Puffy eye creams work by tightening the skin under the eyes and constricting blood vessels to help reduce swelling. Choosing the best cream requires looking at the ingredients to see if it contains caffeine or another type of tightening ingredient, such as phenylephrine. Carefully analyzing the ingredient list can also help avoid chemicals or substances that could lead to an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals.
Caffeine is the most common tightening ingredient in most types of puffy eye cream. More expensive doesn’t always mean better. For mild, occasional puffiness nearly any cream with caffeine should help, but choosing a type with an application method that’s comfortable is important as well. Some eye creams come in a roller stick for easy, mess-free application. Always use a clean cotton ball or swab when taking cream out of a jar. The eye area is notoriously sensitive, and dipping your fingers into the cream can transfer bacteria from your fingers to the cream, possibly leading to irritation.
Most kinds of puffy eye cream are formulated to be gentle on the sensitive skin around the eyes. Look for a formula that’s unscented and doesn’t contain alcohol, which can dry the skin under the eyes, leading to rubbing which could make puffiness worse. Moisturizing creams are best for those with dry skin, but choose a cream that’s labeled non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores, to prevent breakouts.
A cream with a slight tint can help minimize the appearance of puffy eyes and bags. Choosing a shade just slightly lighter than natural skin tone creates a brighter appearance and helps disguise swollen eyes until the puffiness subsides throughout the day. Once the cream is applied, keeping the eyes untouched will help it work. Rubbing the eyes irritates them and wipes off the cream and tint.
Using cold temperature and slight pressure when applying a puffy eye cream helps make the most of the product. Storing eye creams in the refrigerator until needed gives them a chance to chill, which will constrict the blood vessels around the eyes. Pressing gently under the eyes and on the lids when applying the cream helps drain the extra fluid that leads to a swollen or puffy appearance.
While some people advocate using hemorrhoid cream as a puffy eye cream, it’s best to avoid this and just look for similar ingredients. The phenylephrine in many over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams can help constrict blood vessels and limit the amount of fluid near your eyes, but other ingredients can cause severe eye problems. In some cases, a puffy eye cream isn’t enough to clear up the condition. Genetics, aging, or an eye infection can all contribute to puffiness. People who experience unusual puffiness that doesn’t go away by midday should consider visiting a dermatologist or ophthalmologist to rule out underlying medical conditions, and talk about other treatment options.