Dermatologist-Reviewed Articles

How to Treat Under-Eye Bags and Puffiness

woman placing cucumbers over her eyes

A deep night’s sleep might seem like the obvious cure-all for those puffy under-eye bags. But don’t be disappointed if you wake up and they’re staring back at you in the mirror. Diet, skin care, sun exposure and genetic discoloration are just a handful of issues that contribute to this all-too-common cosmetic woe. Even a few changes in your skin care routine and diet can help you leave behind your unwanted baggage.

Target and Tighten

Dark, puffy circles have the uncanny ability to appear after many years of baggage-free bliss. Blood vessels, dry skin and baggy, fine lines become more visible as collagen and elastin production slows down and skin thins in the aging process. Topical creams containing alpha-hydroxy acids have been shown to exfoliate dead skin cells and encourage higher moisture content in cells, which can make wrinkles less noticeable.

The Anti-Aging Angle

Alternatively, if you are combating sagging or puffy skin from sun damage or slowing collagen production, vitamin A and retinol creams improve skin’s tone and elasticity with consistent use over many months. Retinol creams also tend to make skin extra sensitive to the sun, so you might find you reduce your exposure to those damaging UV rays when you use it.

Plump With Peptides

Another star ingredient for the delicate under eye is copper. Studies have shown that copper peptide promotes collagen and elastin production, which targets sagging under-eye skin. These powerful peptides also act as an antioxidant and promotes the production of glycosaminoglycans (i.e., hyaluronic acid)—which help to “repair” wrinkles. Not only does copper help to firm, smooth and soften skin, it does so in less time than most other anti-aging skin care ingredients.

Smart Diet

While clean eating won’t transform your skin overnight, skip the salt to keep puffy water retention and dry skin at bay. Inflammation is another culprit responsible for under-eye baggage. Adding antioxidants to your diet may help fight inflammation. Diets rich in vitamin C, vitamin K and folic acid, may help to fight inflammation.

Cool Compresses

Under-eye puffiness doesn’t always appear because of genetics. Some darkness and puffiness develop after a stressful day, lack of comfortable sleep or drinking alcohol too close to bedtime. Temper inflammation, puffiness and free radical damage with the antioxidants and tannins present in green or white tea. Steep the tea bags for a few minutes and allow them to cool completely. Wrap the cool bags in a tissue or thin dishcloth and place over your eyes for about five minutes. You can also apply a cool eye mask or a couple of cucumber slices to reduce the buildup of fluids around your eyes from fatigue or stress.


This article has been reviewed by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Emmy Graber.

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