The only thing worse than being asked if you’re tired all the time is having the under-eye bags that so often prompt that question in the first place.
The good news? There are ways to get rid of those bags under your eyes and look a bit more rested in the process—spoiler alert, getting more sleep will help, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Here’s everything you need to know about what’s causing those bags under your eyes and the best ways to get rid of them.
What Causes Eye Bags?
The skin around your eyes is thinner than elsewhere on your body. As you age, the tissues in the eye area weaken and sag. This reduction in skin elasticity around the eyes causes fat to move towards the lower eyelids, leading to puffy eye bags.
Besides the aging process, other possible causes of under-eye bags or dark circles include:
- Insufficient sleep or chronic fatigue
- Smoking cigarettes
- Pink eye
- Skin problems, such as eczema and pigmentation issues
- Sun exposure
- Fluid retention caused by high salt intake
- Hereditary eye puffiness
In extreme cases, eyes bags may also be due to:
- A stye (bacterial infection in the eyelid’s oil gland)
- Thyroid disease
- Orbital cellulitis (inflammation of eye tissues)
- Brain injury or trauma
- Graves’ disease
- Eye cancer
If you notice pain, itchiness, or other forms of discomfort around your eye, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Lifestyle Changes to Get Rid of Bags Under Eyes
The answer to “how do you reduce bags under your eyes?” is not always complicated. In most cases, a few lifestyle changes can get rid of the problem. Here are our tried-and-tested health tips for achieving bag-free eyes.
Use Sunscreen Diligently
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the sun’s UV rays cause various skin conditions, such as skin cancer, premature aging, and discoloration. Avoid such health issues by applying water-resistant SPF 30 (or higher) sunscreen every time you head out. The American Academy of Dermatology also recommends avoiding tanning beds.
Wash Off Makeup Before Bed
Going to bed with eye makeup can cause eye irritation, allergic reactions, or cause infections that trigger eye redness and puffiness. Leaving your makeup on overnight also exposes you to free radicals that weaken and wrinkle your skin.
Sleep with Your Head Elevated
Use an extra pillow to prop your head up while you sleep. Sleeping with your head higher than the rest of your body prevents fluid retention in your lower eyelids and reduces puffiness when you wake up.
Catch at least seven to eight hours of sleep every day to avoid under-eye circles and swelling. Stay away from caffeine and other ingredients that may affect your sleep.
Add Iron and Collagen to Your Diet
The muscles and tissues supporting your eyes weaken as you age, leading to sagging around the eye area. Increasing your vitamin C intake will help your body absorb more hyaluronic acid, which slows down aging skin. A vitamin C-rich diet also triggers collagen production, which keeps your skin supple yet firm.
Iron is essential for red blood cell production, and red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body. Iron deficiency leads to fatigue, which may cause dark circles and affect your skin tone.
See our related article covering the collagen benefits for skin by clicking here.
Stay Away from the Salt Shaker
Salt might make food taste better, but in excess, it can cause some not-so-pleasant side effects. If your salt intake is high, your body’s fluid retention increases, leading to puffiness under your eyes and in your joints, among other places. Avoid processed foods with a high-salt content, and opt for fresh fruits, vegetables, and homemade meals instead.
Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol dehydrates the body, which causes eye circles. Limit your alcohol intake and keep caffeinated beverages and drinks that contain processed sugar to a minimum. Water is your best friend, so drink lots of it. If you find water boring, stay hydrated with flavored or fruit-infused water or cold herbal decaffeinated tea.
Forget About Smoking
If you want beautiful skin, you need to quit smoking. Cigarettes leech Vitamin C from your body, and without it, your collagen production reduces, leading to skin wrinkles and discoloration around your eyes.
Treatments for Bags Under Eyes
The right treatment for bags under the eyes depends on the cause. The good news is many inexpensive home remedies are available for treating eye bags. Here are some of our favorite home treatments for resolving puffy eyes and improving the appearance of dark eye circles.
Use Tea Bags
Caffeinated tea bags, preferably black tea bags, placed under your eyes can help with eye circles, bags under the eyes, and puffiness. Caffeinated tea contains antioxidants that increase your blood flow under the skin when applied topically. That accelerated blood flow leads to rejuvenated tissues.
Apply Cold Compresses
Applying a cold compress to a swollen site constricts blood vessels and alleviates swelling. Take a chilled teaspoon or cucumber slices and place them over your eye bags to relieve them. You can also use a cold washcloth or frozen veggies as a cold compress.
Allergy symptoms may sometimes include puffy eyes with dark circles. If you believe your eye troubles are due to allergies, over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medications, like Benadryl, can help. Hair dyes, makeup, and other cosmetic products cause allergic reactions in some people. If you don’t know what triggers your allergies, talk to your doctor and schedule allergy testing to identify which products to avoid.
Add Retinol to Your Skincare Routine
Retinol (vitamin A) helps with various skin issues and even prevents certain cancers. As a staple in anti-aging skin care products, you have a wealth of options for topical creams, serums, and more.
You also might consider taking a supplement or adding more foods high in vitamin A to your diet to care for your skin and improve your collagen production. Note that if you are pregnant, using retinol orally or topically may be unsafe.
Use Lightening Products
If your primary concern is dark circles under your eyes, use face creams, lotions, or gels that contain hydroquinone. This ingredient decreases the skin’s melanin production, which may help reduce dark circles. It is best to only use hydroquinone at night because exposure to sunlight after product application can have side effects.
Be sure to check out what we think is the best skin lightening cream.
Medications and Therapies
If home remedies don’t get rid of bags and dark circles under your eyes, contacting your doctor for medical assistance may become necessary. However, insurance typically does not cover any treatment options if it is strictly to improve your appearance.
After examining you, your doctor may recommend prescription eye creams to relieve the swelling. If the condition isn’t affecting other body parts or accompanied by redness, pain, or itching, your doctor may suggest one of the following:
Depending on your diagnosis, a chemical peel may help with wrinkles or dark circles around the eyes. This chemical treatment removes the top layer of your skin and blemishes in the process. It may take several rounds of light or medium chemical peels to see results.
Injecting dermal fillers beneath the skin makes it rosier and softens creases. The substance’s gel-like texture is safe and ideal for filling out saggy eyelids.
This is a facial rejuvenation treatment for improving the skin’s appearance. Depending on the procedure, your doctor may use an ablative or non-ablative laser to treat your facial flaws.
Microneedling, also called collagen induction therapy, can help improve wrinkles and scarring. It also removes dark circles and under-eye bags. Microneedling involves puncturing the skin with fine needles to create a controlled injury and rejuvenate the skin. The procedure is generally safe but may cause complications, such as bleeding, infections, or scarring.
Blepharoplasty or Eyelid Surgery
Eyelid surgery may help reduce swollen eye bags by reducing your upper and lower eyelids’ fat content. The surgeon will make an incision in your eyelids to extract some of the fat content and use tiny stitches to close the surgery site.
A surgeon may recommend blepharoplasty as an outpatient procedure to reduce swelling if you have:
- Puffy eyelids
- Excess upper eyelid skin that disrupts vision
- Droopy or excess skin on your lower eyelids
Before choosing eyelid surgery or any other medical procedure for eye bags or dark circles, talk to your doctor to discover the safest and most effective treatment for your needs. For instance, not every skin type reacts well to surgery or laser resurfacing.
Does Losing Weight Reduce Eye Bags?
It depends on the cause of your puffy eyes. We all have natural fat deposits all over our bodies, including around our eyes. If you suddenly lose a significant amount of weight, the fat pads around your eyes may shrink, leading to a sunken eye look.
The loss of fat around your eyes may also expose the blood vessels under your eyelids, giving the area a bluish color, meaning losing weight isn’t the perfect solution to solving eye bags. Instead, attain healthy body weight and eliminate the habits that cause bags under eyes, such as smoking, sleeplessness, and excessive drinking.
Say Goodbye to Dark Circles and Bags Under Eyes
That’s everything to know about what causes bags under the eyes and how to care for them. If the home remedies covered here don’t work, the beauty industry has your back.
Explore our website a bit more for in-depth reviews of the best products to get rid of under-eye bags. In the meantime, drink lots of water, get your vitamins and rest, and skip the cigarettes.