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Almost everyone’s been there: You take a selfie and then can’t post any of them because suddenly you notice the dark circles or bags under your eyes. Though they’re not a medical problem, nobody wants to walk around with tired- and puffy-looking eyes all the time.
Even the most rigorous skin-care regimen, utilizing the best men’s skincare products, might let you down when it comes to the thin skin under your eyes. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to get rid of bags under your eyes. For some professional advice on repairing the skin, as well as the potential causes behind bags and dark circles, we reached out to Dr. Michele Green, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist in New York City. She offers all kinds of treatments to improve the appearance of the eyes and is an expert on all things skin.
What Causes Dark Circles and Puffiness?
Many factors can contribute to the appearance of dark circles and bags under the eyes, including genetics, exhaustion, dehydration, allergies and even excessive screen time. But Green says there are two main causes for most people: aging and sun exposure, which deplete collagen and elastin, two essential components of youthful-looking skin.
“Under-eye bags typically develop as a result of the natural aging process,” Green says. “As we age, our natural collagen levels are depleted, increasing skin laxity and resulting in sagging skin as well as the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Skin also becomes thinner as collagen and elastin, which keep the skin youthful and elastic, are lost. Thin skin in the under-eye area increases the visibility of blood vessels, causing the appearance of dark circles.”
Sunlight and its harmful UV rays can exacerbate this process too, she added.
There are also genetic and hereditary causes, such as hyperpigmentation, fat deposits under the eyes and the presence of tear troughs, which can give the appearance of bags and dark circles. In those cases, over-the-counter products can’t fix the underlying situation and you might wish to consult with a dermatologist for a specific treatment plan.
What Ingredients Help Get Rid of Bags Under the Eyes?
Before we get into the best products and ingredients to repair the skin under under your eyes, let’s talk about one thing you can do at home right now: a cold compress.
The low temperature of a cold compress can temporarily reduce puffiness and swelling, Green says. Just dampen a washcloth with cold water and apply to your under-eye area for about 20 minutes.
Tea bags also make for a great compress because of their antioxidants and caffeine. “Applying tea bags to the under-eye area can temporarily reduce under-eye darkness and puffiness,” Green says. “Black tea and green tea are the best options for this at-home treatment since the antioxidants and caffeine in these teas provide anti-inflammatory benefits and increase blood flow to the area.” She advised boiling the tea bags and letting them completely cool before resting them under your eyes.
If a compress isn’t cutting it, that’s when you turn to a few under-eye products. Treatments, serums and creams will be the name of the game here, but they’ll only be as useful as their active ingredients. Here are the important ones to know — and how they work to improve the bags under your eyes.
- Caffeine: “Caffeine is an excellent ingredient for combating the appearance of dark under-eye circles or puffiness,” Green says. “Caffeine has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe skin and decrease puffiness. It is also a vasoconstrictor, meaning it encourages the narrowing of blood vessels. This effectively reduces the visibility of blood vessels under the eyes, ultimately diminishing the appearance of dark circles.”
- Vitamin C: “Vitamin C plays a role in collagen synthesis in the skin. An increased amount of collagen can help to thicken the incredibly thin and delicate skin of the under-eye area, helping to eliminate dark circles as well as fine lines and wrinkles,” Green says. “Vitamin C is also packed with antioxidants that protect your skin and provide a brightening effect.”
- Retinol: If you’ve heard of one skin-care ingredient, it’s like retinol. “Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and a powerful anti-aging skincare ingredient. Retinol stimulates new collagen production as well as increases the rate of skin cell turnover. The result is an improvement in both skin tone and texture, revealing a complexion that is firm, smooth, clear, healthy and refreshed,” Green says.
But if you think at-home remedies and over-the-counter products won’t be enough, you can always pursue in-office treatments. Dr. Green offers many, including a special chemical peel, fillers for tear troughs and under-eye microneedling, many of which may be available with local dermatologists.
But first check out some of the best under-eye products below. They’re all designed with dark circles and puffy, baggy eyes in mind, and will deliver results with consistent usage.
1. Kiehl’s Avocado Eye Cream
Kiehl’s will never lead you astray with its skin care products and that includes the Kiehl’s Avocado Eye Cream. Avocado oil and shea butter help improve the hydration and suppleness of skin and antioxidant-rich beta-carotene tones down bags and puffiness. In fact, 50 users in a clinical study found this cream helped with puffiness more than anything else.
2. Lab Series Daily Rescue Energizing Eye Treatment
The Lab Series Daily Rescue Energizing Eye Treatment will help you leave any under-eye bags and wrinkles in the past. With ginseng and caffeine, this gel cream energizes skin to reduce puffiness, darkness and wrinkles for that “I just got eight hours of sleep” look.
Just put some under your eyes before bed and as a part of your morning routine for results in no time.
3. Geologie Dark & Puffy Under Eye Cream
Geologie’s been on our radar in the last year for its excellent customized skin care lines. When it comes to puffy and dark under eyes, the Geologie Dark & Puffy Under Eye Cream has you covered.
This formula uses caffeine, kojic acid and hyaluronic acid to depuff, brighten and hydrate skin all at once. If you love it, be sure to subscribe to get it on the regular at a discounted price.
4. Jack Black Protein Booster Eye Rescue
The Jack Black Protein Booster Eye Rescue contains a bevy of bag-reducing ingredients, including caffeine, organic green tea and natural oat kernel sugars. Dark circles, bags and wrinkles won’t stand a chance.
5. CeraVe Eye Repair Cream
CeraVe remains, and likely always will remain, a drugstore product god because everything it makes is affordable and effective, including the CeraVe Eye Repair Cream. Tocopherol (vitamin E), aloe vera, hyaluronic acid and the brand’s signature ceramides all work together to depuff and brighten the under-eye area.
6. The Ordinary Caffeine 5% + ECGC Depuffing Eye Serum
The Ordinary offers some of the best value skin care products on the planet. For an affordable but highly effective serum, check out The Ordinary Caffeine 5% + ECGC Depuffing Eye Serum. A heavy helping of caffeine and EGCG — a derivative of green tea — combine to reduce dark circles, bags and puffiness around your eyes.
7. Dr. Barbara Sturm Eye Cream
BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN
For sensitive bags and puffiness, turn to the Dr. Barbara Sturm Eye Cream. Natural botanicals depuff eyes and brighten dark circles while vitamin E, panthenol and glycerin gently hydrate for totally restored under-eyes.
8. Disco Eye Stick
EASIEST TO APPLY
The Disco Eye Stick is as easy to use as it is effective. Just give the stick a quick shake, pop the cap and apply the stick directly under your eye to get the benefits of the caffeine, antioxidants and niacinamide in the formula. Store it cap side down for best results.
9. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream
BEST WITH RETINOL
The Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream has a simple proposition: Retinol will promote new skin turnover, improving bags, wrinkles and fine lines, while hyaluronic acid keeps the thin skin under the eyes moisturized and supple. Yup, these two ingredients are just that magical.
10. Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream
BEST WITH VITAMIN C
With five forms of vitamin C, eight peptides, ceramides and plenty of antioxidants, the Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream can help with bags, fine lines and dark circles. Just a week or two of this will have your eyes looking radiant.
11. Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Mask
BEST UNDER-EYE MASK
Application time can help the skin absorb key ingredients. That’s one reason Green recommends the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Mask: “[It] contains all key ingredients like chamomile for soothing, caffeine to reduce puffiness, squalene for moisture and hyaluronic acid for hydration and plumping effect.” You get four masks in this pack, enough for a month of refreshed eyes with once-a-week applications.
12. MGSKINLABS Intensive Eye Repair
MGSKINLABS Intensive Eye Repair is a nourishing eye gel formulated to lessen the appearance of fine lines, puffiness and dark circles while providing suppleness and a tightening effect on the delicate skin around the eyes. The eye gel can be placed in the refrigerator prior to use for a cooling effect and can be worn under makeup.