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Sleepless nights, fatigue, allergies – whatever the reason, being welcomed by swollen eyelids and under-eye bags every morning is not the least bit fun – and not an attractive look, to say the least. But, unfortunately, as we age, eye puffiness, dark circles, and bags are simply inevitable. Our eyes, and the skin around them, are the most delicate and vulnerable to the various changes in our bodies and the environment.
However, there are some quick, albeit temporary, ways to de-puff your eyes in the mornings and start your day with your eyes wide open. But, before we get into these, let's dive into all the possible underlying causes of eye puffiness.
What Causes Eye Puffiness?
There's a number of different reasons that can cause puffy eyes in the morning. Here are the most common ones:
Lack of Sleep
On average, we need solid 7 to 9 hours of good night's sleep. So the No.1 reason for your under-eye bags could be not getting enough sleep or poor sleep quality. This may lead to decreased blood circulation and fluid retention around your eyes, resulting in dark circles and eye puffiness come morning.
Try to get your sleep hygiene in order, which means going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends. To improve your sleep quality, don't go to bed hungry or with your belly full (find some middle ground). Also, some relaxing pre-sleep rituals could come in handy, like a warm bath or shower, aromatherapy, and staying away from your phone or tablet.
Eating certain foods with a lot of salt, or sodium chloride, can lead to eye puffiness in the morning. This is because salt causes fluid retention in our bodies. It makes you thirsty, which means you'll drink more water. But, because of the salts, instead of being released through urine, this water collects in different areas in our body, including the face and the area around the eyes.
If you tend to wake up with puffy eyes, try eliminating certain foods from your diet, such as chips and other deep-fried foods, processed meats, and junk food, like fries and pizza.
Sleeping With Your Makeup On
Falling asleep with your makeup on can cause various skin conditions, such as inflammatory acne, rash, and contact dermatitis. The area around the eyes is exceptionally sensitive. Spending an entire night with your eyeliner and mascara on can be pretty irritating to your eyes, leading to various reactions, like swelling, itchiness, irritation, redness, and even scratching of your cornea, causing more severe issues.
No matter how tired you are in the evening, you should never skip cleansing your face and removing your makeup before bed. You can do a double cleanse with your oil-based cleanser followed by your water-based cleanser. Or, you can remove your makeup using micellar water before cleansing.
Eye puffiness accompanied by redness and itchiness may be caused by certain allergies. For example, dust, pollen, and other allergens cause the body to produce histamine, leading to inflammation, irritation, and swollen eyelids and under-eyes.
If you suspect your morning puff is a result of an allergic reaction, but you don't have any seasonal allergies, take a look at your sleeping surroundings. You might have started using a new laundry softener or detergent. Or, you might have installed a new carpet or added a new plant to your bedroom decor. Try taking these out of the picture and see how your eyes react.
If you were out and about the previous night, having fun with your friends with a couple of pints or cocktails, you may be greeted with puffy eyes the next morning. Besides disrupting your sleep quality, drinking alcohol may cause dehydration, leading to swollen face. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, making you urinate more frequently. This leads to mild dehydration and your body trying to retain water anywhere it can, hence the puffed-up morning look.
If you plan to spend a night out drinking, have a glass of water in between. That way, you're making sure your body will stay hydrated. Also, you could try sleeping with an extra pillow that night. Raising your head a bit will prevent the build-up of fluids around your eyes.
Lack of Physical Activity
Like many other factors we've discussed so far, lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle can also cause water retention, and therefore, waking up with puffy eyes.
Try to get your body moving – even a 15-minute walk every day can make a huge difference. Also, if you work long hours at your desk, make a 10-minute pause every hour or so (set the alarm as a reminder) to walk around the room a bit and even do some stretching exercises.
Insufficient Water Intake
Not drinking enough water will trigger your body to stockpile water wherever it can, causing water retention in your face and the eyes-wide-shut look in the mornings. Plus, a 9-hour long H2O-free slumber only adds to the problem.
Sip water throughout the day and make sure to drink enough (at least 8 glasses per day). It might help to set the alarm as a reminder again if you tend to get so absorbed by the work that you forget about your bodily needs. Also, have a bottle of water always with you when you're on-the-go.
Certain Health Conditions
Puffy and swollen eyes can sometimes be the result of various health issues, such as certain eye conditions like conjunctivitis, but also other diseases, such as sinus infection or hypothyroidism.
If you suspect that the underlying cause of your morning eye puffiness is a more serious health condition, you should consult with your doctor.
As we age, the skin around our eyes gets thinner and thinner. In addition, the loss of fat tissue in our face occurs naturally with age and is most prominent in the area around the eyes. So, the skin in this area weakens over time and becomes more prone to swelling.
You could try some anti-aging eye creams containing retinol, bakuchiol (a natural alternative to retinol), niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and antioxidants. These will stimulate collagen production in your skin, maintaining its elasticity and reducing puffiness as well as fine lines and wrinkles.
How to Get Rid of Eye Puffiness
Besides changing some of your lifestyle habits, like getting more sleep, making sure to stay hydrated, and avoid alcohol and salty foods, there are other instant ways to get rid of the puff in your busy mornings.
Here are 19 best remedies and techniques to get the puff under control as quickly as possible:
#1: Cold Spoons
The simplest but surprisingly effective home remedy for swollen eyes is a tool that every household has – it's a metal spoon. Previously chilled in a freezer, metal spoons will help tighten the skin around your eyes, constricting the blood vessels and reducing inflammation.
How to use: Simply, put 5 or 6 clean metal spoons in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes, or you can leave them inside the refrigerator overnight. Then, wet two spoons for a few minutes, and apply one to each under-eye area, using the round part of the spoons. Hold them like that for a few minutes. Once these two spoons get warm, replace them with other chilled spoons.
#2: Cucumber Slices
Cold cucumber slices are an excellent old-fashioned remedy for puffy eyes. The enzymes and antioxidants in cucumber will help reduce inflammation, tighten the skin, and reduce the swelling of your eyelids and under-eyes. They are also effective against dark circles.
How to use: Cut the cucumber into thin slices. Refrigerate them for 10 minutes. Then, close your eyes and put the slices over them. Keep them like that for about 10 minutes or until they get warm.
#3: Potato Slices
Just like cucumbers, slices of raw potato can also reduce swelling and inflammation in your skin thanks to various enzymes and astringent properties it has. In addition, the starch from the potato will draw all the excess water out, reducing puffiness.
How to use: Refrigerate two medium-sized potato slices (make sure they're big enough to cover your eyes) or put them in cold water. Then place them over your eyes and chill back for about 15 to 20 minutes.
#4: Tea Bags
You can use chamomile tea, green tea, or black tea. All of these teas have anti-inflammatory properties, alleviating the symptoms of irritated eyes and reducing redness and swelling.
How to use: Make your tea as you normally would. Then put two tea bags in the fridge for about 20 minutes to get them nicely chilled. Lay back and put the tea bags across your eyes, and leave them on for about 10 to 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can use green tea eye patches.
#5: Aloe Vera Gel
Various antioxidants, enzymes, and vitamins (like vitamin E) in aloe vera gel will reduce irritation and improve blood circulation in the area, alleviating eye puffiness.
How to use: Apply aloe vera gel to your under-eye area using light tapping motions. Be careful, and don't let any gel get in contact with your eye as it can be irritating. Leave on for about 10 to 15 minutes, then rinse carefully with lukewarm water.
#6: Eye Cream With Caffeine
Caffeine, licorice, and other antioxidants can boost the blood flow to the skin, reducing inflammation and puffiness. Therefore, you can try eye creams and gels with these ingredients and apply them first thing in the morning.
How to use: For best results, keep your caffeine-infused eye cream in the fridge overnight. Then apply right after cleansing but before your face moisturizer all-around your eyes, including the area under your brows.
#7: Egg Whites
Minerals and proteins from egg whites will tighten the skin around the eyes, reducing eye bags. If you use them regularly, you may even notice fewer fine lines and wrinkles.
How to use: Stiffly whip up one egg white using a whisk or a fork. Then apply it to your under-eye area using a brush. Let it sit until it dries (which won't be long), then rinse with lukewarm water.
#8: Gentle Massage and Tapping
Gentle massage, as well as feather-light tapping of the area around your eyes, will drain the lymphatic system, getting rid of fluid build-up and puffiness.
How to do it: Apply your eye cream or face oil to the skin around the eyes using gentle tapping motions with your ring finger. Also, do a gentle massage of the acupressure points, like at the inner corners of your eyes (close to the nose), the center of the eyes (directly under the eye and under the mid-eyebrow), as well as the outer corners of your eyes (where the brows end).
#9: Cold Water
Splashing your eyes with cold water in the morning will wake you up and energize you. Plus, cold water will restrict the blood vessels in your skin, reducing swelling.
How to use: Simply splash cold water onto your eyes area. Or, you could wrap ice cubes in a cloth and gently press them against your skin.
#10: Warm Salt Water
Eating salty foods will cause water retention and eye puffiness, but applying a warm saltwater compress will draw the water out of your skin, reducing the swelling of your puffy eyes.
How to use: Mix half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. Then soak two cotton pads in the solution and place them over your eyes. Leave on for a few minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water.
#11: Eye Rollers
To improve lymphatic drainage in the area and reduce puffiness, you could use small eye-rollers to apply your eye cream or facial oil. Just be careful not to use it too often, as too frequent rubbing of the delicate skin around the eyes may cause wrinkles.
How to use: For best and quickest results, you can opt for ice eye-rollers, giving you a double-action, gentle lymphatic drainage and cooling of the swollen skin. Just remember to be very gentle with these and don't apply too much pressure.
Rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants, strawberries will soothe and moisturize the skin while reducing swelling at the same time.
How to use: All you need is one large strawberry sliced in half. Place each half to your under-eye area while lying down. Try to relax like that for about 15 minutes.
Some Final Thoughts
As you can see, there are numerous reasons for eye puffiness in the morning; it could be your age, sedentary lifestyle, allergies, diet, and lack of sleep and hydration. However, the good news is that it's a problem that can be fixed if you adopt some healthier lifestyle habits and combine some of the remedies and techniques we suggested.
In the case none of these help and you experience chronic eye swelling, it's always a good idea to visit your doctor and find the root of the problem.
What causes puffy eyes in the morning?
There are many factors that may cause eye puffiness in the morning, but some of the most common are the lack of sleep and physical activity, drinking alcohol or eating salty foods, as well as aging, and dehydration.
How do I get rid of puffy eyes in the morning?
You can try placing cold spoons or cool cucumber slices on your eyes when you wake up. Gentle eye massage with your fingers or eye rollers could also work. Or, use eye creams with caffeine to decrease puffiness.
What foods cause puffy eyes?
Foods that contain a lot of salt may cause water retention, leading to the build-up of water around the eyes and other areas of the face. These foods are usually fast food, processed meat, chips, and other junk food.
Does drinking water help puffy eyes?
Yes, insufficient water intake will cause dehydration and trigger your body to store water whenever and wherever it can. In the long run, it will cause water retention and lead to eye puffiness in the mornings.