Bags under the eyes can appear for many reasons. They may show up when you’re stressed or short on sleep and disappear when you get some rest.
However, at some point, bags or dark circles become a more permanent fixture. This is unfortunately a part of the aging process and happens at different times for different people.
Usually, under-eye bags aren’t a cause for medical concern, but they are frustrating and have an unhealthy appearance.
Thankfully, there are several things you can do at home to get rid of bags under eyes. Here’s more about the common causes of eye puffiness and dark circles as well as natural short- and long-term solutions.
Common Causes of Bags Under Eyes
There are several possible causes for puffy, baggy eyes. Allergies, certain medical conditions, and genetics are all contributing factors, but most often the main cause comes down to the aging process and lifestyle.
As your skin ages, the tissues around your eyes start to weaken. This not only causes the skin to sag, it also allows fluid to build up, which is what makes the under-eye area appear swollen or puffy.
One of the main reasons for this is that collagen production in your body drops as you get older. Collagen is one of the major components that keeps your skin tissues firm, thick, and elastic. Losing it is what causes wrinkles and other signs of aging to appear, including bags under the eyes.
Besides fluid, the weakened tissues allow fat that normally supports your eyes to move below your eyes as well. To add to this, blood vessels can also become more visible, which darkens the area underneath your eyes.
Excess fluid retention, lack of sleep, and smoking are other common factors that can worsen or accelerate this effect.
The good news is that you can use natural means to reduce or get rid of bags under eyes. Some will have a more immediate impact, while others have long-term effects.
Top Ways to Get Rid of Bags Under Eyes
Clear Out Your Sinuses
Clearing out your sinuses flushes out allergens that may be contributing to eye puffiness. It won’t reverse bags that are there from skin aging, but it’s a good way to find out how much of the problem is coming from allergies.
One of the best ways to do this is to use something called a neti pot.
Neti pots have become quite popular recently, although they have their origins in the ancient practice of Ayurvedic medicine. They are a simple way to use a saline solution to irrigate your nasal canal. This can help with sinus congestion, a stuffy nose from allergies, and even sinus infections.
Flush your sinuses regularly to reduce both bags and dark circles.
Use Tea Bags Under Your Eyes
Placing tea bags on your eyes may sound silly, but it’s an old trick to reduce under-eye bags.
Tea bags mainly work because they contain caffeine. Caffeine is known as a vasoconstrictor, which means that it constricts blood vessels. This lessens puffiness and can help with dark circles as well. In fact, this is one of the reasons caffeine has become a popular skincare ingredient.
Black and green tea will both work well. Black tea has a higher caffeine content, but green tea has greater anti-inflammatory properties.
Steep your tea bags for 3-5 minutes before chilling them completely in the refrigerator. You can then either apply them just under your eyes or over your whole (closed) eye. Leave on for 15-30 minutes.
Reduce Your Salt Intake
Consuming too much salt can lead to fluid retention, which in turn contributes to eye puffiness. Watching your salt intake can be a big help to reduce or get rid of bags under eyes.
The best way to do this is to eat and cook fresh, whole foods whenever possible. Salt lightly and use other seasonings to make up for the lower amount of sodium. You may find that your blood pressure and heart health improve along with your eyes!
Apply a Cold Compress
Cold compresses are useful for any kind of swelling, and this includes under your eyes. Though a temporary solution, using a compress will have an immediate effect on puffiness. It’s a good option to use if your eyes puff up extra from lack of sleep or stress.
You can use a small ice pack in a cloth or anything else that’s chilled. Even a cold, wet washcloth will do the trick. Apply the compress for just a few minutes at a time, stopping when you see results.
Drink Less Alcohol and More Water
Ironically, dehydration as well as fluid retention worsens under-eye bags and especially dark circles. Alcohol is one thing that dehydrates your body and skin, affecting the area around your eyes.
Cutting back on alcohol consumption can positively affect the health of your entire skin, but the effects will be even greater if you also up your water intake.
Nothing hydrates your body quite like pure water. (Which means you should beware of toxins in your drinking water.) Improving your hydration will only help under-eye bags, and the effects will be long-lasting.
Work On Natural Allergy Relief
Allergies can either cause or worsen eye puffiness and bags. If you have seasonal allergies, you probably notice that your eyes get puffier and possibly even feel swollen when your allergies flare.
Getting allergies under control can make a huge difference and may even get rid of bags under your eyes if this is the main cause.
As mentioned, you can use something like a neti pot to flush allergens out of your sinuses. Combine this with other natural allergy remedies like essential oils and stinging nettle to help seasonal allergies. Also, be aware of toxic ingredients in cosmetics that may be contributing to hidden allergies.
Exercise Your Body (And Your Face)
Exercise is a good way to encourage the drainage of excess fluid. Consistently getting your body moving will help with under-eye bags and is good for your overall skin health as well. In fact, research indicates that exercise is a key component to younger-looking skin.
Besides getting “normal” exercise, you may also want to look into specific exercises for your face.
Face yoga has become a very popular way to naturally tone and tighten facial muscles. It involves specific exercises for your face and neck, mostly designed to make your face look younger. And though the jury is still out on this trend, there is some evidence that a facial workout may indeed reduce signs of aging.
Try a Chamomile Eye Bag
Applying a chamomile tea bag to the eyes is another old remedy for allergies and swelling. It works because of chamomile’s strong anti-inflammatory properties and soothing nature for the skin.
To get the most out of this old trick, steep a chamomile tea bag for 10-15 minutes. Let it cool to room temperature, or refrigerate in to get the added benefit of a cold compress. Apply it to your closed eyes for as long as needed.
Chamomile can be excellent at helping you get rid of bags under eyes temporarily, but keep in mind that some people are allergic to it. Do a skin test with it first if you’ve never used it before.
Place Cucumbers Over Your Eyes
Cucumbers resting on closed eyes is probably the most stereotypical image of going to the spa or getting a facial treatment. However, there may actually be some benefit behind this old tradition.
To start with, cucumbers that are chilled first provide relief from swelling and puffiness. They also contain some powerful antioxidants that can reduce inflammation under your eyes. And because they are 95% water and contain hydrating nutrients, they can provide some moisture to your skin.
In fact, some research indicates that cucumbers possess anti-wrinkle and anti-aging activity!
Remove Makeup Before Bedtime
When you get to bed late, it may be tempting to just leave your makeup on. However, this can irritate your skin and worsen under-eye bags. It also raises your chances of developing an allergy to makeup or an eye infection.
Remove makeup each night, especially around your eyes, with a natural cleanser or oil to prevent puffiness from skin irritation.
Use a Natural Sunscreen on Your Face
Getting sunlight directly on your skin is important and has several benefits, including raising your vitamin D levels, but too much of it can cause skin damage. Damage from UV radiation accelerates skin aging and can also dehydrate your skin.
Wearing a chemical-free sunscreen or sunglasses that completely cover your eyes won’t necessarily get rid of bags under eyes. But it will help to stop further damage and prevent dark circles, wrinkles, and under-eye bags from worsening.
If your skin has already experienced sun damage, one of the best things to do is to consume a lot of antioxidants like quercetin to offset the damage.
Smoking, or being exposed to second hand smoke, is one of the worst things you can do to your skin. Research has shown that it dehydrates skin and accelerates premature skin aging. The more delicate skin on your face and under your eyes is especially affected.
The reason for this is that many of the more than 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke destroy collagen and elastin. These are the two most important proteins that keep your skin firm, elastic, and youthful!
Smoking can both cause and worsen under-eye bags, dark circles, and skin discoloration, so this is one bad habit to get rid of.
Get More Sleep and Think About Your Sleep Position
Lack of sleep can cause puffiness and under-eye bags at any stage of life. However, the effects become cumulative as you get older and your body doesn’t repair itself as quickly.
Not getting enough rest also causes a paler complexion in many people. This makes bags and dark circles more visible under your eyes.
Besides getting more sleep (7-8 hours is the recommended amount), the way you sleep may also impact your eyes and skin. Sleeping on your back or elevating your head slightly can both help to prevent fluid from pooling under your eyes.
Up Your Vitamin C Intake to Boost Collagen Production
Vitamin C has many benefits for skin, but it really shines by boosting collagen production.
Collagen is majorly responsible for keeping your skin plump and free of wrinkles, sagging skin, and so on. Your body naturally starts to produce less and less collagen as you get older. This is one of the reasons under-eye bags appear in the first place.
If you want to get rid of bags under eyes for good, restoring collagen levels is really a must.
The good news is that vitamin C is a huge catalyst of collagen production. It helps your body synthesize collagen, which leads to skin repair and rejuvenation. You can get it in your diet through fruits and vegetables or in your skincare through ingredients like camu camu and mango butter.
Use a Natural Face or Eye Cream
While there are many things you can do on your own to reduce under-eye bags, anti-aging face or eye creams may be the extra boost your skin needs. Their specific purpose is to reduce signs of aging like puffiness and loose skin.
It’s possible to formulate your own cream at home, or you can choose one with pure and natural ingredients to buy. Ideally, you want something that moisturizes and has ingredients that specifically replenish collagen and elastin (including a source of vitamin C).
Look for a cream that uses real plant oils and plant extracts, and is USDA Certified Organic, which means independently and strictly verified to be clean and non-toxic. (Be careful of products just calling themselves “natural” or “organic,” which could mean one ingredient amongst a sea of artificial ingredients. You want to put something on your skin that will truly help renew it, not work against it longer-term with artificial and toxic ingredients!)
A Fast and Very Powerful Solution to Consider
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Whatever steps you choose, there is a lot you can do about under-eye bags.
And many of the steps above have other additional skin and health benefits, too, so it’s a “win-win”!