Maddie Abuyuan / BuzzFeed News
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They say that eyes are the window to the soul, and you want your soul to give off a bright, vibrant aura, right?
That’s one reason why eye bags can be a real vibe killer. Even when you’re running on empty and you know those puffy dark circles are the result, having someone say you look tired doesn’t feel good.
The thing is that under-eye puffiness can happen, whether you’re sleepy or not, especially as you age. However, that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a life of being told you need to get some rest.
There are treatments and products that can help zap away the dark circles and puffiness. Here are some good options for getting rid of eye bags, according to experts.
What causes bags under the eyes?
There are many factors that can contribute to eye bags, according to Dr. Rachel Nazarian, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
Some people can have a herniated fat pad, which is a bulge of tissue that happens due to a combination of genetics and aging. The other part of the problem is that the skin on your face thins as you get older, so it’s not going to hold things in place as well.
“The wall is becoming softer, so things can pouch out more,” she said. “If you have healthy, elastic, strong facial skin, it’ll end up holding in that stuff better.”
Aside from that, there are other things that contribute to occasional puffiness around the eyes, including how you sleep, what you eat or drink, and other lifestyle factors.
“When people find that they sleep on their stomach, or they have a high-sodium meal, or they have a lot of alcohol, you can actually just pool more fluid there,” she said. That means changing those factors may help reduce eye bags, and they may get better and worse depending on those circumstances.
Nazarian said that it’s important for people to know all of the possible contributors so they are better equipped to choose the right path forward.
How to get rid of bags under eyes
If you have persistent puffiness or discoloration, there are more intensive treatments like surgery, filler, and laser treatments, Nazarian said.
If you want a more affordable and less invasive solution, products like eye creams and serums can help. When choosing one of those, you should look for specific dermatologist-recommended ingredients.
“Caffeine works well because it actually does immediately decrease puffiness,” Nazarian said. “It’s like a vasoconstrictor, so it kind of clamps down some of the vessels that deal with the puffiness from what you’re eating a lot of the time.”
If you have herniated fat pads, a product with caffeine may help a bit, but it’ll work best in combating fluid retention related to diet or lack of sleep. It’s the best ingredient to address that whole category of lifestyle factors, Nazarian said.
Aside from caffeine, she recommends looking for products with specific ingredients like peptides and retinols, which are derived from vitamin A. This combination should help strengthen the tissue itself and improve elasticity while still being gentle enough for such a sensitive area.
The goal is to improve the health of the tissue so that the wall is a little bit stronger and can push against the fat pad a little bit better, Nazarian said.
There are tons of products with ingredients like these on the market, so finding what works best for your skin or gives you optimal results may involve some trial and error. To kick off your search, here are some great eye creams and products to keep your eyes (and soul) looking sprightly.
Neocutis Lumière Illuminating Eye Cream
Nazarian said that Lumière is a favorite of hers and one that she frequently recommends to patients thanks to the quick and reliable results.
“This uses growth factors to improve the tissue, so you’re going to tighten, make the skin look a little bit healthier,” she said. “It has caffeine to decrease puffiness, and it actually does that pretty damn fast.”
Promising review: “I love this product. Works great on undereye bags, wrinkles, and dark circles. I can wear it alone or under eye makeup with no issues. Causes zero irritation to my eyes/skin.” —Kindle customer
You can buy Neocutis Lumière Illuminating Eye Cream from Amazon for around $97.
Pond’s Rejuveness Anti-Age Lifting and Firming Eye Cream
“I like Rejuveness because it has retinol, which is again going to help elasticity and improve collagen,” Nazarian said. “I like that it combines it with niacinamide. They call it vitamin B3 on the packaging, which makes it a little more tolerable because retinol can be a little bit drying, especially around the eye.”
Promising review: “This product is great if you don’t want to spend too much on skin care. I haven’t noticed too much, but I have noticed that my eye bags are definitely fading slowly. I recommend for dry skin. Of course if you are looking for more results you may need to invest in a more pricey product.” —Lua via Target
You can buy Pond’s Rejuveness Anti-Age Lifting and Firming Eye Cream from Target for around $10.
SkinMedica TNS Eye Repair
Nazarian calls this eye cream “chicken soup for the skin” because it has a little bit of everything that she likes to see in this product category.
“It has all these different proteins, peptides, and growth factors that help,” she said. “It also has hyaluronic acid, which isn’t going to help puffiness but will help with some of the other eye issues.”
Promising review: “My dermatologist recommended this product and I’ve been loving it for lightening and brightening the under eye area.” —HappyGirl via Dermstore
You can buy SkinMedica TNS Eye Repair from Dermstore for around $106.
The Ordinary Caffeine 5% + EGCG Depuffing Eye Serum
This eye serum is specifically formulated for eye bags, targeting dark circles and puffiness with extra caffeine and hyaluronic acid. It also comes highly recommended from our very own BuzzFeed News health editor.
Promising review: “I start my day at 4am and this one step is the best step to start my day. I started using this product about a year ago and have used it basically every day since. The morning bags disappear and make me look awake and refreshed at 4am!” —Annette via Ulta
You can buy The Ordinary Caffeine 5% + EGCG Depuffing Eye Serum from Ulta for around $8.
NIOD Fractionated Eye Contour Concentrate
Another recommendation from our health editor, this science-backed, water-based serum tackles puffiness and dark circles with peptides and uneven pigmentation technologies. It also helps the area under your eyes maximize hydration and improve elasticity with niacinamide and other fluid-retaining ingredients.
Promising review: “I have been using this eye-contour concentrate product. It is very helpful on my eye area. It is not cheap, but it is very effective.” —Wendy C.
You can buy NIOD Fractionated Eye Contour Concentrate from Amazon for around $62.
Paula’s Choice Resist Anti-Aging Eye Gel
This is my current favorite eye product, mostly due to the applicator. It’s a very lightweight gel full of peptides to help strengthen the skin barrier and niacinamide for brightening, but the applicator is really what offers that instant cooling, depuffing effect. Somehow, even though I simply keep it in the bathroom with all of my other products, the tip always feels cold to the touch when I use it to massage the product under my eyes.
Nazarian said that cooling helps a little bit for vasoconstriction, or the narrowing of blood vessels by small muscles in their walls, which can make you look immediately less puffy. I like to use it in the morning since it’s refreshing and makes my eyes feel more awake.
Promising review: “Works well to de-puff your eyes. It’s cooling and didn’t irritate even with contacts.” —Girlandherdogs
You can buy Paula’s Choice Resist Anti-Aging Eye Gel from Nordstrom for around $37.
Good Molecules Caffeine Energizing Hydrogel Eye Patches
On particularly sleepy or puffy days, maybe after a long flight or a night out, you might need something more than a fast-absorbing serum or cream. That’s where eye patches come in, which are essentially a hydrating sheet mask for under your eyes. These ones from Good Molecules have caffeine, peptides, and niacinamide for the ultimate brightening pick-me-up.
Promising review: “I absolutely love these [eyepatches] as they are so hydrating and moisturizing. They definitely depuff your under eyes for the bags. I have used multiple packages of these and have never experienced the dry residue under my eyes. It is always super hydrating when I take them off and I love to let the serum sink into my under eyes. These are a must.” —Mandy via Ulta
You can buy Good Molecules Caffeine Energizing Hydrogel Eye Patches from Ulta for around $18.
Lisapack Metal Eye Cream Roller Wand
Nazarian loves an eye product that comes with a cooling, rolling tip; the rolling element can provide a sort of massage that will aid in depuffing.
“With lymphatic circulation, the best thing you can do is massage,” she said. “You’re trying to move that lymphatic fluid laterally, like towards the lateral eyebrow. It may not be a permanent improvement, it may be totally transient. But you’re also dealing with a transient issue — puffiness. So to me, it’s a wonderful solution.”
This roller wand will give you that cooling massage with the application of any product, even those that don’t come with a special applicator.
Promising review: “This is the best way to apply under eye moisturizer and serums. A must have for your daily routine.” —Lisa Eady via Amazon
You can buy the Lisapack Metal Eye Cream Roller Wand from Amazon for around $18. ●