Can tea bags moisturize the skin under my eyes?

By: Shannon Cicero

Unusual Skin Care Ingredients Image Gallery The caffeine in tea may be able to help you look and feel more alert, whether it's ingested or used topically.See more pictures of unusual skin care ingredients.
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So you stayed up late a few too many nights in a row, and now you have unsightly circles under your eyes. If you look more closely, you might even see some puffiness. You need a fast solution to wake you up and give you a jolt. In this situation, many people reach for something with caffeine in it, such as coffee, soda or tea.

Drinking tea might wake you up, but it probably won't get rid of those red circles. You may have heard, however, that placing tea bags on your eyes can reduce puffiness. Although it doesn't moisturize your skin the same way a lotion might, the practice can work to make you look more awake, according to dermatologists.


To reduce puffiness, caffeinated tea, particularly black tea, works best, because caffeine temporarily tightens the skin around your eyes by drawing out excess water, while the tannins in tea fight inflammation [source: Kunin]. The cool compress of the bag itself slows blood flow to the area, reducing swelling [source: Almasi].

Simply drop two bags of the caffeinated tea into a cup of hot water for a few minutes. Heating the tea releases the caffeine and tannins from the cut leaves. Once the tea bags have soaked for a few minutes, remove them and squeeze out the excess water. Don't skip this step, or tea might leak into your eyes, adding burning, itching and redness to puffy dark circles. Next, put the tea bags on a plate and refrigerate them until they have cooled, creating two small compresses. Place the cold bags over your eyes for about 10 minutes [source: Mayo Clinic].

On top of tightening up the skin under your eyes, studies on mice suggest that caffeine, whether it's applied topically or ingested, may also act as a natural sunscreen, protecting your skin from sun damage [source: USA Today]. And if you plan correctly, you can also enjoy a nice cup of hot tea in the process. For long-term skin care, you might want to consider investing in a good daily eye moisturizer.

For more information on moisturizing and skin care, see the links on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Almasi, Mary Rose. "The No-Knife Eye Lift." WebMD. Oct. 8, 2008. (Sept. 9, 2009)
  • Gibson, Lawrence. "Puffy Eyes: How Can I Reduce Puffiness?" Mayo Clinic. Oct. 27, 2007. (Sept. 9, 2009)
  • Kunin, Audrey. "Dark Circles." DermaDoctor. (Sept. 9, 2009)
  • USA Today. "Putting caffeine on skin lowers risk of cancer in lab mice." 2008. (Sept. 9, 2009)