Here’s *Exactly* How to Get Rid of Your Puffy Eyes Like a Skincare Pro
Main image – Courtesy of writer
Much like waking up to redness, dry skin, or an unexpected breakout, looking in the mirror first thing in the morning and seeing puffy eyes (or even a puffy face) still sometimes come as a bit of a shock to me.
You’d think that a full night’s sleep with a face marinated in moisturiser would stop facial puffiness in its tracks—but alas, even after eight hours of rest, I can still wake up to swelling and a face full of fluid retention.
Even though I know facial puffiness is a natural reaction of the body, it’s still uncomfortable and frustrating.
And I know I’m not alone. As a beauty editor and facialist I’m constantly being asked how to make eyes look brighter and less puffy and I think it’s time we tackle the subject for good.
That’s why I spoke Charlotte Connoley, facial therapist and resident skincare expert for skincare brand Super Facialist, to break down exactly why we get puffy eyes, and how she recommends treating them. I also share one of my own favourite ways to reduce puffiness, both for myself and for my clients.
What causes puffy eyes?
“First establish if the puffiness is from an allergy,” advises Connoley. “I have been dealing with puffiness under my eyes recently and I went to check out if I had any allergies as this usually is a sign.”
If your puffiness is also accompanied by sensitive or teary eyes and it occurs daily, then an allergic reaction to a product, or even an eye infection could be the cause, according to the expert.
Amongst the more common causes of under-eye puffiness is a diet containing too much salt, alcohol, or processed food.
These essentially cause dehydration, especially if you’re not drinking enough water, which causes the body to try to retain moisture, leading to puffiness. If you’ve woken up to puffy eyes after a meal out, a takeaway, or a night of drinking, then it’s easy to narrow down the cause of your puffiness.
Puffiness specifically in the eye area can also be caused by crying, according to the pro. This is because tears produce an excess of fluid, and since the lymphatic system (the body’s drainage system) isn’t at its best in the under-eye area, the fluid doesn’t always drain away efficiently.
What causes puffiness in the morning?
The reason why facial puffiness tends to appear worse in the morning is, Connoley explains, because when we lay down flat to sleep, fluid builds up—and since it can’t move around the body as freely as it can when we are awake and being active, the body retains the moisture.
Fortunately, there are some quick fixes to facial puffiness which you can easily incorporate into your morning skincare routine.
How to treat puffy eyes
1. Try cryotherapy
“Using cryotherapy tools like ice globes to eliminate puffiness in the morning is a great tool to use if you have the time,” says Connoley. The cold temperature helps to constrict the blood vessels which reduces inflammation and swelling.
If you don’t have these then cold spoons can work miracles too. “Place spoons in the freezer, take them out and using the back of the spoon glide them across your skin,” she advises. “And make sure you have some sort of oil on the skin so the spoons don’t stick.”
This is the tip that I find particularly useful, and my ice globes have now become both a regular part of my own skincare routine and the treatments I give clients.
2. Massage your face
Connoley is renowned for her sculpting facials, so it’s no surprise to me that facial massage is one of her top recommendations for reducing facial puffiness. What’s more, this doesn’t necessarily require adding an extra step into your routine, either.
According to Connoley, you can easily incorporate massage into your morning cleansing step.
“Use an oil cleanser such as the Super Facialist Vitamin C Cleansing Oil (£12 from Boots UK / $15.20 from Look Fantastic US) to help drain the fluid first thing in the morning,” she advises. “Start from the centre of the face and always move outwards and upwards.
Be gentle under the eyes as this area is very fragile. Massage behind your ears and down your neck to encourage the lymph to flow better too.” To prevent facial puffiness from occurring overnight, Connoley recommends doing the same massage in the evening just before sleeping with a facial oil.
3. Stay hydrated
Since dehydration is a primary cause of facial puffiness, staying hydrated can go a long way in helping to prevent that build up of fluid.
According to the NHS, other signs of dehydration can include feeling tired, dizzy, and lightheaded, a dry mouth, and sunken eyes. The NHS also advises aiming to drink six to eight glasses of water a day—more if you’re in a hot environment, physically active for long periods, or recovering from illness.
4. Have an eye care routine
“The skin under your eyes and back of your hands is the thinnest on your body so you need to treat it with care,” explains Connoley.
“When applying eye cream make sure you don’t press too hard and make sure you’re applying the cream on the bone and not too near the eye socket.”
She also cautions against dragging the skin. “Use a light eye cream and avoid rich creams round the eye area. Drain towards the ears to encourage the puffiness to reduce and tapping around the eye gently can also help,” she adds.
5. Improve your sleep environment
If you find that facial puffiness occurs every night, no matter how much time you spend massaging your eyes before bed, consider what you can do to prevent that fluid from building up.
Connoley recommends elevating your head slightly with a bigger pillow while you sleep to help prevent water retention.
6. Introduce caffeine
Making a cup of coffee is high on the agenda for my morning routine, but while an oat flat white won’t have any impact upon my puffy under eyes, using an eye cream or serum that contains caffeine certainly will.
Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, which means it has the ability to constrict the blood vessels in order to reduce inflammation and swelling. You’ll notice that a lot of eye care products contain caffeine for this reason.
The best products for facial puffiness
When it comes to choosing products for under-eye puffiness, my top tip is to look for light, gel textured formulas which feel soothing and refreshing—bonus points if the product can be stored in the fridge for extra cooling benefits.
For general facial puffiness, the same applies. However, if you’re considering experimenting with facial massage, opt for a silky-textured oil instead.
Super Facialist Vitamin C Dark Circles Eye Cream (£14 from Boots UK / $16.26 from Feel Unique US)
Connoley recommends this lightweight caffeine-based eye cream, which also helps to target dry skin and dark circles via a combination of vitamin C and peptides.
The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream (£10 from The Inkey List UK / $11 from The Inkey List US)
Thanks to a potent 0.3% caffeine blend, this cult eye cream from The Inkey List is clinically proven to reduce puffiness from the first use.
Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Patches (£45 from Beauty Bay UK /$55 from Peter Thomas Roth US)
Store these gel-textured under-eye masks in the fridge to maximise their soothing, calming benefits. They’re perfect for reducing puffy eyes when you’re in a rush.
Ameon Supreme Energy Ice Cubes (£54 from Ameon UK /$55 from Ameon US)
Keep your freezer stocked up with these innovative pods of frozen serum—the ultimate treat for tired, puffy eyes.
111 Skin Cryo De-Puffing Facial Mask (£95 from 111 SKIN UK / $135 from Nordstrom US)
Inspired by professional cryotherapy treatments, this cooling sheet mask will help to reduce facial puffiness all over, and will provide an intense hydration boost in the process.
ESPA Cryotherapy Globes (£55 from Look Fantastic UK /$63 from ESPA US)
Combining the benefits of cryotherapy and facial massage, these ice globes are an essential in my morning skincare routine. Even just five minutes of use leaves my face feeling soothed and sculpted.
Tula Skincare Rose Glow & Get It Cooling & Brightening Eye Balm (£28 from Space NK UK /$38 from Tula Skincare US)
Formulated with caffeine to reduce inflammation, hyaluronic acid to moisturise dehydrated skin, and with cooling rosewater to soothe irritated skin, this swipe-on eye gel is ideal for those short on time in their morning routine.
Meet the expert
Charlotte Connoley is a facialist and the resident skincare expert for UK-based skincare brand Super Facialist. Charlotte trained with Nichola Joss, one of the beauty industry’s most respected beauty therapists, who has worked with the likes of Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kate Moss.