What Helps Dark Circles and Eye Puffiness?

As we age, our under-eye skin loses its structure, and as a result, the underlying fatty tissue normally confined to the area around our eyes moves underneath and begins to bulge out. Because the skin there is so thin, it can be very noticeable. Fluid from our body can also pool in those areas and result in an even greater appearance of puffines under the eyes. 

Oftentimes, people look to eye creams to resolve this issue. While eye creams are often moisturizing, there are no specific ingredients in eye creams that treat this issue. In the case of discoloration, eye creams have minimal effect as well

Hayley Goldbach, MD says that dark circles can be caused by natural pigmentation and your underlying vasculature (veins). Several factors like smoking, allergies, and lack of sleep can also worsen puffiness and dark circles. 

When you don't get enough sleep or quality sleep at night, your blood vessels dilate. When your blood vessels dilate the dark tint caused by the increased volume of blood becomes more noticeable. In turn, dark circles as well puffiness can form. 

Because of this, eye creams are in high demand, but truthfully they do little to reverse aging or to make anyone look like they’ve had 8 hours of sleep for the last two weeks. Nevertheless, there are specific ingredients that can reduce the appearance of under-eye circles and puffiness and to prevent fat from orbiting underneath the eyes. Here are a few ingredients to look for and a few things to try. 


While most people drink caffeine to resurrect themselves in the morning, you can also use caffeine to rejuvenate your under eyes. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor meaning it reduces puffiness during swelling. However, caffeine only really helps if the puffiness and discoloration are due to the dilation of vessels (allergies, lack of sleep, etc). Moreover, if it’s genetic, caffeine is not going to help. But for the aforementioned concerns, The Ordinary Caffeine Solution is a great choice. It includes high solubility caffeine (dissolves well), green tea, hyaluronic acid, and lactic acid. This combo makes for a powerhouse of antioxidants, hydration, and moisturization that can be very helpful in combating dark circles and puffiness. 

The Ordinary Caffeine 5% + EGCG -$6.70


The structural integrity of our undereyes can decrease overtime and fat may settle underneath them. For this concern, Purito’s Centella Green Level Eye cream could be a possible solution. It has Centella Asiatica, Hyaluronic acid, and four types of peptides. It moisturizes and nourishes the under eye area which is great. The under eye area has fewer sebaceous glands, and is likewise more prone to dryness and wrinkles. Additionally, peptides are the building blocks of collagen, which helps keep your skin firm and smooth. As you age, the rate of collagen your skin produces slows down, so using eye creams with peptides may help stimulate collagen growth. However, this is a preventive measure rather than a treatment. 

Purito Centella Green Level Eye Cream -$11.98


Retinol binds to receptors in your skin and causes an enhanced cell turnover rate. By increasing the rate at which your body produces new skin cells, retinol can preemptively reduce wrinkles and skin discoloration. As we age and become exposed to more UV light (photoaging), the collagen and elastin fibers in the skin begin to break down. Elastin fibers form the connective tissue that support the skin, but  as this layer breaks down, the skin becomes weaker and less flexible. Once the skin starts to droop, and wrinkles appear, the fat that is normally confined to the area around the eye is allowed to orbit into the area below your eyes. The Retinol Eye Cream from the Inkey List might be a great choice if you’re looking to decrease the extent to which this will happen in the future. 

The Inkey List Retinol Eye Cream - $9.99


Cold Compresses

Salt, hormones, and medications can increase water retention underneath the eyes. However, chilled and weighted eye patches can push fluid out of your under eyes. If your bags are caused by fat deposits, pushing won’t help, but it might if there is water rentention or if there is swelling from a lack of sleep. Cooling the area also lessens inflammation, swelling, and dark circles by reducing blood flow.

Dieux Eco-Friendly Eye Patches -$25

You can put a retinol or a hydrating serum underneath these to potentially reduce intense looking surface wrinkles. For better hydration and moisturization, these patches also help to push more of product into your skin rather than evaporating into the air. 

Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Eye Mask - $25

These patches have butalyn glycol (humectant, pulls water from air into skin) and amino acids. Amino acids are the precursors of peptide chains. Peptide chains line up in to form polypeptide chains which is what collagen is made up of. These patches also have beta glucans which are very hydrating to the skin. 

So while aging is inevitable, we can cultivate our skin to do so gracefully.

For a product review of eye creams, see here.