Preparation H for Wrinkles - The Dermatology Review

Preparation H for Wrinkles



If you have ever taken a deep dive into researching how to get rid of under eye bags and wrinkles,  you’ve probably come across articles touting Preparation H as an option. This may have left you scratching your head, as the cream is meant to be used to ease the symptoms of hemorrhoids. How did Preparation H become linked to eye wrinkles, how (and why) do people think it works- and is it worth a try?

What is Preparation H?

Preparation H is a cream designed to help temporarily soothe the symptoms of hemorrhoids. According to the company, “It temporarily shrinks swollen hemorrhoidal tissue and provides prompt, soothing relief from painful burning, itching and discomfort.” There are a few different versions of Preparation H, and the classic ointment contains mineral oil and petrolatum, but the key ingredient is phenylephrine HC, a vasoconstrictor which helps to temporarily restrict blood vessels. Other versions include a Cooling Gel with aloe vera; an Anti-Itch cream with hydrocortisone; a Rapid Relief version with lydocaine and a Multisymptom Pain Relief version with vitamin E, panthenol and aloe vera.

Preparation H for Wrinkles

Preparation H started out as a remedy for sunburn decades ago, and the product is now owned by Pfizer.

Why Do People Use Preparation H on the Eye Area?

When you research how to fix puffy eyes and wrinkles, you’ll come across articles where makeup artists call Preparation H their “secret weapon,” and find plenty of blogs and vlogs touting its benefits. Kim Kardashian’s makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic has said he used Preparation H under the eyes. According to People magazine, in Dedivanovic’s 2017 makeup Master Class tutorial he said, “It Tightens the skin. That’s a really old, old trick. It smells really bad but it works.” Dedivanovic recommended applying it before concealer.

People assume that because the cream helps to temporarily restrict blood vessels in the rectal area, it must do the same thing for the eye area. Fans point to the addition of hydrocortisone, an anti-inflammatory that in theory might temporarily reduce puffiness.

If you take an even deeper dive into Preparation H history and lore, some people point out that older formulas contained a live yeast-cell derivative (LYCD or LYD), called biodyne. According to Healthline, biodyne helps with wound healing and burns. This yeast was removed from the American version in 1995, but fans of Preparation H for the eye area swear that it is the yeast that helps with under eye bags and wrinkles. The Canadian and some European versions of Preparation H currently have biodyne. The FDA has since banned the use of live yeast cell derivatives in the 1990s. According to the Associated Press in 1993 “the FDA regards it as effective only as a wound-healing agent and said two studies submitted by manufacturers failed to show it is effective in treating hemorrhoids.”

What Else Have People Used Preparation H For?

According to 2008 reports from ABC News and Newsweek, there was a trend of bodybuilders and club goers applying a layer of Preparation H on their bodies, with the intent of looking leaner. The theory is that by constricting blood vessels, excess water is removed from the skin, thereby making the body look slimmer.

Where Can I Buy Preparation H?

Preparation H is widely available at drugstores such as Walmart, Walgreens, CVS and Target as well as supermarkets and Amazon.

How Much Is Preparation H?

A tube of the ointment is about $9.99.

What Ingredients are in Preparation H?

Different versions of Preparation H have different formulations. The Rapid Relief with Lidocaine Cream contains glycerin (a protectant), lidocaine (local anesthetic), phenylephrine HCl (vasoconstrictor) and white petrolatum, a protectant. The Multi-Symptom Pain Relief Cream is formulated with glycerin,  phenylephrine HCl, pramoxine HCl (local anesthetic) and white petrolatum. The ointment has mineral oil, Petrolatum, Phenylephrine HCl. Phenylephrine HCl and Witch Hazel are the key ingredients in the Cooling Gel, while the Anti-Itch version contains Hydrocortisone 1%.

Preparation H Review- Does  Preparation H Work on Puffy Eyes and Wrinkles?

Google “does Preparation H work for wrinkles” and you’ll find articles claiming it’s a “beauty pageant secret,” along with Vaseline on teeth and hairspray on bikini bottoms. In 2017 vlogger Sasha Hartleb calls it her “insane, crazy, weird” beauty product. She says she has used it for two months and “it has changed her skin completely.” Hartleb notes that she used a version from Greece, which contains YSD (yeast cell derivative) and shark liver oil. In 2016 vlogger Catiebt called it “great for wrinkles or used as a primer.” There is plenty of praise for Preparation H on Pinterest and it is debated on Reddit, where one user noted “It’s an old wives tail [sic]  that’s sort of been jumbled. Preparation H near the eyes (which I wouldn’t recommend) was a trick for reducing immediate swelling and redness from allergies or crying. It was popular at beauty pageants and stuff. It wouldn’t do anything for everyday eye bags or dark circles..”

While we all yearn for a magical product to instantly depuff eyes and make the eye area look fresh, Preparation H is not the answer.  There are many reasons why.

 In 2008 Milicent Brooks, of Wyeth Consumer Healthcare (the parent company of Preparation H at that time time) told ABC news, Applying it to one’s chest is an off-label use of Preparation H. We don’t approve or endorse any off-label uses.” On the company’s FAQ section, the answer to “Can I use Preparation H on my face for wrinkles and bags under the eyes?” is “We do not recommend the use of Preparation H for any condition other than the uses indicated on the label.”

There are some potential side effects associated with using Preparation H on the eye area. According to Healthline, the phenylephrine in Preparation H “may temporarily make the area around the eyes appear tighter.” However, applying the cream around the eye area can have unwanted side effects.

According to the Mayo Clinic, hydrocortisone can cause a “thinning, weakness, or wasting away of the skin.” In addition, it can cause a “thinning of the skin with easy bruising, especially when used on the face or where the skin folds together (e.g. between the fingers).” Healthline warns that “prolonged use might result in skin that’s thinner, more fragile, red and swollen” and notes that “hemorrhoid creams that contain hydrocortisone can actually worsen some skin problems of the face, including impetigo, rosacea, and acne.” Healthline also points out that since hydrocortisone is a steroid,  and over time “it can affect your adrenal glands. Adrenal glands are responsible for your body’s response to stress.” The bottom line, according to Healthline, is that “There’s not much evidence suggesting that hemorrhoid creams can help reduce your wrinkles. Most claims are anecdotal and only pertain to formulations containing the banned substance LYCD.”

What Else Can I Do About Under Eye Wrinkles and Puffiness?

Tackling under eye wrinkles and puffiness is a multi-prong approach of prevention, figuring out what the root cause is and finding the right products to help improve the look of the eye area.

The skin around the eyes is some of the thinnest on the body, which means that genetics and bad habits show up here first. The sun’s damaging rays, squinting, smoking and rubbing your eyes all contribute to eye wrinkles. How you sleep (on your side or on your back) as well as the material of a pillowcase also play a role as constant creasing of the face can lead to wrinkles.

Environmental factors and lifestyle habits can also be behind puffiness and dark circles. Lack of sleep, allergies, smoking and the sun can all cause under eye circles, while puffy eyes can be chalked up to lack of sleep, hormones and stress. Salty foods and crying also contribute to puffiness, along with alcohol consumption.

Prevention starts with applying a cream with a high SPF around the eye area, and adding more protection by wearing sunglasses and a hat, to prevent squinting.

There many ways to tackle under eye bags, puffiness and wrinkles from home remedies to the right ingredients. Plenty of things can be found right in your kitchen.  Slices of cucumber, chilled tea bags or spoons stored in the freezer can all help to temporarily depuff eyes, as the cold helps constrict blood vessels. Tea bags are packed with caffeine, an antioxidant that can help temporarily shrink under eye bags, so look for green or black teas. Other options include applying chilled aloe vera gel, or flushing out your sinuses using a neti pot or saline spray if you suspect that puffy, baggy eyes are caused by allergies. Jade rollers are an easy way to help manually depuff eyes.

The right eye cream can also help to perk up the eye area. To depuff eyes, look for eye creams containing caffeine as well as vitamins C to lighten and brighten the appearance of the skin. USe an eye cream containing moisturizing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and squalene to boost moisture levels and soften the look of fine lines.  Retinol, derived from vitamin A, helps to soften the look of fine lines and wrinkles. Try applying an eye mask to give the area some pampering. For an instant improvement in the eye area, apply a hydrating concealer to brighten the eye area.

References: Healthline, the Mayo Clinic, ABC News,

  • julie lardner 08.25.19 Reply

    Hi Cindy, read your review,, I am going to start using this cream when it arrives soon.
    Can you tell me can I use hyaluronic acid, vitamin c , and day/night creams with this? I am 57 years old and loved your review, I hope you have time to reply to me please. Any advise would be great. thanks Julie

  • Faye 09.04.18 Reply

    Several years ago I mentioned to a friend that her mother’s complexion was so pretty and that I wondered what facial products she used. Her mother was about five years older than I. She told me Prep. H. and that she had been using it for some years. I could not believe this but she said it was true and that her mother had been using it for some years. She really did have beautiful skin.

  • Melissa 08.04.18 Reply

    I used preparation h for the first time this week when I woke up with really swollen eyes, my boyfriend told me to try it and it was the best crème I have ever used on my face. I have an appointment for derma fillers but I think I will see how this works out for me.

  • ToniMarie 06.12.18 Reply

    This is not so much a review as it is a question. I just bought Prep H, and I was told you need to get the Canadian one because they took something out of the one sold in the USA that does prevent and help wrinkles. I bought it, but… Do I need the cream or the ointment? I bought the cream and think I did the wrong thing. Can someone who has been using this with successful results, please advise. Thanks so much in advance.

  • Natalie 04.11.18 Reply

    I have used preperhation H on my face since I was 15 years , I love it , I look at friends that I went to school with they have really visuale wrinkles !! They look way older then me , love love it , I put it on my face after shower !! Never had problems with acne !! ❤❤❤

  • Katie 01.13.18 Reply

    I must say good luck to you if it works for you.I used preperation h under my eyes before bed and when I woke up had the worst rash ever.I’ve had it several months now and it burns and itches. Looking worse than it did to begin with. Good luck if it works for you.

  • Erica B. 09.07.17 Reply

    To me and I’m no expert, but how can preparation H help eye wrinkles like Botox? I hear so many say they use it for this. Prep H is a vasoconstrictor same as visine it constricts the blood vessels making them smaller or tighter-like the snake boa constrictor squeezes- if you will. Botox from my understanding relaxes the muscles allowing the skin to stretch apart this is the complete opposite of a vasoconstrictor. Since prep h constricts ,wouldn’t that make more wrinkles like pinching a napkin tight . I don’t know that I’m right but I think my logic is. Maybe its the placebo effect or great genes. Just a thought. Can someone explain how I’m wrong? Thanks

  • Christine 03.20.17 Reply

    I’ve been using Preparation H on my upper lip area, under and around my eyes and forehead also my neck for over 20 years now. I’ve tried OTC expensive products. Ordered many skin products online and some of these Top Super Models who have their own anti-aging creams? And nothing compares to the effects that Preparation H does for me. I’m 53 years old. I’m serious when I tell you I don’t look near 53. I get carded still! years ago I watched and Oprah Winfrey show, A lady stood up in the audience with smooth non-wrinkled skin. She looked fabulous. Oprah asked her what her secret was? The lady said she uses Preparation H for over 40 years! That was when I started using it for myself. It really work’s. Don’ even bother with those expensive creams that say Anti-aging on the bottles.
    I swear by Preparation H. Never had one side effect. I use every night after cleansing my skin. Heavier on forehead. Most stress lines I believe are on the forehead. I Use under and around the eyes,. and upper lip every night. I have no wrinkles at all!
    It’s hard to believe but, this is true and it does work. I told my OBGYN what I used on my skin, she said I think your using the product backwards LOL. She thought I was kidding but, I wasn’t!

  • Amanda 01.02.16 Reply

    I just started using it for eye bags and small wrinkles. My grandmother passed away at the of 75 and everyone believed her to be 10yrs younger and I spent the funeral visitation explaining she looked young but was elderly with health issues. She used prepH often. I began using it recently and have seen immediate results. I use it about 2-3 times a week on my face, neck, and chest. I focus around my eyes and my upper lip, neck fine lines, and center of my chest. Then sleep in it.

    If I wake up with bad eye bags I will put it on under my eyes while I make breakfast and wipe it off before makeup. I’ve found a good hour is enough to reduce eye swelling for the day.

    I’m 38, look pretty young anyway, but really want to stay that way! haha!

  • Cindy 06.18.14 Reply

    I read online that Sandra Bullock uses Preparation H for her face. I thought it strange, but I went to the store and bought some. I use it about 2 times a week along with my other hydration creams (Loreal products). I can’t say enough about the Preparation H cream. After I use it, the following day my face has diminished looking wrinkles. I will continue to use it and gave some to my sister and she has had the same results. I have had no negative reactions and will continue to use it for my fine lines and wrinkles. I just turned 54 and co-workers who did not know my age complimented me and said I looked close to 10 years younger. My personal feelings are that the preparation h cream has helped along with keeping my face hydrated to prevent wrinkles.

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