- Eye masks can effectively treat puffy eyes by reducing swelling, constricting blood vessels or stimulating collagen and elastin production
- Commercially available eye masks include single-use eye patches, cream masks and reusable gel masks
- Other treatments include home remedies such as cold compresses, cucumber slices and green tea bags
Puffy eyes are the result of an accumulation of fluid in the eye region, especially the under-eye area, which produces swelling in tissue. An eye mask for puffy eyes can be a fast and effective solution to target puffiness and help the eye area return to a normal state.
Benefits of Eye Masks for Puffy Eyes
Eye masks, creams and home remedies are effective at temporarily treating eye bags. And depending on the active agents in your chosen remedy, they can also work to prevent the risk of swollen eyes in the future.
To determine which treatment is right for you, first identify the underlying cause of your puffy eyes.
Puffy eye causes
Puffy eyes are frequently the result of a sodium-heavy diet, dehydration or excess alcohol consumption, all of which cause the kidneys to conserve water which causes visible swelling in the thin skin found in the under-eye area.
Another cause is poor sleep, which heightens levels of cortisol, a stress hormone which increases both sodium and water retention to trigger fluid retention.
As well, dark circles are a common skin complaint brought on by sleep deprivation which causes blood vessels to dilate, darkens the under-eye area and adds to tissue swelling.
Exposure to a range of allergy-causing airborne or contact irritants prompts the immune system to release defensive compounds called histamines into the bloodstream. Elevated levels of histamines cause itching, redness and swelling in the eye area.
Lastly, for some people, puffy eyes can become more common and pronounced with age, as the skin in the delicate eye area thins and causes even minimal fluid retention to become more apparent.
Choosing the Best Eye Masks for Puffy Eyes
Eye masks are commercially available in three different formats. Hydrogel masks are sold as prepackaged, single-use products. These peel-and-stick masks contain low concentrations of active ingredients that are gentle enough for the delicate eye area.
An alternative is a cream that you smooth onto your skin, then rinse off after a few hours or after a night of rest. Cream masks contain a similar range of ingredients as hydrogel masks.
A third type is a reusable cooling eye mask. These eye masks don’t contain active ingredients, but rely on the vasoconstrictive properties of cold to calm and ease swollen eyes. They’re designed to be stored in the freezer, then worn over the eyes to provide relief.
Eye masks primarily designed to soothe the skin are generally safe for all skin types. Masks with astringent ingredients or retinol may be irritating for sensitive skin.
Best puffy eye mask ingredients
Effective eye masks for puffy eyes contain ant-inflammatory, hydrating, collagen-building or vasoconstrictive active ingredients. Once you’ve established the cause of your puffy eyes, you’ll be able to choose a mask that contains the best active ingredients for you.
Caffeine is a popular addition to eye masks for its vasoconstrictive effects, which act quickly to reduce puffiness caused by allergies as well as the dark under-eye circles and swelling caused by a lack of restorative sleep.
Hyaluronic acid is a powerful humectant that is naturally produced by the body. When applied topically, it can draw in and retain moisture in the skin. It effectively remedies puffy eyes caused by dehydration both in the short and long term.
Peptides are amino acids that the skin needs to produce collagen, the protein responsible for providing structure, volume and suppleness to the skin. Collagen production naturally slows with age, causing the skin to become thinner. Low levels of collagen in the under-eye area can exacerbate puffiness, whatever the cause.
Eye masks containing peptides deliver these skin-firming amino acids to your skin, increasing skin strength and elasticity to lower the risk of eye bags in the long term.
A derivative of vitamin A, retinol has anti-inflammatory effects that depuff tired eyes. This anti-aging powerhouse also encourages the long-term growth of healthy, firm skin that’s less susceptible to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and puffiness. It also provides a brightening effect.
Retinol also helps protect the eye area against free radicals. As this skin is thin and delicate, it is more vulnerable to free radical damage. This causes premature aging and skin damage, and can leave you vulnerable to developing under-eye swelling.
How to Use an Eye Mask for Puffy Eyes
Eye masks for puffy eyes can be used 2–3 times per week. Doing so more frequently can cause irritation; for purely hydrating masks, these can be safely used every day.
Masks containing retinol increase skin’s sensitivity to sunlight and should therefore only be used at night to prevent damage from UV radiation.
Apply your eye mask after cleansing and before any serums, moisturizers or creams. Read the label to determine how long you should wear your eye mask; some are designed to be worn for about half an hour, while sleeping masks are meant for overnight wear.
DIY Eye Mask for Puffy Eyes
Target puffy, tired eyes with the cooling, anti-inflammatory effects of cucumber juice and the soothing, skin hydrating effects of rose water. Together, these ingredients make for a gentle rinse-off mask formula suitable for any skin type.
- 1/2 cucumber
- 2 drops rose water
- Grate half a cucumber and squeeze the juice into a bowl
- Add the rose water
- Apply the mixture to the eye area using a cotton pad
- Allow to rest for 15 minutes; rinse with lukewarm water
Alternative Puffy Eye Treatments
In addition to over-the-counter (OTC) or DIY face masks, other OTC skin care products can treat puffy eyes.
- Aloe vera gel has cooling, hydrating properties. Obtain gel directly from the plant or opt for a store-bought gel eye mask to depuff the eye area
- Chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe puffiness; applying a chilled wet tea bag over the eyes can reduce inflammation while doubling as a cold compress
- Cold compresses are an inexpensive, quick depuffing solution; an ice pack wrapped in a damp washcloth can relieve swelling, itching and redness caused by allergies
- Creams and serums contain active ingredients similar to those in eye masks to hydrate and soothe the under-eye area; some contain antioxidants such as vitamin C or E and most can be applied morning or night
- Cucumber slices placed over each eye will help soothe puffiness and provide a cooling effect; hydrating, anti-inflammatory properties will reduce inflammation
- Green tea also has anti-inflammatory properties along with the benefits of caffeine; use it as you would a chamomile tea bag
- Witch hazel is a vasoconstrictor that can be applied to cotton pads, then held against the eyes. Due to its astringent properties, it’s not recommended for people with dry or sensitive skin
Puffy eyes are a common cosmetic issue caused by fluid buildup around the eyes. They’re triggered by dehydration, excess consumption of sodium or alcohol, poor sleep and allergic reactions. To effectively treat your puffy eyes, choose a mask that will deliver the right active ingredients to the affected area.
Eye masks are available in three formats. Single-use eye patches are small, disposable pieces of material that adhere to the under-eye skin; a cream mask is smoothed over the skin, then rinsed off; and reusable, gel masks are used like a cool compress to soothe the entire eye area. These masks are generally safe for all skin types.
Caffeine, hyaluronic acid, peptides and retinol are all effective ingredients in eye masks. For DIY options, cucumber, green tea, witch hazel and cold compresses can help ease uncomfortable symptoms.
Apply your eye mask as part of an evening skin care routine immediately after cleansing but before you apply skin care products that are typically in your routine. Their use should be limited to 1–3 times per week to avoid irritating your skin.
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