Anyone who works a job that has any kind of stress level knows that the constant “no sleep” situation is real. You’ve probably Googled “how to get rid of eye bags ” on more than one occasion, and you’d do just about anything to get rid of them. And even after you’ve tried a million expensive treatments, they usually come back.

Truth is, your eye puffiness and darkness could be inherited. The under eye area is one of the thinner areas and is easily neglected in basic skin care. There is a strong genetic component to dark circles, which is out of people’s control. Sometimes you have them because of an increase in pigment in that area.

Below are ways to minimize the appearance of those circles that won’t cost you an arm or a leg. These affordable tips go way beyond putting cucumbers on your eyes.

  1. If you have dark circles from thin skin, use a retinoid.

With repeated use, retinol can stimulate the production of collagen, making the skin less thin and improving the dark circles. Retinoid help rebuild dermal collagen and thereby contribute to vascular support in the area and the recovery of skin volume and firmness.

  1. Sleep on your back and use an extra pillow.

If dark, puffy bags under your eyes seem to be the morning problem, consider sleeping on your back with an extra pillow so that fluid doesn’t pool overnight. Keeping your pillow protected from allergens (dust and dust mites) with a protective encasement can also help when allergies are the culprit.

  1. If you have dark circles because of increased pigment, use lightening products and sunscreen.

Sometimes dark circles are caused by increased pigment, either from rubbing or from sun damage. The best treatment for this includes topical lightening agents such as vitamin C, kojic acid, and licorice extract. These ingredients help decrease skin pigmentation over time, ultimately resulting in the lightening of the dark circles. And you must wear sunscreen.

  1. Take an antihistamine.

Most people have darkness under the eyes due to allergies and don’t realize it. An antihistamine helps clear that up.

  1. Try Preparation H — yes, really.

Prep H causes blood vessels on muscle walls to constrict. This will give a slightly longer-lasting effect than putting cucumbers on your eyes but may be irritating for some people.

  1. Be gentle with your makeup remover.

Consider your under eyes as sensitive skin even if you may not necessarily have sensitive skin. Under eye skin is among the thinnest on the body, so any trauma or irritation can cause skin inflammation. If you are using a towelette, try one that is fragrance-free, and take gentle strokes in a single direction rather than rubbing back and forth.

  1. Sleep more, or at least get more restful sleep.

The cheapest way to reduce the appearance of under eye bags is to get on a regular sleep routine of seven to eight hours per day. And don’t drink alcohol a few hours before bedtime.

  1. Try tea bags.

Caffeinated tea, which contains natural tannins, is a mild diuretic and long used by grandmothers and runway models for reducing eye puffiness. Soak two tea bags in warm water, then chill the bags for a few minutes in the refrigerator. Place one tea bag on each eye for five minutes, and your eyes will feel fresh and look brighter.

  1. Cool down.

If you need to minimize the appearance of dark circles and under-eye bags STAT, cooling down the area is one solution. Cucumber slices, potato slices, gel eye masks, cold washrags and even cold spoons can do the trick. Whatever you choose, leave it on for ten to twenty minutes and give it a chance to really soothe the skin under surrounding your eyes. Applying something cool to your eyes is especially effective at reducing constricting swollen under-eye blood vessels.

  1. Avoid excess salt in your diet.

It’s common knowledge that sodium can cause you to retain water, but did you know the bloat sodium causes in the body can also cause puffiness under your eyes? Yes — you can retain water even under your eyes. Ridding your diet of excess sodium can help combat bags under your eyes. Your eyes will thank you for cutting back on salt.

  1. Use essential oils.

If you’re into essential oils, you’ll be happy to know there are several oils that combat under-eye puffiness and dark circles. Try mixing an essential oil with coconut oil and rubbing it under your eyes. Rose geranium, fennel, lavender, German chamomile and rosemary essential oil are hailed as the best essential oils for getting rid of under-eye bags.

  1. Stay hydrated.

Staying hydrated is key if you’re wondering how to get rid of bags under your eyes. When the body is dehydrated, it responds by retaining as much water as it can, thus causing puffiness and under-eye bags. One way to avoid the bags altogether is by staying hydrated. To ensure you’re properly hydrated, stick to the 8 by 8 rule: Drink eight glasses of water eight times daily.

  1. Don’t drink too much alcohol.

Alcohol consumption is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to dehydration. If you’re drinking your requisite amount of water a day and still feeling dehydrated, take a look at your alcohol consumption. Alcohol acts as a diuretic in the body, causing you to lose not only fluid but also electrolytes. If you’re suffering from chronic eye bags, reducing your alcohol consumption might prove helpful.

  1. Eat foods packed with vitamin C.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is another solution for those wondering how to get rid of dark circles and how to get rid of bags under eyes. Eating food rich in vitamin C is helps your body produce collagen. Collagen is a protein your body produces, and one of its top qualities is that it keeps your skin—included the delicate skin under your eyes—healthy, hydrated and dark circle-free.

  1. Take collagen-producing vitamins.

You can also take vitamin C as a supplement, as well as amino acids and copper. All three of these will help you produce more collagen and keep under-eye circles at bay.

  1. Get enough iron.

Iron deficiency is another reason you might have dark circles. Combat iron deficiency with vitamin B12 and foods including red meat, pork, poultry, seafood, beans, spinach, raisins, apricots, and peas.

  1. If you smoke cigarettes, stop!

Cigarette smoke is known to cause dark circles and damage the delicate skin around the eyes. In addition to all the other benefits you’ll reap from abstaining from cigarettes, you’ll also have healthier, happier, brighter eyes.