Our eyes say a lot about us. They can express what we'rereally thinking, or simply reveal that we're short on the shut-eye. Likewise, our puffy eyes convey many things. Puffy eyes can be a sign of aging, or simply a side-effect from watching "The Notebook" again (sob).
With that, getting rid of puffy eyes can be surprisingly simple (for example, an antihistamine and cold compress can cure puffy eyes from allergies), or it can be nearly impossible -- like when it comes to getting rid of under-eye bags that you inherited.
"The good news is that all puffy eyes can be treated and minimized in some way," says Doris Day, MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center and the author of "Forget the Facelift." "It's just that before you can treat them, you have to understand why you have them. And sometimes it could be more than one thing," she says. "In that case, you have to address the issue from all different angles."
When treating puffy eyes, the general rule is to keep it simple. After all, many of the most effective puffy eye cures stem from common sense: Eat right, get lots of sleep, keep hydrated. And today there are all kinds of high-tech eye creams containing active ingredients that actually help reduce puffy eye inflammation, and others that can even render them invisible.
Here, we've rounded up some of the best ways to get rid of puffy eyes -- whether you're dealing with aging-related under-eye bags or post-tear jerker swelling.
Cure Puffy Eyes With H2O
"Dehydration is one of the top causes of puffy eyes," says Day. "Not having enough water in your system shifts the water from inside to outside your cells, causing puffiness. To reduce under-eye bags you have to drink water."
The amount of water to drink, she says, depends on your weight and activity level. A safe bet is between half-an-ounce to an ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you're doing a rigorous workout, you may need more. Drinking water also helps flush inflammation-causing salts from your tissue, which you can get from eating too much sodium. (Another good rule of thumb: Avoid salty foods.)
Stop Rubbing Your Eyes
No matter how bad your allergies or how drowsy you feel, resist the urge to rub your eyes. Eye rubbing causes inflammation, says Day, which can make under-eye skin appear swollen.
Use eye drops, such as Visine's lubricated Tired Eye Relief Eye Drops, $8.99, to keep over-worked eyes from feeling fatigued. If your eyes are itchy, you could have an allergy you're not aware of. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology estimates that 50 million people in the US have seasonal allergies -- that's 30 percent of all adults. Does this sound like you? Ask your doctor about antihistamine eye drops, specially formulated to treat eye-itching due to allergies.
Consider Blepharoplasty to Get Rid of Eye Bags
Take a look at Mom and Dad. If they have puffy eyes, chances are you've inherited the condition. Unfortunately topical creams won't do much to get rid of bags under your eyes, but you do have a few choices for a long-term fix.
Another option is a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser treatment to resurface the skin, which strengthens and thickens skin so the fat pad is less prevalent. Likewise, for hereditary pigmentation, such as under-eye circles, ask your dermatologist about CO2 laser resurfacing, which has been shown to lighten skin.
The Best Skin Care Products for Puffy Eyes
Age ain't nothing but a number -- until we're talking puffy eyes. As you get older, your skin thins and sags, and muscles around your eyes weaken. Healthy fatty tissue that ordinarily protects the eye inside the bony eye socket can begin to move into the lower eyelids, causing them to appear puffy says Day. Fluids may also accumulate, she says.
Thankfully, there's a whole lot topical eye creams can do for puffy eyes. "Look for products that contain ingredients that make skin firmer, including niacin, vitamin C, retinol, caffeine and copper," she says. "They all have skin-firming properties and you want to make skin as firm as possible to counteract the puffiness."
Cucumbers on Eyes and Other Home Remedies
Life's a bit of a roller coaster -- and it can take its toll on your appearance. Lack of sleep, hangovers, stress and crying can all cause puffy eyes. Cold water, a cold compress, cold spoons (with the bowl of the spoons covering eyes) -- anything cool applied to exhausted, stressed, crying eyes will help constrict blood vessels and reduce swelling.
For an added boost, use chilled tea bags. Black tea contains caffeine that helps narrow blood veins, and green tea possesses powerful antioxidants that soothe under-eye bags. Steep two black or green tea bags in hot water and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, let the excess liquid drain off the tea bags and gently place each tea bag over closed eyes. Leave on for five minutes.
Another age-old remedy is to cover closed tired, puffy eyes with sliced, chilled cucumbers. Cucumbers contain antioxidants and flavonoids that are said to reduce swelling, redness and irritation. They contain caffeic acid, which constricts dilated blood vessels, thus reducing the appearance of the puffiness around the eyes. Try leaving 'em on your lids for 10 to 15 minutes.
Change Your Sleeping Position
If you notice that you have bags under your eyes when you wake up, but they tend to go away by noon, it's likely that fluid retention is causing your puffy eyes. While you sleep, fluids build up, resulting in bags. This is especially true if you sleep on your stomach or side.
Sleep on your back with an extra pillow elevating your head. This will allow the fluids to drain and help prevent it from accumulating in the first place. Another tip: If you wake with puffy eyes, gently tap the area with your fingertips upon rising to aid fluid drainage, or, use an eye product with a rollerball applicator to stimulate the area.
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