The struggle to get some shut-eye can be an uphill battle at times. You could be logging in a lot of hours at work, prepping a big presentation or project, and running on fumes. Or you could be dealing with some things in your personal life that are taking up a lot of your time and effort or just keeping you up at night with worry. Oh, and there's my favorite type of sleep obstruction: when you have all the time in the world to sleep (aka a full eight hours), and you just can't drift off. Blame the endless Instagram scroll or your brain's need to consider the meaning of life at 1 a.m.—we've all had those sleepless nights.
A lack of sleep can cause a lot of inconveniences, so to speak. You might feel so tired throughout the day, making you less alert and not quite present, which can spell trouble at work or school. It can make you irritable or more sensitive. (Anyone ever just cry from sheer exhaustion?)
And it can really screw with your appearance, too. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine cited a study that found people who were sleep-deprived had paler skin, more wrinkles or fine lines, and droopy corners of the mouth. The eyes and the skin surrounding them seemed to be the hardest-hit—some experienced hanging eyelids, redder eyes, dark circles, and puffy or swollen eyes.
All of the above are big annoyances, but puffy eyes might be one of the hardest to conceal or hide. So you might get a lot of comments from "helpful" people that can sound like, "You look tired. Are you okay?" If you've got a good response for this, inquiring minds want to know.
But the thing about having puffy eyes is that there are a lot of reasons you're experiencing them, and it doesn't just have to do with a lack of sleep.
Causes of Puffy Eyes
Aside from a lack of sleep, the reasons for puffy eyes can run the gamut. Ashley Brissette, MD, MSc, FRCSC, an ophthalmologist at Weill Cornell Medicine/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), told our sister site THE/THIRTY that some of the causes might be related to eye health, but others might be related to health elsewhere in the body.
Some causes include allergies, irritants (like cigarette smoke or perfume), dry eye, and styes. Additionally, puffy eyes can be the result of aging or changing skin. "As we get older, the skin can become a little more stretched, and then the fat which is usually around the eye can migrate forward, and it can become more apparent," Brissette told THE/THIRTY.
How to Treat Puffy Eyes
If you can narrow down the cause of your puffy eyes, you can work to find a solution or way to relieve the condition. If it's allergies or irritants, then in some cases, you can take medication, avoid triggers, and even use allergy eye drops. If it's dry eyes, you can apply lubricating eye drops.
The Mayo Clinic also provides these suggestions:
1. Apply a cool compress to your eyes.
2. Limit how much you drink (water, alcohol, etc.) before you go to bed, which will help with fluid retention in the eyes.
3. Don't smoke.
4. Get enough sleep.
5. Sleep with your head slightly elevated, which can prevent fluid from accumulating around the eyes.
Best Creams for Puffy Eyes
And in addition to trying out all of the above methods for relief, you can also reach for eye creams. There are so many formulas out there that can soothe any swelling while providing extra benefits like anti-aging properties and ultra hydration. We've rounded up some below based on our favorites and the best-reviewed products on the market.
Formulated with good-for-your-skin ingredients like hyaluronic acid, Japanese green caviar algae, caffeine, and sarsaparilla root, this eye gel will de-puff, reduce dark circles, and hydrate. Apply morning and night—its coverage can last up to 72 hours.
I'm currently obsessed with this eye cream. I've been dealing with annoying dryness around my eyes, and after applying a tiny amount underneath the eye for a few days, I've noticed a significant difference. The area is super hydrated now, but also it's really brightened and smoothed any puffiness. Bonus: The formula is super lightweight and not oily at all.
For intense hydration, opt for this Icelandic eye cream. It contains an arctic botanical, Saponaria Pumila, which is supposed to stimulate cell rejuvenation to combat under-eye bags and dark circles.
Dr. Brandt's eye gel's name speaks for itself—goodbye, bags and puffiness. It contains peptides, caffeine, and botanical extracts to smooth, firm, de-puff, and brighten. Warm a tiny amount in your hands and gently pat on the areas you want to treat.
Use this cream daily to fight the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and reduce any signs of tiredness. You can use in the mornings and night—gently apply all over your eye area.
Apply this rollerball for the ultimate massage under your eyes. It's formulated with caffeine, antioxidants, and botanicals to de-puff and wake up your eyes.
This is another eye cream I keep in rotation. You can use this in the morning and evening, but I especially like to put this on at night after washing my face because it feels so cool and soothing—and after staring at the computer all day long, my eyes really need some TLC. Ingredients include a black tea complex (kombucha and extracts of black tea, blackberry leaf, and lychee seed) and noni fruit juice.
This eye mask is formulated with provitamin B5, vitamin E, cucumber juice, and caffeine to nourish and reduce the appearance of redness and swelling. To use, warm a small amount on your fingertips, apply, wait 10 minutes, and wipe off any excess.
Honest's eye gel contains calming ingredients like chamomile and calendula to soothe and refresh your tired eyes. It's also free of parabens, phthalates, and synthetic fragrances.
With over 1200 ratings and 4.5 out of five stars on Amazon, this is a trusted and affordable drugstore option. It's infused with caffeine, mint, and vitamin C—roll under the eye from the inner corner to the outer corner and gently rub or pat excess.
Like many of the products on this list, this cream contains caffeine, which is known to revitalize the skin and reduce swelling. Other ingredients include vitamins C and E for protection against other stressors.
You can use Sunday Riley's cream in the morning and evenings and even throughout the day if you REALLY need it. Its main ingredients include caffeine and ginseng root, that are powerhouse de-puffers.
This eye cream truly does it all—not only does it banish the puff, but it also reduces the appearance of dark circles, fine lines, wrinkles, and crow's-feet. It's specially formulated for dry, mature skin. Key ingredients include blueberry extract, flavonoids, peptides, and optical diffusers (for radiance).
If you're barely awake in the mornings, roll this gel under each eye for a burst of rejuvenation. It has a metal tip that provides an even better cooling effect to de-puff quick.
RoC's eye cream is a best seller for good reason. The retinol formula gently fights all the concerns of mature skin, while taking care of puffiness and dark circles. On average, users can see a change in puffy eyes in four weeks.