The reasons why you have puffy eyes – and how to reduce puffiness fast

Everyone suffers from puffy eyes from time-to-time, but what could be causing them?
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  • We've probably all experienced that mildly alarming feeling when you catch your face in the mirror and you have puffy eyes that are more swollen than usual.

    Puffy eyes are extremely common and can be caused by a variety of different factors most of which are easy to counteract once you know how.

    Even if you don’t have particularly sensitive skin, chances are your eyes and the skin surrounding them is fairly reactive. Not only is the skin in this area thin and therefore less resilient against irritants, this also means that  fluid retention shows up more prominently here than other areas of the face.

    As with many beauty concerns, age has a role to play too, as the tissue and muscle that supports the eyelid can weaken over time and this lack of structure can make the under eye area appear swollen.

    Age aside, the good news is that many causes of puffy or swollen eyes can be tackled with small changes to your routine or lifestyle. There are a small minority of reasons that are indicative of underlying health issues too, so it’s important to identify the cause of your puffy eyes so you can address the problem quickly and efficiently.

    Here are 7 common causes of puffy eyes that you may not have considered…

    Common causes of puffy eyes

    1. Central heating

    Turning the central heating up in winter can make eyes dryer and more sensitive than usual, as heat causes dehydration of mucus membranes in the eyes, causing it to thicken and become more inflamed.

    2. Lack of sleep

    A bad night’s sleep can lead to puffiness around the eye area in the morning as your body hasn’t had efficiently clear fluid and toxin build up overnight.

    This can be even worse if you’re stressed, which causes changes to the salt balance in the body and if salt balances are off, your eyes can retain water as a result and swell.

    A woman stretching in bed after waking up

    3. Allergies

    Seasonal allergies can cause swelling of the eye area.

    When your body is faced with an allergy it releases histamine into your system which can sometimes lead to inflammation of the eye area.

    4. Phases of your menstrual cycle

    Just like the rest of your body swells during certain times of the month, your eyes can actually do the same.

    They should go down after a few days, as with abdominal bloating.

    5. Too much salt

    Too much salt in your diet can cause your eyes to puff, as excess sodium levels can lead to fluid retention.

    If you think too much salt may be the cause of your swollen eyes, simply cut back on foods that contribute to fluid retention.

    Watch out for hidden salt in condiments, pre-packed, frozen or canned goods, as sodium is often added as a preservative to these foods.

    6. Too much alcohol

    Your eyes are extremely vulnerable to even small changes in your diet, so the dehydration caused by drinking too much alcohol can lead to puffiness around the eye area.

    Yes, white wine eyes are definitely a thing.

    7. Thyroid problems

    Although it is probably more likely to be an environmental factor, puffy eyes can also be a symptom of an overactive thyroid, so if you are concerned always check with your GP.

    Natural remedies to get rid of puffy eyes

    Once you have identified the cause of your puffy eyes you can adjust your lifestyle habits to tackle them, or alternatively, seek medical advice if you think it may be an underlying symptom for something more serious.

    However, you can always try these natural remedies for reducing the appearance of puffy eyes…

    Drink more water

    When your body is dehydrated it desperately tries to retain water, causing your under eye area to swell.

    Drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day can also help flush toxins out helping to clear up your eye area.

    Try chilled cucumbers 

    Cucumbers are are an age-old puffy eye remedy, and there’s some decent science behind them too.

    As well as being deeply moisturising cucumbers contain antioxidants to fight off the environmental damage that can make eyes look tired and dull.

    Most importantly, ensure the cucumber slices are chilled as the cold temperature boosts vasoconstriction (the tightening of blood vessels) which instantly de-puffs.

    And they even double as a healthy, low-salt snack!

    Tea bags

    Tea bags can help soothe irritated and puffy eyes as they have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling – as well as relieving redness and irritation.

    Simply put two used teabags in the fridge for half an hour and then put them on your eyelids for 15 minutes.

    Cold spoons

    Much like cucumbers this home remedy will help tighten the blood vessels which will relieve tired and puffy eyes.

    Simply chill metal spoons in the fridge for approximately 15 minutes and then hold the rounded side against your eye for a few minutes until the spoon becomes warm.

    The best beauty products for puffy eyes

    The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% EGCG

    puffy eyes remedies

    Credit: The Ordinary

    SHOP NOW: The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% EGCG, £5.80, Boots

    Caffeine is a top de-puffing ingredient as it has anti-inflammatory properties, boosts vasoconstriction, and improves microcirculation to brighten and stimulate collagen.

    This serum combines that with powerful antioxidants and is the perfect light texture to use around the eyes.

    Elemis Pro Collagen Hydra-Gel Eye Mask

    puffy eyes remedies

    Credit: Elemis

    SHOP NOW: Elemis Pro Collagen Hydra-Gel Eye Mask, £59 for six pairs, Lookfantastic.com

    Puffy under-eyes can drag your mood down with them, but 20 minutes with these will lift both skin and spirits.

    These slippery little crescent moons, doused in firming plankton extract and hyaluronic acid, feel instantly refreshing and plump weary contours.

    Clinique Pep Start Eye Cream

    puffy eyes remedies

    Credit: Clinique

    SHOP NOW: Clinique Pep-Start Eye Cream, £24, Johnlewis.com

    Fun name, serious results. Squeeze the cream onto the the clever spherical tip and roll it around your eyes to massage as you apply.

    The formula has caffeine for instant results, nourishing glycerin and shea butter plus peptides, which perform all sorts of functions but essentially make skin cells behave as if they are younger and more energised.

    This Works Morning Expert Open Eyes

    puffy eyes remedies

    Credit: This Works

    SHOP NOW: This Works Morning Expert Open Eyes, £30, Johnlewis.com

    When eyes need more than cucumber slices to look lively, this chilly metal tip feels like sweet relief – it’s even better if you keep it in the refrigerator.

    Massage all around eyes first thing to brighten and firm with kelp extract, hydrating hyaluronic acid to plump lines and cell-energising peptides.

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