We’ve all been there: one all-nighter, the start of allergy season, a stressful day at the office, or just an odd sleepless night, and the next thing you know, you wake up with such major dark circles and swollen under-eyes that you almost don’t even recognize yourself.
Puffy eyes are one of the unwelcome signs of aging but can also be caused by things like lack of sleep or too much salt. Swollen, puffy eyes can make a face look older or more tired than it really is. Here’s a look at what causes puffy eyes, and some of the best eye creams for bags and puffiness.
What Causes Puffy Eyes?
The number one cause of puffy eyes is an inevitable one. As Dr. Shaun Desai, a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Johns Hopkins Center for Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery notes, “The most common cause of under-eye bags or puffiness is natural aging.” Specifically, this is due to a weakening of the muscles in the eye area. As Dr. Desai explains, “Older skin becomes too lax and tends to fall or wrinkle. The muscles and tissues around the eye can also weaken and contribute to the baggy look. This weakening allows the fat surrounding the eye to bulge out, creating that bubble-like appearance.”
Other causes can be chalked up to lifestyle habits such as eating too much salt, lack of sleep or smoking. Some people have prominent eye bags due to genetics.
Should You Worry About Puffy Eyes?
The Mayo Clinic notes that most eye puffiness is harmless and doesn’t require medical attention. However, the clinic suggests seeing a doctor if the swelling is “severe, persistent, painful, itchy or red” as it could be a sign of an infection, eye allergy or a thyroid issue. Dr. Annapurna Singh tells the Cleveland Clinic that “any swelling that lasts longer than 24 to 48 hours should send you to an eye care professional because there are times it can be something severe that can blind you.”
According to Medical News Today, the medical term for puffy eyes is “periorbital edema,” which also means a buildup of fluid around the eye area. Periorbital edema isn’t quite the same thing as an under eye bag; periorbital edema is a buildup of fluid around the eyes which can sometimes be chronic and is often a symptom of a medical condition or side effect of a medication.
How To Reduce Puffy Eyes At Home
There are plenty of ways to reduce puffiness around the eyes, ranging from home remedies to the right eye cream (more on that below). Some easy, low cost ways to tackle them at home include a cool compress to the eye area or applying chilled cucumber slices. An ice cube wrapped in a face cloth may also help reduce swelling and provide an instant cooling effect, while antihistamine drops could help if the puffiness is allergy related. Applying something cold to the area may help to reduce inflammation and puffiness as it reduces the appearance of puffiness as it temporarily reduces blood flow to the area.The Cleveland Clinic also suggests washing or rinsing the eye area if the puffiness is associated with discharge. Some people swear by using a face roller to tackle eye bags; think of it as a gentle facial for the eye area to help move the fluid along.
Other Options for Bags and Puffy Eyes
Someone with chronic or severe under eye bags may want to consider seeing a doctor. According to Johns Hopkins, some of the most common treatments include a chemical peel, laser, fillers and surgery. A chemical peel will remove the outer layers of the skin to reveal tighter, brighter skin, thereby minimizing the look of the eye bags. Laser resurfacing removes surface layers of skin around the eyes and also stimulates new collagen growth, resulting in firmer skin. Fillers are another option, and it can be injected in the area where the cheek meets the under eye area to soften the transition. Some patients may opt for blepharoplasty, or an eyelid lift which readjusts the fat in the lower eye area and tightens the muscle and skin.
Ingredients to Look For in Eye Creams for Puffy Eyes and Bags
Some of the best ingredients to look for in an eye cream or serum designed to tackle under eye bags include caffeine, vitamins C and E, retinol and hyaluronic acid. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor which means it helps to constrict blood vessels so it can help depuff eyes. It’s one of the most common ingredients in the best eye creams for bags and puffiness and is often derived from coffee, green tea or white tea. There is however new research that suggests that caffeine may not be as effective for puffiness as once thought. The research suggests that other elements such as the type of formulation such as gel and other ingredients such as hyaluronic and vitamin A may be the beneficial ingredients.
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Antioxidants like vitamins C, E and aloe can also help to soothe and brighten the eye area. Vitamin C helps the skin look brighter so it can minimize the look of puffiness and bags. Look for peptides to help firm and tighten the look of the eye area, along with hyaluronic acid and glycerin which boost the skin’s moisture levels. Some of the best eye creams for puffiness also contain retinol, a vitamin A derivative that helps encourage cell turnover and boosts collagen production to soften the look of wrinkles.
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And while miracles can’t happen when it comes to erasing puffy eyes instantly, there are a few products that can help provide a feeling of quick relief. Gel eye pads can feel soothing and cooling on swollen eyes, along with eye masks that can take tissues off.
What Is The Best Eye Creams for Puffy Eyes?
Occasional eye puffiness is an unavoidable part of life, but luckily, there are plenty of brightening, tightening, and anti-aging eye creams out there to calm puffy eyes in a pinch—almost too many to count, in fact. To help you sort through all the options out there for calming puffy eyes, we gathered our beauty editors' top picks and sifted through reviews from past Glam Bags to find you the best of the best. Continue reading below to discover 12 best eye creams for puffy eyes.
Best Vitamin C Eye Creams for Puffy Eyes and Bags Beautystat Universal C Eye Perfector
Tap on a dime-sized dollop of this eye cream and the formula's vitamin C, green tea extract, and hyaluronic acid all work together to help brighten, firm, soothe, and hydrate your under-eye bags. BTW: This bb is totally fragrance-free, so it's safe for anyone with sensitive or acne-prone skin.
Best Retinol Eye Mask For Bags Knc Beauty All Natural Retinol-infused Eye Mask
Don't be fooled by how cute these under-eye masks are—the formula packs some serious benefits. Skin-plumping collagen and hyaluronic acid are combined with soothing aloe vera to help deflate your bags every time you use 'em. Just make sure your skin is clean and dry, stick them on for 20 minutes, and follow with moisturizer.
Best Eye Creams for Puffy Eyes and Bags And Dryness Cosrx Advanced Snail Peptide Eye Cream
You've definitely already heard of CosRx's cult-favorite snail serum—and if you haven't, you best get on it RN—but did you know it also comes in eye-cream form? The formula features a blend of hydrating snail mucin (yup, the stuff that makes up mucus), brightening niacinamide, and strengthening peptides to target everything from under-eye bags to dark circles.
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Best Retinol Eye Cream For Bags And Fine Lines The Inkey List Retinol Eye Cream
Retinol is the hero ingredient in this affordable eye cream and—thanks to its ability to boost your skin's collagen production—it's a legit miracle-worker for bags, fine lines, and dark circles. Retinol can be a little drying at first, so try using this guy once every three days until you know your skin can handle it.
Best Caffeine Creams for Puffy Eyes and Bags Kiehl’s Since 1851 Eye Fuel
Kinda like how you rely on caffeine to get through a particularly rough morning, so do your under-eyes. “Caffeine works to constrict your blood vessels under the skin, which means less fluid builds up and settles around your eyes," says Dr. Nazarian. Think of this all-natural cream as a cup of coffee for your skin. Massage a few dabs of the formula—which also contains soothing vitamin B—around your eyes to look (and feel) reenergized.
Best Overnight Creams for Puffy Eyes and Bags Laneige Eye Sleeping Mask
Prepare to make this overnight eye mask a part of your nightly routine—for real, it’s that good. The formula's blend of caffeine, enzymes, and skin-strengthening vitamin P (yup, P) work overtime to de-puff, smooth, and hydrate the delicate skin under your eyes as you catch some ’s.
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Best Vegan Creams for Puffy Eyes and Bags Mad Hippie Eye Cream
This vegan eye cream for under-eye bags has a seriously impressive ingredients list (including highlights like vitamin C, antioxidant-rich white tea, and skin-soothing chamomile extract). Gently pat the formula around your eyes once in the morning and once at night to reap the benefits.
Best Drugstore Creams for Puffy Eyes and Bags Garnier Skinactive Clearly Brighter Anti-puff Eye Roller
Dr. Idriss suggests enlisting the help of this gel-infused roller to de-puff your under-eye bags, fast. As you gently roll around the inner and outer corners of your eyes, a blend of brightening vitamin C, antioxidant-rich mint, and tightening caffeine work to cool, soften, and reduce swelling. Pro tip: Keep this stick in the fridge for even more cooling power.
Best Eye Serum For Bags Dermalogica Biolumin-c Eye Serum
Perfect for anyone with under-eye bags and fine lines, this brand-new serum from Dermalogica works to brighten and firm the skin every time you use it (shout-out to the formula’s vitamin C). And thanks to hydrating and calming ingredients like chia seed oil and tremella mushroom extract, this serum is perfect for disguising the fact that you got four-ish hours of sleep last night. Again.
Best Under-eye Mask For Bags Joanna Vargas Bright Eye Firming Mask
Not only do these cult-favorite eye masks from Joanna Vargas feel so effing relaxing, but they also blast your skin with a crazy-hydrating blend of hydrolyzed silk protein, hyaluronic acid, and allantoin (all of which work to smooth even the puffiest of puffy bags).
Best Day And Night Creams for Puffy Eyes and Bags Algenist Complete Eye Renewal Balm
Packed with all of the good stuff Dr. Idriss recommends (green tea for soothing, caffeine for tightening, and vitamin C for brightening), this cream is not messing around. Rich enough to replenish the skin overnight but still light enough to act as a makeup primer during the day, this all-in-one eye balm is worth all your dollars. Really.
Best Eye Patches For Bags Patchology Flashpatch Eye Gels
Eye masks might not work as actual miracles, but they do feel hella nice and cooling against tired, swollen skin. Infused with a blend of antioxidants, caffeine, and hyaluronic acid, these patches will make you feel like you got the best night’s sleep of your life. Stick on a couple of these guys while you get ready in the morning for a brighter, more-awake look.
Best Eye Cream For Bags And Dark Circles Olay Ultimate Eye Cream
This drugstore eye cream calls on skin-smoothing peptides, niacinamide, and a slight peachy tint to brighten dark circles that creep up on sleepy days. Reach for this formula on the mornings you hit the snooze button one too many times.
Best Lightweight Eye Cream For Bags Youth To The People Superfood Peptide Eye Cream
This vegan formula combines vitamin C (Dr. Idriss’s go-to antioxidant), ultra-calming aloe vera, and hydrating hyaluronic acid and sunflower oil to coddle the delicate skin under your eyes. And unlike thick creams that feel heavy or oily, this lightweight formula absorbs into your skin fast, so your concealer won’t slide down your face.
Best Tightening Eye Cream For Bags Dr. Brandt No More Baggage Eye Depuffing Gel
A collection of ingredients go to work when you gently pat on this under-eye gel: puff-reducing caffeine, elasticity-strengthening peptides, and dark-circle-masking botanical extracts. Sure, it’s on the pricier side, but it works fast to really make a difference when you need it.
Best Anti-aging Eye Cream For Bags Sunday Riley Auto Correct Brightening And Depuffing Eye Contour Cream
The Brazilian ginseng in this formulation deflates puffiness within minutes, while its added caffeine tightens bags and reduces the look of dark circles. But *cue announcer voice* that’s not all! It’s also filled with horse chestnut extract to help plump your fine lines, along with something called lutein, which gives your skin a bright glow to make you look like an overall well-rested human.
Best Jade Roller For Under-eye Bags Jade Roller Beauty Rose Quartz Beauty Roller
Although jade and rose quartz rollers have played a key role in Chinese beauty regimens for centuries, they’ve only recently became a staple in American vanities. If you have a bad habit of being too aggressive with your fingers when applying skincare, use the smaller end of the roller to blend your eye cream out and over your skin.
Best Hydrating Eye Cream For Bags Saturday Skin Wide Awake Brightening Eye Cream
Hyaluronic acid—the beauty world’s favorite moisturizing component—is the standout ingredient in this Instagram-able yet effective cream. The formula is also topped off with date-seed extract (a soothing, anti-inflammatory) and avocado protein extract (which protects your skin with a blend of vitamins A, D, and E).
Best Eye Cream For Bags And Puffy Skin Neocutis Lumiere Bio-restorative Eye Cream
Dr. Idriss turns to this caffeine-loaded cream to plump and tighten even the puffiest of eyes. The formula is also loaded with hydrators, like hyaluronic acid and squalene, to moisturize the fine lines around your eyes. While the price tag is steep, it’ll make your face noticeably smoother with regular use, so IMO, it’s definitely worth it.