You’d think getting an adequate amount of rest and eating a healthy diet would make under-eye puffiness disappear, but alas, we still see bags underneath our eyes. According to board certified dermatologist Robert Finney, MD, FAAD, "Under eye changes are inevitable as we all age (dark or bluish discoloration, depressed appearance, puffiness, bags, etc.). Identifying the cause of your under-eye change is required prior to determining how to help treat it. Under-eye puffiness is usually due to the accumulation of fluid in the periorbital area. Allergies are also a common cause and sleep deprivation, dehydration, salt, and alcohol consumption can all contribute. And the anatomy of our own inherent drainage system (lymphatics) can also play a role."
And while Finney does admit that "there is no one simple fix," that doesn't mean that under-eye puffiness is not treatable. So since we’re tired of people asking if we’re tired, we consulted Finney and skincare experts Lisa Goodman and Ali Tobia on their best puffy-eye remedies. Keep scrolling for what they had to say about how to get rid of puffy eyes—stat.
Watch Now: How to Get Rid of Puffy Eyes
Use a Cold Spoon
Leave two clean teaspoons in your freezer, and on puffy mornings, simply press them against your eyes for a few minutes. "This can be done with a spoon kept in the freezer (wet it prior to applying it to each under-eye area for a few minutes) and will help constrict the vessels and reduce inflammation in the area," advises Finney.
Ali Tobia, a licensed senior esthetician, agrees: "Putting anything cold, such as a clean teaspoon can help alleviate puffy eyes as the coolness of the spoon helps constrict the blood vessels. The puffiness, due to fluid retention, can be reduced quickly with a burst of cold temperature, while the pressure of the spoon (especially with a gentle massaging motion) can activate the body’s natural response to drain the pooled fluid under the eyes."
Use Depuffing Patches with Caffeine
While we couldn't do without our morning java jolt, caffeine has also become a star player in skincare products and "an important ingredient for the eye area in particular," according to Lisa Goodman, founder of GoodSkin Clinics.
She says, "As a first step when I notice my eyes are looking puffy, I turn to depuffing patches with caffeine. I swear by the Biologique Recherche Patchs Défatigants 503. Upon a single use, these patches revive the eye area to depuff and refresh tired looking eyes as each patch is filled with incredible ingredients, including caffeine, that truly transform the eye area. They’re incredibly unique as they actually sit on top of the eye lid instead of under it, which I think leads to more impressive results. In all, these patches are a game-changer."
Try an Eye Mask or Apply an Astringent
But if eye masks aren't you're thing, Tobia suggests, "Apply an astringent, such as T.N. Dickinson's Witch Hazel ($15), as using this can help decrease any inflammation. You can apply on a cotton pad and put on your eye area for about 10 minutes."
Try a Gentle Double Tap or Facial Massage Technique
Did you know that the way you apply eye moisturizer affects the state of your under-eye area? Tobia says, "Rubbing cream or moisturizer on your eyes can cause it to be puffy. Instead, try lightly tapping the area of your eyes and massaging the pressure points to encourage lymphatic drainage."
She adds, "For more significant puffiness, try a gentle facial massage technique. Always use some sort of facial oil—I rely on my oil cleanser (Living Libations Seabuckthorn Best Skin Ever ($17) as my massage oil for things like promoting accelerated lymphatic drainage."
Tobia instructs: "Starting with your neck to get the drainage started, drag the backs of your knuckles down along the sides of your neck. Then, work your way up your face, sweeping your fingertips outward from the center of your face to your ears. When you reach your eye area, you’ll want to make sure that you have your fingertips gliding across the bone just under your eye with a feathery touch."
While we welcome spring with its blooming flowers and pleasant weather, we could do without the allergies that accompany it. "If you have seasonal or other allergies, it is very common to have extra puffiness under your eyes," says Finney. He recommends, "If you notice a seasonal change in your eyes, try an over the counter antihistamine such as Zyrtec or Allegra daily during the time of year when your allergies are heightened."
Goodman agrees: "If the puffiness is a result of allergies, I take an antihistamine. Though I don’t recommend this as a regular treatment, antihistamines should not be overlooked if you are dealing with something like allergies, which we all know can drive a person crazy. They’re miracle workers for me and as someone who is meeting with patients all day, it’s important for me to feel comfortable and confident throughout the day, and this includes when allergy season kicks in."
Grab a Tea Bag or Cucumber Slices
Tobia says, "If you’re looking for a DIY household hack solution, you do have a few other options as well: Cold cucumber slices are fantastic to calm weary, puffy eyes, and a wet, cool teabag not only soothes your eyes, the tea itself—with anti-inflammatory and mild diuretic qualities—also helps to pull the swelling and fluid out from under your eyes, to fix the puffiness at the source."
Drop two tea bags (unprocessed green or black tea is best) in a mug of hot water for a minute, let cool to a safe temperature, and then apply to eyes for three minutes. The natural caffeine in the tea will immediately help constrict blood vessels and reduce swelling.
Make Lifestyle Changes
While lifestyle changes might not necessarily sound like the quickest way to alleviate puffy eyes, making small adjustments to certain routines and habits will lead to lasting results. Take it from Finney, who recommends that you sleep more—and upright—as well as, stay hydrated (this includes limiting alcohol and salt intake).
"If you are sleep deprived, it usually makes puffiness worse," he says, and adds that, "When you are dehydrated your body tries to hold on to all the fluid it can which could contribute to under-eye puffiness." As for sleeping more upright, Goodman notes how quick and easy this trick is, "an often overlooked fix to de-puffing the eye area that yields amazing results for your face and complexion." To incorporate sleeping elevated into your sleeping routine, Finney suggests simply "adding an extra pillow to help allow the fluid to drain easier at night."
Apply an Eye Cream or Serum
When shopping for under-eye remedies, "Look for a good moisturizing eye cream with ingredients such as green tea, caffeine, niacinamide, peptides and other antioxidants which can help reduce inflammation and constrict blood vessels to reduce puffiness," advises Finney. Tobia adds chilling the serum since, as we learned earlier, the cold will constrict blood vessels and reduce inflammation.
For an all-natural way to soothe and de-puff eyes, turn to cold aloe vera gel which boasts anti-inflammatory properties. Keep a bottle in your fridge, and then apply it just like you would eye cream.
Two eye serums that she recommends are "SkinMedica TNS Eye Repair® for dry skin and Revision Skincare D-E-J Eye Cream for normal skin as they both contain ingredients specifically designed for alleviating under eye issues." Finney likes "Clinique All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage and SkinMedica Instant Bright, which contains key ingredients from Lytera® 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum, HA5® Rejuvenating Hydrator."
He adds, "My absolute favorite is Alastin Restorative Eye Treatment which has similar anti-inflammatory properties but also contains a peptide that stimulates collagen to help improve wrinkles and other signs of aging. The best part is that it is non-irritating. Many eye creams that promise wrinkle reduction contain a retinol and although retinols are great for anti-aging, they are often irritating in this area, given that the skin around the eye is the thinnest and most sensitive anywhere on the body."
Improve Lymphatic Drainage
Caffeine is a natural stimulant most commonly found in tea, coffee, and cacao plants. In skincare, it helps to stimulate blood flow and decrease puffiness, as well as works to dissolve fat, which makes it a choice cellulite treatment.
Finney explains, "[The under-eye area] is one area on the body where our natural drainage system (lymphatic system) for excess fluid is not the best, some suffering worse than others. There are different ways to accomplish [drainage] including ice rollers (dual action by helping to massage and directly cool the area), jade rollers, etc." However, he does warn that "frequently rubbing the skin in this area can result in discoloration and a wrinkled appearance."
In case you're looking for an eye roller to improve lymphatic drainage thereby decreasing inflammation, our editors scouted out the best ones. A good eye roller will pack all the powerhouse components previously mentioned: an icy metal ball, a caffeine-laced serum, and a pressing motion.
Try an In-Office Treatment
"If at-home options are not working for you, consider an in-office treatment to help you wake up tired and puffy eyes like DiamondGlow," says Tobia. She explains, "The treatment can be customized for the skin around your eyes and using techniques to help with rejuvenating and depuffing the eye area. The suction and direction of movement help to draw fluids out from under your eyes to reduce the swelling that causes the puffiness in the first place."
While we all struggle with puffy eyes, Goodman offers some relief: "Sometimes, eye puffiness is unavoidable and a natural bodily function and in that case, the puffiness will likely subside within a few hours on its own, which is especially the case when you overindulge in alcohol or another treat."
So no need to pass on that after-work happy hour or forgo your afternoon fika, as Goodman says, "I’m a firm believer that balance is important and you shouldn’t deprive yourself of things that make you happy so long as you indulge in a healthy way and monitor intake. If you have some downtime, I sometimes suggest just walking away from the mirror and letting your face breathe. No need to obsess over puffiness as its often temporary."
Herman A, Herman AP. Caffeine's mechanisms of action and its cosmetic use. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2013;26(1):8-14. doi:10.1159/000343174
American Academy of Ophthalmology. Bags under the eyes. Updated November 29, 2018.
Penn Medicine. Aloe vera: not just for sunburns. Updated August 2, 2019.