Swim

How to Prevent and Manage Goggle Eyes

Walking into the office with goggle eyes after your morning swim session is less than ideal. These low maintenance skincare tips will set you up for success.

I hop out of the pool after my Monday morning swim ready to face the day at work. Hours later, I glance in the mirror and can’t help but notice the faint goggle-induced circles under my eyes. What gives? How can I prevent goggle eyes?

According to Dr. Darrell Rigel, Clinical Professor of Dermatology at New York University Medical Center and team dermatologist for the New York Yankees, “Chronic use of goggles is going to add up over time,” he said, comparing the effects of pressure from goggles and chlorine exposure to the gradual “drip, drip, drip” of a leaky faucet. Raccoon eyes don’t have to be inevitable. Here are some things you can do.

Prevent Goggle Eyes by Starting on the Inside

Jessica Kendall, a former collegiate athlete and the founder of Beauty Asylum, a hair and makeup styling service with locations throughout the southeast U.S., explained, “I’m a big believer in starting internally.” She emphasizes the importance of staying hydrated during exercise and eating foods with omegas, as well as taking a multi-vitamin and probiotic. 

Dr. Rigel suggests applying a 5 to 10% Vitamin C serum because Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help with facial lines.

Before Your Swim

Adelle Tracey, a 2020 Olympic hopeful middle-distance runner and one of seven young athletes who lit the cauldron at the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony, also happens to be a makeup artist with experience doing everything from photoshoots to weddings for clients including athletes. Before the swim, Tracey said you should “definitely cleanse and moisturize” because this forms a “barrier” against chlorine. 

“It pays to moisturize before you get into the pool,” Dr. Rigel said. He noted that a moisturizer with a greasier consistency is more effective, but it might be uncomfortably heavy. Kendall also suggested applying a balm or Vaseline to prevent goggles from digging into your skin. 

After Your Swim

Wash your face as soon as possible after your swim. With chlorine, Kendall explained, “the longer it sits on your skin, the more damage it does.”

Both Kendall and Dr. Rigel said the next step is applying a moisturizer. For an affordable option, Kendall suggests Trader Joe’s Ultra Hydrating Gel Moisturizer. She also likes Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with avocado. Dr. Rigel did not express a preference for a brand or particular ingredient, instead noting that “the best moisturizer is the one you’re going to use.”

If you have time, Tracey suggests applying moisturizer with a jade roller, a hand-held device about the size and shape of a disposable razor with an oval-shaped smooth stone. Tracey said using a roller instead of your fingers can reduce pulling on the skin, and “the coolness is really beneficial in reducing inflammation.” The jury is out on the effectiveness of jade rollers (as this author learned in a protracted internet search for “do jade rollers work?”), and Dr. Rigel noted that any reduction in the appearance of under-eye circles would be temporary.

How Do I Cover My Circles?

If you still find yourself walking into your day with goggle eyes, fairly minimal makeup can help. Do not apply makeup immediately after you moisturize, Kendall said. “Let the moisturizer set.” Use a base with a pink tone to offset the blue and purple under-eye hues.

Tracey said “the base is the most important thing because you won’t need as much makeup” with a good base. Next Tracey would apply a concealer with a buffing brush or your hands. Pat it around the inner corners of your eyes and the bridge of your nose. Finish by setting the concealer with a translucent powder like L’Oréal Infallible.

If all this makeup talk seems a little overwhelming, Dr. Rigel said to take at least this one piece of advice: “Match your skin tone.” Kendall suggested choosing a concealer one shade lighter than your skin tone, but don’t go lighter than the skin right below your eyebrow. “Skin should look like skin,” she said.

Do What’s Practical

Finally, Dr. Rigel recognized that athletes—from elite professionals to weekend warriors—“don’t want to be distracted” from their training. Kendall notes that many skin-care tools are available and can be helpful when you want to prevent goggle eyes, but “not all those things are practical. Do what’s practical.”