Add this to your list of beauty concerns to worry about: yellow eyes and learning how to whiten your eyes. Yes, it’s a legitimate worry people have, and it’s common.
As if dull, tired, skin weren’t enough to ruin your day, studies show that yellow eyes can make you look older, more tired or even sad. Plus, when the whites of your eye turn yellow, it can be a sign of a larger health issues like allergic reactions, glaucoma and toxin buildup, among other ailments. Once you’ve ruled out health issues after heading to a medical professional, here are 10 ways to make the whites of your eyes look whiter, from eye-whitening drops to clever makeup tricks.
For Immediate Results
Eye Drops: There are plenty of eye drops out there claiming to make the whites of your eyes brighter, but for quick results when you need them most, try Innoxa Blue Drops ($21.33 at Amazon). The drops are blue in color, which will counteract the red or yellow tint in your eye, making them appear brighter and whiter.
Be careful not to use them on a regular basis, as you can get what’s called “rebound redness,” which basically means that your eyes will look white a few minutes after using the drops, and then the redness will return hours later with continued use. If you wear contacts, Los Angeles-based dermatologist and author Jessica Wu recommends using a moisturizing eye drop, such as Refresh Tears ($9.89 at Target).
Soy Milk: “Soak a few cotton pads in cold soy milk and hold them over your eyes,” says Dr. Wu. “The cold temperature, along with the anti-inflammatory proteins in soy milk, will shrink blood vessels to reduce bloodshot eyes and decrease puffiness.”
Plenty of Fluids: Dehydration can really take a toll on the whites of your eyes, which is why drinking plenty of water is extremely important.
Shimmery White Shadow: Using a shimmering white eyeshadow just in the inner corners of your eyes can make a world of difference. Besides brightening up the darkest, shadowed place on your face, you’ll be brightening your yellow or red eyes, too, making everything appear fresh!
Blue Eyeliner or Mascara: For an approach with makeup, take out your favorite blue eyeliner or mascara. In the same way that blue eye drops will counteract the yellow and white colors, so will blue makeup. Applying blue liner along the bottom lash line will be especially effective. Tap some concealer on your upper and lower eyelids as well, Dr. Wu recommends.
For Gradual Results
Eat Carrots: Vitamin C is extremely helpful in brightening your eyes, as it can help prevent the buildup of foreign debris that can come into your eye. Carrots are high in vitamins A and C and will promote a brighter, healthier looking eye.
Avoid Sugars and Fats: If it isn’t clear by now, sugars and fats aren’t doing you any favors. We’re all suckers for candy and junk food, but the effects of eating foods with high sugar and fat content are nothing but terrible. These become toxins that flood your liver, and when your liver can’t work properly, the toxins take over your body, which can result in yellow or red eyes. Avoid processed, sugary and high-fat foods to clear out your liver (and thus, your eyes).
Avoid Caffeine: Like we mentioned earlier, anything that dehydrates you can wreak havoc on your eyes, and caffeine is one of the biggest culprits of dehydration. If you’re going to drink one cup of coffee or caffeinated tea a day, match it with one glass of water to balance out the dehydration. After that, steer clear of coffee, tea or caffeinated soda.
Wear Sunglasses: “Wear sunglasses when outdoors because wind and UV rays can cause thickening and yellowing of the whites of your eyes, a condition called pterygium,” says Dr. Wu.
Avoid Irritants: Avoiding irritants, from smoke and dust to pollen and any other allergens, can seriously help your eyes to stay white. Steer clear of smokers on the street or hanging around with any friends while they’re smoking, and do what you can to keep your living area free of dust and allergens. These can cause red eyes practically instantly.
A version of this article was originally published in July 2016.