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How to Get Rid of Bags Under Your Eyes

Photo: Steve Mason/Getty Images

What kind of eye cream does a sleep-deprived, puffy-eyed college student prefer? Easy: a cheap one. I discovered how to get rid of bags under your eyes without spending a lot of money as an undergrad over a decade ago, and it’s such a useful method that I continue to recommend it today.

The best under-eye bag treatment is, in fact, not a cream at all. It’s caffeinated black tea, and it’s better than any fancy, beautifully packaged cream that I have ever tried. Here’s the method I follow, which I found on a skin-care forum long ago: I steep two bags in warm water for a few minutes, then allow them to cool for 5 to 15 minutes in the refrigerator. When the bags are nice and cold, I plop them over my eyes and lie down for ten minutes or so. When I remove the tea bags, my eye bags are totally gone as well. It’s that easy.

The skin-care internet is full of dubious DIY remedies, but the ones that suggest black tea as an under-eye bag treatment actually hold weight. The caffeine in black tea is considered a “vasoconstrictor,” meaning that it’s capable of temporarily shrinking the size of blood vessels. Studies also indicate that the topical application of caffeine smooths skin, which is why caffeine is often found in cellulite creams. These two factors work in tandem to help your eyes look a lot less puffy.

There are other, cream-free ways to get rid of under-eye bags as well. For one, watch your salt intake. Consuming sodium encourages your body to retain fluids, thereby making you look more puffy all over. (This phenomenon even has a name: “sushi face”). Light massage, either with your fingers or a jade roller, could help as well. Not only does the massage stimulate blood circulation, but a refrigerated jade roller incorporates a “cooling effect” that clinical trials suggest might help with under-eye bags.

Of course, eye creams are a heck of a lot easier to use, and less time-consuming. Since it’s completely impractical to tea-bag your eyes every day, here are a few great creams to supplement the tea-bag method when you’re pressed for time.

The Cool One

Boscia Super-Cool De-Puffing Eye Balm
$26 at Sephora

It’s like putting an ice cube on your eyes. Ohhhh. Ahhhh.

The One That’s Like Black Tea in a Jar

Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream to Brighten and Depuff
$31 at Sephora

Incredibly moisturizing and made with caffeine, this eye cream is a Sephora best seller.

The French Favorite

Clarins Eye Contour Gel
$41 at Sephora

This bouncy gel is a refreshing, no-fuss way to shrink bags. It dries fast so you can quickly layer a concealer on top.

The One That Fights Lines and Bags

StriVectin 360 Degrees Tightening Eye Serum
$69 at Dermstore

Outfitted with a cooling metal tip, this caffeine- and hyaluronic-acid-laced cream works to smooth fine lines as well.

Olay Professional Pro-X Eye Restoration Complex
$45 at Ulta

This cream’s caffeine content helps fight bags, and the inclusion of vitamin B improves the moisture barrier around eyes so your skin looks healthier and smoother.

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