I’m tired. You’re tired. We’re all tired. And as bad as tired feels, looking it is almost worse. Crow’s Feet, dark circles, puffy eyelids, dullness, you name it, these issues plague a pretty high percentage of the population. The CDC says over a third of adult-aged Americans don’t get enough sleep each night. And although everyone’s skin is different, sleep plays a vital role in your skincare routine.
I’m here to say, though, that sleep isn’t the sole factor impacting facial aesthetics. Whether or not you’ll deal with hyperpigmentation or shadowing (two terms for dark circles) or inflammation (aka puffy eyes) largely depends on genetics. If one or both of your parents battle one or both of these, consider your fortune read: you will, too. However, there are products that can combat future signs of fatigue or aging and respond to sudden skincare emergencies — like waking up way too tired to function.
Most of these products use a combination of moisturizers, antioxidants, peptides, stimulants (like caffeine or coffee extract), and cooling agents for a full-spectrum effect. Some address root issues while others offer immediate resolution. How do they reduce dark circles? Well, dark circles are caused by venous congestion, the pooling of blood in superficial blood vessels, or hyperpigmentation, which caffeine (by constricting visible blood vessels) or antioxidants (by lessening signs of aging and repairing thinned skin) can reverse.
Caffeine can also help alleviate the puffiness people face in the morning. (Coffee for your… eyes?) Its ability to constrict visible blood vessels can reduce inflammation. Cooling agents work well for this, too, because they increase blood flow. Physical draining proves effective as well, which is why you’ve probably seen influencers or professional models rolling stones up and down their faces or around their eyes.
Doing this drains and displaces lymphatic buildup, and restores the eyes to their usual state (what they look like when they’re not swollen). It’s why some of these products roll-on rather than peel-and-stick. But, no matter the application, each one’s intent is the same: to make you look awake, even if you’re barely there.
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Eye & Smile Lift (2-Pack)
You’re supposed to wear SiO’s Eye & Smile patches overnight, while you sleep. For a quicker fix, though, you can apply them while you work, so long as you’re wearing them for at least a few hours. That’s long enough for the silicone patches — that’s all they are — to capture and return moisture released by your skin. It also smooths existing wrinkles and prevents, via compression, new ones from forming.
Bro Mask Eye Gels
The Bro Mask Eye Gels work well in a rushed routine. You leave them on for just 15 minutes, just under the bottom eyelid, and rub in the serum that’s leftover after they’ve been removed. What’s in the serum? Bakuchiol, caffeine, collagen, hyaluronic acid, peptides, green tea, licorice, and ginger.
Repairing Eye Stick
This is the first stick on this list. You use it in the same way you would chapstick, but it, of course, goes on the sensitive skin beneath your eye. The caffeine in it reduces puffiness, while the niacinamide fights wrinkles and fine lines. Plus, “We hear it also feels good to apply when your under the influence. Just a rumor though,” the brand says. Not sure what that means. Try it and tell me?
Hydra-Gel Eye Patches (30 Pairs)
Peter Thomas Roth’s under-eye patches leverage hydration to address a number of issues. (AKA all of the ones I mentioned above.) The formulation comprises several sizes of Hyaluronic Acid, a hydrator, and healthy doses of collagen and caffeine combine forces.
Anti-Fatigue Eye Patch (10-Pack)
These Anti-Fatigue Eye Patches are a super-fast — 10-15 minutes under each eye — resolution to puffiness and dryness, or, simply put, that all-around tired look about you on mornings when it was hard to remove yourself from bed. Caffeine does the obvious work (flatten inflammation), but centella asiatica offers longer-term, anti-aging properties.
FlashPatch Restoring Night Eye Gels (5-Pack)
You use Patchology’s FlashPatch Eye Gels before bed: put ’em on for five minutes, remove them, and rub the serum in. It seeps into the skin overnight, interrupted by you touching your face, outdoor air pollutants, or other products. Cucumber extract (for puffiness) and peptide complex (for fighting fine lines) are the standout ingredients.
Wake Up Eye Stick
Because you’re sticking this to your face, you can really use Oars + Alps’ Wake Up Stick whenever and wherever you want. I’d still recommend the morning (when you’re most tired) or evenings (when your skin responds best to reparative products), but this healthy kick of caffeine can’t do any harm during the day.
Brightening Eye Cream
No, this product is neither a mask nor a roll-on. It’s its own cream…that you have squeeze and apply yourself! Gasp! But, here’s why you should still get it: it’s $10, and for the value you’re getting a fragrance-free and ophthalmologist-tested formula that fights wrinkles and dark circles.
Eye Stick 2.0
Superstar ingredients like aloe, snow mushroom, and moringa seed oil join forces with caffeine in Huron’s 2.0 iteration of the Eye Stick. You roll it on twice daily, and while you’ll notice an immediate impact — a cool, hydrated feel — it takes six to eight weeks for real results. It’s worth it, though, as this pen’s both affordable and effective.
Anti-Fatigue Depuffing Eye Gel
This is another roll-on option, but it specifically address puffiness. Glycerin, caffeine, citrus, and hops help hydrate the skin and reduce inflammation. Both happen fast and with only a handful of rolls back and forth.
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