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Using Preparation H on puffy eyes. Does it work? Truth or Myth?

Posted by Toni House on

Using Preparation H on puffy eyes. Does it work? Truth or Myth?

Perhaps you've heard it before...maybe you've even tried it...but does smearing Preparation H on your puffy eyes really work? And, is it safe?

First things first: Puffy eyes are a double bummer. They make you look exhausted even if you're not and they can be incredibly difficult to treat. Puffiness—which is red, swollen skin under the eyes—is usually due to bloating, dehydration, fatigue, allergies, hormones or genetics. And as you get older the puffiness gets worse.  Yikes, that's a lot of causes, which means it can be really hard to say what treatment will work best to minimize the puffiness.

In theory, Preparation should work and at times it does work. I've used  it myself. And it did work.  It restricts the blood vessels, which could get rid of the redness for awhile, and contains 1% hydro-cortisone, an anti-inflammatory that might temporarily reduce puffiness in theory. Still, it's really risky to apply Preparation H on your eye area for one big reason. If you accidentally get some in your eye, the other ingredients can cause serious damage, and then puffiness will be the least of your concerns. Besides that, I wasn't able to find any conclusive scientific evidence on Preparation H being more effective than other methods of reducing eye puffiness. 

Another reason for the use is cost. Generally a tube of unscented Preparation H is much cheaper than most cosmetic eye serums. (Or is it really?) the funny thing is most eye serums are made specifically to reduce puffiness under the eye and generally you need a very small dot of serum to apply under each eye.  (another blog post will give you the list of great under eye cream for great prices)   The products on this list I have also tried.

So what about using just hydro-cortisone? As with Preparation H, you don't want to accidentally get the stuff in your eyes. In fact, the labels state that you should NOT use the product in, or near, your eyes. Also, prolonged use of topical steroids like hydro-cortisone has been shown to cause skin thinning, increased skin fragility, enlarged blood vessels, and can even result in problems with your adrenal gland (the natural steroid producer in the body). In short, your eyes will end up looking worse, not better.

Now that we know what NOT to do, let's move on to what we should do to treat puffiness. You can apply cool water compresses to the area, sleep with your head slightly elevated, and apply makeup and eye cream. Look for eye creams claiming to be "firming" that can temporarily tighten skin. But the best way to get rid of under eye puffiness is to address the underlying roots of the problem. To do that, you need to:

  • Get enough rest. Experts recommend between 7 and 8 hours nightly.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink enough water and minimize intake of salty foods which can also lead to dehydration.
  • Get checked for allergies. If you notice puffiness at certain times of the year, you may be prone to seasonal allergies. If puffiness is a year-round problem, you could be allergic to anything from airborne allergens, such as grass, to certain foods that are a part of your diet. Talk to your doctor about your concerns.
  • Consider your other options. Unfortunately, having puffy eyes is hereditary for some people. In these cases, there really is not much you can do besides invasive measures like cosmetic eyelid surgery. Our suggestion: A good concealer is easy-to-use, affordable, and pain-free.  or eye cream

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