Cucumbers are high in vitamin C and folic acid, an ingredient combo that helps stimulate cell growth and counter environmental stress. The end result? Less irritation and puffiness, as well as reduced discoloration under your eyes.
By tapping your index and middle fingers in a gentle circle around your sockets and across your brows and cheekbones, you can enhance lymph drainage. This may help even out skin tone and reduce inflammation.
Be sure to read labels carefully before picking up pricey jars. We asked Dr. Rebecca Marcus, a board certified dermatologist in North Dallas, TX, about her favorite ingredients for eyes.
She recommends keeping an “eye” out for the following:
Caffeine. The benefits of caffeine are worth repeating. Caffeine, as Marcus explains, works in eye creams to combat dark circles and puffiness by temporarily reducing blood flow to the area.
Retinol and peptides. You might already have some familiarity with these skin care ingredients. Marcus says they help stimulate collagen and thicken the skin, making underlying blood vessels less noticeable and restoring skin firmness.
Niacinamide. A little of this skin-brightening ingredient can go a long way toward waking up tired eyes. This ingredient, a form of vitamin B-3, offers plenty of other benefits, too.
Hyaluronic acid. Marcus notes that this moisturizing ingredient can hydrate the skin and offer pro-aging support by smoothing the look of fine lines and crepey skin.
Under-eye patches are a newer trend for pampering the skin around your eyes. Yes, they’re cute and Instagram-friendly, but many people also find them effective, too.
Just know they offer more of a quick fix — a helping hand after a spirited night out, if you will.
Not sure how to pick your patch? Opt for eye-friendly ingredients, like retinol and hyaluronic acid. You can also check out our list of the best options to send your bags packing.
Grab the color-correcting concealer
Marcus explains that concealers only help camouflage dark circles. In other words, they won’t help reduce puffiness.
That’s why she recommends using an eye cream with a concealer: Apply an eye cream to help treat the cause and the symptoms, then use concealer to address any lingering darkness.
“Concealer will apply more smoothly onto hydrated skin,” she notes. “So, applying a hydrating eye cream helps prime the skin for concealer application.”
When you’re in a pinch, concealer alone can still make a difference. So, when that important meeting or event sneaks up on you, reach for a little color-correcting concealer.
orange if you have a darker skin tone
pink if you have a lighter skin tone
yellow if your circles tend to look extra purple
The biggest answer to this, especially for those of you who have tried every trick in the book, is genetics.
If you’ve always had sunken eyes or dark circles, also called periorbital hyperpigmentation, the condition could be a part of your genetics. Likewise, permanent under-eye pouches may be a facial feature you’ve inherited.
Here’s why these attributes get accentuated.
Puffy lower lids or bags happen when the tissue there fills with water. As you age, the fatty tissue held within the socket and upper lid can fall, causing even more fluid retention in that area.
Puffiness is often most prominent when taking the morning’s first look in the mirror. That’s because fluid had a chance to pool during sleep. Bags tend to diminish after you’ve been vertical for a bit.
Although dark circles can show up for many reasons, most people tend to have a slightly deeper coloring around the eyes, simply because the thinner skin there stretches over a conglomeration of purple vessels and muscle.
By isolating the cause, you can take measures to reduce the prominence of purpling and pooching.
Ramp up your snooze time
Cut that late-night Netflix binge short, or do whatever possible to get a few more Zzz’s. If you still notice the a.m. eye bloat or blue coloring, prop your head slightly while you sleep.
As Marcus explains, sleeping with your head slightly elevated can help prevent fluid from pooling in the periorbital area.
Remove any makeup before hitting the hay to avoid smudging it into your eyes and irritating the surrounding skin.
Apply a cold washcloth
Marcus suggests applying a cold washcloth to your eyes to help lessen the “I just woke up” look.
She says this helps by causing vasoconstriction (constriction of blood vessels), which helps relieve puffiness and skin discoloration. Plus, it can have an overall soothing effect, and you don’t have to dig through your fridge for fresh cucumbers.
Pro tip: An ice pack works well, too, if you don’t want a water mess on your face. Just be sure to wrap it in a soft cloth to protect your eyes.
Try eye exercises
Eye strain can contribute to tired eyes, according to Marcus, by lowering the production of naturally lubricating tears and contributing to dry eyes.
“Taking periodic breaks from screen time and doing eye exercises may help reduce eye strain and therefore help eyes to function normally by producing lubricating tears, reducing dryness, redness, and bloodshot eyes,” she says.
Eye exercise can be pretty simple. In fact, one exercise involves just switching up your focus as you sit. Learn a few of these simple moves here.
Face yoga (yes, it’s a thing) can also help reduce eye strain.
Adjust lights and device screens
Taking breaks from screen time to avoid eye strain can also be helpful, according to Marcus.
She adds that keeping your phone or tablet on night mode decreases exposure to blue light, which can help improve the quality of your sleep.
Wear blue light glasses
If night mode doesn’t do much to keep your tablet or device from shining bright like a diamond, blue light glasses may ease the strain.
Excessive time staring at screens may cause eye strain, according to Marcus. This happens, in part, due to engorgement of the blood vessels surrounding your eyes, which can lead to, as you might have guessed, dark circles.
Make time for little breaks to give your eyes a much-needed vacay:
Try the 20/20/20 rule. Turn your eyes away from your screen every 20 minutes. Spend 20 seconds focusing on something at least 20 feet away.
Get up and move. After every hour of screen time, stand up, stretch, and walk around for at least 5 minutes.
Get nosy about allergies or illness
Allergy symptoms, along with illnesses like the flu and common cold, can pack a punch. Itchy lids, sneezing, sinus congestion, or postnasal drip can all lead to a tint around the eyes.
Marcus says those who live with allergies may notice the area under their eyes often appears swollen and discolored.
She explains that this happens when allergens prompt your cells to trigger a histamine release. This, in turn, causes a release of fluid, giving that swelling and tearing effect you know and love so much.
An allergist or otolaryngologist (ENT) can offer more insight into possible triggers and recommend treatments to keep sniffles and scratchy eyes under control, including:
Plus, when you’re plain old sick, eyes can also look puffy, due to sinus congestion and decreased drainage of the fluid around the eyes.
Keep in mind that makeup and skin care products could also trigger allergy flare-ups or eyelid dermatitis. It’s always best to check the ingredients and do a patch test before using a new product.
Improve air quality
Marcus says improving air quality may lower the number of allergens or irritants that eyes come into contact with, helping eyes look less tired.
“If tired eyes are due to an irritant or allergen that was previously in the air, using a high quality air filter may be helpful,” Marcus says.
This may prove particularly helpful if you’re sensitive to these factors and happen to live in an area with a high level of pollution or airborne allergens.
Make lifestyle adjustments when possible
If you notice an uptick in that Hamburglar or puff-pastry look, maybe you’ve just faced a stressful week or a jam-packed weekend that impeded your sleep or nutrition.
Other reasons you might wake up with less than perky peepers? Loading up on salty snacks, downing too much coffee, or clinking a late-night cocktail.
Making a few changes might help rid you of the rings and bags:
A quick recap of helpful tips and tricks for tired eyes:
If you have permanent dark sockets or puffy bags under your eyes that you can’t relieve with lifestyle changes or fast fixes, medical solutions might offer an alternate option.
Procedures for dark circles include:
If circles or bags bother you to the point that you can’t stop thinking about them or they contribute to feelings of depression or anxiety, it could be worth asking a dermatologist about other treatment options.
Just know these procedures can get fairly expensive, and they also come with some potential side effects.
One important thing to keep in mind about eye bags and rings? More than likely, you notice them more than anyone else.
Many people tend to look at themselves closely in the mirror in the morning — when they wash their face, shave, or apply products, for example. And morning just happens to be the time when circles and puff show up most clearly.
But classmates, coworkers, and the person in line next to you at the coffee shop probably won’t even notice.
They might, however, perceive a certain mysteriousness or depth they can’t quite put their finger on. Some people find that shadowed, “just woke up” look pretty alluring — so alluring, in fact, that they might go to great lengths to make dark circles stand out or mimic them with makeup.
Plus, a dark circle or an under-eye bag can amp up your authenticity, just like an eye crinkle or wrinkle. They’re natural, after all.
Adding some glimmer can help you display them with pride:
Opt for a face gloss on your upper lids.
Try sweeping highlighter from your cheekbones to the outer corners of your sockets in a “C” shape.
Use a shimmering face oil in the same way.
Glam things up with a line of your go-to eye shadow on your lower lid.
Ultimately, don’t be afraid to skip the concealer and rock your under-eyes.
Jennifer Chesak is a Nashville-based freelance book editor and writing instructor. She’s also an adventure travel, fitness, and health writer for several national publications. She earned her Master of Science in journalism from Northwestern’s Medill and is working on her first fiction novel, set in her native state of North Dakota.