Puffy or dark circles under the eyes have long been proven to be an unattractive trait in scientific studies — probably because they subconsciously indicate that a person is sick, fatigued, or unhealthy. For many people, puffy eyes can happen after a poor night’s sleep, long flight, or case of the flu. But if you’re like me, you’ve been battling under eye bags every day since you were old enough to realize they were there. My puffiness does seem to fluctuate a bit, but it’s always there to some degree. I rely heavily on under eye concealer, but dream of finding a real solution to this embarrassing problem (aside from another great pair of shades). That’s why I was SO thrilled when NYC facialist Jordana Mattioli of Complete Skin MD agreed to sit down with me to talk about under eye puffiness, and figure out a few new solutions to get rid of under eye bags once and for all.
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Jordana, first tell us a little about your background and experience. How long have you been a facialist and what do you love about what you do for a living?
I received my esthetics license in 2001, but my passion for skincare started long before that. Having problematic skin on and off as a teenager and trying different medicines to keep my skin clear really forced me aware to be aware of everything I was putting on my skin — mostly in fear of “will this break me out?” I read everything I could get my hands on and experimented a lot on my own skin before deciding to go to esthetics school. Being an esthetician, especially within a dermatology practice, allows me work with a lot of different skin types of individuals of all ages, and backgrounds but all with the same goals- better skin. It’s a lot of different types of problem solving, which I love…but being able to help someone feel better about themselves is what motivates me.
Okay, let’s get right into talking about under eye bags. It seems like they’re a very genetic trait. Is that right?
Before talking about how to fix under eye bags, it’s important to differentiate what kind they are. Are they there every day or are they occasionally puffy? The occasionally puffy eye can have many combined causes — allergies, water retention, diet, illness, medications, traveling, fatigue, etc. The under eye bags that are there every day, those are most likely caused by the way the fat pad is positioned under the eye, which just get worse with age (and the above mentioned culprits) — and genetics play a large role. This can be minimized with strategically placed fillers, but ultimately only corrected through surgery, blepharoplasty — where these fat pads are removed or repositioned.
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So how much does sleep have to do with puffy eyes?
Not getting enough sleep can make your brain and other organs look to take as much oxygen as it can from the blood — which will lead to poor circulation, make veins near the eye more noticeable and make the eyes puffy. Fatigue from lack of sleep can cause eye strain, even emotional stress — crying is definitely a cause of puffiness! Some may also find that sleeping with your head slightly elevated can help fluid from accumulating that leads to puffiness. So beauty sleep is a real thing! Sleep is a time for the skin to renew and regenerate, I can’t stress enough how important it is.
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Do you think there is a strong link between under eye bags and seasonal allergies or sinus problems?
My clients with allergies or sinus problems always have issues with eye bags since fluid accumulates there. The skin under the eyes is so thin, so you can see this excess fluid easily. I recommend they talk to their doctors about antihistamines which can work fast by drying up that excess fluid, or at home experiment with a neti-pot which can work really well to alleviate allergies and keep those passages clear.
What treatments or practices do you find most effective for getting rid of under eye bags?
These are the go-to strategies I give to clients to minimize under eye puffiness, and I’ve found them to be very effective:
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Massage the under eye area
Massage the eye area while cleansing your skin, or even try massaging in your skin care products. This increases circulation, stimulates the lymphatic system and helps fluid move around to make the area look smoother.
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Decrease salt and alcohol intake
Eating well, decreasing alcohol, and watching salt intake really make a difference in the skin. Water retention is a real thing! I deal with it myself, it puffs up the face and makes eye bags so much worse for a few days.
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A little expertly placed filler can camouflage the bags, and last up to a year. Talk to your dermatologist to see if you’d be a good candidate for this. Worst case scenario is you don’t love it, and in that case it can be dissolved with another injection. Fillers are your next best option aside from surgery.