I despise those mornings when I wake up, stagger to the bathroom, and stare in the mirror at some seriously puffy, tired eyes. Not a great way to start the day! But over the years, I’ve discovered a few things that can help. If your under-eye bags and dark circles are dragging you down, give them a wake-up call with these simple, natural remedies.
What causes puffy eyes?
When it comes to puffy eyes, there’s good news and bad news.
The good news is that experts say eye puffiness is not necessarily a result of lack of sleep, but that your daily habits do play a role. The bad news is that eye bags are partly related to aging, and genetics may bear a lot of the blame.
Fortunately for most of us, we can reduce the size of puffy or swollen eyes—or at least lessen their appearance—by modifying our habits and getting into a healthy routine.
But what are they? Well, there is a slight difference between eye puffiness and baggy eyes. As you age, the muscles around the eyes become a little weaker, so the fat moves down and creates those bags [source]. That’s not something you can really change (short of surgery), but there are a few things you can.
Puffiness is generally thought of as something that can come and go, depending upon a few things. It can be a result of excess fluid caused by water retention.
Or, if there is swelling accompanied by irritation and redness, it could be caused by rubbing, allergies to makeup or something like dust, pet dander, etc. in the environment. And there are a few other causes that you can read about below.
How to prevent or treat puffy eyes
Since we do have control over eye puffiness to an extent, there are some things we can do to keep swelling away in the first place.
Get gravity on your side by sleeping with your head elevated, and preferably on your back, to prevent excess fluid buildup [source].
If you often have puffy eyes in the morning when you wake up, get an air purifier for your bedroom, change your pillowcase, and wash your sheets often to reduce allergens. If your eyes are itchy, try not to rub them, and take an over-the-counter allergy medication to help curb any redness or itchiness.
Rubbing your eyes may lead to hyperpigmented dark circles—another problem—so definitely avoid that. If you think you might be sensitive to something in your eye makeup, try a simple mineral clay eyeshadow and switch to a nontoxic mascara.
Cut down on salt during the day and before bed [source]. Extra salt = water retention = swelling. Drink plenty of water to keep your system flushed, as this can also help prevent eye puffiness. Water itself will help remove toxins from the body, but water displacement will cause puffiness.
Have your thyroid checked
If you notice upper eyelid puffiness, especially if it is associated with loss of the outer 1/3 of your eyebrows, you may have a low-functioning thyroid [source]. Check with your doctor if you think you might have a problem like this.
Yes, there is a boatload of things that smoking can cause, and you probably are aware of most of them. But perhaps you didn’t know that it worsens the problem of baggy eyes. The smoke contains substances that break down collagen, which forms the backbone of body tissues, and contributes to sagging skin [source].
Get some sleep
Sure enough, this one does affect the appearance of your eyes. If you find that you are working too late, getting up too early, or just not getting good zzz’s, make sure to improve your sleep hygiene, which is the combination of things you do before you go to bed at night.
Take a warm bath, lower the lights, put away the electronics, have a cup of herbal tea, and relax your mind. But, most of all, get to bed early enough to get your beauty sleep at least most nights of the week.
16 Natural Remedies for Puffy Eyes
1. Cool Cucumber
Cucumbers have been used for years as a home remedy for puffy eyes because of their detoxifying and diuretic properties. They contain ascorbic acid (vitamin C), antioxidants, and flavonoids that can help soothe and support the skin [source]. Plus, since they’re often stored in the refrigerator, the cooling action can help decrease swelling and tighten skin, at least for a little bit of relief.
Place a cool cucumber slice on each of your closed lids, and take a rest for 15–30 minutes. Or try this cucumber rose eye mask blended to reach the inner and outer corners of the eyes. Afterward, you’ll feel nice and refreshed.
2. Raw Potato Slices
Try using sliced potatoes in place of cucumbers. Not only do they stay cool longer than cucumbers, but they also have astringent properties that may help reduce the water buildup under the eyes.
You can also make a finely ground potato poultice by grating 1–2 tablespoons of raw potato and placing it in a few layers of cheesecloth. Lay that over your closed eyes and reap the benefits.
We use milk in quite a few of our homemade skin recipes because it contains lactic acid, which increases skin firmness [source]. Dip a cotton ball into cold milk (I prefer whole milk, but any kind should do the trick) and squeeze off the excess. Place on each of your closed eyes to help tone under-eye tissue.
4. Green or Black Tea
Tea bags are another popular home remedy. Green and black teas contain caffeine, which tightens skin and prevents the excessive accumulation of fat in cells, a common cause of under-eye bags as we age [source]. Caffeinated tea also contains tannins, which stimulate blood circulation, and antioxidants that protect skin from the effects of aging.
To make it work, place two tea bags in a cup of hot water. Remove and let the tea bags cool to room temperature, then place them on your closed eyes for 15–30 minutes. Doing this once or twice a week can help tighten the skin under the eyes, as well as provide soothing benefits.
5. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea doesn’t have caffeine, but it does have significant anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties [source]. Chamomile is used to treat maladies all over the body, so no surprise that it also revives tired, puffy eyes and reduces redness. It can also provide relief for conjunctivitis and pink eye [source].
6. Egg Whites
Beat up an egg white mask and apply it with a brush or your fingers under the eyes (make sure not to get it in the eyes, and wash hands after applying). As it dries, it will tighten and tone the skin. Let it sit for 10–15 minutes, then gently rinse.
It can also stimulate circulation and reduce inflammation. For a serious de-puffing eye treatment, puree an egg white, some cucumber, and a tablespoon of rose water together. Dab under your eyes gently for cooling relief.
7. Aloe Vera Gel
It’s not just for burns! Aloe contains a myriad of antioxidants [source] and has numerous antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and other healing properties [source]. It can help soothe tired eyes by moisturizing the skin and providing relief. It might also help minimize wrinkles.
8. Rose Water
Rose water contains vitamin C and A, as well as flavonoids. It is a natural astringent with anti-inflammatory properties [source]. It is also incredibly rejuvenating and refreshing. And you can even make your own rose water at home.
Simmer rose petals in just enough distilled water to cover them. When the petals have lost their color, strain the liquid and let it cool. Pour into a jar or bottle. Saturate a cotton ball with the cooled rose water and dab under eyes to reduce dark circles and refresh the skin.
9. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is a well-known astringent often used to reduce swelling and redness. Chilled witch hazel is extra refreshing. After cooling in the fridge for a couple of hours, apply a bit to a cotton pad and let sit on closed eyes for 5 minutes for an instant refresh.
10. Cold Water
Wake up your face with a cool water wash first thing in the morning. It will definitely get you going! If your eyes feel extra puffy, dunk your face in ice water or dip a washcloth in cold water, squeeze out the excess, and lay it over your eyes. The cold water works as a vasoconstrictor to restrict blood flow to the area, which in turn reduces any redness and swelling.
11. Chilled Spoons
If you’re not a fan of cold water, try putting two spoons in the refrigerator before you go to bed. In the morning, you can just pull them out and place them gently over your closed eyes. It will produce the same effect as cold water. And while we’re at it, jelly teething rings are also great. 🙂
Erase late nights and tired eyes by adding a dose of coffee to your morning skincare routine. The caffeine in this homemade mask for puffy eyes acts as a diuretic to reduce swelling. Whip a teaspoon or two of ground coffee into an egg white and apply under the eyes. Or try a coffee-infused eye cream. You’ll shrink both eye swelling and fine lines.
13. Jade Roller
I swear by my jade roller for kicking eye puffiness to the curb. Massaging your face with a jade roller stimulates circulation, flushes toxins, and encourages lymphatic drainage, making skin look tight and lifted. When you are working around the delicate eye tissue, just make sure to keep a light touch and be as gentle as possible.
Turmeric eye masks are excellent for brightening complexions, evening out skin tone, and decreasing inflammation [source]. Combine with milk for a bit of gentle exfoliation. Mix 1 tablespoon turmeric with 1 tablespoon milk in a small bowl and apply to under-eyes using a cotton ball. Leave on for 15 minutes and then carefully rinse off.
15. Tap ‘Em Away
Gently tapping your under-eye area with the pads of your fingers (just imagine you’re doing “jazz hands”) can help circulate lymph and encourage the fluid under your eyes to drain. When applying an eye serum, be sure to gently press it into the skin under your eyes rather than just superficially slathering it on top.
Not only will it sink in better, but it can also help combat pesky bags. Just be sure you don’t tug at the skin, as this can make eye bags worse!
16. Essential Oils
Many essential oils have anti-inflammatory properties that can lessen the appearance of eye puffiness. Try mixing 1–2 drops of argan, chamomile, rosehip seed, and lavender oils and gently applying to the under-eye area.
Just be super careful not to get it anywhere near the lash line or the corners of your eyes, as these oils can burn or make sensitivity worse. I apply it along the crease where my under-eye area meets the top of my cheeks.
As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.