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It doesn’t take much. A later than usual night out, a high pollen count, or an episode of “This Is Us” can produce that raccoon eye look or bags under your peepers.
You can certainly embrace the bags And as you follow our guide, you’ll discover some people are just naturally predisposed to this look. Word on the street: A little shadow and swell is the new sexy.
But if you do have a reason to brighten up your skin and reduce puffiness, we have some remedies for you.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on a skin care regimen to erase rings or pouches. You can find remedies in your pantry, refrigerator, and right at your fingertips.
Reach for your tea bag stash
For dark circles, the
But if you’re going for a more soothing effect for irritated skin, opt for rooibos (red tea) or chamomile.
- Steep two tea bags in a mug of boiled water for 2 to 4 minutes.
- Remove the tea bags, and press out the excess water from the bags.
- Let the tea bags cool slowly at room temperature, or chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
- Rest the bags over your closed eyes for 15 minutes.
- Leave them on no longer than 30 minutes at a time.
Dip into the coffee canister
Your cold brew might give you a refreshing jolt, but a caffeine fix for the skin can also help calm blotchiness or swelling.
Start by freezing some brewed coffee in an ice cube tray. Once the coffee ice is ready, spend a few minutes gently rubbing an ice cube:
- under your eyes
- along your brows
- across the bridge of your nose
- from the outer corners of your eyes to your temples
You can also try 100% Pure Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream. This product earns 4.5 stars from reviewers who say it can help treat crow’s feet and keep eyes moisturized.
Raid your crisper for a cucumber
Cucumbers are high in vitamin C and folic acid, an ingredient combo that helps stimulate cell growth and counter environmental stress. The end result? Less irritation and puffiness, as well as reduced discoloration under your eyes.
- Slice two half-inch slices from a cucumber.
- Place the slices over your closed eyes for about 15 minutes.
- As an alternative, try cold spoons. They can help constrict blood vessels and reduce areas of under-eye darkness.
You can also try Yes to Cucumbers Soothing Eye Gel. Reviews suggest this gel may be a bit harsh for folks with sensitive skin, but they also note it works more effectively than pricier creams.
Give your eyes a tap massage
- Do this massage with an eye cream for at least 30 seconds.
- Embrace the pressure, but don’t rub or push too hard.
Consider eye cream
Do you need to spend a lot of cash on a fancy balm? For dark circles, the short answer is no.
You could, however, try more budget-friendly moisturizing salves with tea, coffee, or cucumber extract — some products might also help minimize the appearance of fine lines and creases.
One option to consider? SheaMoisture Matcha Green Tea & Probiotics Soothing Eye Cream.
Ingredients for your eyes
Be sure to read labels carefully before picking up pricey jars. We asked Dr. Rebecca Marcus, a board certified dermatologist in North Dallas, TX, about her favorite ingredients for eyes.
She recommends keeping an “eye” out for the following:
- Caffeine. The benefits of caffeine are worth repeating. Caffeine, as Marcus explains, works in eye creams to combat dark circles and puffiness by temporarily reducing blood flow to the area.
- Retinol and peptides. You might already have some familiarity with these skin care ingredients. Marcus says they help stimulate collagen and thicken the skin, making underlying blood vessels less noticeable and restoring skin firmness.
- Niacinamide. A little of this skin-brightening ingredient can go a long way toward waking up tired eyes. This ingredient, a form of vitamin B-3, offers plenty of other benefits, too.
- Hyaluronic acid. Marcus notes that this moisturizing ingredient can hydrate the skin and offer pro-aging support by smoothing the look of fine lines and crepey skin.
- Vitamin K. Marcus says this antioxidant has
anti-inflammatory propertiesand may help improve circulation.
As for products, Marcus recommends:
- ISDIN Isdinceutics K-Ox Eyes Cream, which contains vitamin K for addressing puffiness and dark circles
- Alastin Skincare Restorative Eye Treatment, which contains green tea, oak leaf, and niacinamide to help reduce dark circles, smooth the look of fine lines and wrinkles, lessen puffiness, and support new collagen production
Explore more eye creams at varying price points here.
Apply under-eye patches for a boost
Under-eye patches are a newer trend for pampering the skin around your eyes. Yes, they’re cute and Instagram-friendly, but many people also find them effective, too.
Just know they offer more of a quick fix — a helping hand after a spirited night out, if you will.
Not sure how to pick your patch? Opt for eye-friendly ingredients, like retinol and hyaluronic acid. You can also check out our list of the best options to send your bags packing.
Grab the color-correcting concealer
Marcus explains that concealers only help camouflage dark circles. In other words, they won’t help reduce puffiness.
That’s why she recommends using an eye cream with a concealer: Apply an eye cream to help treat the cause and the symptoms, then use concealer to address any lingering darkness.
“Concealer will apply more smoothly onto hydrated skin,” she notes. “So, applying a hydrating eye cream helps prime the skin for concealer application.”
When you’re in a pinch, concealer alone can still make a difference. So, when that important meeting or event sneaks up on you, reach for a little color-correcting concealer.
- orange if you have a darker skin tone
- pink if you have a lighter skin tone
- yellow if your circles tend to look extra purple
The biggest answer to this, especially for those of you who have tried every trick in the book, is genetics.
If you’ve always had sunken eyes or dark circles, also called
Here’s why these attributes get accentuated.
Puffy lower lids or bags happen when the tissue there fills with water. As you age, the fatty tissue held within the socket and upper lid can fall, causing even more fluid retention in that area.
Puffiness is often most prominent when taking the morning’s first look in the mirror. That’s because fluid had a chance to pool during sleep. Bags tend to diminish after you’ve been vertical for a bit.
Although dark circles can show up for many reasons, most people tend to have a slightly deeper coloring around the eyes, simply because the thinner skin there stretches over a conglomeration of purple vessels and muscle.
Other potential explanations for dark or puffy eyes
- eye strain
- fluid retention
- hormonal changes
- lack of sleep
- sleeping position
- skin irritation
- sun exposure
- pigmentation variation
By isolating the cause, you can take measures to reduce the prominence of purpling and pooching.
Ramp up your snooze time
Cut that late-night Netflix binge short, or do whatever possible to get a few more Zzz’s. If you still notice the a.m. eye bloat or blue coloring, prop your head slightly while you sleep.
As Marcus explains, sleeping with your head slightly elevated can help prevent fluid from pooling in the periorbital area.
Remove any makeup before hitting the hay to avoid smudging it into your eyes and irritating the surrounding skin.
Apply a cold washcloth
Marcus suggests applying a cold washcloth to your eyes to help lessen the “I just woke up” look.
She says this helps by causing vasoconstriction (constriction of blood vessels), which helps relieve puffiness and skin discoloration. Plus, it can have an overall soothing effect, and you don’t have to dig through your fridge for fresh cucumbers.
Pro tip: An ice pack works well, too, if you don’t want a water mess on your face. Just be sure to wrap it in a soft cloth to protect your eyes.
Try eye exercises
Eye strain can contribute to tired eyes, according to Marcus, by lowering the production of naturally lubricating tears and contributing to dry eyes.
“Taking periodic breaks from screen time and doing eye exercises may help reduce eye strain and therefore help eyes to function normally by producing lubricating tears, reducing dryness, redness, and bloodshot eyes,” she says.
Eye exercise can be pretty simple. In fact, one exercise involves just switching up your focus as you sit. Learn a few of these simple moves here.
Face yoga (yes, it’s a thing) can also help reduce eye strain.
Adjust lights and device screens
Taking breaks from screen time to avoid eye strain can also be helpful, according to Marcus.
She adds that keeping your phone or tablet on night mode decreases exposure to blue light, which can help improve the quality of your sleep.
Wear blue light glasses
If night mode doesn’t do much to keep your tablet or device from shining bright like a diamond, blue light glasses may ease the strain.
Not sure which to try? Check out our guide of the 11 best options.
Take screen breaks
Excessive time staring at screens may cause eye strain, according to Marcus. This happens, in part, due to engorgement of the blood vessels surrounding your eyes, which can lead to, as you might have guessed, dark circles.
Make time for little breaks to give your eyes a much-needed vacay:
- Try the 20/20/20 rule. Turn your eyes away from your screen every 20 minutes. Spend 20 seconds focusing on something at least 20 feet away.
- Get up and move. After every hour of screen time, stand up, stretch, and walk around for at least 5 minutes.
Get nosy about allergies or illness
Allergy symptoms, along with illnesses like the flu and common cold, can pack a punch. Itchy lids, sneezing, sinus congestion, or postnasal drip can all lead to a tint around the eyes.
Marcus says those who live with allergies may notice the area under their eyes often appears swollen and discolored.
She explains that this happens when allergens prompt your cells to trigger a histamine release. This, in turn, causes a release of fluid, giving that swelling and tearing effect you know and love so much.
An allergist or otolaryngologist (ENT) can offer more insight into possible triggers and recommend treatments to keep sniffles and scratchy eyes under control, including:
Plus, when you’re plain old sick, eyes can also look puffy, due to sinus congestion and decreased drainage of the fluid around the eyes.
Keep in mind that makeup and skin care products could also trigger allergy flare-ups or eyelid dermatitis. It’s always best to check the ingredients and do a patch test before using a new product.
Improve air quality
Marcus says improving air quality may lower the number of allergens or irritants that eyes come into contact with, helping eyes look less tired.
“If tired eyes are due to an irritant or allergen that was previously in the air, using a high quality air filter may be helpful,” Marcus says.
This may prove particularly helpful if you’re sensitive to these factors and happen to live in an area with a high level of pollution or airborne allergens.
Make lifestyle adjustments when possible
If you notice an uptick in that Hamburglar or puff-pastry look, maybe you’ve just faced a stressful week or a jam-packed weekend that impeded your sleep or nutrition.
Other reasons you might wake up with less than perky peepers? Loading up on salty snacks, downing too much coffee, or clinking a late-night cocktail.
Making a few changes might help rid you of the rings and bags:
- Try cutting back on caffeine, alcohol, and salt.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to improve eye appearance by flushing your skin.
- When you’re outside, wear shades and use sunscreen to help prevent hyperpigmentation.
- If you smoke, take steps to boot the habit.
A quick recap of helpful tips and tricks for tired eyes:
- Elevate your head slightly while snoozing.
- Remove makeup before bed.
- Skip irritating ingredients in makeup and skin care products.
- Avoid eye strain.
If you have permanent dark sockets or puffy bags under your eyes that you can’t relieve with lifestyle changes or fast fixes, medical solutions might offer an alternate option.
Procedures for dark circles include:
If circles or bags bother you to the point that you can’t stop thinking about them or they contribute to feelings of depression or anxiety, it could be worth asking a dermatologist about other treatment options.
Just know these procedures can get fairly expensive, and they also come with some potential side effects.
One important thing to keep in mind about eye bags and rings? More than likely, you notice them more than anyone else.
Many people tend to look at themselves closely in the mirror in the morning — when they wash their face, shave, or apply products, for example. And morning just happens to be the time when circles and puff show up most clearly.
But classmates, coworkers, and the person in line next to you at the coffee shop probably won’t even notice.
They might, however, perceive a certain mysteriousness or depth they can’t quite put their finger on. Some people find that shadowed, “just woke up” look pretty alluring — so alluring, in fact, that they might go to great lengths to make dark circles stand out or mimic them with makeup.
Plus, a dark circle or an under-eye bag can amp up your authenticity, just like an eye crinkle or wrinkle. They’re natural, after all.
Adding some glimmer can help you display them with pride:
- Opt for a face gloss on your upper lids.
- Try sweeping highlighter from your cheekbones to the outer corners of your sockets in a “C” shape.
- Use a shimmering face oil in the same way.
- Glam things up with a line of your go-to eye shadow on your lower lid.
Ultimately, don’t be afraid to skip the concealer and rock your under-eyes.
Jennifer Chesak is a Nashville-based freelance book editor and writing instructor. She’s also an adventure travel, fitness, and health writer for several national publications. She earned her Master of Science in journalism from Northwestern’s Medill and is working on her first fiction novel, set in her native state of North Dakota.