At Swell No More, we have finally developed a solid solution for reducing puffy eyes and bringing about several other beneficial results. Puffiness under the eyes is a common symptom of allergies, lack of sleep, stress and poor diet. Your eyes will become puffy when the skin around them becomes irritated or itchy. People who consume large amounts of alcohol and sodium before bed may also wake up with puffy eyes due to water retention. Stress may cause your skin and eyes, along with other parts of your body, to weaken and become susceptible to problems like swelling.
Apply something cold to your eyes. Eye puffiness is a buildup of fluids in the tissues around your eyes, and like other types of swelling, it can be reduced with the application of a cool compress of some kind. Chilled cucumber slices are the perfect size and shape for your eyes, and the ascorbic acid in them works well to temporarily reduce puffiness. Lie back and place them over your closed eyelids for 15 minutes, or until they grow warm.
Puffy or swollen eyes can be caused by fluid retention, stress, allergies, hormone changes, and other factors. Crying is often accompanied by swollen eyes because the tiny glands in the eyelids that produce tears become inflamed from overactivity.
I’ve written about this product before as a primer for my makeup. I love using it under my eyes in the morning — the sea salt and caffeine really help with de-puffing and just general perking up before work. It’s also really great to use before going in with under-eye concealer, as it provides that extra grip for your makeup. This is also one of my favorite things to throw in my bag and use after long-haul flights.
There’s a third form of pink eye that can cause eye puffiness too: allergy-related pink eye, which tends to affect both eyes at the same time and typically causes watery discharge and itching in the corners of your eyes. If you also experience a runny nose or sneezing when you have pink eye, it’s probably allergy-related, says Dr. Manusis.
Talk with your doctor if you have year-round or seasonal allergies. Allergies can cause your eyes to redden, swell, and puff up. This prompts you to rub your eyes more, resulting in further puffiness. Your doctor can help create a treatment plan to alleviate your symptoms. This may include eye drops and over-the-counter or prescription medication.
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To de-puff after watching a tearjerker flick or getting misty-eyed at a wedding, apply a cold compress to your eyes for a few minutes. A splash of cool water and a dab of concealer can also help you hide that you were crying (but concealer can’t do much for actually making your eyes less puffy, unfortunately).
Also worth considering are NIOD Fractionated Eye-Contour Concentrate, and Eco Your Skin VOLUFILINE15 EYE ESSENCE. NIOD was the only true eye serum that made it to our list of finalists — it’s a liquid that comes in a dropper. It doesn’t absorb as quickly as Drunk Elephant or Mizon, with all of our testers reporting moderately oily residue. Eco Your Skin is heavier still — we almost bumped it into our “heavy creams” category. Its standout features is the size of its bottle. Unlike most of our finalists, which usually cap at 15 mL, Eco Your Skin comes in a 50 mL bottle. This helps explain its higher price tag ($70).
Place the filled containers in the refrigerator for less than an hour until the liquid returns to solid form. After it turns to a solid, there is no need to keep it refrigerated. The oils will not become rancid.
Science has yet to discover a single ingredient that can reverse the aging process. Often “marketing tool” ingredients like caffeine, peptides, or collagen are added to an eye cream formulation to enhance sales. But there is no scientific evidence that these ingredients have any real benefit or that they can reverse the aging process. On the other hand, dermatologists say these breakthrough anti-aging products are the real deal. The ability of an eye cream to improve the appearance of skin around the eye is more dependent on the product’s ability to increase the water content of the skin, which is basically its effectiveness as a moisturizer.
There was no single “correct” set of results. You might prefer a lighter or heavier lotion based on skin type or personal preference — one that soaks in quickly and leaves no trace, versus one that absorbs slowly and leaves behind a luxurious spa feel. There are, accordingly, lighter and heavy creams. So we asked our testers to rate how quickly each product absorbed, and split the results into light, medium, and heavy coverage. We also kept an eye out for any uniformly negative side-effects, dinging a few formulas that received repeated complaints from testers about being sticky (yuck) or overly drying. Even though one tester found SkinMedica to feel luxurious, all other testers described it as “gloopy,” or like the sticky feeling that comes from “pulling a sticker off and leaving goop behind.” Revision received similar complaints.
Outdoor precautions can include wearing face masks, especially when doing yard work during the spring and fall seasons. You can also ask your doctor to prescribe you antihistamine and decongestant medications to minimize the effects of allergy season.
Bags under eyes — mild swelling or puffiness under the eyes — are common as you age. With aging, the tissues around your eyes, including some of the muscles supporting your eyelids, weaken. Normal fat that helps support the eyes can then move into the lower eyelids, causing the lids to appear puffy. Fluid also may accumulate in the space below your eyes, adding to the swelling.
Some eye cream types contain ingredients that help firm the skin, like caffeine, retinol, or vitamin C. These may temporarily provide a firmer look to the eyes. Those creams that help to lighten skin around the eyes, especially dark circles may contain ingredients such as hydroquinone or Vitamin K. Occasionally you’ll find creams that offer anti-aging or firming benefits and reduce dark circles.
Elevate your head when you sleep. It’s not unusual to have puffy eyes upon waking. A possible explanation for this may be that when you are lying down for several hours in a horizontal position and then stand up, the fluid that was resting under your eyes is suddenly being pulled down by gravity. To reduce it, you can try using an extra pillow while sleeping so that the fluid is not as drastically drawn down when you get up.
I mix beeswax pellets with just a little bit of rosehip oil (don’t want it to be greasy) and some quality frankincense oil (I order my oil through Tropical Traditions). The beeswax doesn’t melt into my eyes quite as quickly as the coconut oil, thus it stays off my eyeballs and I don’t get blurry vision. I’ve come to know that using this at night before bed is the best way. During the daytime I mix frankincense with grapeseed oil (soaks in right away) and use it under my powdered mineral make-up and it works out fine. At night I want something heavier though, so I stay with the beeswax.
We all know that the skin under our eyes is extremely delicate. It is almost always the first to age and is about 0.5mm thick while the rest of our skin is about 2 mm thick. Under eye skin, or periorbital skin, becomes thinner much faster than it should when it is not cared for appropriately. With the hectic lifestyles and the constant pollution we’re exposed to, the skin deteriorates, showing the blood vessels under your skin more clearly. This causes the appearance of dark circles.
Ordinary swelling around the eyes means you have an excessive accumulation of fluids, called edema, in surrounding skin tissue. Because the skin around the eyes is the thinnest skin in the body, swelling and discoloration can be quite prominent.
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Eyes are more prone to dryness, so it’s important to keep the eyelid and undereye hydrated. Dark circles or puffy eyes can develop as a result of poor diet, lack of sleep, allergies or genetics. And the eyes are usually the first to show signs of aging in the form of fine lines and wrinkles. The earlier you start addressing these issues the better, though it’s never too late to start using an eye cream or serum specifically tailored to your needs.
Using these products occasionally is fine, but relying on them for days on end isn’t a good idea. “Using [over-the-counter eye drops and nasal sprays] for too long can make the problem worse and cause dependence,” warns Dr. Ellman-Gunther. “You should always confirm with a doctor what’s safe to use and for how long before using over the counter products for more than a few days.” Talk to your doctor about prescription meds as well.
It is not the intention of eyehealthweb.com to provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. Always seek the advice of an eye doctor, physician or other qualified health care professional for diagnosis and answers to your medical questions. The use of this website is governed by our Terms & Conditions of Use.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler’s educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.