- Puffy eyes are caused by dehydration, fatigue and fluid imbalance in the body.
- Some ingredients can treat puffy eyes while others are preventative.
- Certain ingredients in puffy eye creams may, in fact, worsen the condition for some individuals.
- Some puffy eye creams can be easily made using common household items.
Several factors can contribute to puffy eyes such as lack of sleep, allergies and excessive salt or alcohol consumption. To target these specific causes, there are numerous puffy eye creams available that function as either a treatment or preventative.
However, before considering the best eye cream for puffiness, it’s important to understand what causes puffy eyes in the first place.
Simply put, puffy eyes are due to fluid retention beneath the under-eye skin. Fluid retention results from an imbalance of salt and water in the body, dehydration or lack of sleep. Allergies may also play a role.
The puffy eye cream you choose should therefore depend largely on the cause of the puffiness.
How Do Creams Relieve Puffy Eyes?
Various skin care products target different symptoms using specific ingredients that either help retain moisture, reduce inflammation or increase the thickness of the skin.
The best undereye puffiness reducers contain ingredients that drain fluids by narrowing blood vessels or stimulating collagen production (which helps the skin under the eyes become resistant to puffiness).
How to Choose the Best Eye Cream for Puffiness
To select the best puffy eye cream, it’s important to first determine the cause of your puffy eyes to know whether to focus on quick fixes for occasional puffiness or anti-aging ingredients that prevent puffy eyes in the long term.
How to get the most out of your puffy eye cream
Given that both environmental and lifestyle habits contribute to puffy eyes, products such as eye serums and moisturizers only play one part in keeping your skin looking its best. Consider combining your daily skin care regimen with certain preventive lifestyle habits.
Adults should keep sodium intake to under 1,500 mg. It’s also beneficial to consume potassium-rich foods, as they help counteract the effects of sodium.
Stay hydrated when being active and avoid excess alcohol consumption, especially when it’s warm out; alcohol consumption leads to dehydration.
It is important to establish a set routine in order to get a good night’s sleep. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and strenuous activities before bed. Limit screen time, which has been shown to negatively impact sleep quality.
Ingredients to Look for in Under-Eye Puffiness Reducer Creams
Once you know the cause of your puffy eyes, review the ingredient lists of different creams to determine which formulas can help.
If salty foods or overconsumption of alcohol (i.e. fluid retention) are causing puffiness, look for creams with caffeine. Caffeine is an effective vasoconstrictor, which means it narrows blood vessels. By doing so in the under-eye area, it narrows veins and allows fluids to drain freely.
Often accompanying puffy eyes is redness caused by inflammation. This redness (along with the puffiness) can be reduced by applying aloe vera, which has calming properties. If lack of sleep or allergies are resulting in red, puffy eyes, look for aloe vera to help soothe skin.
Green tea and cucumber
Green tea contains caffeine as well as antioxidant properties, which work together to reduce puffiness under the eyes. These antioxidants are also present in cucumbers, another common ingredient in many eye creams.
A natural astringent, witch hazel is used to reduce fluid buildup around the eyes. It’s found in de-puffing products but can also be used on its own by soaking two cotton pads in the extract and placing them over your eyes for a few minutes.
Ingredients That Prevent Under-Eye Puffiness
Puffy eye creams can serve a dual purpose, as many include preventative properties.
Naturally produced in the body, peptides are proteins that improve the skin’s appearance. Peptides signal the body to produce more skin-firming collagen, which means when applied consistently, they thicken the skin. Thicker skin under the eyes can make fluid retention less visible in the area and reduce the appearance of puffiness.
When applied topically, vitamin C has been shown to decrease collagen degradation. Like peptides, vitamin C can’t immediately reduce puffiness but when added to your skin care routine, it can reduce your likelihood of getting puffy eyes over time.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is used in anti-puffiness products to help skin retain its moisture. Since puffiness is usually a sign of dehydration or fluid imbalance, it’s important to keep the area moisturized. HA can be used regularly to keep skin hydrated and lessen the likelihood of getting puffy eyes.
Ingredients to Avoid
If you have sensitive skin, there are several ingredients found in drugstore products that should be avoided.
Citrus extracts are sensitizing, which means they can dry out the skin and actually contribute to puffy eyes. Often, citrus extracts are added to creams as fragrance, so you may want to opt for fragrance-free products.
Alcohol is yet another sensitizing ingredient. While many products promote alcohol’s short-term benefits such as drying oily skin and aiding with vitamin C absorption, consistent use is harsh on the skin and not effective in treating puffy eyes.
Many fragrances and preservatives in skin care products are potential allergens. When your body feels threatened by an allergen, your immune system releases histamine, which can cause inflammation around the eyes.
Because it may be difficult to pinpoint which ingredient is making you react to a product, it may be to your benefit to seek out hypoallergenic, fragrance-free eye creams. This would also apply to makeup such as concealer that you use around the eye area
While not an eye-cream ingredient, hemorrhoid cream is often cited as a low-cost alternative to puffy eye creams as it contains hydrocortisone, an anti-inflammatory. However, hemorrhoid cream can cause irritation or serious damage to the eyes as it is not intended for use in this area.
Homemade Cream Recipes for Puffy Eyes
Given that so many ingredients in puffy eye treatments are commonly found in your home, it’s fairly easy to formulate your own cream.
DIY coffee bean cream for puffy eyes
This cream uses caffeine to constrict blood vessels and reduce puffiness.
- 2 tbsp coffee beans
- 2 tbsp rosehip oil
- 2 tbsp cocoa butter
- 2 tbsp beeswax pellets
In a double boiler, on medium-low heat, heat the coffee beans and rosehip oil for 40 minutes. Strain the beans and return the oil to the heat. Add the beeswax and cocoa butter and melt. Pour the mixture into small containers and allow to rest and harden; apply as needed.
DIY green tea cream for your eyes
This recipe uses green tea’s antioxidant properties to soothe puffy eyes.
- 2 tbsp unrefined coconut oil
- 1 tbsp almond oil
- 1 bag of green tea (or 1 tsp of loose green tea leaves)
In a double boiler on medium-low, heat the almond oil and coconut oil. Reduce heat to low, add the tea and steep for 10–15 minutes. Remove from heat and strain into a small container. Allow to cool and harden; apply as needed.
Since different ingredients target puffy eyes in various ways, knowing the cause of your puffy eyes helps you understand which ingredients to look for in a puffy eye cream.
Plant-based ingredients such as green tea and aloe vera can either help drain fluid below the eyes or reduce the redness that often accompanies puffy eyes. They can be used in tandem with newer skin care innovations such as peptides and vitamin C to boost collagen production and prevent puffiness from occurring.
Avoid puffy eye creams that contain citrus extracts, alcohol or fragrances, as they can irritate the eyes and intensify puffiness.
If you experience chronically puffy eyes, consult with a dermatologist or doctor to ascertain if an underlying medical condition may be causing them.
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