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10 best anti-aging eye masks

Banish bags and target wrinkles with one of these super-charged treatments

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When it came to testing out this particular section of the beauty market, we over-50s are often the ideal candidates, with both dark circles and puffy bags to bring to the table. 

While eye creams can often feel as if they are dragging on delicate under-eye skin, masks home right in on problem areas.

They give an almost instant skin-tightening effect and are intended to relieve dark circles, puffy eyes, fine lines and a general look of fatigue.

While the effect may not be permanent, it is reassuring to know that it is possible.

Most of the masks we tried consisted of a pack containing a pair of under-eye patches, which you put on for between 10 to 30 minutes, allowing your skin to absorb a targeted burst of ingredients just where you want them.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Many other masks on the market come in the form of a cream or gel in a tube rather than a physical mask, and we included one of these, and also the innovative Spacemasks, which resemble a conventional sleep mask in appearance  but are designed to be used for 15 minutes of relaxation.

Our group of testers range in age from 50s to 70s (although you would never guess the latter now that she has spent a bit of quality time working on her bags). Most masks were tested over a couple of weeks.

1. Elemis Pro-Collagen Hydra-Gel Eye Masks: £47.50 for six sachets, Look Fantastic

These are suggested as a pre-occasion pick-me-up, and they are wonderfully cooling, soothing and non-greasy. They adhere comfortably to the under-eye area, and on first use, 20 minutes of testing felt very relaxing with distinct evidence of de-puffing and (although there might be an element of wishful thinking here) a reduction in dark circles. The application of the moisture-infused gel mask was slightly fiddly but the results were worth it and we think it would be a shame to save these just for special occasions.

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2. Spacemasks: £15 for a box of five, Trouva

We defy anyone to use these without drifting into a blissful semi-sleeping (or, to be honest, actually sleeping) state. You get a pack of one-use masks that looks like a conventional eye-mask that you would wear to block out the light to sleep, but is actually full of iron particles that heat up naturally when you take the mask out of the pack and put it on. As the mask slowly heats up it releases a gentle aroma of jasmine, and as it gets warmer you get more relaxed. Cue 15 minutes of perfect rest, with the light well and truly blocked out, beneficial to mind and spirit and giving you the improved appearance of the truly relaxed.

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3. Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist 24 Pure Retinol Express Smoothing Eye Mask: £60 for 12 sachets, John Lewis 

The eye pads are made from a stretchable material designed to adhere easily to the skin. The instructions are easy to follow, and the patches are simple to apply as they are larger than some. In a neat bit of multi-tasking, you can use them around your mouth as well. We found them most effective on the eye area and noticed some distinct eye-bag smoothing as we diligently worked through the box of treatment sheets at the recommended rate of two or three times a week.    

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4. Gatineau Collagene Expert Smoothing Eye Pads: £39 for six sachets, Look Fantastic

Heavily infused with a cooling and non-greasy collagen solution, these light gauze pads are simple to use. Our tester found the pads were easy to separate and simply plop under her eyes, and she dabbed on the remaining gel from the pack, rather than waste it. The best part was to just sit back and spend a pleasant 10 minutes letting them do their thing. On taking them off, she felt that her face looked refreshed with the area around her eyes plumped and younger-looking. The effect lasted for a day at most, but before a big event or for a pick-me-up on a slow day she felt that these smoothing pads would definitely be a good option, and intends to keep on using them. 

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5. Rodial Dragon’s Blood Eye Masks: £39 for eight sachets, Harvey Nichols

By no means as scary as the name suggests, the Dragon’s Blood extract is actually the red sap from the Sangre de Drago tree, which creates a protective “second skin” layer on the face. These little masks are fiddly to separate from their packaging, but have clear instructions, and with an amount of fluid that makes it possible to carry on with the day for the recommended 20-30 minutes if a nice restful lie-down is not on your agenda. Meanwhile, hyaluronic acid plumps the skin and arnica extract reduces the look of puffiness and dark circles. This is gentler than it sounds, and delivers a small, short-term improvement in puffiness, enough to be noticed by the tester’s husband, which has to be a significant result. 

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6. Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery Eye Mask: £10, Feel Unique

After applying for a recommended 10 minutes once a week, these little patches really deliver.  An ecstatic tester is worth quoting verbatim at this point: “Great! Bags almost disappeared! Whole area looked much better! Amazing!” These were a bit of a fiddle to get started though, with slightly confusing instructions that were hard to follow, the patches were quite oily and a little bit slippery to apply. However, it is definitely worth persevering.

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7. Sisley Eye Contour Mask: £85, John Lewis

This product is a gel in a tube rather than an actual mask. Our tester found it easy and relaxing to use, as you simply smooth it on round the eye area and wipe it off after 10 minutes. It has a pleasant rosewater fragrance and straightforward instructions (although, as is so often the case these days, a larger font would have helped).  After using the product for a week she reported that her eye area definitely felt refreshed and rejuvenated, if not with as obvious results as some on the list. She concluded that having never used a mask before, she would buy this one again. The product has the advantage that it can be used on the eyelids as well as the under eye area and around the mouth.

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8. Chantecaille Gold Energizing Eye Recovery Mask: £185 for eight packs, Space NK

While plankton does crop up from time to time in other ingredient lists, this is the only one we have encountered so far that contains actual gold, in serum form. Our tester found that the mask was easy to use, with straightforward instructions, clearly illustrated, and after applying for 20 minutes her eyes looked distinctly less puffy. Used three to four times a week, the idea is that the mask will boost collagen production, giving a “smoother” eye area. In fact, being able to multi-task by using the under-eye mask at the same time as watching the tennis gave our reviewer a sense of well-being and relaxation that is hard to beat, and the product’s complete lack of smell made it feel natural and non-chemical. It is constructed from a virtually invisible gel-like material. You could actually answer the door while wearing these patches without causing undue alarm. Though indisputably at the expensive end of the spectrum, this is a great product using fabulous ingredients that really seems to be delivering the goods.

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9. Superdrug Refreshing Hydrogel Eye Patches: £1.49 per pack, Superdrug

These are a bargain option that are ideal for rejuvenating a fatigued eye area (rather than necessarily changing its appearance). They contain sea algae, gardenia extract and caffeine and we felt refreshed after 10-15 minutes of use (we chilled the pack in the fridge).  Although they’re weightier than some on the list and as you would expect for this price, not as generously infused as many of the other brands they’re good for a once-a-week pick-me-up.

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10. Estee Lauder Stress Relief Eye Mask: £29 for 10, John Lewis

For those many moments when your eyes just feel tired, hot and cross, this is an eye mask that makes simple claims, and delivers the goods. There is something about the smell of cucumber that always seems refreshing, and combined with aloe vera a revitalizing ten minutes with this pre-soaked mask really did the trick after a busy day in the hot weather. Our eyes felt less tired, and as a result looked better. This would be a great product to have in reserve when travelling, as well as for an everyday quick lift.

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The Verdict: Anti-ageing eye masks 

Elemis was the most effective and also the most comfortable in a strong field, with an honourable mention for Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair. Spacemasks are a brilliant one-off, virtually guaranteed to make anyone who uses them feel relaxed and refreshed, and for sheer luxury, Chantecaille has to get the gold star.

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IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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