Whether you are in your 20s or are a more mature adult, the last thing you want are bags under your eyes. While they typically are not cause for any alarm, dark circles around the eyes simply make you feel and look older — something no one wants.
More common as you age is under-eye puffiness — also referred to as bags under the eyes, puffy eyes and dark circles under the eyes. It’s usually not a problem that requires medical attention, but the question is, how to get rid of bags under eyes?
To answer that question, you first have to ask how do we get these unsightly bags in the first place? There are many causes, but generally skin tissues around the eyes and eyelids weaken and sag, causing fluid to accumulate beneath the eyes, which creates puffiness under the eyes and a swollen appearance.
Things like seasonal allergies, eczema, water retention and sleeping face down can aggravate the condition, with heredity playing a role as well. And let’s not forget some self-inflicted behaviors like smoking, drugs and alcohol.
Fortunately, by changing certain habits and taking certain lifestyle and dietary steps, you can get rid of those bags under the eyes for good. Let’s dig a little deeper.
How to Get Rid of Bags Under Eyes — 13 Ways
Bags under the eyes are a common development of age and a frequent complaint among patients who no longer feel as youthful as they once did. To describe what happens a bit more, normal fat that helps support the eye sometimes moves into the lower eyelid, which causes the lid to appear puffy. Additionally, fluid may accumulate in the area below your eyes, which adds to the swelling.
How to get rid of bags under your eyes? There are numerous natural things you can do, from eliminating some bad habits to at-home remedies, that can help reduce the appearance of bags under eyes.
1. Take Care of Your Allergies
You are probably well aware of when your allergies flame up, as allergy season and watery, puffy eyes are inevitable for many. Try natural remedies, such as essential oils for allergies, to help manage them and catch them before they start. Also, have a small vial of an allergy essential blend handy since for some allergies can sneak up when you least expect it.
2. Take It Easy on the Salt
Salt is most often linked to high blood pressure, but did you know that all that sodium can cause fluid retention and lead to puffiness under the eyes? If you use salt, use pure Himalayan sea salt, but only a little bit. Avoid high salty foods, like pizza and some soups. Opt for fresh vegetables, in particular celery, which can help curb your desire for salt!
3. Exercise Those Bags Away
Exercise is a natural way to reduce the signs of aging and can promote a youthful glow to the skin, but the area around your eyes will benefit from special facial exercises. Licensed aesthetician and author of The Yoga Facelift, Marie-Veronique Nadeau explains that yoga for the face involves slow exercises of the facial muscles to help tone and tighten them. (1) Using light pressure from your fingers as resistance, the exercises involve various facial expressions and pressure.
Let’s not forget “regular” yoga and how it can benefit you as well. The inverted poses, such as shoulder stands and back bends, can help increase circulation to the face, which carries away excess fluid and helps relieve swelling.
4. What Is Your Sleep Position?
Sleeping on your back can prevent gravity from causing fluid buildup around the eyes. Consider adding an extra pillow under your head as well, but make sure it is a pillow that is effective for good sleep — for if you can’t sleep, that can add to the problem of dark circles under the eyes.
5. Try a Neti Pot
Have you heard of a neti pot? This is an ancient remedy that you can do as part of your daily routine to help combat those puffy eyes. Originating in India in Ayurvedic medicine, a neti pot looks like a small teapot and can be found at most health food stores or online. It can help flush out all that extra moisture in your sinuses from seasonal allergies, colds or infections.
Simply pour salt water into one nostril and let it drain out the other. I usually just do this over the bathroom sink. It feels odd at first, but it is actually very cleansing and refreshing.
6. Remove Your Makeup Before Going to Bed
Leaving your eye makeup on can irritate your eyes, causing them to water and and get puffy. Make sure to gently remove your eye makeup before hitting the hay to help eliminate any added irritation around the eyes.
7. Limit or Eliminate Alcohol
Alcohol dehydrates your body and skin. This dehydration can cause the delicate area around your eyes to appear sunken and dark. Also, alcohol can cause bloodshot, tired eyes. Take it easy on the alcohol by having no more than one glass per day. I would suggest drinking lots of water instead. You will feel fresher, your eyes will be wide open and the skin around your eyes will glow because it’s more hydrated.
8. Put Down Those Cigarettes for Good!
Did you know that smoking cigarettes dries out and weakens the skin on your face as well as your whole body? It also causes premature aging around the eyes in particular. The chemicals found in cigarettes are toxic and can cause irritation around the eyes, which could result in dark circles or undereye bags in addition to a wrinkled, droopy appearance. If addiction has got you in its grips, you may want to try some natural approaches to quitting smoking.
9. Try a Cold Compress … and Cucumbers
If your eyes are swollen and puffy, try a cold compress. Not only can this help reduce puffy eyes, it can be very relaxing which adds to a youthful appearance. You can achieve this by using chilled spoons on top of your eyes, slices of cucumbers, or even chilled, dampened tea bags with a drop of lavender essential oil added. The cool temperature is what makes this home remedy effective.
10. Watch Out for That Sunshine
Overdoing it in the sun can make the skin around your eyes sag and wrinkle as well as cause dehydration of the skin. A mineral-based or homemade sunscreen, a good pair of UV-protected sunglasses, and a hat can do wonders to help protect your face from those harmful rays, ultimately keeping the skin around the eyes from wrinkling and darkening due to the effects of the sun.
11. Have Your Cover Up Handy
While you can’t necessarily remove dark circles, you can often hide them by lightening the area with a concealer. There are some mineral-based options available, but you can also make your own right at home. You can choose options that match your skin tone and then simply apply it by lightly patting it onto the skin around the eyes. Do not rub it into the skin as this may cause further irritation. Also, do not use too much. You want a natural appearance to the skin. Too much can make dark circles, wrinkles and crepey skin more prominent.
12. Use an All-Natural Eye Cream
Since aging typically causes dehydration of the skin due to lack of collagen, moisturizing is essential. There are lots of creams available, but I recommend a homemade eye cream. You can try this at night, in the morning or both. (2)
You can also try my baggy eye solution in the evening right before bed. Containing rosehip oil, lavender and lemon essential oils, and aloe vera, it will help lower inflammation and regenerate your skin.
13. Get More Collagen into Your Diet
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. It’s found in our muscles, bones, skin and tendons. It gives our skin strength and elasticity, and helps replace dead skin cells. Our body’s collagen production naturally begins to slow down as we age. You can thank this process for undereye bags.
Increasing collagen levels can help your skin look firmer, increase smoothness, and help your skin cells keep renewing and repairing normally. Try a chicken bone broth or collagen supplements, like collagen protein powder, to increase your collagen intake.
Symptoms & Causes of Bags Under the Eyes
Bags under eyes can include mild swelling, saggy or loose skin and/or dark circles. While you may not like the way these bags look, they are usually harmless and do not require medical attention; however, if you experience severe and persistent bags accompanied by redness, itching or pain, you may want to see your doctor. Also, if you notice redness, itching or pain on other parts of your body, such as your legs, you could be having an allergic reaction and need medical attention. Your doctor will want to rule out other possible causes that can contribute to the swelling, such as thyroid disease or an infection.
As you age, the tissue structures and muscles supporting your eyelids weaken with the loss of collagen. This weakening of the tissue can cause the skin to begin sagging. The fat that is normally found in the area around the eyes may move into the area below your eyes, accumulating fluid and making the under-eye area appear puffy or swollen. Some things that can make this happen are fluid retention due to changes in weather, hormone levels, eating salty foods, not getting enough sleep, allergies, dermatitis — especially if puffiness is accompanied by redness and itching — and heredity. (3)
Epidermal Growth Factor … Huh?
The Journal of The Society of Translational Oncology explains how cell multiplication is essential during all aspects of life to restrict growth to the few places where it is needed, such as wounds, bruising or any inflammation that needs to be healed. This can include bags under the eyes.
Epidermal growth factor (EGF) is part of a complex network of growth factors and receptors that together help to modulate the growth of cells. EGF is released by cells and then is picked up either by the cell itself, stimulating its own growth, or by neighboring cells, stimulating their ability to divide. In most cases, EGF is very beneficial.
Another study shared information regarding use of a topical serum containing epidermal growth factor (EGF) and its ability to minimize the appearance of under-eye bags. Sixteen subjects were tested and all but two subjects reported improvement at their final visit. Improvement was quantified as 76–100 percent by two subjects, 50–75 percent by three subjects and 25–49 percent by nine subjects. Eleven subjects claimed that the bags under their eyes were definitely milder at the end of the trial compared to the first visit. Seven subjects reported greater satisfaction with their overall facial appearance.
Ultimately, the study concluded that the results offer evidence that topical EGF can reduce the appearance of under-eye bags. It can also help eliminate fine lines. EGF can be found in some over-the-counter products such as EGF serum. Your dermatologist might recommend it as a conventional treatment. (4, 5, 6, 7)
The Risks of Natural vs. Unnatural Ways to ‘Cure’ Baggy Eyelids
The skin around the eyes is very delicate. Make sure to take special care when applying anything around or near your eyes. Most natural methods as described above shouldn’t cause any problems. But if the puffiness worsens or you notice any irritation, see your doctor.
Depending on the cause of your baggy eyelids, “unnatural” or conventional treatment methods might include over-the-counter or prescription creams or procedures such as Botox injections. Allergic reactions might occur, so contact your doctor if you experience any further discoloration or irritation. (8)
A plastic surgery procedure known as blepharoplasty is another conventional treatment option that might be suggested by your dermatologist if other methods don’t seem to help. But keep in mind that any surgery can be risky, and cosmetic surgery might not be covered by your health insurance. Discuss the risks and benefits and any concerns you might have with your dermatologist or plastic surgeon. (9)
- There are many causes, but generally skin tissues around the eyes and eyelids weaken and sag, causing fluid to accumulate beneath the eyes, which creates puffiness under the eyes and a swollen appearance.
- Seasonal allergies, eczema, water retention and sleeping face down can aggravate the condition, with heredity playing a role as well.
- Smoking, drugs and alcohol can also age skin faster.
- There are numerous natural things you can do, from eliminating some bad habits to at-home remedies, that can help reduce the appearance of bags under the eyes.
- Conventional treatment options recommended by a dermatologist might include creams, Botox injections and cosmetic surgery.
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