Lack of rest may not be the only thing causing dark circles and puffiness under your eyes: Lifestyle factors like eating salty foods, smoking or drinking wine can all contribute to fluid accumulating in that area. The skin under your eyes is also about 40% thinner than the rest of your body, making it particularly vulnerable to sun damage. As a result, your eyes can start to show signs of aging as early as your mid-twenties, says Dr. Karen Burke, a board-certified dermatologist and research scientist. Like eye creams, under-eye patches can help tackle under-eye concerns like fine lines, inflammation and early signs of aging.
The masks are shaped to fit in the under-eye area, and different types come infused with ingredients like retinol, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid to nourish skin and offer anti-aging benefits. We consulted dermatologists to learn about which ingredients are the gold standard, and to help you find under-eye patches that work best to brighten, hydrate, de-puff and smooth.
SKIP AHEAD Best eye patches
What do under-eye patches do to your skin?
According to the medical experts we consulted, under-eye patches work by targeting dark circles, crow’s feet, wrinkles and fine lines. In addition to reducing puffiness and helping you look more well-rested, under-eye masks hydrate and nourish your skin through high-quality ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides, anti-aging ingredients like retinol and brightening agents like caffeine and niacinamide.
Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King recommended looking for eye patches with humectants, emollients and occlusives.
- Humectants like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide hydrate the skin and make it look plumper, which can temporarily soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. “Niacinamide is very popular right now because it helps with skin tone and texture and supports the skin barrier,” King explained.
- Emollients like triglycerides and squalane fill in open spaces between the cells of your skin to smooth and soften it.
- Occlusives like petroleum jelly and glycerin create a film over the skin to lock in moisture and keep it hydrated.
In addition to these essentials, King said it’s also important to look for brightening and anti-aging ingredients. “For brightening, vitamin C is best,” she noted. Licorice root extract, arbutin and azelaic acid are also great for brightening, but King noted they could be irritating for some. To help target crepiness and fine lines, King said you should look for ingredients like retinol and bakuchiol.
The best under eye patches and masks in December 2023
Below are a handful of expert-recommended under-eye patches that are formulated to nourish the under-eye area. All of the patches we recommend include expert-approved ingredients like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and glycerin.
Experts previously recommended the Skyn Iceland eye gel pads in our guide to treatments for dark circles thanks to their topical ingredients like green tea polyphenols and caffeine, which can help reduce puffiness and brighten the under-eye area. Select associate updates editor Zoe Malin said she loves these patches and pops them into the fridge to create a cooling effect that helps with swelling and de-puffing. Free of parabens and silicones, these pads can help seal moisture and plump the skin in just 10 minutes, according to the brand.
Celebrity makeup artist Tobi Henney said she loves these eye patches because they are great to use at home and while traveling. “They come in a great little container and can be applied super easily in the morning or at night,” she noted. The patches feature hyaluronic acid as well as caffeine to depuff and marshmallow extract to soften your skin, the brand says.
The experts we spoke to gave these eye patches a thumbs up when it comes to combating puffiness thanks to a cooling cucumber extract. King said she also likes the fact that they contain glycerin to moisturize, niacinamide to improve skin tone and texture, sodium hyaluronic acid to hydrate and hemp seed and argan oils to smooth out the skin. “It also offers antioxidants to help with brightening and anti-aging,” she added.
Dr. Rachel Westbay, a board-certified dermatologist at Marmur Medical in New York City, said it’s worth investing in these eye patches from Chanel. You apply the roll-on serum to your under-eye area and then place the hydrogel patches on your under-eye area, then leave them on for 10 minutes. According to Chanel, the products are formulated with the brand’s 3.5-DA, which is derived from edulis morning glory extract and helps firm and tone the skin. The brand says that the rollerball helps move fluid away from the under-eye, where it likes to collect. “The purpose of the hydrogel patches is to create an evaporation-free barrier. This ensures the ingredients contained within the serum are maximally absorbed by the skin,” Westbay explained.
The experts we talked to said they love these eye patches from Sio for a few reasons. First, they are larger than most eye patches, starting at the top of the outer brow and extending beneath the eye to the inner crease. Second, they’re made from 100% medical-grade silicone that gently compresses your skin and keeps it smooth. Experts explained that the silicone draws moisture up from the bottom layer of the skin to intensify hydration under the eyes and support your skin's natural ability to retain moisture, minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. These under-eye patches can be reused up to 10 times, according to the brand.
Westbay said she also loves this eye mask because of its potent formula that contains retinol to increase cell turnover and fight wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. It also has rosehip, which is rich in vitamin C and helps fight free radical damage and promote collagen synthesis, according to the brand.
King said she loves these eye patches — while they’re specifically made for brightening, they also contain glycerine to hydrate and triglycerides to support the skin barrier. “This is what’s known as a multitasker,” she said.
Do eye masks really work?
The experts we spoke to said that under-eye patches can provide a quick pick-me-up since their active ingredients are highly concentrated and infuse quickly into your skin. But for longer-lasting results, Burke said she tells her patients to apply vitamin C and tretinoin daily to build up the elastin under the skin. “It takes six to eight months, but you will really see a difference,” she noted.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Dr. Karen Burke is a board-certified dermatologist, research scientist and a clinical professor in the Department of Dermatology at Mt. Sinai Icahn School of Medicine in New York.
- Dr. Hadley King is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City who specializes in medical and cosmetic dermatology. She is a clinical instructor of dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.
- Dr. Rachel Westbay is a board-certified general and cosmetic dermatologist at Marmur Medical in New York City.
- Tobi Henney is a celebrity makeup artist and former L'Oréal Paris Makeup Director for Australia.