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TikTok is all fun and games until you come across a viral beauty hack that doesn’t live up to the hype. The latest trend on #beautytok that you probably have questions about? Users are applying Preparation H on their under-eyes to reduce puffiness.
ICYMI, Preparation H is a hemorrhoid treatment meant to soothe burning, itching, and discomfort, you know, back there. But that hasn’t stopped TikTok users from applying it to their faces. The hack isn’t particularly new; a quick scan online reveals articles reporting on the practice back in the ’80s. However, it is making a comeback for better or worse.
In the clip, they apply a pea-sized amount of the gel under their eyes before tapping it in gently. By the end of the 40-second video, there’s a noticeable difference in the appearance of their under-eye bags, and it’s likely not just strategic editing. “Preparation H is a steroid cream, so it’s anti-inflammatory and it constricts the blood vessels, which can help with swelling and redness temporarily,” explains Taylor Worden, a celebrity esthetician and founder of Taylor Worden Skin. That said, Worden and other experts advise against using it near the eyes.
“Preparation H can cause irritation and sensitivity [around the eyes],” says Marisa Garshick, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology. “Prolonged use of steroids [found in the formula] around the eyes is not recommended, as it can lead to thinning of the skin.”
Not to mention, ingredients in the formula, such as hydrocortisone, aren’t made for use on the skin near the eyes, explains Nava Greenfield, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. “The eyelid skin is extremely sensitive and can respond poorly to [these] harsh ingredients.”
With this in mind, you may not want to hop on the TikTok trend. “It’s best to leave the Preparation H for hemorrhoids, given it isn’t indicated for use around the eye,” advises Dr. Garshick. “Instead, it is best to opt for caffeine-containing under-eye creams, which can help to reduce puffiness.” (Related: The Best Retinol Eye Creams for Delicate Skin Around the Eyes)
One option you might try is the Sunday Riley Auto Correct Brightening + Depuffing Eye Cream (Buy It, $65, sephora.com), says Dr. Garshick. It’s made with watermelon extract to hydrate, and it contains a complex of caffeine, Brazilian ginseng, horse chestnut, and light-reflecting particles to revitalize tired, dark, puffy eyes. For those on a budget, Dr. Garshick also recommends The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream (Buy It, $10, sephora.com), which is a lightweight formula that reduces puffy eyes and fine lines.
Sticking your eye cream in the refrigerator may boost its benefits. The cooling effect helps to constrict the blood vessels and decrease the look of puffiness, explains Dr. Garshick. You can also use an eye cream with a cooling formula such as the Tula Glow & Get It Cooling & Brightening Eye Balm (Buy It, $28, ulta.com). It’s made with hyaluronic acid, caffeine, and probiotics to tighten, firm, and smooth skin while offering a refreshing, cooling sensation. It also comes in a stick format for easy application.
In sum, it’s best to skip the Preparation H and opt for a traditional eye cream the next time you’re looking to reduce under-eye bags. After all, you don’t want to add irritation and sensitivity to your existing eye concerns.