After a late night, your skin — especially under your eyes — may need a little extra TLC. A dab of moisturizer (or a few extra Zzz’s) might help, but it’s not always a perfect fix.
But what do they actually do, and are they worth trying? Keep reading to get the scoop and learn about some of the best options out there.
What do under-eye patches actually do?
Many products make bold claims that they completely eliminate dark circles or bags under your eyes.
However, they don’t always work. That may be partially because factors, like lack of sleep, allergies, dehydration, and even genetics, are sometimes at play.
Andrea Fenda, an advanced medical aesthetician at Smith Vein & Cosmetic Surgery, also notes that the under-eye area is very thin and easily prone to showing signs of aging more quickly than the rest of the face.
For long-term improvements around the eye, Fenda recommends using a skin care routine that incorporates an eye cream with vitamin A — retinol — to see the most improvement in fine lines and wrinkles.
But, if you had a rough night or feel jet-lagged, Fenda says under-eye patches can be a fun item to relieve puffiness and help aid in surface hydration.
How to shop for under-eye patches
When it comes to most skin care products, Fenda says the first 3-5 ingredients make up the bulk of the formula.
“If a product says it contains a certain buzzword ingredient, but it’s listed as one of the last ingredients on the label,” Fenda explains, “you’re probably not getting enough of the ingredient to make a difference in your skin.”
She says certain companies do this to sell the product, even though the ingredient is not going to be beneficial in small concentrations.
However, Fenda also points out that active ingredients are sometimes listed separately, or before all the other ingredients.
“Active ingredients are the ones doing the real work in the product and don’t necessarily have to have a high dose in order to work,” she says.
“Vitamin A, for example, can have low concentrations (less than 2 percent) and be extremely beneficial for anti-aging.”
Ingredients to look for
Fenda recommends these ingredients:
- Retinol. This stimulates collagen to promote skin elasticity and lessen the appearance of fine lines.
- Kojic dipalmitate. A derivative of kojic acid, this ingredient helps lighten dark circles.
- Coenzyme A andcaffeine. Used topically, these ingredients support natural microcirculation to ease the appearance of puffiness.
- Shea butter and squalane. These ingredients replenish the skin lipid (the skin’s natural fats) barrier.
Ingredients to avoid
Fenda suggests avoiding products with added fragrance.
This includes synthetic fragrances and fragrant plant extracts, such as:
- lemon oil
Fenda says both types of fragrance can lead to skin sensitivity or cause photosensitivity if exposed to sunlight.
Allergies and sensitivities warning
It can be tempting to assume that products labeled “natural” are totally safe. However, Fenda cautions that even natural ingredients — like lemon, orange, tangerine, and lavender — can lead to irritation or allergic reactions.
Even if you’re not allergic to something when ingesting it, applying it directly to your skin can sometimes cause irritation. Discontinue use if you notice any signs of irritation, like redness, itching, or burning.
Best under-eye patches
Klorane Smoothing and Relaxing Patches
- Price: $
- Count: 7 pairs
These hypoallergenic, vegan patches are some of my favorites.
Although they’re coated with a gel, they’re soft instead of slippery or slimy. They stick to your face just like a heating patch would, but they’re super cooling and give that fresh, awake feeling.
Klorane suggests tossing these patches in the fridge for an even cooler effect.
The under-eye patches are made with cornflower water to soothe, soften, and decongest. The chamomile extract helps give a refreshing feeling. The ingredients list also contains alcohol, which may be irritating to those with sensitive skin.
Some under-eye patches aren’t an ideal shape for every face. These fit securely on my face, allowing me to apply them closer to my eye without any extra serum leaking out.
After using them, I notice a smooth result, and my eyes feel less puffy.
Thanks to the nice fit, these are great for multitasking. In fact, the company recommends putting them on before applying eyeshadow, as they help catch fallout.
Erno Laszlo Multi-Task Eye Serum Mask
These clear gel patches contain hyaluronic acid and are free of phthalates and parabens. However, they do contain fragrance. This may be irritating to people with sensitive skin and isn’t safe for use during pregnancy.
I like them for their cooling effect as well as their wide and long shape. I notice my skin looks plumper after using and that the serum soaks into my skin completely, without needing to pat in any excess.
The price point is a bit steep for just 6 pairs, but Amazon reviewers seem to agree they’re worth it. Many mention being impressed with the hydration and the brightening, refreshing effect.
PÜR Mellow Eyes Hemp-Infused Eye Patches
PÜR says these green gel patches lessen puffiness and brighten and smooth the under-eye area.
The patches are infused with hemp seed oil, which Fenda says provides omega fatty acids to help strengthen the skin’s surface against moisture loss.
She also points out that they are made with cucumber, a non-sensitizing plant extract with helpful antioxidant properties, as well as vitamin E, a go-to antioxidant.
Plus, they have caffeine. Fenda says this is great for dark circles, because caffeine helps to improve circulation by constricting the blood vessels. She says caffeine can also absorb accumulated water, which helps reduce puffiness and swelling around the eyes.
These patches come stacked in a jar, not in individually wrapped packages. The container includes a little plastic scooper for carefully grabbing the patches.
I use these because I’m a fan of their smoothing effect, although they can slide if you don’t lay them down perfectly on your first try.
Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Pure Retinol Express Smoothing Eye Mask
This pick is infused with retinol, the wrinkle-warrior. They’re also made with stretchy cotton, which means they should stay in place. You can throw these on and multitask with confidence, knowing they won’t slide down your face.
Amazon reviewers seem to love these, noting their effectiveness and awesome hydration.
One thing to note is that the eye masks include fragrance, although it’s one of the last ingredients. If you have sensitive skin, or if you’re pregnant, you may want to skip them.
Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Eye Masks
These patches are popular for their Insta-worthy aesthetic. They come in gold or rose gold-colored foil, mimicking the metallic eyewear look you see at music festivals.
I personally like these for how well they stay in place. Despite being fairly saturated, they don’t slide around, and they give me the freedom to multitask as I mask.
Plus, I see visibly reduced puffiness after using one pair for 15 minutes.
You may notice some serum leaking out from under the patches, but this is normal. You can just pat the excess into your skin after taking the patches off. It should settle in nicely without leaving any sticky residue.
These come in individually wrapped pairs, so you can share and travel with them easily.
Wander Beauty says these hydrating patches are also vegan and cruelty-free.
Keep in mind that they do contain lavender oil. Though lavender sensitivity is relatively uncommon, some people may be allergic or sensitive to it.
Patchology FlashPatch Rejuvenating Eye Gels
These gel patches are for those who love a cooling, soothing eye treatment. They use caffeine to boost circulation and hydrolyzed collagen to enhance elasticity and tone.
Most Amazon reviewers are return buyers, happy with visible results, while others note a floral scent and say they slide too much (a common theme with eye gels).
These are a good choice for those in a hurry. Application time is just 5 minutes (but you can keep them on longer if you wish).
Like some other patches on this list, these contain fragrance. Fragrance isn’t safe during pregnancy and may cause skin irritation for some people.
100% PURE Bright Eyes Mask
These patches pride themselves on their organic, natural ingredients that all play a role in cooling and de-puffing the eye area.
Beyond the usual suspects, like cucumber, caffeine, and hyaluronic acid, the eye mask is also made with cooling aloe, matcha green tea, yerba mate, and vitamin C.
100% Pure recommends leaving the patches on for about 20 minutes, or until they start to shrivel — which indicates most of the good stuff has been absorbed into your skin.
Reviewers love the de-puffing powers of these patches, but they wish they were in stock more often and sold in bulk.
Goodal Green Tangerine Vita C Eye Gel Patch
These clear hydrogel patches come in a jar with a little scooper to help you separate them.
They’re fairly big, which I like — the more landscape to brighten and smooth, the better. Plus, they have a refreshing cold effect and a fresh citrus scent.
The patches come 60 patches to a jar, which is a nice value at the price point.
Important note: Those with allergies or skin sensitivities may want to avoid the patches due to the tangerine and fragrance.
Benton Snail Bee Ultimate Hydrogel Eye Patch
These hydrogel patches have fascinating ingredients: bee venom and snail secretion.
This may sound a little intense, but Fenda says these are helpful ingredients.
Bee venom, as she explains, is known to stimulate collagen production and can also speed up recovery of damaged skin cells.
And snail secretion? Fenda says it’s surprisingly effective at moisturizing, and it promotes collagen production, aiding in healing and skin regeneration (thanks, snails!).
I was a bit skeptical before trying these, but I’m a fan of the results. I notice a smoother under-eye area after using them. They are a bit slippery, though, so you may want to stay still while they’re on.
According to the manufacturer, these patches are cruelty-free.
Tarte Pack Your Bags 911 Undereye Rescue Patches
These hypoallergenic, vegan patches are a nice choice for those with allergies or skin sensitivities. They’re free of fragrance, which is important for keeping the thin, sensitive skin around the eye happy.
They’re made with coconut oil for moisturizing and conditioning. There’s also a blend of algae and marine flower extracts that Tarte says help lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and soften the skin.
Note: Some people may still have allergic reactions to plant extracts.These are a big hit with the majority of Amazon reviewers who love how well they soothe their puffy eyes. But some wish they could get more pairs for the price.
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery Eye Mask
These patches have an all-star lineup of ingredients: chamomile (to soothe), caffeine (to reduce puffiness), squalane (to moisturize), and hyaluronic acid (to plump).
Many Amazon reviewers are happy with the result, although some acknowledge the price point as a downside.
One reviewer mentions these help with the puffiness she experiences from allergies.
Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Pure Luxury Lift & Firm Hydra-Gel Eye Patches
These are a good pick for those who are ready to splurge on skin care said to tackle fine lines, wrinkles, puffiness, and dryness.
The gold in its name isn’t just because of the color; these are made with pure 24K gold and colloidal gold, which is said to help lift and firm the under- eye area. The tiny nanoparticles in the colloidal gold may also provide some shimmer, helping your skin look brighter.
These also have hyaluronic acid and caffeine. They’re also lightly scented with lavender — something for people with allergies to make note of.
How to use under-eye patches
It’s best to read the directions carefully before applying under-eye patches. However, in general, you’ll simply apply them to clean, dry skin.
Application times range. Some brands say to keep them on for 10 minutes while others say they can stay on for 20 minutes or longer.
Always apply and remove your patches with clean hands and gently pat any excess serum into the skin, avoiding direct contact with your eyes.
If your patches come in a jar, secure the lid back on tightly to keep moisture in.