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I recently experienced an allergic reaction to an eye shadow stick that left my eyelids red, raw, and flakey — which is just the look I want for upcoming holiday events. And for some reason, the irritation traveled around and under my eyes. Needless to say, that stick found its way to the trashcan posthaste, and I was in dire need of some undereye cream. Much like brussels sprouts or polka music, eye creams are one of those things that people either enthusiastically love or learn to live with. Personally, I enjoy a creamy, hydrating eye cream in winter to help keep my skin nourished. For warmer weather, I tend toward lightweight formulas. For the emergency undereye care that I found myself in need of, the best course of action was plain old CereVe’s Under Eye Cream Repair. Anything with fancy-schmancy ingredients like retinol or vitamin C will only worsen the already irritated undereye, so a simple formula that’s readily available over the counter helped my eyes get back to their baseline, so to speak.

Of course, eye creams are not the only way to nourish and refresh the skin around your eyes. There are other products and practices that help you care for your undereye area and have you looking more awake. Here’s a rundown of skin care and maintenance for around your eyes.

First thing in the morning, when washing your face, cleanse your eyes as well. Remove sleep crust and comb out your eyelashes. Cleaning the area around your eye will help avoid unnecessary irritation, and you’ll be less likely to rub your eyes as the day progresses. You’ll obviously want to wash your face and eyes before bed and rinse off any makeup bacteria, dust, pollen, and pollution that builds up on the eyelashes and lids. If you have sensitive eyes, try baby shampoo to cleanse around the eyelids and lashes because regular face wash may feel too stingy. You do not want irritation coming from washing, or what would be the point!?

Next is sunscreen. The thin skin over and around our eyes is especially prone to skin cancer, and for added protection, you can also wear sunglasses when outside. Sunscreen and sunglasses, beyond preventing cancer, also work to reduce/prevent wrinkles and sunspots. However, applying sunscreen on eyelids is less than fun. I’ve been looking into powdered sunscreens, which are just as effective as lotion-based SPF. You just close your eyes, then gently sweep a brush with powder over your eyelids, much like a finishing or matte powder.

For puffy eyes, try icing the undereye. There’s the trick of pressing the back of a frozen spoon under the eyes. I like the idea of an eye mask that’s been chilled in the fridge, freezer, or a bowl of ice water. Icing is good for short-term fixes, but if puffy undereye is a chronic problem for you, try the flip side of this trick and use heat. A warm compress or microwavable eye mask will help soften oil production that comes from the base of the eyelashes, which is good for lubrication and prevents dry eyes. I prefer heat over ice; it’s more relaxing and has longer-term benefits.

Besides washing, sunscreen, eye cream, heat, and ice, another essential to eye area skincare is knowing what to avoid. The aforementioned eye-shadow stick, rimming my waterline with eyeliner, eyelash serums, and products with retinol are big No-Nos for me. Through trial and error, I’ve learned the products and ingredients to avoid. Everyone and every eye react differently, so pay attention to what products and, more importantly, the formulas of those products you are using and how your skin responds. If irritation starts to flare up, remove products from your daily beauty routine to see which may be the culprit and promptly trash them. When using new products, if things sting or burn, that’s a sign your skin barrier is reacting in a bad way. There’s the old saying that if it’s tingling, it’s working. Well, tingle and burn are two different sensations, so just be mindful if the tingle starts to hurt.

Lastly, don’t rub or smear products under your eyes or eyelids — dab in creams and foundations with either your fingers or a makeup sponge. For the lids, again, be gentle, especially with cosmetics. The skin around your eyes is thin and can be very sensitive, so proceed with caution.