There’s just one problem (aside from the whole pretense that this is somehow new or a secret): Even though it works, you really shouldn’t be applying Preparation H — or any hemorrhoid cream — anywhere but on hemorrhoids (which I sincerely hope you never have to do). 

“Don’t do it! There are way better and safer options available for temporarily reducing inflammation under your eyes,” says Connecticut-based board-certified dermatologist Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD.

OK, but let’s back up for a sec. Why does it work? “This hack works because Preparation H contains phenylephrine, which constricts the blood vessels in your under eye area to reduce inflammation, swelling, and puffiness,” says New York-based board-certified dermatologist Ellen Marmur, MD. She warns that in addition phenylephrine, some versions of Preparation H may contain hydrocortisone — and that’s a big no-no near your eyes. 

“Hydrocortisone can be absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream to
cause systemic side effects in other parts of your body,” explains Florida-based board-certified dermatologist De Anne Harris Collier, MD. “Because hydrocortisone is a steroid, usage over time can affect your adrenal glands, which are responsible for your body’s response to stress.” Dr. Collier adds that, while rare, long-term usage of hydrocortisone in the eyelid area may also lead to glaucoma and cataracts.

Not scared because it’s such an unlikely side effect? Dr. Robinson has another good reason: “Prolonged use of topical steroids can cause the skin to thin out, making it more fragile and prone to wrinkling and leading to more visible vascular structures underneath,” she says. In other words, “permanent dark circles.”

All three dermatologists recommend using an actual eye cream instead. “There are many good options that contain caffeine, antioxidants, and retinol to combat the puffiness and offer rejuvenation,” Dr. Collier says. (Might we suggest Best of Beauty 2021 winners BeautyStat Universal C Eye Perfector or RoC Retinol Correction Line Smoothing Eye Cream?)

BeautyStat Universal Universal C Eye Perfector

RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream

If you’re still concerned about puffiness even with the help of a great eye cream, you can try to address some of the lifestyle factors that can contribute to it. “I would recommend you aim for a least seven hours of sleep a night and drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily,” Dr. Robinson says. “An ice roller is also a great idea to reduce swelling.”

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