4 easy ways to banish under-eye bags.

Image via iStock.

Dark circles. Eye bags. Puffy eyes – all betraying signs of a big night out (or, ahem, children who like to rise early and keep you awake late at night) and certainly not what you want to see when you look in the mirror.

For me, puffy eyes are the worst. While you can sometimes get away with covering dark circles with some strategically-placed concealer, there is no hiding your eyes when they’ve blown up like a blowfish.

I’ve been blessed with the unfortunate trait of looking like I’ve had a severe allergic reaction every time I cry, so you can imagine how excited I was to discover there are actual ways to get rid of puffy eyes (that don’t include suspiciously wearing sunglasses indoors).

It’s also important to remember you’re not alone. ALL women have these problems, we just hide them. (Post continues after gallery.)

1. Apply cucumber over the eyes

Yes, it actually has a purpose other than as a snack when you feel peckish. Image via iStock.

You've seen it done on TV shows, movies and in fancy spas - yes, cucumber on the eyes really does work! Because eye puffiness is a build up of fluid under the eyes, a cold compress will work to temporarily reduce the swelling. If you don't have cucumber on hand, freezing tea bags for twenty minutes, then placing them over your eyes, will also work well.

Interestingly, potatoes are also great at reducing puffiness and dark circles, thanks to their natural astringent properties. Simply peel a raw potato, slice and place over your eyes for 10 minutes.

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2. Keep your eye cream in the fridge

Yep, right there on the shelf.

Hear us out. Celebrity stylist Ilaria Urbinati recommends keeping your eye cream in the fridge, because when it is applied cold on your eyes, everything constricts causing the swelling to go down. It basically combines the benefit of a cold compress with the moisturising power of an eye cream, like SK-II Stempower Eye Cream ($149).

Annabelle Personeni, botanical chemist for skincare brand A'Kin and haircare brand Alchemy, believes there are a few important factors to remember when looking for an eye cream.

"A good eye cream must spread well (to limit the need for rubbing) and have the right balance of oils to provide moisture without suffocating the skin, as because the skin is thinner it can be quickly overloaded," she says.

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The best eye creams include three categories of active ingredients.

"Look for ingredients that help protect or boost the collagen like Vitamin C or Calendula and anti-oxidants or anti-inflammatories like Chamomile, ginger, Vitamin E and panthenol," she explains.

"Creams should also include ingredients that help stimulate blood circulation and strengthen the blood vessel which reduce dark circles like plant extracts of cornflower, tea, grape and berries. You'll often see caffeine used in eye creams as it's an excellent stimulation of blood flow."

Her recommendation? A'Kin White Tea and Cornflower Eye Day Gel, $29.99, buy it here. "It's rich in vitamin C and several botanical extracts to support blood flow and collagen repair and can be applied any time of the day, even over makeup."

3. Cover your eyes with spoons

While this one does sound a little strange, it's further proof that spoons aren't just good in the kitchen! Using similar theory to applying cucumber, applying the back of two cold spoons will dramatically reduce the swelling. Keep two spoons in the freezer (maybe on the other side to the ice cream!) at all times to ensure you're always prepared.

4. Drink lots of water

How to wake up
Drink lots of water. Image via iStock.

The water retention that makes eyes puffy is caused by a high concentration of salt in the area around the eyes. Drinking several glasses of water throughout the day will flush out the area and make the swelling go down.

Personeni also believes a good lifestyle is the best start to prevent puffy eyes.

"Think about reducing alcohol and sugars, as alcohol dilates blood vessels while sugars create a low grade inflammation with both cause and worsen oedema (the scientific name for puffy eyes)," she says.

"A gentle massage of the eye area with a "pat" movement rather than a "rub" just after waking up or at any time when your eyes feel tired is also a good way to move the fluids stagnating under the eyes."

Why is the eye area so delicate?

According to Personeni, extra care has to be taken around the eye area because it's so sensitive.

"The eye area has very specific needs because it lacks the support of fatty tissue that is normally present in the hypodermis (the deepest layer of the skin). It's also very thin - actually about half the thickness of the skin on the rest of the face," she says.

"It's also being constantly pulled due to the eyelids movements and the facial expressions that stretch the skin around the eyes in all directions. This contributes to a tearing of the collagen fibres that strengthen skin."

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This, she explains, is why the poor eye area is the first to suffer from wrinkles and sag. The thinner the skin around the eyes also means the more transparent it is, revealing dark areas like under-eye circles due to blood vessels.

"This can be made worse by low grade inflammation (for instance due to lack of sleep, poor diet or irritation) causing more blood to stagnate under the eyes," she says.

"Lymph and water permeating from weak blood vessels also stagnate under the eyes, causing 'puffiness'".

It's not just your eye area you should be taking care of. Here's how to look and feel good on the inside AND out.