Puffiness is ideal for things like marshmallows, clouds and cotton balls. But the eyes? Not so much. Puffy eyes are one of the unwelcome signs of aging but can also be caused by things like lack of sleep or too much salt. Swollen, puffy eyes can make a face look older or more tired than it really is. Here’s a look at what causes puffy eyes, and some of the best eye creams for bags and puffiness.
What Causes Puffy Eyes?
The number one cause of puffy eyes is an inevitable one. As Dr. Shaun Desai, a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Johns Hopkins Center for Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery notes, “The most common cause of under-eye bags or puffiness is natural aging.” Specifically, this is due to a weakening of the muscles in the eye area. As Dr. Desai explains, “Older skin becomes too lax and tends to fall or wrinkle. The muscles and tissues around the eye can also weaken and contribute to the baggy look. This weakening allows the fat surrounding the eye to bulge out, creating that bubble-like appearance.”
Other causes can be chalked up to lifestyle habits such as eating too much salt, lack of sleep or smoking. Some people have prominent eye bags due to genetics.
Should You Worry About Puffy Eyes?
The Mayo Clinic notes that most eye puffiness is harmless and doesn’t require medical attention. However, the clinic suggests seeing a doctor if the swelling is “severe, persistent, painful, itchy or red” as it could be a sign of an infection, eye allergy or a thyroid issue. Dr. Annapurna Singh tells the Cleveland Clinic that “any swelling that lasts longer than 24 to 48 hours should send you to an eye care professional because there are times it can be something severe that can blind you.”
According to Medical News Today, the medical term for puffy eyes is “periorbital edema,” which also means a buildup of fluid around the eye area. Periorbital edema isn’t quite the same thing as an under eye bag; periorbital edema is a buildup of fluid around the eyes which can sometimes be chronic and is often a symptom of a medical condition or side effect of a medication.
How To Reduce Puffy Eyes At Home
There are plenty of ways to reduce puffiness around the eyes, ranging from home remedies to the right eye cream (more on that below). Some easy, low cost ways to tackle them at home include a cool compress to the eye area or applying chilled cucumber slices. An ice cube wrapped in a face cloth may also help reduce swelling and provide an instant cooling effect, while antihistamine drops could help if the puffiness is allergy related. Applying something cold to the area may help to reduce inflammation and puffiness as it reduces the appearance of puffiness as it temporarily reduces blood flow to the area.The Cleveland Clinic also suggests washing or rinsing the eye area if the puffiness is associated with discharge. Some people swear by using a face roller to tackle eye bags; think of it as a gentle facial for the eye area to help move the fluid along.
Other Options for Bags and Puffy Eyes
Someone with chronic or severe under eye bags may want to consider seeing a doctor. According to Johns Hopkins, some of the most common treatments include a chemical peel, laser, fillers and surgery. A chemical peel will remove the outer layers of the skin to reveal tighter, brighter skin, thereby minimizing the look of the eye bags. Laser resurfacing removes surface layers of skin around the eyes and also stimulates new collagen growth, resulting in firmer skin. Fillers are another option, and it can be injected in the area where the cheek meets the under eye area to soften the transition. Some patients may opt for blepharoplasty, or an eyelid lift which readjusts the fat in the lower eye area and tightens the muscle and skin.
Ingredients to Look For in Eye Creams for Bags and Puffiness
Some of the best ingredients to look for in an eye cream or serum designed to tackle under eye bags include caffeine, vitamins C and E, retinol and hyaluronic acid. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor which means it helps to constrict blood vessels so it can help depuff eyes. It’s one of the most common ingredients in the best eye creams for bags and puffiness and is often derived from coffee, green tea or white tea. There is however new research that suggests that caffeine may not be as effective for puffiness as once thought. The research suggests that other elements such as the type of formulation such as gel and other ingredients such as hyaluronic and vitamin A may be the beneficial ingredients.
Antioxidants like vitamins C, E and aloe can also help to soothe and brighten the eye area. Vitamin C helps the skin look brighter so it can minimize the look of puffiness and bags. Look for peptides to help firm and tighten the look of the eye area, along with hyaluronic acid and glycerin which boost the skin’s moisture levels. Some of the best eye creams for puffiness also contain retinol, a vitamin A derivative that helps encourage cell turnover and boosts collagen production to soften the look of wrinkles.
And while miracles can’t happen when it comes to erasing puffy eyes instantly, there are a few products that can help provide a feeling of quick relief. Gel eye pads can feel soothing and cooling on swollen eyes, along with eye masks that can be tissued off.