Under-eye patches are more than just aesthetically pleasing props for your skin care routine. In fact, they are a key product for this often overlooked area of your face; they treat pesky dark circles, puffiness, crow's feet, and more. Ultimately, discoloration, dryness, and dullness in the ocular zone can happen to everyone. According to Dr. Neda Mehr, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Pure Dermatology Cosmetic & Hair Center, dark circles in particular are often genetic—some of us are simply predisposed to them.
Dr. Hysem Eldik, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with Marmur Medical, adds that these ocular skin concerns often develop over time. Dr. Eldik explains that as we age, the skin underneath the eye area thins. "You lose roughly 1 percent of collagen per year of life," he says. "Right underneath the skin of the lower eyelid is a tissue-paper-thin muscle called the orbicularis oculi. When the skin overlying that muscle becomes thinner, you begin to see a dark purple-blue color, which is that underlying muscle peeking through." Thankfully, brightening and tightening up this area is an easy fix. You should turn to your trusty eye cream—but if you need some extra reinforcement, that's where eye patches come in.
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If dark circles are your primary concern, "then the goal of treatment should be to thicken that overlying skin, so you can mask the muscle underneath, thereby improving the color," says Dr. Eldik. He notes that under-eye patches do this by delivering treatment through prolonged contact with the skin; they are normally soaked in a serum with active ingredients, such as retinol or vitamin C, to increase collagen production and brighten the area. Patches also include moisturizing ingredients that will leave the eye are dewy and plump—which can reduce the appearance of dark circles and fine lines, he adds.
Look for retinol-soaked patches, says Dr. Eldik, if you need to address dark under-eye circles; this ingredient thickens the skin by increasing collagen production, which should reduce this area's purple tint over time. Dr. Mehr agrees and names vitamin C, green tea, and niacinamide as other key agents to look for when purchasing these patches (or eye creams in general); all three should brighten the eye area.
Eye patches are generally safe for everyone to use. Dr. Mehr recommends popping them on one to two times per week for the best results. Depending on the brand, eye patches are usually designed to be applied once for about 15 minutes; most iterations are disposable. Once you remove these pieces, Dr. Mehr suggests massaging any excess serum into the skin around your eyes.
Carefully read the ingredient list of soaked patches, especially if you have a known allergy to a specific agent or are sensitive to stronger formulas, like ones that include retinol. While retinol is known to cause burning, redness, and irritation, the skin can build up a tolerance over time, notes Dr. Eldik. If you do have sensitive skin, he recommends using eye patches once a week to see how your skin reacts. Then, you can tack on another night once your skin has adjusted to that cadence. He also recommends using eye patches, especially those with retinol, at night as opposed to during the day (retinol makes you more sensitive to the sun). Non-retinol eye patches, however, can be used when the sun is up—and are particularly helpful before an event. Interested in giving these skin care essentials a try? See below for several expert-approved under-eye patches for dark circles, puffiness, and fine lines.
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Dr. Mehr likes Pathology's "FlashPatch" Illuminating Eye Gels; they contain a mix of vitamin C and green tea to improve microcirculation. They are also soaked with mulberry extract, a known skin brightener, she notes.
Dr. Eldik's prefers the Peter Thomas Roth "Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud" Hydra-Gel Eye Patches. "They have hyaluronic acid in them, so they are great for moisturizing and making the lower eyelid skin less wrinkly," he says.
These star-shaped patches from KNC Beauty deliver incredible results. Packed with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, aloe, retinol, and gold, these iterations boost collagen and blood flow to de-puff the ocular zone.
Dr. Mehr also recommends the Loops Beauty Under Eye Masks, which contain ingredients like niacinamide to nourish and hydrate, retinol to reduce the appearance of fine lines, and a vitamin-rich floral complex to brighten up dark circles.
"I pack these for every flight," explains Dr. Mehr. Made with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, aloe, peptides, and amino acids, these patches provide hydration and soothing properties to plump and brighten the eye area. Plus, they come in the prettiest gold packaging.
Made with hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and castor oil, these masks from celebrity esthetician Joanna Vargas deeply moisturize the skin and lift the eye area to deliver a fresh look.
With gold, pearl, diamond, and charcoal powder, these masks firm skin and de-puff those under-eye bags; seaweed extract reduces the appearance of fine lines. But the real game-changing ingredient in this product is the essence of snail secretion ferment filtrate. This ingredient soothes and repairs damaged skin around the delicate eye area to improve overall texture.
The Dior "Backstage" Eye Reviver Patches reduce puffiness and brighten your eyes in just under 10 minutes. They contain hyaluronic acid, rye extract, and a biocellular technology to hydrate and re-energize skin.
This mask set contains a pure retinol micro-infusion technology and a special complex blend of extracts to treat and reduce the appearance of fine lines. It's the perfect eye patch if you're looking to reduce the appearance of any crow's feet.