Here is what I tested:
Test 1: Cold gel mask
I know cold is supposed to be very effective at relieving swelling but I was not so impressed with the effect. First of all, it is a trial for my patience to spend 10-15 minutes lying with the mask on my face when I have so many things to do. Second of all, I did not see much effect after application. Swelling did subside a bit but not so noticeably.
I also saw some recommendations of applying cubes of ice to reduce swelling, so I decided to put the mask into a freezer. Upon application, my eyeballs felt frozen in just 5 seconds. It hurt! I think it can be dangerous to put very cold/frozen masks on your eyes for a long period - as you can get a worse health problem than just puffy eyes.
Test 2: Eye mask Anti-Stress from Estee Lauder (cooled in freezer)
Estee Lauder’s Anti-Stress Mask is amazing in its ability to moisturize the thin skin around eyes. However, just cold masks did not take away the puffiness. When combined with cold gel mask, it did show result! It took though about 20 minutes wearing the mask and 2-3 short-term application of a very cold gel mask over the Anti-Stress mask.
Test 3: Cotton pads soaked in milk
I read many times that makeup artists resort to cold milk when they need to sooth irritated skin or swelling. This mask really worked! I had to make 2 applications though. First, with the eyes shut and pads over leads, then I folded them in the center soaked again, put into fridge for 3 minutes and applied just under my eye. After 5 minutes I could see the effect!
Then I decided to make these masks a bit colder and put them for 1 minute into freezer. After all of this trouble my puffiness was almost completely gone.
Test 4: High Pillow
In the morning I did see that due to high pillow my eyes were less puffy – or was it just a good day for me!? I applied gel mask for a few minutes and then followed up with my cream. I have to say, I was very impressed by the effect of sleeping with a more raised head and started sleeping only on a high pillow after that.
Test 5: Cucumber mask
Cucumber and potato contain natural astringents. It means that upon topical application they tend “to shrink or constrict body tissues”. Cucumber masks did show results. I cut thin slices and applied over the leads. After 2 applications the swelling subsided but I could feel the skin getting very tight as if “shrinking”. So I am wondering if using astrigent containing masks could be not so good for the thin skin as it dries it out or causes a slight stress.
Test 6: Potato mask
Potato masks worked as well as cucumbers. Could see results after application of thin slices 2 times for 3-5 minutes. But I experienced the same feeling of tightness.
Test 7: Cooled tea bags
I tried 2 types of tea: black tea and chamomile. Though, again, I was not very impressed, I have to mention that chamomile tea seemed more effective to me than the black tea.
So now what I do upon waking up, if I see any swelling, I apply pads soaked in milk 1 or 2 times and then either apply a moisturizing mask if I feel the skin really needs it or apply my usual moisturizing cream. You can apply your moisturizer with circular anticlockwise movements (without stretching the skin!), finish up with light padding using your ring finger (which is supposed to be the weakest one!). Such light massage will also help to relieve the swelling.
Update 29.10.08: Here is a tip from Eva Mendes, InStyle US, Oct 2008:
"I often wake up puffy in the morning, so I do a very old-fashioned thing: I fill up a bowl with lots of ice and some witch hazel, and stick my face in the bowl over and over."
Read about the possible reasons for eye puffiness in my previous post.