Those puffy bags under your eyes are a constant companion, no matter how much sleep you get. What’s worse, they’re getting more and more noticeable with each passing year.
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Dermatologist Amy Kassouf, MD shares what you can do — at home and with help from your healthcare provider — to check your under-eye baggage.
What causes eye bags?
Many factors may cause you to get puffy under the eyes:
- Lack of sleep can trigger both puffiness and dark under-eye circles.
- Dehydration can cause the skin around your eyes to look saggy and sunken.
- Fluid retention — such as from allergies or a salty meal — can produce puffiness.
- Irritation from cosmetics can cause the tissue around your eyes to swell (especially if you don’t wash your face before bed).
- Aging causes the fat pads in the face to shrink and sink, causing bags to form.
- Heredity makes some people just more prone to under-eye bags. Sigh.
What can I do to shrink eye bags at home?
Under-eye bags are rarely a cause for concern, but they can be annoying from a cosmetic point of view. If your bags are bugging you, Dr. Kassouf suggests these at-home strategies to look your best.
Prop up your pillow
Sleeping with your head slightly elevated can help prevent fluid from building up around your eyes while you sleep.
Try a cool compress
Cucumbers on your eyes may be a spa-day cliché, but they work, Dr. Kassouf says. A cool compress such as cucumbers or cold tea bags can help reduce puffiness. “Green tea bags are particularly nice because green tea contains antioxidants that can help firm the skin around the eyes,” she says.
Add more moisture
Use a good daily moisturizer to keep skin healthy (just choose a gentle formula for use around your eyes). “Well-moisturized skin has a better moisture barrier, which prevents irritants and allergens from getting into the skin,” Dr. Kassouf says.
Hydrate and avoid alcohol
Dehydration can make the skin around your peepers saggy and sad. Make sure to drink plenty of water. And avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can be dehydrating.
Skip yo-yo dieting
When your weight goes up and down, the fat in your face can grow and shrink — and shift. “Frequent yo-yo dieting can cause the fat pads on your face to become redistributed,” Dr. Kassouf says. To help keep them in place, skip the fad diets and try to maintain a stable weight.
Eye cream for under-eye bags
Alas, there’s no magic potion to shrink bags around the eyes, says Dr. Kassouf. But eye creams might provide some benefit.
Some “instant fix” gels and creams are available but with those, the gel itself shrinks as it dries. Those, though, are only temporary fixes and, Dr. Kassouf says, “They’re helpful but only as long as it doesn’t peel or wear off at the wrong time.”
To pamper the skin around the eyes, consider these skin-soothing ingredients:
- Vitamin C.
- Antioxidants such as CoQ10.
But a word of caution: “Ingredients such as retinol or antioxidants can be helpful — but if the concentration is too strong, it can break down the moisture barrier and irritate the skin,” Dr. Kassouf says.
To avoid coming on too strong, look for gentle formulas and ease in: When trying something new, wait a day or two to see how your skin responds. Slowly work up to using it daily.
Medical treatments for eye bags
If at-home tools aren’t doing the trick, these in-office procedures can help treat under-eye bags, Dr. Kassouf says.
- Laser resurfacing can tighten skin and improve its texture.
- Botulinum toxin (Botox®) injections can relax some muscles around the eyes, Dr. Kassouf says — “so they don’t pull quite so hard and make those drapey lines and bulges.” Botox can also lift the brow, which can help people who have a bulgy or droopy upper eyelid.
- Fillers can plump up hollows beneath the eyes. “Fillers can help lift the cheek and make a smooth, continuous curve from the lower eyelid to the upper cheek, instead of a hollow spot,” she says.
Is eye bag surgery a thing?
For a longer-lasting fix, plastic surgery is also an option. In a blepharoplasty procedure, plastic surgeons redistribute fat around the eyes and remove extra skin to banish bags for good.
The right solution for eye bags depends on your budget, your anatomy and how much the bags are bugging you. A dermatologist can help you zero in on the best approach. “We can assess what your goals are and how much you want to invest in the process,” Dr. Kassouf says.
Whatever you choose, it’s nice to know there are ways to shed your excess baggage.