Look. I don’t resent my parents, it’s just that I’m not thrilled they gave me a face that is a little bit prone to puffy under-eye bags.
I stare at the faces of other women – all awake and refreshed and utterly annoying – and feel despondent about the bluish hues below my eyes. Sure, concealer is there to correct them in a few dabs, but what if I want to go makeup-free? Can’t a woman go grocery shopping without convincing small children that a zombie apocalypse is coming?
In many cases, under-eye bags depend on the structure underneath your eye; how fat pockets form and the thinness of the skin over them. Because of this, huge changes in the appearance of the under-eye contours typically require huge action like surgical procedures, or overhauling your lifestyle (for instance, cutting out sodium from your diet).
While my under-eye area will never be perfect (you can’t change your genetics with hacks from Google… also, I’m quite partial to a bag of Doritos) I did want to investigate: How can I optimise what I’ve already got? What pre-makeup hacks and tricks work, even subtly?
I tried five affordable ‘solutions’ the internet swears by. Here’s what worked, and what I wouldn’t recommend wasting your time on.
Monday: Caffeine solution
I’d heard great things about The Ordinary’s Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG product - and for good reason.
The solution, which costs just $12.70 and features a handy pipette dropper that allows you to control how much product you apply (one drop is enough for both eyes), definitely plumped up my under-eye bags within a few minutes.
While they weren’t completely cleared, the caffeine and green tea extract - which have been shown in independent studies to reduce the appearance of
dark under-eyes - certainly reduced the dreaded puffiness as promised.
Tuesday: Cold spoons
This method basically requires you to chill spoons in the refrigerator for about half an hour, before lightly pressing them to your under-eye bags for a few minutes. I mean, de-puffing with nothing more than two cold spoons sounds too good to be true, right?
Yeah, well, it is.
While cooling is one component of reducing under-eye bags, it certainly isn’t the only one, so the results were almost non-existent for me.
Wednesday: Lymphatic eye massage
Why was I a lymphatic drainage skeptic for so long? I’ve heard beauty influencers sing its praises for yonks, and yet, like the semi-snob I am, presumed it was all mumbo-jumbo.
I’ve since become convinced that manual lymphatic draining - a fancy phrase that basically means ‘massaging yourself in a particular way’ - is a pretty solid technique to reduce under-eye puffiness.
Following this tutorial on Youtube (made by a beautician), I spent about five minutes on each eye, using very light pressure to move lymph - a bodily fluid made up of white blood cells - away from the contours of the eye.
I think the after shot shows less swelling around the outer half of the under-eye. It’s not perfect by any stretch, but there is a change.
Thursday: Brightening eye mask
God bless Skin Republic and their amazing (yet insanely affordable) sheet masks. I picked up their Brightening Eye Mask, $9.99, which comes with three separate sheets - so each use costs just over $3 a pop.
The “triple action serum” of vitamin C, B3 and caffeine extract promises to ‘instantly illuminate and refresh tired-looking eyes’, and I’ve got to say, it did a pretty good job. While these bad boys didn’t relieve me of all my puffiness, they were certainly brightening.
A word of warning, though; they aren’t as convenient as the other methods I tried in this experiment. You'll need to leave the sheet on for 30 minutes for it to do its thing.
That said, I showed the before-and-after photographs to my sister, who without knowing the product commented: “Your skin looks brighter in the second one.”
For $3, that’s certainly enough for me.
Friday: Raw potato juice
Alrighty. What the hell. Why did nobody ever tell me to grate a white potato, stamp the juice out, and dab the browny, murky liquid on my face?
I swear this trick has made my under-eye area feel more taut and bright than some of the other hacks combined. And it only cost 88 cents at Woolies.
Raw potato is a handy hack for under-eye bags because of its natural bleaching properties, and because it contains vitamins A and C (along with enzymes) that nourish and moisturise the skin.
I dabbed the juice on with my fingers a few times, every couple of minutes, once the product had absorbed into the skin, and now I feel and look alive.
Uh, would it be weird to store a jar of raw potato juice in the fridge? Asking for a mate.