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Like dark circles, puffy eyes can be caused by a number of things, including water retention, allergies and genetics. Experts say most cases can be treated with a few simple at-home remedies such as elevating your head while sleeping, and reducing salt and alcohol consumption. Cold compresses can also offer relief, since they constrict inflamed blood vessels.
For more persistent problems, some skin-care professionals suggest using eye creams that contain caffeine, a vasoconstrictor that helps blood vessels to contract and expel excess liquid. The question is, does it perform this way when used on the skin? That's still up in the air, says WebMD's Sonya Collins. "Some studies show that caffeine can help circulation, which could reduce puffiness," she says. But Collins adds that other studies show that cold temperatures are just as effective, which is why some people refrigerate their eye creams.
Exuviance by NeoStrata Age Reverse Eye Contour (Est. $40 for .5 oz.) contains a blend of polyhydroxy acids (PHA), which -- thanks to its pH of 3.6 -- can help to exfoliate the skin, which may help to improve the skin's barrier function, according to skincare experts at Beautypedia. Fragrance-free, Exuviance also contains antioxidants and some anti-irritant ingredients, making it gentle enough for use on sensitive skin. It also contains peptides, although Beautypedia editors point out that peptides have no collagen-replenishing benefit or proven ability to firm or lift sagging skin -- and while Exuviance promises a more contoured look, it doesn't specifically promise to firm or tighten the skin around the eyes.
Exuviance is lightweight, absorbs quickly, and doesn't leave a sticky or greasy residue behind, reviewers say. A number of users report a dramatic reduction in puffiness, and a good number say it helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, as well. The most common complaint is the high price tag, but most users say the results are worth it – and because you need so little product for an application, a bottle can last several months.
If you don't want to spend a lot of money on an eye cream, several reviewers say they've gotten good results within a few weeks of using Andalou Naturals Luminous Eye Serum (Est. $15 for .6 oz.). It contains caffeine, which can help to stimulate circulation to reduce puffiness and even diminish the appearance of dark circles. Editors at Beautypedia say this serum is best for users with normal to slightly dry skin. In addition to caffeine, it also contains hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and several skin-repairing agents that promote younger, healthier-looking skin.
Andalou Naturals is a light serum that won't leave your skin feeling greasy. Users say it brightens up dull, tired-looking skin and while it absorbs easily, it offers noticeable hydration. Some users say it has a pleasant fragrance, while others find it too strong, and some aren't fond of the fruity scent on their face. A few users say it has a slight burning sensation when applied, which some find too intense, and others report irritation when using this eye serum.
If you don't mind spending a bit more, editors at Beautypedia say iS Clinical Youth Eye Complex (Est. $100 for .5 oz.) contains a blend of ingredients that are beneficial for the skin not just around the eyes, but anywhere on the face. Ingredients include hyaluronic acid for hydration and pseudoalteromonas ferment extract, which helps to combat the appearance of premature aging while visibly reducing puffiness, as well as peptides, antioxidants and cell-communicating ingredients.
Several users say they notice a considerable difference around their eyes after using iS Clinical Youth Eye Complex for a few weeks -- a few notice an improvement in as little as a week. It has a light texture and feel, reviewers say, plus it's fragrance-free. Most users say it leaves their skin feeling soft, smooth and hydrated, and many report a reduced appearance of wrinkles and fine lines around the eyes. Some users, however, haven't noticed a difference after weeks of use or feel that the results don't justify the cost.