They Feel Great, But...

Do Those Eye Depuffing Pads Really Work? Sure, Says A Derm, But There’s A Big Catch

What you should know if you’re looking to thwart off any more “you look so tired” comments.

Eye depuffing pads are a go-to for puffy, dark under-eye circles, but the benefits are temporary.
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If it feels like no amount of coffee and concealer can hide the sheer exhaustion from showing up on your face in the form of ultra-dark under-eye circles, there's a good chance you'll try just about anything to avoid hearing yet another infuriating remark about how tired you look.

While no one can prevent you from snapping back at the next rude soul who tries it, most of us can empathize with dark circles and under-eye bags that make you feel like a Walking Dead extra, even if you've somehow scored a full night's rest. You might be willing to try just about anything in the name of looking well-rested. Because, let's face it, *feeling* well-rested is apparently a privilege afforded only to unicorns and leprechauns.

Since you're undoubtedly curious, Scary Mommy asked a derm whether or not those under-eye masks you've seen all over your social media feeds actually work — or if they're just a trendy form of "self-care" that you'll use once and stash away in a drawer, only to be found again when your nosy toddler goes rummaging through your sh*t.

Turns out, there's good news and bad news when it comes to the efficacy of those famed eye depuffing pads and patches.

What's the deal with dark circles, anyway?

Before diving into it, it's worth discussing why we get dark circles or puffy bags under our eyes, even if we've gotten a full night's sleep. "There are two main causes behind the formation of dark circles or bags under the eyes," explains Dr. Geeta Yadav, board-certified dermatologist and founder of FACET Dermatology. "In some cases, the cause is situational. For example, you didn't get enough sleep, you're dehydrated, or you're managing allergies. These are all temporary circumstances that can affect the under-eye area. The primary factor in the formation of dark circles or bags tends to be genetics — it's common to have a hereditary predisposition to under-eye circles or bags, which can become especially apparent as you age."

Yep, the one-two punch of tiredness and/or genetics is probably to blame. But are trendy depuffing patches the beauty salve we've all been hoping for? Not necessarily, says Yadav.

OK, so do they work?

"These treatments tend only to work when you are managing 'situational' eye issues that can be solved with a quick fix," she notes. "Often, they contain cooling, soothing, and hydrating ingredients as well as caffeine, which all offer relief to the under-eye area, promoting blood flow and nourishing dehydrated skin to create a temporarily smoother, tighter, and brighter look."

So yeah, it's definitely worth trying them when you want to look rested, say, for a big work meeting or a big night out. Or even just to update your passport photo. But as Yadav points out, they're not exactly a permanent miracle fix for puffiness and dark circles. "You shouldn't expect to get more than a few hours of correction from under-eye masks," she says.

Still, if applying an under-eye mask, putting on some Enya, lighting a candle, and enjoying a snack sounds like your idea of absolute bliss, there's absolutely no harm in giving them a try. Want to get the most bang for your buck? Here's what to look for, ingredient-wise. "Cooling ingredients like aloe and menthol are common — they offer an effect of instant relief that can be incredibly soothing on tired eyes or eyes irritated by allergies," says Yadav. "Caffeine is an extremely popular ingredient for under-eye treatments for a reason — caffeine constricts the blood vessels under the eye that can create a puffy or discolored appearance for an instantly brighter look."

"I really like the under-eye patches from Wander Beauty," she adds. "They're on the larger side, so they cover a lot of the under-eye area and have a foil back that helps prevent the serum in the patches from evaporating, meaning your skin will get a more potent treatment. They also come in fun colors and finishes."

Is there a permanent solution?

Unfortunately, permanent fixes for your under-eye woes can only come from a dermatologist's office, says Yadav. "Under-eye circles caused by discoloration under the eyes can sometimes be improved with laser treatments, which will help reduce hyperpigmentation and brighten up the area," she explains. "If the dark circles are caused by deep hollows in the periorbital area, adding volume with carefully placed filler injections can augment the under-eye and reduce the depth of those hollows, minimizing the shadows under the eye. Under-eye bags are harder to treat — they tend to be displaced fat bags under the eyes, which become saggier and more visible with age. The only solution here is a lower lid blepharoplasty."

Of course, these cosmetic treatments will vary, both in price and level of pain/invasiveness. But if your under-eye area has you feeling self-conscious, there's no harm in chatting with a derm, who can point you to the best care options to help minimize pesky fine lines, puffiness, and circles. Otherwise, a few fleeting minutes of self-care truly can help restore the soul in more ways than one... and temporarily smoother, softer skin is a bonus to boot.