Science has yet to discover a single ingredient that can reverse the aging process. Often “marketing tool” ingredients like caffeine, peptides, or collagen are added to an eye cream formulation to enhance sales. But there is no scientific evidence that these ingredients have any real benefit or that they can reverse the aging process. On the other hand, dermatologists say these breakthrough anti-aging products are the real deal. The ability of an eye cream to improve the appearance of skin around the eye is more dependent on the product’s ability to increase the water content of the skin, which is basically its effectiveness as a moisturizer.
Dark circles under the eyes come from genes, sun damage, age, and blood build-up. Sodium ascorbate, or vitamin C, can thicken the skin and help conceal dark circles after about 6 months. Niacinamide, or vitamin B3, and kojic acid can lighten dark circles.
Read packages carefully to see how much salt is in your favorite snacks. One way to immediately lower the salt in your diet is to avoid eating packaged, processed foods. Instead, try eating a diet based more on whole foods — fresh fruits and veggies — where you can control the salt content.
And don’t forget this indirect way pounding one too many back can cause swollen eyes. Although alcohol is a depressant, it actually makes it harder to sleep for most of us, making us toss and turn or wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to dreamland. A poor night’s sleep can cause fluid retention, leading to inflated eyes.
Because the skin around the eye area tends to be thin and fragile, it requires products specifically formulated for that area. Your go-to moisturizer and serum may work wonders on the rest of the face, but they’re not the right consistency for the thinner skin surrounding the eye. In fact, heavy moisturizers can actually make eyes puffier.
The majority of eye creams on the market are formulated with the same ingredients as most facial moisturizers. There are no special ingredients in eye creams that are specific to the skin around the eyes, but you should make sure you follow these dermatologist-approved rules for using moisturizer. Like the overwhelming majority of facial moisturizers on the market, eye creams are water based—water is often the first ingredient on the ingredients list. They contain humectants, like glycerin, that help draw water into the skin surface, and occlusives, like petrolatum or dimethicone, that limit water evaporation from the skin into the environment. Emollients are added to make the skin feel smooth and silky, adding aesthetic value to the product so the consumer likes how the product feels. Emulsifiers are added so the water and oil components of the emulsion don’t separate. All water-based products require a preservative to prevent overgrowth of mold and bacteria. Manufacturers also add thickeners, as eye creams are expected to be thicker than most facial moisturizers. A “marketing tool” ingredient (discussed below) is often added to enhance sales, and sometimes fragrance is also added.
A product with peptides or retinoids is the closest you can come to a true anti-aging eye cream, and research suggests that these ingredients truly are effective. But in either case, don’t believe products that promise miracles in five days. These chemicals take months of routine use before you’ll see results.
Why does it happen? Many things can contribute to eye puffiness, but the underlying cause has to do with fluid accumulation. For unknown reasons, fluid has collected around your eyes and the surrounding skin tissue. This tissue is among the thinnest in your body, so any swelling there is easy to see and hard to hide.
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Do you wake up every morning with puffy eyes? If you’re tired of looking sleepy or under the weather, there are plenty of things you can try to give your eyes a lift. Read on to learn about quick fixes, long-term strategies for reducing puffiness and a few permanent solutions, too.
Our three heavy-weight day creams all tied for absorbency, leaving a silky, creamy skin-feel behind. But Skin Laundry Wrinkle Release Eye Cream with Peptides was our testers’ favorite. It’s packaged in a tube, which makes it easy to dispense accurate and tiny amounts as needed, and at $30, it’s a relatively inexpensive option.
Obviously once you have identified the cause of your puffy eyes it’s easier to adjust your lifestyle habits to tackle them. Or alternatively, you can seek medical advice if you think it may be an underlying symptom for something more serious. However, you can always try these natural remedies for reducing the appearance of puffy eyes:
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
Also worth considering are NIOD Fractionated Eye-Contour Concentrate, and Eco Your Skin VOLUFILINE15 EYE ESSENCE. NIOD was the only true eye serum that made it to our list of finalists — it’s a liquid that comes in a dropper. It doesn’t absorb as quickly as Drunk Elephant or Mizon, with all of our testers reporting moderately oily residue. Eco Your Skin is heavier still — we almost bumped it into our “heavy creams” category. Its standout features is the size of its bottle. Unlike most of our finalists, which usually cap at 15 mL, Eco Your Skin comes in a 50 mL bottle. This helps explain its higher price tag ($70).
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.
An eye cream is a specially formulated moisturizer that in most cases has been tested as effective to use near the eyes, and that won’t damage the soft tissue around the eyes or cause eye irritation. Many of these creams are made with special ingredients that help either reduce the look of wrinkles around the eyes, provide anti-aging benefits, or help to reduce darker skin tone around the eyes. Some products offer more than one benefit, but all benefit claims have to be taken with a grain of salt, since cosmetic companies are quite well known for making inflated claims about their products.
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. 
During an allergic reaction, certain cells in the body release a chemical called histamine that has many adverse effects on body tissues, including fluid leakage from the blood vessels. These fluids become trapped in surrounding tissues, causing edema.
The best thing for puffiness is to go cold. Tom Vichroski of CRDR Consulting, Inc., a member of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, recommends cool ingredients — literally. Keeping your cream in the fridge is the equivalent of giving your eye area a cold shower and helps reduce early-morning puffiness.
Quitting smoking also helps with a host of other health issues. You can add years to your life, get rid of stained teeth, and reduce your chances of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers.
I am a huge fan of coconut oil and make all my own hand and face creams with it. We live by “if you wouldn’t put it in your mouth why would you rub it into your skin and into your blood stream?”. For some reason the cream will go bad though if left on the counter. It takes about 2 months or so but it will go dark and break up around the edges. It must be because it has had things added. So its important to only make what you will use.
We also made a couple of one-off cuts at this stage: Lumene Hehku Radiance Restoring Recovery Eye Cream is only available in the United Kingdom; and Cicatricure Eye Cream has artificial dyes. We were left with 33 contenders.
We also used Paula’s Choice Ingredient Dictionary (a cosmetic ingredients database) to identify products that contain known skin sensitizers: These ingredients include things like lemon or mint — compounds that smell great and are totally fine for occasional use. But if you’re using a skin sensitizer on a daily basis for months at a time, your skin may develop an allergic reaction. We found 44 sensitizing ingredients in our remaining eye creams.
Drink several glasses of water. Eyes tend to get puffy due to water retention, which is caused by a high concentration of salt in the area around the eyes. If you ate a very salty dinner or cried before bed you might notice increased puffiness in the morning. Drinking plenty of water flushes the area and causes the swelling to go down.
For an instant eye lift, January Labs’s Advanced Eye Technology is second to none. Containing plumping hyaluronic acid and a blend of wrinkle-reducing peptides, it smoothes out fine lines as well as minimising dark circles and tightening up the skin around the eyes.
Pink eye doesn’t come with many warning signs, explains Dr. McLaughlin, but once you notice symptoms, it’s important to take special care. If it appears to be bacterial, check in with an MD about getting a prescription for antibacterial eye drops to speed healing.
Dermatologists don’t recommend the at-home kits as they’re less effective and there’s some danger of infection transmission. Don’t share needles with other people to prevent disease transmission. This approach isn’t a good choice for people who have a history of keloids or who easily scar.