Normal aging – As a person grows older, the skin around the eyes becomes thinner and may swell or droop. Further a gradual and generally permanent increase in the size of the suborbicularis oculi fat pad along with the thinning and weakening of the overlying musculature contributes to the apparent distention of the lower eyelids.
Looking for a retinoid-based eye cream? A medium-weight formula is best place to start if you have normal skin and no pre-existing texture preferences. These creams leave your skin feeling moisturized — you won’t be left wondering whether you remembered to put them on — but, at the same time, they aren’t unpleasantly greasy. After testing, two of our retinoid-based contenders fit this category: Kate Somerville Line Release Under Eye Repair Cream and Chanel Le Lift Creme Yeux Firming Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream.
The first and most common remedy is to ensure you are properly hydrated. Drink at least 8 x 8 oz glasses of water a day. It might sound like a lot, but simply leave your glass full and in front of you all day and before you know it you will consume 8 glasses by dinner.
Before you choose, you’ll need to decide when you want to use your cream: Night creams contain retinoids, the most fast-acting and well-researched anti-wrinkle agent on the market — but this class of ingredients quickly breaks down and becomes ineffective when exposed to sunlight. Day creams contain peptides, a more recent addition to the skincare arsenal: Peptides are less sensitive to sunlight and less likely to irritate if you’ve got sensitive skin, but expect to wait longer for results. We’ve found picks in both categories.
Talk with your doctor if you have year-round or seasonal allergies. Allergies can cause your eyes to redden, swell, and puff up. This prompts you to rub your eyes more, resulting in further puffiness. Your doctor can help create a treatment plan to alleviate your symptoms. This may include eye drops and over-the-counter or prescription medication.
Dark circles can be the result of your particular genetics, a circulatory issue (your blood flow needs a boost) — or a natural consequence of aging. Dr. Greene explained that as we age, our facial anatomy shifts, which contributes to how smooth or uneven the skin around the eyes appears. Skin damage from ultraviolet light causes skin laxity. Areas that once appeared full may now look shallow. Hydration with ingredients like sodium hyaluronate can help against shallowness, but most eye creams for dark circles rely on pigments to color over dark circles, or reflective materials like mica or pearl dust to provide the optical illusion of fullness. Whether these work depends heavily on matching your skin color and tone.
This is my favorite under-eye product, and don’t make me tell you again why I love snail so much! Its regenerative properties not only work wonders on blemish scars, but also help with any kind of hyperpigmentation, including dark under-eye circles. It’s also super beneficial for helping with wrinkles and dryness. I keep these in the fridge, so they’re nice and cold when I use them — adding another level of luxury to the experience.
To de-puff after watching a tearjerker flick or getting misty-eyed at a wedding, apply a cold compress to your eyes for a few minutes. A splash of cool water and a dab of concealer can also help you hide that you were crying (but concealer can’t do much for actually making your eyes less puffy, unfortunately).
“I’ve tried tons of eye creams that do literally nothing, based totally on the idea that they’ll help the situation in 10-15 years. Call it a flaw, but without results this year, I can’t commit. Belif’s eye cream doesn’t have that problem: this spin-off of its moisturizer leaves my under-eyes looking smooth and way less crepe-y within minutes.” —Rachel Nussbaum, beauty writer
A cool washcloth that you rest on your eyelids for about 10 minutes can reduce eye puffiness. This can help drain excess fluid from under your eye. A compress of green or black tea bags may also do the trick. The tea contains antioxidants that can constrict blood vessels and reduce puffiness.
Hyaluronic acid is most effective when it can get into the deeper layers of the skin — which is why it is a common ingredient for fillers and injections. But in topical creams, it often has a hard time getting past the outer layer of skin because it is comprised of fairly large molecules. As a workaround, the most effective eye cream will use sodium hyaluronate instead, a derivative that is more easily absorbed into the skin because it has smaller molecules. We looked only at products that contained sodium hyaluronate (although we didn’t ding them for including HA).
This happens because aging processes cause thinning of the membrane or “septum” that ordinarily holds back fat in both the upper and lower eyelids. As the membrane thins, the fat herniates and pushes forward. This is when bags or bulges start forming under the eye.
This eye treatment from Kiehl’s is an old favorite of mine — I almost always have it in my medicine cabinet. The application process is kind of annoying, as you have to dip your finger into a sticky pot, which I don’t love, but this eye treatment is super hydrating as well as slightly pigmented, which means it helps with overtime treatment and brightening. This is worth trying if you want a little bit of lift to your eyes, but don’t necessarily feel like putting on concealer.
“I get dry skin on my eyelids—I think because the skin there is so sensitive already and when I’m putting moisturizer on, I tend to forget about my eye area. This fixes that. I especially like that it’s all-natural and I know exactly what’s in it, rather than some sort of ‘amazing vitalizing serum’ that has vague descriptions of what it actually does.” —Emily Geraghty, senior producer
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How do you find the perfect eye cream? First up, you need to decide what you want it to do. Do you want it to smooth out wrinkles? Depuff bags? Minimise circles? Or all of the above plus colour correcting, brightening and tightening too? Eye creams come in very small pots with very big promises – and often even bigger price tags – but the secret is in finding the ones that really deliver on the specific issues you want to address. There are hydrating eye creams designed to refresh and awaken eyes in the morning, powerful formulas targeted at rejuvenating and renewing as you sleep, and products designed for instant effects and much-needed dark-circle minimising after long sleepless nights. Save yourself trawling through the myriad different options with Vogue’s guide to 10 of the best eye creams on the market – and what they’re good for – below.
You may have noticed that common cucumber and tea bag treatment methods are not mentioned here. This is because these items are not recommended by eye care professionals. Cucumbers are over 90 percent water, and the rest is mainly inert fiber.
The aging of skin isn’t something that we can know when to expect. It will happen but it will not target all people the same nor at the same time. With that being said, it is only logical that you use it when you see bad changes on your skin, in this case, the skin around your eyes.
How does retinol help with eye bags? When applied to the skin, this ingredient can improve collagen deficiency. You may find lower concentrations of retinol in different OTC products, but stronger creams require a prescription from your dermatologist.
As you might have realized by now, I’m a bit of a Tatcha stan. This eye serum doesn’t do a whole lot for dark circles, per se, but it’s incredible for hydrating and giving your eyes a lift. I know it’s on the pricey side, but it really is quite effective when it comes to fine lines, wrinkles, and hydration. The Okinawa red algae, honeysuckle leaf, and caffeine ingredients promise “instantly-visible firming, reduced puffiness, and plumping hydration to diminish fine lines.” It’s also the most luxurious applicator I’ve ever used — the ceramic applicator cools down as you use it, which helps with puffiness in its own right.
There are plenty of eye cream ingredients that claim to improve blood circulation (like caffeine) or blood coagulation (like Vitamin K) which will theoretically reduce puffiness and dark circles. But the outer layer of your skin does such a good job protecting against invaders that it prevents most of these ingredients from penetrating deeply. You may be better off adding a cup of coffee or a spinach soufflée to your diet than waiting and hoping that these ingredients will sink in.
If you’ve been using eye cream daily for at least six months, and still haven’t seen a difference, there are stronger options you can try: cosmetic injections and prescription-strength retinoids are two common options. Both will require seeing a dermatologist or plastic surgeon for consultation.
Reduce stress. High levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, can lead to a number of physical symptoms including swollen or puffy eyes. Try yoga, controlled breathing exercises, or meditation. All of these help moderate stress and are thought to help improve overall circulation. 
Determine if you have a condition associated with puffy eyes. Sometimes the swelling is a side effect of another condition. Getting treated for the condition may help cure your puffy eyes. Here are a few conditions that commonly lead to eye puffiness:
“It is thought that the tears secreted while crying have a slightly different composition in addition to a different hormonal response,” explains Dr. Manusis. It doesn’t help that after a crying jag, you might rub your eyes to dry them or mask the tears, and that puffs your eyes up as well.
Vitamin B6 Based on protein intake: 2 mg for every 100 g of protein per day for adults; 0.6–1.2 mg for every 100 g of protein per day for children Balances sodium and potassium, which may reduce puffiness and bloating throughout body Meats and whole grains; desiccated liver; brewer’s yeast
If your eyes are guilty of betraying your lack of sleep, treat them to This Works’s No Wrinkles Tired Eyes which – as the name suggests – is dedicated to hiding the signs of late nights and early starts. No, it’s not as good as getting your full eight hours, but it does include hyaluronic acid to plump, plant extracts to encourage cell renewal and a secret “superblend” to tackle dark circles.
Handle your face with care. The skin around your eyes is fragile, and it can get stretched out and damaged by rough handling and exposure to chemicals. To prevent the skin around your eyes from getting loose and filling with fluid, change your routine so that you’re treating your face more gently.
Elevate your head when you sleep. It’s not unusual to have puffy eyes upon waking. A possible explanation for this may be that when you are lying down for several hours in a horizontal position and then stand up, the fluid that was resting under your eyes is suddenly being pulled down by gravity. To reduce it, you can try using an extra pillow while sleeping so that the fluid is not as drastically drawn down when you get up.