote drainage [from the under eyes],” said Ciraldo. “Also, try to follow a low-salt diet for a week to see if this improves puffiness, and massage away excess fluid with a roller.”
Finally, it’s important to ensure your bedroom is free of any potential allergens — especially your bed. “Wash your pillowcase at least every three days and steam your pillow about every two weeks to minimize dust mite accumulation,” said Ciraldo. Dust, a common allergen, can lead to puffiness under the eyes.
Best products for puffy eyes, according to experts and shoppers
Under-eye masks are an easy and low-maintenance way to take care of your eyes, especially if you're traveling. Dieux describes this eye mask as "the last eye mask you'll ever need" since it's completely reusable and beloved by shoppers everywhere (including Cosmo's beauty director!). The eye masks are made from non-porous silicone and are easy to use. Simply apply your favorite eye product and place the eye masks over the product. You can even put them in the fridge or freezer for an added cooling effect!
Infused with vitamin E, jojoba and cucumber, this cream instantly soothes stressed-out eyes. Simply dab this on after your normal morning skin care routine and your eyes will slowly depuff before you head out the door.
Hyaluronic acid, caffeine, probiotic extracts and several fruit extracts are just a few key ingredients in this brightening eye balm. One Ulta reviewer said they said a difference after using it for just two weeks.
This anti-aging moisturizer with rosehip and hibiscus has over 15,000 verified five-star ratings on Amazon. "My eyes are no longer puffy, and although I still have crow's feet (bad genes), they are remarkably less noticeable," one shopper shared after using the cream for three months. Others noted seeing a difference as soon as a few days of consistent use.
Retinol is one of the latest skin care ingredients people can't stop talking about. Its anti-aging properties are designed to help reduce dark circles, wrinkles and puffiness around the eyes. This option has over 11,000 verified five-star ratings on Amazon.
"I have literally tried 50 different eye creams to help smooth the crepe-y skin around my eyes and help reduce puffiness before I put makeup on. The RoC retinol cream is the first product that almost immediately diminishes the bags under my eyes as it hydrates and tightens my skin," one reviewer wrote.
“Caffeine in skin care will produce some constriction of blood vessels for a temporary improvement in eye puffiness,” said Ciraldo. “This option features caffeine from coffee and green tea mixed with vitamins C and E.”
“Eye masks and eye patches can help depuff,” said Ciraldo. This option from Wander Beauty uses a rose gold foil to help retain heat and prevent moisture evaporation from the product. A cellulose fiber, which is on the inside of the eye patches, delivers hyaluronic acid and aloe leaf extract to hydrate, cool and soothe the delicate area during use.
Another under-eye mask option, this one depuffs and lifts when worn. Users restore the eye area to a more refreshed appearance, thanks to the product’s infusion of hyaluronate, peptides, amino acids and natural root extract.
If you want to instantly tighten up your under-eye bags, this is the product for you. Using the brand’s filmatrix technology, this gel forms a skin-like film under the eyes that tightens the area for a smoother appearance that becomes visible in just minutes. Peptides and caffeine also work synergistically in this formula to tighten the area.
This balm includes some serious good-for-your-skin ingredients like triple algae and various peptides, making it super effective in treating the eye area. In fact, a clinical study conducted by the brand found that all it took was 10 days of people using this product to notice a difference in their under-eye circles.
According to the brand, this bestselling eye cream by StriVectin works to achieve younger-looking eyes in just five days. Horse chestnut flower extract hydrates the under eyes, while micro-algae extract diminishes the look of puffiness.
This affordable option is perfect for depuffing on-the-go — simply toss it in your bag and apply it whenever you need a quick refresh. Not only does the formula contain caffeine for tightening, but the rollerball within the packaging helps to drain fluid from under your eye as it’s rolled across your skin.
If you’re a fan of rollerball products but have more mature skin, this option is ideal. Antioxidants, caffeine and soothing botanicals tackle both puffiness and fine lines along the eye area. Skin is visibly smoothed after every use. Pro tip: Toss this product in the fridge for an extra cooling effect when using.
For more stories like this, check out:
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- Body oil is the hydrating product your skin needs — experts love these 13 options
- 6 ways to solve chapped lips, cracked feet and other common fall beauty issues
- This super TikTok-viral eye treatment is finally back in stock — and I tried it
This article was originally published on May 26, 2021.