Many people suffer from dark under-eye circles (I know I do), but another common and unsightly annoyance of the eyes is puffiness. The skin around your eyes is the thinnest part of your skin, and as such is very sensitive. Avoid rubbing your eyes or falling asleep with makeup on—both of which can risk irritation and lead to inflammation around the eyes. Puffiness can also occur thanks to a range of circumstances, including fluid retention; seasonal allergies; cold or sinus infections; lack of sleep; stress; or even poor diet.
Other times, puffy eyes can be a symptom of an eye condition known as blepharitis, which is an inflammation of the eyelids and base of the eyelashes. This condition is associated with bacterial infection or skin disorders such as rosacea or seborrhea, and is usually non-contagious. If you think you may have this condition, talk with an eye-care professional.
If you’ve woken up to find tired-looking eyes, turn to these simple at-home remedies.
DIET DILEMMA: Limit your sodium intake. An excessive amount of salty foods can lead to water retention—water will move from areas with a low concentration of salt to areas with a high concentration in order to balance out the levels of sodium. Replace that bag of salty crackers with a banana, handful of unsalted almonds or box of raisins.
STAY HYDRATED: Make sure to drink plenty of water. Keeping the body well hydrated can also reduce the chance of water retention. Drink at least eight to 10 glasses of water a day.
MAKEUP MAKEOVER: Look at the ingredients in the products you’re putting on (or near) your skin. Oftentimes, irritants and chemicals found in makeup, perfumes and detergents can have inflammatory effects on eyes. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to check your ingredients. Especially steer clear of fragrance.
ICE, ICE BABY: Sometimes, all you need is a nice splash of ice cold water to help reduce the swelling around your eyes. Wash your face with ice cold water, or wrap an ice cube in a cloth and apply to your eyes.
TEA UP: Caffeinated teas can help constrict blood vessels and reduce swelling. Green or black tea is great for soothing irritated eyes; herbal teas such as chamomile contain anti-irritants that also help soothe redness. To make a tea compress, steep two tea bags of your choice in hot water for three to five minutes. Let cool until comfortably warm, place over each eye then cover with a soft cloth.
SPOON SOLUTION: Tighten the skin around your eyes and relax the blood vessels with the following home remedy: Chill five to six metal spoons in your refrigerator for 10 minutes; once chilled, hold the rounded portion against your eye for a few minutes until it becomes warm; replace with another cold spoon.
DIY CREAM: Topical eye creams rich in aloe and vitamin E can be soothing to your skin. Mix 1 tablespoon vitamin E cream with 1/2 teaspoon aloe gel, and store in a small tin. Be extra gentle as you apply the cream around your eyes and use daily.
MASKED AVENGER: Apply mild pressure to the puffy area around your eyes at night with a homemade eye mask. Try the following cucumber eye mask recipe—cucumbers contain antioxidants that may help reduce irritation, cool skin and lessen swelling. Blend 1 large cucumber at high speed until liquefied, adding small amounts of water to thin as necessary. Soak cotton pads (about the size of your eyes) in the solution then squeeze out any extra juice. Place pads in a sandwich bag and freeze—make up to 30 at a time! To use, place thawed cucumber pads on your eyes for 10 minutes.
PILLOW POSITION: Keeping your head elevated may also reduce the swelling around your eyes. Sleep in a position that increases blood flow to your eyes.
Gina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.
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