Pair them with a cup of coffee and you’ll actually want to get up in the morning.
Nothing’s worse than applying concealer to dark under-eyes, only to reveal their two best friends: exaggerated patches of dry skin and oh, hi puffiness! You’re definitely not alone in this struggle: The skin under the eyes is the thinnest on the body, meaning it’s easily irritated and susceptible to damage.
But “all dark circles are not created equally,” says Tyler Hollmig, M.D., director of dermatologic surgery at The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School. While lack of sleep is certainly a factor when it comes to dark, dry, or puffy under-eyes—it’s not necessarily the main culprit.
For example, “lots of smallish sun spots can appear as general hyperpigmentation,” Dr. Hollmig says. But because the skin there tends to crepe together, they can be difficult to detect. What’s more, aging can cause the skin around your eyes to become thinner (emphasizing discoloration), allergies can set off puffiness, while simply rubbing your eyes or over-washing your face can crank up the dryness.
Unfortunately, makeup clings to these problem areas like glue, which is why, before banishing your circles with color correction, your skin should be properly prepped. A good eye cream can help, but when you need serious reinforcements, turn to under-eye patches. “Think of eye masks just as you would your face mask,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “They complement the creams you are using on a regular basis. They can give you a boost of brightness, hydration, de-puffing, or whatever specific job they are designed to do.”
Watch for irritation: Because the under-eyes are hypersensitive, using an eye mask with strong anti-aging ingredients, like acids and retinol, may cause excess irritation. They can definitely be beneficial, but proceed with caution, says Dr. Hollmig. “I typically recommend nice bland ingredients, like hyaluronic acid or ceramides,” he says. “If patients have sun damage, it might be worthwhile to incorporate a lightener like vitamin C if their skin can tolerate it.”
Give it time: Your wear time will depend on the patch’s ingredients. If the mask contains a strong active like retinol, pay attention to your skin’s reaction (stinging or burning is a red flag) and follow the package’s instructions. If you’re simply opting for a moisturizer-heavy mask, give your skin time to drink it up. Getting ready for a special event? Pop them on when you wake up, wear them during breakfast, and remove them before getting ready. Use them whenever your under-eyes need a boost, like during a long flight or after a night of heavy drinking.
Refrigerate! Plenty of under-eye patches are formulated to be cooling because it helps drain fluid and de-puff. Storing yours in the fridge overnight before use can amplify that effect. Pair them with a good cup of coffee and you’ll actually want to get up in the morning.
Got all of that? Good. Class dismissed! Now, for a few expert-approved under-eye patches to make your decision-making easy breezy: