The holiday season is officially upon us, which can mean stress, lack of sleep, and dehydration for a lot of us (Who has time to remember to drink plenty of water when theres all that food to cook?). Luckily, there are ways to counteract the appearance of tired, puffy eyes during the holiday season.
What Causes Puffy Eyes?
Eye puffiness can be caused by a number of things. One of the most common causes is simply your sleep position- if you sleep on one side or on your stomach, fluid can pool around your eyes (or even around just one eye) giving it a puffy appearance. Sleeping in your makeup can irritate your eyes while you sleep, causing even more fluid to pool in the area. Hay fever or other allergies can also lead to fluid accumulation. So a few simple fixes to try first are: treat your allergies, always remove your makeup before bed, and add another pillow to your bed. Try sleeping on your back if you can.
Another potential cause is drinking too much alcohol, which can lead to dehydration, or simply not drinking enough water. Dehydration weakens the already-thin skin around the eyes, making them more susceptible to appearing puffy or tired.
Eventually, gravity itself can be a cause of bags or puffiness under the eyes. As we age, gravity pulls the skin downward, resulting in jowl formation, wrinkles, and bagginess under the eye area. As we age, the muscles of the face around the eyes also weakens, and the fat that surrounds the eyes and is supported by the muscles will start to move downward. This results in bagginess and puffiness. Bags under the eyes can be even more noticeable if you also have dark circles under the eyes.
What Causes Dark Circles Under the Eyes?
Like puffiness, dark circles under the eyes can have a number of causes. Genetics can play a factor- you might be predisposed to having darker pigmentation in that area because of your relatives. As we age, the skin under and around the eyes becomes thinner, exposing more of the blood vessels under the eyes. The illusion of dark circles under the eyes can also come from fat loss. As we age, we lose fat around the orbital sockets, making the face look thinner and the eyes more sunken. This gives the eyes a shadowed or dark look.
Preventing Dark Circles and Puffiness
Always remember to stay hydrated, even during the stressful holiday season! Get plenty of sleep (on more than one pillow, on your back) and take it easy on the salt and the alcohol. Thats not easy during the holidays when were all eating and going to parties, but just keep your sodium and alcohol intake moderate.
Use an eye-specific moisturizer at night to keep the skin around the eyes healthy and hydrated. Stop smoking! Smoking does a lot to age us around the eyes- the squinting you do to keep smoke out of your eyes causes fine lines and wrinkles. The smoke itself lowers the oxygen levels of the blood, which is necessary to nourish the skin. The tar can yellow the skin around the eyes, making it look even more brittle and aged. The blood vessels under the skin around the eye will become more visible. Also, always use a moisturizer with an SPF. The sun is the first enemy of your skin- the radiation from its rays will break down the collagen in your skin, leading to premature wrinkles and bagginess. Apply sunscreen (or a moisturizer with sunscreen) even if youre just going to be outside for a few minutes.
What Else Can I Do About Puffy Eyes?
If you have under the eye puffiness that isnt a daily occurrence, you can usually combat it with a cold compress. You can even use the traditional cold cucumber slices or bag of peas- its actually the cold temperature of the cucumbers that reduces the puffiness, not anything in the actual vegetable itself. Chilled tea bags will also do the trick.
If youre preparing for a big event (like, say, hosting Thanksgiving dinner) try skimping on the salt for the few days leading up to the big night. Lower sodium levels in the body will keep the swelling around your eyes to a minimum.
If you also have darkness around the eyes in addition to puffiness, ditch the cucumber slices and try potato slices instead. Potatoes have an enzyme called catecholase, which can act as a mild skin lightener. This is a nice quick-fix for those of you who dont have chronic dark circles, but are maybe just recovering from a stressful day.
Another way to make your eyes look a bit younger is to pay attention to your brows! The eyebrows can become grayed or sparse as we age. Treat yourself to a shaping wax or even a brow coloring- youll be surprised at how much younger your face looks with just a simple eyebrow treatment at a local salon. And if all else fails, you can rely on a good concealer to cover up the darkness as you explore other options.
What If Nothing Works?
If these natural prevention tips dont work, it is probably time to explore your cosmetic options. Stay tuned on the blog for more about what procedures can help combat the appearance of dark circles and under-eye bagginess. In the meantime, call our office at (703) 574-2588 with any questions or to schedule a consultation.