How To Get Rid of Puffy Eyes: 5 Pro Tips To Depuff Under Eyes

Have you ever looked in a mirror and thought to yourself, “Wow, my eyes look really puffy?” If you’re like most people, then you probably have. 

Puffy eyes — also called periorbital puffiness or periorbital edema — describe swelling around your eyes. This swelling can range from minor under-eye bags to serious inflammation that a dermatologist or healthcare professional should treat. Thankfully, most people only deal with the former. 

That said, just because it’s not a life-treating health condition doesn’t mean that you have to like your puffy eyes — or that you have to keep them.

There are many ways to get rid of puffy eyes and refresh your skin. (And don’t worry, they don’t all include cucumber slices.) Today, we’ll break down the causes of under-eye puffiness and the different treatment options available to swap your bags and dark circles for bright and healthy skin. 

What Causes Puffy Eyes?

Loose, baggy, or puffy skin around the eyes is incredibly common, especially as we age — but what actually causes this to happen in the under-eye area? Well, as we said before, it often is connected to some type of swelling. 

Water Retention

One of the most common causes of puffy eyes is a build-up of fluid in the lower eyelid

Fluid retention (or edema, as a medical term) is a medical condition that describes the accumulation of excess fluid in the body’s tissues. 

Normally, your lymphatic system is responsible for draining your body of this excess fluid, but certain factors can prevent this system from operating as it should: 

  • Salty foods can clog the pathways of the lymphatic system and slow the natural flow of fluid. 
  • Hormonal changes, especially those related to pregnancy or menstruation, can cause the body’s tissues to hold on to more fluid than it needs, leading to fluid retention

This kind of fluid build-up can happen anywhere in the body: while it’s most common in the hands, legs, and arms, it can also develop around your eyes. 

When the skin around your eyes retains more water than it needs, it can cause the under-eye bags associated with puffy eyes. 

Poor Sleep

There is a reason why your nightly slumber is called “beauty rest” — you need it to maintain healthy and youthful skin. 

You might think that your body, like you, rests while you’re asleep, but in fact, this is when your body is most active. While you sleep, different biological systems and processes are set into motion, working to reset and rejuvenate your body after a long day of working. 

In your skin, some of the tasks you accomplish at night include: 

  • Cell Regeneration: As you sleep, your body releases a type of growth hormone called somatotropin that works to repair cells, tissues, and other structures that were damaged during the day. 
  • Oxygen Production: Your skin is the only other organ in your body that can breathe. This process, called cutaneous respiration , allows your skin to absorb oxygen from the air and put it directly to use in your skin cells. While your body can do this around the clock, “skin breathing” is strongest at night when your skin goes into repair mode. 
  • Nutrient Delivery: As another part of your skin’s repair mode, blood flow increases as you sleep . This circulation allows your body to deliver more key nutrients to different organs, your skin being one of them. Some of the nutrients your skin receives at night include antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin A. 

If you don’t get enough sleep at night, your skin doesn’t have the opportunity to fully undergo these biological processes that keep the organ at top function. Unsurprisingly, the side effects of a lack of sleep can include tired and puffy-looking skin. 

Sun Damage

Another common cause of puffy eyes and eye bags is too much sun exposure. 

Without sunscreen or another SPF product to block out the sun’s radiation, harmful UV rays can penetrate the skin barrier and damage the skin within. UV radiation has been known to kill skin cells and damage their DNA, causing dysfunction. 

Sun damage takes it a step further when it comes to puffy eyes: harmful sun rays can also target your lymphatic system. 

UV radiation can strike different vascular and lymph structures beneath the layers of skin, causing tears that then leak fluid into skin tissues . This fluid build-up can puff the thin skin under your eyes and cause swelling in the form of eye bags.

Allergies

Seasonal allergies can be a menace to your nose, but they don’t stop there. No, allergies can also impact the skin under your eyes. 

When your eyes are exposed to different allergens in the air, like pollen, pet dander, or even mold, your immune system kicks into gear to fight off these threats. 

In the eye area, your body releases a type of signaling chemical called histamine that increases blood flow around your eyes — that’s why antihistamines are a popular form of allergy relief. Specifically, it sends more blood to a part of your eye called the conjunctiva , the thin, mucus-like membrane separating the outside and inside of your eyelid. 

These dilated blood vessels allow more white blood cells to reach your under-eyes — but they are also responsible for the swollen look of puffy eyes. 

Genetics

Another component of eye puffiness has to do with the way that your skin changes as you age. Many of these effects of aging will be similar across all people, but there are some that may come directly from your specific genetic code. 

While there isn’t a single gene that is responsible for eye bags, you are more likely to develop saggy or puffy under-eye skin if someone else in your family has it, too. How does this work? Well, the genes in question actually have to do with fatty tissues. 

In order for eye bags to develop, there needs to be enough volume of skin to puff in the first place. Many researchers have drawn links between the amount of fatty tissue in the under-eye area and the likelihood of developing puffy eyes. Others also suggest that it might have to do with how fat cells regenerate (and fail to do so) as we age. 

However, both theories still need more research to fully connect them to hereditary links. 

How Can You Depuff Your Undereyes?

But don’t let all these different causes of eye puffiness scare you away. Once you know what’s causing your puffy eyes, you can work to depuff them. 

To get rid of eye bags, all you need to do is follow a few simple steps. (And don’t worry — none of them include blepharoplasty or other forms of eyelid surgery.)

1. Try an Ice Roller or Gua Sha Facial Tools

One of the most popular ways to soothe swollen and inflamed skin under your eyes is to incorporate a cold compress. While there are lots of therapies out there for this, our favorite is to use an ice roller. 

Ice rollers are handheld skincare tools that glide frozen liquid (often water) along the skin. They are a great way to depuff the skin. More than just a damp washcloth, ice rollers incorporate elements of facial massage into the treatment, working to manually drain the lymphatic system that contributes to puffy eyes. 

We recommend trying the Quiet Hours Facial Ice Roller for this tip. 

A gua sha facial tool and similar face rollers are a great way to manually drain the lymphatic system and reduce puffiness as well. Hold the Gua Sha tool gently, and sweep it over the under-eye area from the inner corner toward the temple. Repeat about three times on each eye. From there, work the tool from the inside corner of the brow bone out to the temple area. Consistency is key here; incorporate this into your skincare routine for best results.

2. Use Under-Eye Patches

Another great at-home remedy for puffy eyes is to add a calming eye patch to your skincare routine. (No, not the pirate kind.) 

Eye patches and masks are designed to deliver specific benefits to the skin under your eyes by targeting them directly in the patch-to-skin application. You can customize this type of skincare treatment to whatever skin problem you’re trying to resolve: hydration, fine lines, under-eye circles, and more. 

We recommend trying the Augustinus Bader The Eye Patches for this tip. 

3. Incorporate Under-Eye Treatments

But targeting the skin under your eyes doesn’t stop at cool compresses or eye patches. You can also use specific under-eye cream to treat this delicate skin. 

For many struggling with puffiness, hyaluronic acid treatments are a go-to ingredient when it comes to eye creams. Hyaluronic acid is a natural moisturizer, meaning it works to hydrate and soothe skin at the same time. These effects make it a great product for puffy eyes. 

We recommend trying the Trish McEvoy Beauty Booster Eye Serum or the M-61 Hydraboost HA Cooling Eye Gel for this tip. 

4. Drink More Water

Skincare solutions aren’t the only treatment options available to ease the puffiness under your eyes. You can also make lifestyle changes targeted at this under-eye swelling to help reduce eye bags. 

Drinking more water is one easy way to improve the appearance of your skin and depuff your eyes. 

Nearly half of Americans don’t drink enough water every day, which can cause a number of side effects that negatively impact their health. Puffy eyes are just one of them. 

When your body is dehydrated, it goes into an emergency survival mode designed to protect you from the perceived threat. In the case of your skin, your body will start to hold on to as much water as it can, since it believes the product is in short supply. This translates to the fluid buildup that’s causing your puffy eyes. 

By drinking enough water, you work to relax your body’s fight-or-flight instinct and take away the stress that’s causing your skin to collect water that it doesn’t need. In the process, you are able to depuff the skin around your eyes. 

5. Prioritize Your Sleep

Another lifestyle change you can make to support the look of your skin, avoid puffy eyes, and generally increase your well-being is to get enough sleep every night. 

Like water, your body needs sleep to function properly. Without it, our brains work slower, our organs have to work harder, and — you guessed it – our skin function declines. 

Remember that many of the rejuvenation processes that your skin depends on happen while asleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, you miss out on these essential processes. 

A lack of sleep can wear out your skin, particularly the skin around your eyes, which is much thinner than other places of your body. This tiredness contributes to puffy eyes — so work against the effect by getting enough sleep every night. 

Bye Bye, Puffiness

While cucumber slices might be a great snack, they aren’t the most effective treatment option for reducing eye puffiness. But not all home remedies are bad — in fact, some of the best things you can do for your eye health can be done from the comfort of your own home. For those looking for a more targeted approach, lean into self care and skincare products that support your lifestyle.

So say goodbye to puffy eyes and hello to smooth, skincare-fueled skin. 

Sources:

How to Get Rid of Bags Under Your Eyes | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Lymphatic system | Better Health Channel

A High-Salt Diet Differentially Modulates Mechanical Activity of Afferent and Efferent Collecting Lymphatics in Murine Iliac Lymph Nodes | National Library of Medicine

Fluid retention (oedema) | Better Health Channel

Physiology, Growth Hormone | National Library of Medicine

The cutaneous uptake of atmospheric oxygen contributes significantly to the oxygen supply of human dermis and epidermis | National Library of Medicine

Respiratory and circulatory control during sleep | National Library of Medicine

UV Radiation | The Skin Cancer Foundation

Bags under eyes | Symptoms & Causes | Skin Institute

Conjunctiva: Anatomy, Function & Common Conditions | Cleveland Clinic

Allergic conjunctivitis Information | Mount Sinai

A genome wide association study identifies new genes potentially associated with eyelid sagging | National Library of Medicine

Hyaluronic Acid: What It Is, Benefits, How To Use & Side Effects | Cleveland Clinic

Forty-Seven Percent of Americans Don't Drink Enough Water, Plus More H2O Insights | Civic Science

Thin Skin Under Eyes: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment | Healthline