Do Under-Eye Patches Work? We Asked a Dermatologist
Plus, six highly-rated ones to try if you’re intrigued.
Maybe you’ve seen under-eye patches all over your Instagram feed (thanks, Dieux). Or maybe they caught your eye at your local bookstore (yes, they’re even at Indigo). Or, maybe you spotted them on the woman sitting next to you onboard a redeye (that was me!). But one thing’s for sure: You’ve definitely seen them, and you’ve probably wondered if there’s actually a good reason they’re everywhere right now.
First, some background info: There are two kinds of under-eye patches—disposable and reusable. Disposable ones are made out of materials like hydrogel or lyocell and are pre-soaked in skin care ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. Reusable ones can also be made of hydrogel, or silicone, and are designed to be placed on top of an eye cream or serum of your choice to help it better absorb into the skin and therefore boost its efficacy. But no matter the type, most under-eye patches promise the same thing: to make you look a little self-indulgent for 15-20 minutes as they do their thing to diminish puffiness, brighten dark circles, smooth fine lines and make your eyes look like they did when you were a teen clocking 10-12 hours of sleep.
Do they work? I only use them on overnight flights, and they help me look like I was able to sleep just fine scrunched in my seat in coach. But the effects don’t last that long—by the evening, the spell has been broken, and I get two undisguisable dark circles joining me for dinner. I use ones by French brand Klorane, which are hydrogel eye patches formulated with cornflower water, hyaluronic acid and seaweed extract—and they have a decent fanbase. “After I take them off my circles are gone and my skin is glowing,” wrote one reviewer. “My eyes almost felt more plump like they had some life zapped back into them, and they were so smooth and soft,” wrote another.
So, can under-eye patches really zap life back into your eyes? “They provide a temporary benefit, like a face mask,” says Renée Beach, a dermatologist in Toronto. For example, if you’re looking for immediate moisture and a smoothing effect, eye patches that contain humectants like glycerin can deeply hydrate the area and thereby plump skin so fine lines are less noticeable, says Beach. That is to say, the patches aren’t actually diminishing fine lines permanently—they’re diminishing the appearance of them, temporarily, for about a day. But, they work. And Beach says they can truly help brighten the under-eye area too—you’d just need to use ones that contain the right ingredients, such as niacinamide, azelaic acid, Kojic acid, and mushroom extract, and use them consistently for over three months.
Obviously, reusable ones are more environmentally friendly, but Beach says they require rigorous cleaning after every use or they may trigger skin woes like acne or irritations. If you choose reusable ones, you’ll need to pair them with an eye cream or serum—Beach prefers the latter. “I think serums generally absorb more easily and elegantly on average,” she says.
Like everything, there are a few risks involved with under-eye patches. For example, if there’s too much product residue left over in the eye area from the patches, it can get trapped in the superficial skin and cause milia, says Beach. Milia are tiny skin-coloured bumps that, while harmless, can be tricky to get rid of.
Beach also suggests avoiding products that contain ingredients like fragrances and their derivatives (like limonene and linalool) because they don’t offer a cosmetic benefit. “While lovely to smell, they can cause irritation,” she says. In general, if you experience itching, burning, redness, or another type of discomfort within hours of applying the patches, you may have contact dermatitis, so discontinue use immediately.
The DIY Version
Another option: Do the old-fashioned cucumber slices trick—apply them to your eyes, and they can hydrate the skin. Or, apply ice packs to de-puff. Not a bad idea: Neither will cost you anything (surely you already have a cucumber in your fridge?), and they’re unlikely to cause irritation, says Beach.
The Top Picks
Prefer the store-bought variety? Then you’ll probably be looking for the best under-eye patches available now. So, here are the highest-rated, buzziest disposable ones available in Canada (sorry, Dieux still isn’t shipping to Canada).
Didn’t get enough sleep? Reach for these patches made with hyaluronic acid, which can help brighten and de-puff eyes to help it look like you got a full eight hours.
Klorane Smoothing & Soothing Eye Patches With Organic Cornflower, $38, well.ca
Vitamin C is the hero ingredient in these eye patches, making them a great pick if you want to lighten up dark circles. The patches also contain hydrating ingredients like aloe and cucumber to revitalize the under-eye area.
Derma E Vitamin C Bright Eyes Hydro Gel Patches, $41, well.ca
If crepey skin is a concern, these hydra-gel patches from Peter Thomas Roth can help. They contain collagen to help boost skin elasticity and firmness.
Peter Thomas Roth FIRMx® Collagen Face & Eye Hydra-Gel Patches, $65, sephora.com
You apply retinol to your face—what about the eye area? These eye patches deliver a touch of retinol (just enough to make a difference without aggravating the delicate skin around the eye), resulting in skin that is smoother and firmer.
Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Masks, $42, sephora.com
If dry skin around the eyes is the concern, try these patches by Lise Watier. They’re made with aloe to deeply moisturize skin, and also contain collagen to reduce the appearance of fine lines.
Watier Bio Lift Eye Patch, $42, shoppersdrugmart.com
Eyes looking tired? These patches, which contain hydrating ingredients like niacinamide and glycerin, can hydrate skin and fill in fine lines, helping you look bright-eyed again. Although the patches are disposable, they’re biodegradable, making them a more sustainable option.
Goopgenes Lift + Depuff Eye Masks, $165, goop.com