For many years, I’ve read in magazines about how hemorrhoid cream is the secret weapon of celebrities and models and is used under the eyes to reduce swelling and puffiness. But could this drugstore product really make tired eyes less puffy?
The answer is no—not anymore like they used to. Older formulas of hemorrhoid cream used a live yeast cell derivative which was known to be effective in shrinking under eye swelling, the same way it constricts and shrinks rectal blood vessels and tissue. But years ago, the FDA required companies to remove these ingredients from hemorrhoid cream preparations, so this is why you don’t hear about this trick much anymore. I have heard that Canadian creams might still use this ingredient and possibly in Europe too. I have peeked at a tube in my in-law’s bathroom when I was in France, but all of the ingredients are in French and they don’t translate into English very well. I do recall that Benzocaine was listed on the tube and I know this is a topical numbing agent which is also used in cough lozenges, but this certainly wouldn’t help reduce puffy eyes.
Today, the current formulas contain phenylephrine which acts as a vasoconstrictor to constrict veins which reduces inflammation and pain. I have never experimented on my eyes with either the older or current formula simply because they both contain both mineral oil and petrolatum which are both no-no’s to use in any under eye cream (or face) product. Why? These ingredients are considered heavy oils with large molecular structures and when applied around the eye area can migrate into the eyes while you sleep, cause them to tear up and result in excessive under eye puffiness in the morning. So I really don’t recommend you ever try it.
Note: Always choose eye creams that do not use mineral oil or petrolatum and ones that aren’t too rich and greasy. When applying eye cream, don’t apply it too close to the lower lash line. Read: How To Apply Eye Cream
And speaking of hemorrhoid creams, they do make hemorrhoid wipes which contain witch hazel, a natural anti-inflammatory which helps to decrease swelling. This ingredient is used in Renée Rouleau Balancing Skin Tonic and can be used to treat puffiness. Read it here: My Favorite Trick For Reducing Face And Under Eye Puffiness
What can you do to reduce under eye puffiness?
1. Use products with white tea extract. White Tea is rich in EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), a powerful antioxidant known for its calming, anti-inflammatory action. It’s found in Soothing Relief Serum. While this product is technically recommended as a face serum to soothe redness and sensitivity, a lot of clients say they use a drop around their eyes in the morning and find that it helps reduce morning puffiness significantly.
2. Get your beauty sleep. If you stay up past your usual bedtime, chances are you’ll be yawning more. When you yawn, the act encourages your eyes to water which creates swelling and puffiness. Excessive yawning is actually the equivalent to crying during a sad movie because of the fluids it creates. So before you stay up past your bedtime to watch that last show or to read just one more chapter, consider the side effects. Just one more reason to get a restful night of sleep. It’s called “beauty sleep” for a reason.
3. Take hot showers in the morning. Heat from the water dilates (relaxes and opens) lymphatic vessels to help assist with drainage of fluids (wastes and toxins) that build up in vessels. When you wash your face in the shower and the water is directly hitting you with force, this helps to stimulate excess fluids to move out of the eye area. In addition to the heat helping with the circulation, your vertical position in the shower helps drainage move out of the face area. When you get out of the shower, splash your skin with very cold water to then shrink capillaries to reduce puffiness. So technically you’re opening up the vessel walls with hot water, and then closing them with cold water.
4. Avoid salty foods at night. Avoiding salty foods (especially at night) can definitely help prevent facial puffiness when you wake in the morning. Excessive sodium causes water retention resulting in excessive swelling of the eye tissue. If you are trying to avoid puffiness of the face (especially before a special event), it’s best to avoid salty foods at night and drink a lot of water to flush your system.
5. Apply anything cold. Since it’s the cold that truly reduces puffiness, you can grab anything out of your refrigerator (ice, bag of frozen peas) and it will do the trick—as long as it is held on the area for at least 10 minutes. But do know, the only type of puffiness that can be reduced from cold, is puffiness that is not normally there—like when you wake up in the morning. Unfortunately, there is no cure for chronic puffiness/bags except cosmetic surgery.
Read: What Can I Do to Lessen Under Eye Bags?
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Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”