you’re not alone, we get them too

Puffiness in the eye area is a common manifestation of mild facial edema. Edema is a term for the excess fluid accumulation in soft tissue manifested by swelling. Edema stretches the skin and eventually leads to wrinkles and sagging. The eye area is particularly prone to edema due to the dense capillary network and lack of fat padding.

It is important to know that significant edema (especially if not confined to face) may be a sign of a health problem, such as kidney or liver disease, and needs to be investigated by a physician to rule out medical conditions. A variety of allergies may also cause facial puffiness. If you have persistent puffiness make sure to rule out allergic reactions to your environment, food or skin care products.

A more common situation, however, is morning puffiness (mild facial edema that occasionally occurs in the morning and goes away during the day) caused by lifestyle factors rather than a health condition.


It is important to reduce puffiness – not so much because it is a transient nuisance after awakening – but because it is one of the biggest contributors to the aging of the eye area. ~Marie Bertrand


Here are some things you can do to reduce puffiness:

1. Sleep on your back. When you sleep face down or even in your side the blood pressure in your facial vessels is greater due to gravity and contact with the pillow. Sleeping on your back mitigates this problem.

2. Do not consume too much fluid late in the evening. During sleep your blood vessels tend to relax. If at that time your body is overloaded with water, more fluid will flow from capillaries into extracellular space than is drained from it; the net effect is swelling. In general, it is healthy to drink a lot of fluids. However, try to consume most of your water in the morning and afternoon, and drink less in the evening.

3. Limit your sodium intake. Sodium, especially if consumed as sodium chloride (table salt), increases retention of water and promotes edema. Keep in mind that even if you don’t overuse the saltshaker, you may still be consuming a lot of sodium because most processed foods are high in sodium. Notable examples include chips, candy, many processed meats and cheeses. Check food labels for sodium content per serving and serving size. Then you can calculate how much sodium you are consuming. Reducing sodium intake may have an added benefit of reducing the risk of developing high blood pressure.

4. If you drink alcohol, be moderate and avoid drinking late in the day. Alcohol and certain drugs contribute to puffiness by favoring the accumulation of fluid in extracellular space. If you are taking any drugs, do not change your regimen without consulting with your doctor. If you feel that a particular drug may be causing puffiness, talk to your doctor about possible alternatives that provide the same benefits without this side effect.

5. Weak capillaries contribute to facial edema because they leak too much fluid into extracellular space. There are a few studies indicating that escin, a substance found in horse chestnut, can strengthen veins and capillaries by blocking enzyme called hyaluronidase. Blocking hyaluronidase prevents the breakdown of proteoglycans, which are important structural component of venous and capillary walls. The studies showed that twice a day supplementation with 50 mg of escin (a from standardized horse chestnut extract) reduced edema of extremities. Facial edema has not been studied but is likely to respond as well. Standardized horse chestnut extract is available in capsules in health food stores and on the web. Some vendors also sell horse chestnut cream. It is unclear whether topical application of escin also strengthens capillaries but it is certainly possible and may be worth a try. Escin may provide additional skin benefits. By blocking the hyaluronidase, escin may increase the content of hyaluronic acid in the skin and thereby reduce dryness. Other plant-derived agents shown in clinical studies to improve venous insufficiency and associated edema of extremities include Butcher’s broom rhizome extract and grape seed extract. These extracts, used orally or topically, might improve facial edema as well.

6. Fatigue and lack of sleep may contribute to puffiness and other eye area skin problems. Make sure you are getting adequate restful sleep. (I know, easier said than done!)

7. When morning puffiness cannot be prevented, it can be quickly reduced, which minimizes its damaging effects on the skin. The key to reducing puffiness is to reduce the inflow and increase outflow of fluid from the soft tissue of the face. To increase the outflow of fluid make sure that you are in a vertical position, i.e. standing or sitting. To reduce the inflow, you need to produce a mild constriction of blood vessels. To constrict your blood vessels in the area under the eye you can try to use cool teabags on your eyes. Place the tea bags in warm water, steep for a few seconds, wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for half an hour. Then place the cool, moist tea bags on closed eyes. Recline and relax for ten to twenty minutes.


Tea polyphenols act as an astringent, tightening the skin while caffeine in the tea promotes drainage of fluid from extracellular space.

~Marie Bertrand

Obviously, reducing eye puffiness requires a multi-faceted approach to minimize stretching of the delicate skin around the eye area. Here are my favorite eye care products and procedures for under eye puffiness and bags:

SkinCeuticals AGE Eye (contains caffeine, Eyeliss™, Hesperidin Methyl Chalcone and anti-glycation ingredients to help drain and tighten the skin around the eyes)

IMAGE Ormedic Balancing Eye Lift Gel (contains grape seed extract, Eyeliss™, Hespiridin-Methyl-Chalcone, licorice extract, green tea polyphenols and Matrixyl™ to tighten and firm the eye area)

Dermalogica Colloidal Masque ~ Professional use only (Contains green tea polyphenols and hyaluronic acid in a cooling gel base. Apply around the eye area for 10 minutes and rinse off for brighter, tighter, more luminous eyes)

SkinScience Clinic’s Non-designer iBags Treatment  (a 20-minute intensive RF (radio frequency) eye treatment to reduce puffiness and tighten the entire eye contour)

What about you? Do you have any tips and tricks to reduce morning puffiness? We are excited to hear your feedback!

In healthy skin,