Similar to a sheet mask, an under-eye mask is a strip that's placed below each eye to deliver specific active ingredients meant for issues like dark circles, dryness, or puffiness. Typically, these are left on for a few minutes as they work their magic, after which you pull them off to reveal happier under-eye skin. Keep scrolling for intel on the different types of masks that you can get, how they can benefit your beauty routine, and the products that experts recommend for the best results.
Benefits of using an under-eye mask
If you're not ready to commit to an eye cream, or you're just looking for a quick fix, an under-eye mask can help to drive skin-care ingredients deeper into the complexion. "The benefits of using these masks range from providing immense hydration to stimulating new collagen and decreasing puffiness and shadows," says Dawn Skop, senior esthetician at Coolspa. She's a fan of the product category because it's a beneficial and non-invasive method that you can implement into any daily skin-care routine.
An under-eye mask can actually work better than a cream or serum in order for active ingredients to better absorb into your skin. "These are considered to be better than simple topical products because they keep ingredients under occlusion, making it easier for them to penetrate the skin," says Anne Allen, MD, a third-year dermatology resident at the University of Michigan, who works with FirstDerm.com.
Commonly, these products are used to nix puffiness underneath the eyes, the appearance of dark circles, even out skin tone, and boost collagen growth to smooth the skin in the area.
What to look for in an under-eye mask
If the skin under your eyes is feeling dehydrated, pick an option with hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or squalane. "Keeping skin moisturized is important, as inflammation from dry skin can worsen the under-eye appearance," says Dr. Allen. To de-puff the eye area, "caffeine works to constrict the blood vessels and minimize darkness," says Skop. And for an added boost, keep your eye mask in the fridge, because cool temperatures constrict blood vessels (this will also feel really good).
Hollow under eyes
To smooth the under-eye area, you can turn to the same skin-plumping actives you'll find in traditional beauty products—namely, peptides and retinol, which are both known to stimulate collagen production. "Retinoids, whether over-the-counter or prescription-based, can boost collagen growth over time, making it more difficult to see pigment through the skin," says Dr. Allen.
Dark circles can be trickier to deal with, but under-eye masks can help to diminish the appearance, as well. "As we age, we start losing collagen in our dermis—the second layer of skin—which results in more visible pigment," says Dr. Allen. "Standing under a light, everyone will have the appearance of dark circles due to shadowing, but this is especially true if you are tired or stressed, resulting in eyelid bags that accentuate the shadow." That said, she notes that vitamin C and niacinamide can help to brighten up the area when used over several weeks to months.
What to avoid in your under-eye treatment
The skin underneath your eyes is thinner than on the rest of your face, so it's key to avoid certain active ingredients in order to avoid irritation. Basically, steer clear of anything that's really harsh. "Anything that you know irritates your skin should be avoided," says Dr. Allen, pointing to high-strength retinoids, mechanical exfoliants, some chemical exfoliants, and fragrance as potential ingredients that some skin types don't tolerate well.
6 expert-approved under-eye masks to shop
If you like to get crafty at home, there are some ways to DIY your own eye mask treatment. "You can make a custom-blend mask containing ground coffee, cucumber, arnica, and vitamin E," says Skop. "These ingredients together will reduce inflammation and darkness, hydrate, and revitalize the skin." Otherwise, the below products get a green light from the pros.
Whether you're dealing with dryness, puffiness, or fine lines—or if your under-eye area is just dull—these eye patches use a combo of golden root extract (a potent antioxidant), baker's yeast, hyaluronic acid, and golden herb extract for a skin refresh.
Shop now: SkinMedica Instant Bright Eye Mask, $48
This eye mask set smooths and brightens your skin, sure, but it's also really cute—so you get to rock shooting star-shaped patches as you reap the skin-boosting benefits of the treatment.
Shop now: KNC Beauty All Natural Retinol Infused Eye Mask, $25
Send a volt of energy to dull, dehydrated skin via these under-eye gels, which are filled with vitamin C, vitamin E, and peptides that make you look instantly more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Shop now: No7 Instant Results Revitalising Hydrogel Eye Masks, $15
Sometimes your skin just needs to be drenched with moisture. These jelly-textured gel patches send ultra-nourishing coconut water, niacinamide, and fruit-based antioxidants to dehydrated under-eye skin for a feel-good burst of nutrients.
Shop now: Too Cool For School Coconut Oil Serum Eye Mask, $6
In Korean beauty, snail mucin is renowned for its skin-hydrating prowess (as ick-inducing as it may sound). If you're down to try it for yourself, these cooling gel patches dissolve dryness with the star ingredient plus peptides.
Shop now: Mizon Snail Repair Intensive Cold Eye Gel Patch, $16
6. Pixi FortifEYE, $24
Send puffiness packing with these under-eye masks, which are formulated with caffeine, peptides, and botanical-based collagen, all of which replenish your skin.
Shop now: Pixi FortifEYE, $24
For more intel on dealing with under-eye skin issues, click play on the Dear Derm video below:
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