If you’re looking for a straight-up answer to the question of whether you should use Preparation H on your face to treat wrinkles, here it is: no. No, you should not. We’re not sure where the anti-aging skin care myth originated—is “Miss Congeniality” really to blame?—or how it became so pervasive, but we can assure you that it is not the unexpected miracle cure for your crow’s feet.
Of course, there’s a little bit more to it than that. The main ingredient in the name-brand hemorrhoid cream is phenylephrine, which constricts blood vessels—and yes, that includes those responsible for dark circles beneath your eyes. It also contains hydrocortisone, an anti-inflammatory topical steroid that works wonderfully as a treatment for some legitimate skin conditions and irritations, like eczema and bug bites.
Both of those things, in theory, sound like they could be effectively combined to treat fine lines and other undesirable signs of aging, but Preparation H really isn’t much of a solution. It can temporarily give the under eye area a “tighter” appearance, but its prolonged use can result in thinner, more fragile skin—the last thing you need in that delicate area!—and have a “rebound” effect that encourages an increase in swelling and enlarged blood vessels. Scarier still, because hydrocortisone is a steroid, using it too frequently can seriously mess with your adrenal gland, which is responsible for your body’s response to stress.
Between the damaging effects on your skin and the potential for actual health complications, Preparation H is far, far more trouble than the possible-but-not-guaranteed fleeting skin-tightening properties are worth. Instead of reaching for dubious quick fixes, combat your undereye wrinkles, dark circles, and swelling with preventative measures: plenty of water, good sleeping and eating habits, sunscreen, and an anti-aging skin care routine will all prove far more effective in the long run than dabbing butt cream on your eye area and calling it a day. Trust us.
Read more from Daily Makeover: Are Under Eye Sheet Masks Worth It?