- Puffy eyes are often caused by dehydration, excessive sodium consumption and fatigue.
- Serums and gels that contain active ingredients can de-puff the eyes and prevent future reoccurrences.
- Many DIY methods are also effective in reducing puffiness.
- If your puffy eyes do not improve, or worsen, consult a doctor.
Puffy eyes are the result of fluid retention below the eye. They are usually caused by various lifestyle and environmental factors and commonly occur after late nights or when you’ve consumed too much alcohol or salty food.
When looking for solutions for puffy eyes, you can choose between several ingredients and techniques as well as apply preventative measures to avoid this issue in the future.
Caffeine de-puffs eyes by working as a vasoconstrictor, meaning it narrows blood vessels to reduce extra fluid below the eyes. For this reason, caffeine is an added ingredient in many under-eye products.
In an attempt to achieve this benefit, coffee grounds are sometimes added to DIY face mask recipes. However, this can be risky as coffee grounds are coarse, and may cause abrasion or irritation to sensitive skin.
“Requirements for food grade ingredients are far different from those required for skin care,” explains dermatologist Jeanine B. Downie, MD. “I’ve never recommended my patients use coffee grounds in skin care.”
Peptides, which occur naturally in the body, can be applied topically to promote collagen production. Peptides aren’t a quick fix for puffy eyes, but regular use can increase skin firmness and thickness. Improved skin quality reduces your susceptibility to puffy eyes—especially if you have become prone to them with age.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) treats a secondary aspect of puffy eyes: dehydrated skin. This acid helps skin retain its moisture and is a key ingredient in maintaining the overall healthy appearance of the under-eye area.
Daily use of an eye cream, serum or gel containing HA keeps skin moisturized and reduces your likelihood of developing puffy eyes.
Aloe vera can calm redness while reducing inflammation around tired, puffy eyes. Many de-puffing products include aloe vera gel as an ingredient, but you can also use the sap of the plant itself and apply directly to your skin.
Many under-eye products are designed to be applied via a rollerball mechanism. These eye rollers do more than simply deliver ingredients such as peptides or HA: the action of gliding the metal rollerball over the under-eye area massages away fluid while providing a cooling sensation.
Jade rollers, available online and at beauty supply stores, serve a similar purpose: this tool is rolled over the face, massaging excess fluid and draining the lymphatic glands. Use a roller made of jade or rose quartz to experience the cooling feeling of the stone – plastic won’t have the same effect.
However, not all doctors recommend the use of eye rollers for treating puffy eyes. “Eye rollers can easily slip while you’re massaging the area and injure the eye,” says Dr. Downie. “Too much pressure with application could cause bruising or abrasions.”
Those concerned about the possibility of damaging their eye area should avoid eye rollers and try a different treatment method.
Cold Treatments for Your Eyes
Because cold temperatures reduce blood flow, cold applied below the eye can reduce swelling in this area. This is the principle behind several common DIY remedies for puffy eyes.
As a quick de-puffing strategy, cut up a chilled cucumber and place a slice over each eye for a few minutes. Cucumber has antioxidant properties to reduce irritation.
Chill two spoons in the freezer, then hold over the eyes for a few minutes to reduce morning puffiness. If you wake up often with puffy eyes, you may want to keep two spoons in the freezer for an early morning ritual.
The tannins in green tea have astringent properties to shrink blood vessels and tighten the skin below the eyes. Steep two tea bags in boiling water for approximately one minute to release the tannins, let cool in the refrigerator, then place tea bags over the eyes for several minutes to de-puff.
Soak a washcloth in cold water, fold and place over the eyes to calm puffiness. Beauty supply stores also carry eye masks designed to be kept in the freezer for puffy-eye treatment.
If your puffy eyes appear with the first signs of spring, there’s a good chance they are due to allergies. Try over-the-counter antihistamines or consult with a doctor to ensure you’re treating the allergies appropriately.
Some people have eyes that naturally appear puffy regardless of their lifestyle and good skin care habits.
Should this be the case, options exist to correct puffy eyes more permanently. Fillers can smooth out the under-eye area and reduce the appearance of puffiness. Fillers typically last for 6–9 months before being absorbed into the body.
If your puffiness is accompanied by under-eye bags, eyelid surgery or blepharoplasty can serve as a permanent solution. However, surgery is only a viable option for severe cases caused by medical disorders or aging.
Do’s and Don’ts for Puffy Eyes
Do get a good night’s rest every night: the average adult needs 7–9 hours of sleep.
If you wake up with puffy eyes regardless, sleeping with an extra pillow under your head will promote fluid drainage. Alternatively, use bed risers to elevate the headboard feet of your bed.
Do get enough potassium in your diet. Potassium, a mineral found in bananas, leafy greens, and citrus fruits, helps counteract the effects of sodium in the body. Certain medications can also help increase the amount of potassium in the body. “A potassium-sparing diuretic prescription, Spironolactone, could lower sodium and therefore help reduce fluid accumulation,” says Dr. Downie.
Do use a concealer: once you successfully reduce your eye puffiness, there’s a good chance you’ll be sporting dark circles beneath the eye as the two conditions often appear together. A concealer applied below the inner corner of the eye and blended outward will make you look more awake and well-rested.
Don’t use hemorrhoid cream below the eyes. While hemorrhoid cream is a commonly recommended DIY treatment, it’s not safe to use around the eyes and may cause injury. “Phenylephrine, a vasoconstrictor, is one of the active ingredients in Preparation H, and can be a strong irritant,” explains Dr. Downie.
Don’t overindulge in overly salty foods. The recommended sodium intake for adults is 1,500 mg per day, but many people consume far greater amounts. Opt for home-cooked meals using fresh ingredients as often as possible, as they contain much lower levels of sodium than prepackaged foods.
Rarely, puffy eyes can be a sign of a more serious medical condition. If your puffy eyes don’t diminish with treatment and take on a more swollen appearance, or if you experience pain and redness around the eyes, see a doctor. You may have an eye infection or, less commonly, a thyroid disorder.
There are a wide number of solutions available to get rid of puffy eyes and prevent them from reoccurring in the future, from caffeine- and peptide-infused serums to jade rollers and cucumber slices.
For most people, puffy eyes come and go in relation to sleeping habits, diet and alcohol consumption. However, if your eyes are chronically puffy, you may consider surgical or minimally invasive treatment.
If you’re experiencing swelling around eyes accompanied by other symptoms, consult a doctor to ensure your puffy eyes aren’t an indicator of a more serious condition.
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