These Methods, Tools, and Products Will Help You De-Bloat a Puffy Face
If you have ever woken up with a puffy, bloated face, the first question you ask yourself is, "What happened?" The bad news is that there are a lot of potential causes behind facial puffiness—the good news, however, is that there is typically an easy fix. We asked board-certified dermatologist and founder of KP Away, Anar Mikailov, MD, and board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, to break down all the causes of face puffiness, how to treat it, and—most importantly—how to prevent it. See what they have to say, below.
Causes of a Puffy Face
According to Dr. Mikailov, facial puffiness typically refers to inflammation under the eyes, cheeks, and jawline. There are several potential culprits, including high sodium intake, alcohol consumption, crying, gravity pulling fluid towards your face (sleeping face-down can do it!), or inadequate sleep. Dr. Zeichner agrees, noting that puffiness is ultimately caused by genetics and environment; aging can also lead to puffy skin. As we age, the compartments in our faces that hold fat droop and separate, resulting in that puffy appearance especially under the eyes. Another cause is hormones: People who menstruate, says Dr. Mikailov, tend to find that their faces get puffy early in the pre-menstruation phase due to the rise in progesterone (this leads to more fluid retention). Seasonal allergies and colds are more obvious, but just as valid perpetuators of puffiness—but if the inflammation becomes prominently swollen, red, itchy, or hot to touch, Dr. Mikailov says that this could be a form of hives called urticaria—they can result from an allergic reaction, contact dermatitis, or a response to an infection. If you are also experiencing pain, it's a sign to see a doctor, since a puffy face can also indicate a more serious health condition.
How to Fix a Puffy Face
Fixing a puffy face depends on the underlying cause. If allergies are to blame, you will be treated with anti-histamines; if it's contact dermatitis, stop using the product that caused the reaction and apply an over-the-counter corticosteroid cream can help reduce the swelling; and if water retention is the problem, try lymphatic drainage (gua sha techniques, jade rollers, and cold roller balls might help), advises Dr. Mikailov. Sticking these tools in the fridge could boost their impact, since the added chill lead to vasoconstriction and decreases inflammation, notes Dr. Zeichner—which is why he recommends cooling your skin care formulas, too. "Storing your products in the fridge keeps their temperature cool, so they calm the skin when they are applied," he says. "Like applying a cool compress, cold products constrict blood vessels to reduce redness and de-puff, and have the benefits of the active ingredients themselves."
How To Prevent Facial and Under-Eye Puffiness
Prevention works the same way as treatment—you have to figure out what's causing the puffiness so you can adjust accordingly. Upping your water intake might mitigate inflammation caused by a salty diet or drinking alcohol, says Dr. Mikailov; you can also limit these foods and drinks. On the skin care front, look to products with caffeine, especially in eye cream formulas. "Caffeine is the main ingredient that helps de-puff under-eye bags," he says. "It helps constrict blood vessels to remove excess fluid. It belongs to a family of molecules known as methylxanthines that promote fat breakdown [and] is commonly used in de-puffing and cellulite creams."
Dr. Zeichner adds that a face massage can help enhance lymphatic flow and remove excess fluid that builds up in and under the skin. "Think of your lymphatics as your body's sewage system, filtering and removing fluid from your body," he says, pointing to the aforementioned tools, like stone rollers. He advises using these tools in a down-and-out motion—not upwards. "The goal of these treatments is not to lift the skin," he says, "but rather to apply pressure in the direction of lymphatic flow." With all that in mind, discover several products that will help you address both facial and under-eye puffiness below.