Expert Tips to Get Rid of Bags Under Your Eyes

These remedies may help you banish puffiness fast

woman getting a facial massage
Treatments like gua sha can help prevent fluid from pooling under the eyes.
Photo: Getty Images

Waking up with puffy eyes is a bummer, especially in the age of Zoom, where all of our imperfections may be highlighted through the mean gaze of the laptop cam. The best way to beat under-eye puffiness is to stay hydrated, sleep well, and cut down on salt and alcohol. But sometimes preventative measures don’t pan out. We talked to a few experts to find out how to reduce puffiness in the morning so you can get back to your bright-eyed self. 

Before you try these remedies, keep in mind that chronic eye puffiness, or puffiness accompanied by redness or pain, could indicate a medical condition. Any eye swelling accompanied by redness or pain should be seen by a medical professional.

Remedies for Puffy Eyes or Eye Bags

Cucumber on eyes. Cucumbers have a cooling effect and are rich in vitamin K, which can help decrease puffiness, says Jennifer David, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin & Scripts Virtual Dermatology in Bensalem, Pa. She suggests lying down and placing thin slices of cool cucumbers—not frozen—over closed eyes, covering both upper and lower eyelids. Leave them on for about 15 minutes.  

Tea bags under eyes. “Caffeine, when topically applied, has astringent and anti-inflammatory properties, so tea bags with white, green, oolong, or black tea can help,” says Rachael Pontillo, president of the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance and CEO of Create Your Skincare, which specializes in teaching people about natural skincare products. To do this, she suggests brewing two tea bags according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Then, allow them to cool to room temperature—or even better, put them in the fridge to make them cold. Finally, place them under your eyes for 10 minutes.

More on Eye Care

Facial massage, gua sha, acupressure, and face yoga. “These practices help to promote lymphatic drainage and circulation, which can absolutely help prevent the pooling/stagnation of fluid in the undereye area,” Pontillo says.

She cautions that it’s important to see an expert before trying any of these techniques at home. “You want to be very careful with the delicate skin around the eye area because you can make things worse with improper technique,” she says. “It’s best to work with an aesthetician, massage therapist, acupuncturist, or a practitioner who is properly trained in these modalities to ensure safe technique.”

Exercise. “Movement keeps the blood circulating and lymph circulating and draining,” Pontillo says. She recommends short, frequent sweat sessions over one long workout, less often. “Overall, you want something that gets things moving,” Pontillo says, and suggests exercises such as “rebounding, cardio, dance, certain forms of yoga, kickboxing, or jogging.”

David also suggests exercising your eyes with purposeful deep blinking, which will help reduce puffiness that occurs from lying flat and the lack of eye-muscle movement during sleep. “While we sleep, our bodies are laying flat and the eyes are not blinking,” she says. “Thus, the ocular muscles are not contracting to help with drainage.” As a result, fluid can accumulate, which causes puffy eyes. When you wake up in the morning and stand, “gravity helps promote drainage of the fluid, but also doing five to 10 deep intentional blinking movements will contract the eye muscles and help the excess fluid drain a little faster.”

Drinking water. Hydration is essential for keeping skin healthy and toned.

“My general rule is to drink half the amount of water in ounces of the person’s weight in pounds,” Pontillo says. “For example, if the person weighs 150 pounds, then it would be 75 ounces of water per day, plus more on hot, sweaty days or after workouts.”

She also cautions anyone with kidney problems, diabetes, or other health concerns to consult with their doctor on how much water is safe to drink.  

Turmeric eye mask. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, but Pontillo warns that it can stain your skin yellow or orange. 

Those with medium to darker skin tones could use turmeric tea bags using the same method outlined above. But those with lighter skin tones may want to try it with white turmeric. Or “you can definitely look for it as a skincare ingredient in an eye product, and use as directed,” she says. 

Ice/cold compress. This can help temporarily because cold causes tissues to contract and constrict. 

Allergy medications (antihistamines). Seasonal allergies and allergies to pet dander are the most likely culprits when it comes to allergy-induced puffy eyes, Pontillo says. But certain food allergies and allergies to topical ingredients can also cause swelling. That’s because of the allergic reaction itself and the inflammation from it. An antihistamine may help reduce swelling, but it’s always a good idea to see an allergy specialist for treatment.

Skin Care Ingredients That May Help Treat Puffy Eyes

In addition to home remedies, there are some products that may help relieve puffy eyes and treat the delicate skin around them. Pontillo suggests that people look for lightweight products with a gel base for this area. “Look for soothing, astringent ingredients like aloe vera, rose petals, cucumber, and witch hazel,” she says.

David recommends seeking out the following active ingredients:

Caffeine: “Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, which means it helps to constrict blood vessels, so it can help depuff eyes,” she says. “It’s one of the most common ingredients you’ll find in the best eye cream for bags and puffiness.” 

But it’s important to remember that caffeine doesn’t repair the skin or improve skin health. It provides temporary relief. Once you stop using an eye cream formulated with caffeine, your eyes are likely to return to their former state, especially if the root cause is a lifestyle habit such as a poor diet, smoking, or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. 

Antioxidants: They can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to environmental and other pressures. Antioxidants often include vitamins. Vitamin E, along with aloe, can help to soothe puffy eyes, David says. Vitamin C helps the skin look brighter, so it can minimize the look of puffiness and bags.

Hydrators: Some of the best depuffing eye creams contain peptides to help firm and tighten the look of the eye area, along with hyaluronic acid and glycerin, which boost the skin’s moisture level. These are critical ingredients in the best under-eye creams for puffiness.

Retinol: Look for eye creams that contain retinol, a vitamin A derivative. It helps encourage cell turnover and boosts collagen production to soften the look of wrinkles. 

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Laura Murphy

Just like you, I'm a consumer. I love to shop, and I'm obsessed with finding the highest-quality item at the best price. I want my products sustainably made with fair labor practices, and built to last, so I don't have to replace them every two years. I'm at Consumer Reports because I believe in harnessing consumer power to build a better world. Let's do this.