An hour of weeping through This Is Us. A night of staying up to greet the new year at dawn. A month straight of allergies, just because it's April. A big, steaming bowl of salty ramen. A decade of working that 9 to 5... or 6, or 7, or 8. The question isn't so much if major under-eye puffiness will come for you — it's a matter of when. The real question is, what are you going to do about it?
The first thing to determine is what kind of puffiness you're dealing with. If it's an around-the-clock situation, the swollen look is likely due to the presence of fat pads under the skin, which can be hereditary and require surgical removal. But if the scourge of under-eye puffery comes and goes, it's likely due to water retention (thanks to crying, hormonal changes, lack of sleep, and other temporary causes) and can be minimized far less invasively.
For the 411 on quick fixes, we asked New York-based dermatologist and assistant professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine Dendy Engelman, MD, who offered these lifestyle tweaks: "If you have allergies, speak to your physician about getting antihistamines, such as Zyrtec or Claritin," she says. "DIY lymphatic-drainage massages can also reduce the puffiness, as can leveling your pillow so that water doesn’t pool underneath your eyes while you sleep."
Then there's skin care: In addition to caffeine-charged eye creams, investing in cooling eye masks, primers, serums, and gels can decrease the amount of fluid retention under the eyes, and therefore minimize swelling. "Topical products that contain vasoconstrictors like peptides, green tea, and witch hazel help reduce puffiness, as does vitamin K, which helps with blood coagulation and circulation," Dr. Engelman explains.
Ahead, see the hero products that helped deflate our under eyes after long nights, during periods, and straight through hay fever season. Here's to looking bright-eyed and well-rested in 2019.
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"I like cooling masks if you have time, as the cold also has a vasoconstriction effect," which restricts the blood vessels to curb swelling, Dr. Engelman says. Try sticking this serum-soaked option, which is packed with illuminating vitamin B3 and calming allantoin, in the fridge: The ultra-thin and slightly grippy gel really stays put to take down swelling right where you need it, as opposed to sliding down your face.
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This clever eye mask aims to do much more than just reduce post-party puffiness around your eyes — used in conjunction with the 10-minute guided meditation included via flashcode, it's a full-on relaxation experience. Inside the box you'll find six masks packaged in contact solution-like foil-topped trays that expand when placed in the cornflower, chamomile, and camellia-based solution; before placing the ultra-thin cotton over your closed eyes and temples, start the podcast (available in English or French) narrated by Iyengar yoga master Arnaud Caby. Between Caby's soothing voice and the mask's cool sensation, you'll quickly be led into a state of bliss... and emerge with significantly less puffy under eyes, to boot.
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This cooling eye gel, made with manuka honey (a proven healer), comes with three metal rollerballs built right into the applicator. When used straight from the fridge, they mimic the de-puffing effect of cold spoons. The formula does leave skin slightly tacky to the touch, so it's best for use as a nighttime treatment rather than layered under makeup.
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With peptides and vitamin K included to help constrict blood vessels and assist with blood coagulation and circulation, this eye cream already boasts a few of Dr. Engelman's choice ingredients to deflate under-eye swelling. It's just a bonus that it also contains green tea, which helps depuff eyes by constricting the superficial capillaries, Dr. Engelman explains.
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Those with dry skin around the eyes who are looking for a light yet hydrating formula can find it in this gel-cream, which ticks a few of Dr. Engelman's boxes: Soothing cucumber fruit water delivers a cooling effect, while sunflower seed oil enhances skin’s moisture level. Also included: rosemary extract, which helps to boost circulation and blood flow.
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Those with dry and puffy skin around the eyes should look for "creams [that] contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, which can moisturize the epidermis to minimize the appearance of fine lines," Dr. Engelman says. This one does just that, and packs a cocktail of peptides to minimize under-eye swelling, too.
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One of Dr. Engelman's chief de-puffing picks? This eye cream with a load of R&D behind it. "It contains peptides that strengthen the skin around the eyes to prevent puffiness," she says. "Cucumber fruit water also has a cooling and soothing effect."
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We were expecting a bouncy, clear gel to dispense from this depuffer — but out came a tinted gel-cream instead. It not only cooled our skin on contact and helped deflate under-eye bags, but counteracted the purple tones of dark circles, too, thanks to its peachy tint.
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We love the ritual of tapping eye creams and serums into our skin and giving them time to melt in — but it doesn't always work with our done-in-a-dash a.m. routine. Enter this best-selling priming stick, which delivers a cool blast to under eyes while helping depuff with a hit of caffeine in a single swipe. More importantly, it instantly disappears into skin, so you can proceed with your mascara, liner, and shadow straight away.
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For those looking for a one-and-done solution to eye-area protection and prevention, this daytime eye cream works overtime. The formula combines mineral SPF 35, a host of proprietary ingredients geared to address discoloration, fine lines, and puffiness (including capillary-supporting polysaccharides), and a peach tint that doubles as a concealer — all dispensed from a cold metal tip that physically reduces swelling, particularly when massaged on the skin for lymphatic drainage.
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We've already raved about this serum's ability to double as a primer, but the tingly formula is also set up to help deflate eye bags, too. It contains witch hazel, one of Dr. Engelman's star depuffers, along with horse chestnut, which holds its own constricting skills: Research has shown the ingredient to reduce lower-leg swelling in patients with circulatory problems.