Caffeine Eye Cream: This One “Major” Effect Makes It Totally Worth Trying, an Esthetician Says

Turns out, a dab of caffeine eye cream really can perk up your appearance. Here's the secret to using it right...and no, it won't keep you up at night!

What is caffeine eye cream?

Whether or not you swear by a cup of coffee to kick-start your day, a dose of caffeine cream can send a brightening wake-up call to the skin around your eyes—all without the espresso jitters! “[Caffeine] has some major energizing benefits for the skin,” Melissa Gilbert, an aesthetician in London, U.K., tells The Healthy @Reader’s Digest. When you apply it topically, she says caffeine eye creams can offer a fresh fix to rejuvenate your face.

The main goal of caffeine in eye creams is to target puffiness and undereye bags. But because it’s an antioxidant, caffeine can also reduce signs of aging like wrinkles and dark circles, according to research published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology.

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How does caffeine eye cream work?

Caffeine is what’s called a vasoconstrictor, which works to tighten up blood vessels. In action, this means that caffeine eye cream reduces blood flow to the area around your eyes, effectively eliminating puffiness. “Caffeine is also a diuretic and helps relieve water retention, another contributor to puffy, tired eyes,” says Anna Chacon, MD, a dermatologist based in Florida.

This blood vessel constriction also temporarily tightens and hydrates skin, which can reduce the size of undereye bags, says Shawnda Dorantes, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, owner of Beauty Lounge Medical Spa in San Diego, CA. But she warns that just like a cup of joe, caffeine’s eye-opening effects are temporary. “They’re great when you wake up with a hangover, didn’t get enough sleep, or have an allergic reaction, but [these] effects of the cream disappear when you discontinue use,” she explains. “For best results, caffeinated eye creams need to be used consistently.”

As for undereye bags, a 2015 study published in Advanced Biomedical Research found that caffeine can offer some relief. This is because caffeine can temporarily shrink the fat cells that contribute to deep wrinkles and the appearance of dark circles, Gilbert explains. But it “doesn’t address the problem at its core,” she says. So, you’ll have to continue using caffeine in your skincare routine to keep pesky undereye circles at bay, too.

The caffeine in an eye cream doesn’t repair existing skin concerns. But show that its antioxidant properties can slow down premature aging caused by UV radiation. Signs of skin aging occur from many factors, ranging from genetics to environmental pollution and your lifestyle. But a review published in the journal Theranostics tells us that sunlight is considered the most powerful accelerant for aging skin. Sunscreen is the most important barrier to UV damage, but why not take all the extra protection you can get?

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How to use caffeine eye cream

If you wake up with eye puffiness that improves throughout the day (or is worse some days than others), then your eyes will likely respond to topical caffeine, says Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City and clinical instructor at Cornell University. “I recommend using it regularly so that it can help prevent as well as treat [skin concerns],” she says. “Tap a small amount into the skin around the eyes once or twice daily, as directed.”

You can apply a caffeine eye cream directly after cleansing in the morning before your makeup and sunscreen. And if you want to use it to perk up your complexion in the evening, there’s no risk of buzzing all night. The caffeine used in eye creams isn’t strong enough to have a coffee-like effect.

You may see its depuffing effects right away. However, like all skincare products, it can take a few weeks of daily use to achieve full benefits. In the meantime, Dr. King says to drink more water and eat less salt. She also suggested sleeping propped up on a couple of pillows to reduce puffy, tired-looking eyes even more.

Caffeine also plays well with other favorites in your skincare routine. Plus, Dr. King says, it can even improve the absorption of other ingredients.

Sign up for The Healthy @Reader’s Digest newsletter for product recommendations from these pros coming next week. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and keep reading:

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Sources

People:

Melissa Gilbert, an aesthetician with Fantastic Services

Anna Chacon, MD, a dermatologist based in Florida

Shawnda Dorantes, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, owner of Beauty Lounge Medical Spa

Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City and clinical instructor at Cornell University.

Journals:

Skin Pharmacology and Physiology: "Caffeine's mechanisms of action and its cosmetic use."

Advanced Biomedical Research: "Evaluation of the clinical efficacy and safety of an eye counter pad containing caffeine and vitamin K in emulsified Emu oil base."

Theranostics: "Caffeine Protects Skin from Oxidative Stress-Induced Senescence through the Activation of Autophagy."

Leslie Finlay
In addition to The Healthy, Leslie has written for outlets such as WebMd.com, Fodors.com, LiveFit.com, and more, specializing in content related to healthcare, nutrition, mental health and wellness, and environmental conservation and sustainability. She holds a master's degree in Public Policy focused on the intersection between public health and environmental conservation, and an undergraduate degree in journalism. Leslie is based in Thailand, where she is a marine conservation and scuba diving instructor. In her spare time you'll find her up in the air on the flying trapeze or underwater, diving coral reefs.