Black Eyes – Tips and Tricks

Ok no posh title for this one but dealing with black eyes is the one things I dreaded when I started martial arts. It took over 5 years of Thai Boxing before I got my first one and since then I’ve had a variety of shiners. Luckily in BJJ I have only had a couple as they don’t happen as often but the chances of getting them are still enough that I thought it was worth sharing my top tips.

Note this is for a basic black eye – if you have any cuts, your eyeball hurt, you’ve got dizziness, blurred or unusual vision then how it looks is the least of your concerns for now. Go get it checked out!

Straight Away

My last black eyeIce, Ice Baby –  Even if it doesn’t hurt when you’ve done it. Ice it! I haven’t always felt getting my black eye, adrenaline is a wonderful thing especially when they happen in competition. But essentially they are just bruises so get that swelling down as soon as you can! Just remember not to put the ice directly on the eye. Its sensitive skin and you don’t want ice burn. Wrap it in a cloth or something first. Hold it firm to the skin and apply very light pressure (feel it but don’t hurt yourself). Don’t attempt to “iron” the bruise out. Unless you know what you are doing you can actually make the black eye look bigger / worse.


Arnica Cream – As I’ve said a black eye is a bruise so arnica cream works on these too. Although the skin around the eye is sensitive so be careful how you apply it. Also as I have sensitive skin I stick to an organic brand – my favourite is Neals Yard Salve. Although it is quite heavy on the skin and smells of lavender so I only use it on a night!

Warm Compresses – Again like any bruise you need to break it down so after the first 24hrs or so you can use a warm damp flannel and apply it to the bruising – do this for around 10 minutes. It’s ideal to do while you have a bath and first thing in the morning. You can do it every 2hrs or so if you have the opportunity.

Massage – You don’t want to prodding and pressing it too much but some gentle massage as you rub your arnica cream in will help. Just go with how it feels.

Living with it

Be Proud – My first tip is actually be honest about it – sticking make up on it might not always be possible especially if you have broken skin or if it’s really tender. So be ready to walk around with it on display and carry on like normal. The less fuss you make the less people notice. Although if you have any colleagues or friends who are lip readers I can guarantee these people will notice no matter what you do it so just be prepared! Oh and of course teammates will want to have a good look at it especially if they gave you it!

Black eye make upHide it – Ok bit of a confession here – i am rubbish with make up but I have managed a reasonable cover up job in the past. You can buy professional cover up kits off the internet or from a pharmacy but I make do with an extended make-up kit. The challenge is bruises are all different colours so there different each time you do them. But some basic advice (again make up is only if your skin is unbroken).

  1. For areas of redness apply a green-tinted concealer. I found this one of the hardest concealers to get hold of cheaply (I don’t get black eyes all the time!) but boots sell them (No17 or natural collection).
  2. Apply a yellow-tinted concealer to the area to reduce the look of bruising that appears blue or black. My go to for this is Lemon Aid by benefit. It’s designed for the eyes and is thick enough to do the trick.
  3. Apply pink highlighting concealer to the area to reduce the look of bruising that appears yellow. I’ve found my normal eye makeup / concealer does the trick here – I tend to use a Mac eye primer.
  4. Whatever colour it is you’re applying put on a thin coat of concealer gently with your fingertips. Some people swear you should always use a brush but I’ve found fingers easier and more sensitive for this situation.  Remember its always easier to add more makeup than having to take it off and start again. Depending on where the bruise is (but particularly lower eye) you might also want to mirror the makeup on your other eye (at least a basic concealer) to make things look more balanced.
  5. Once your happy apply a layer of foundation over as you would normally when putting on makeup, then apply a coat of translucent powder. If this is for a male I’ve found that i still use the foundation but just on the eyes and use it to help blend everything in.
  6. Continue with the rest of your eye make up as normal. This is where females have an added advantage in terms cover up. Try and wear mascara when you can (to help open up the eye) and I have found that my more purple or darker eye shadows actually come into their own here as well depending on the bruising.

I hope you find these tips and tricks useful. If you know of any other good tips for dealing with black eyes then please get in touch and share them!


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