This article originally appeared in the November 23rd, 2020 edition of Real Simple
Written by Melanie Rud
We’ve all been there—you wake up in the morning, take a look in the mirror, and are shocked by how puffy your face looks. There’s a multitude of different factors that might be the culprit. “Facial puffiness is essentially caused by water retention, which can occur as a result of things ranging from hormones to diet to stress,” explains Marie Hayag, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of 5th Avenue Aesthetics in New York City. More specifically, dehydration can be a major cause (and remember that caffeine and alcohol are both dehydrating), as can a high salt intake, points out Sydney Givens, PA-C, founder of Skincare by Sydney. (Hence why you wake up puffy if you’ve had too many chips and margaritas the night before.) A lack of sleep, allergies, and even the weather can also contribute, she adds.
The good news? There are easy things you can do, both to address the root cause(s) of the issue and to quickly de-puff when swelling does strike.
1 Drink more water
And similarly, try to reduce salt intake, particularly right before bed. “Eating foods that are high in sodium, especially in the evening, makes people thirsty so they drink more water. The water is retained by our bodies and gathers in different areas, including the face,” explains Dr. Hayag. Similarly, when you drink too much alcohol and/or caffeine, the body retains more water where it can (the face) as a response to the dehydrating effects. Ultimately, watching your diet and drinking plenty of water throughout the day are the best ways to combat the causes of puffiness, instead of just addressing the puffiness itself, she says. So, if you needed yet another reason to aim for that goal of eight glasses of H2O each day, this is it.
2 Change your sleeping position
Sleeping on your stomach or side can lead to increased fluid retention—aka puffiness—in the face; blame the basic laws of gravity. Instead, try sleeping on your back with your head elevated on an extra pillow. “You’re basically cheating gravity to help alleviate puffiness,” explains Givens, while Dr. Hayag adds that this simple tip is one of the best ways to wake up noticeably less swollen.
3 Use cold water
Whether it’s washing your face with cold water, running an ice cube across your face, or applying a cold compress, chilly temps are your BFF for tamping down puffiness. “This instantly constricts blood vessels and reduces swelling,” says Dr. Hayag. We’re also big fans of the Esarora Ice Roller ($22; amazon.com), more on how to use this type of tool below.
4 Reach for a tool
Face rollers are all the rage these days, and their benefits are legit. Rolling them across your face stimulates lymphatic drainage, getting all that stagnant, excess fluid moving towards the lymph nodes where it can be carried away, says Dr. Hayag. For the best results, you’ll want to roll in a lateral motion, moving away from the center of your face, towards the lymph nodes, which are located along the jawline and in front of the ears, advises Givens. And, per our point about the benefits of cold temps, this will be even more effective if you stash your roller in the fridge or freezer, she adds, noting that jade rollers are especially good because the stone retains the cold quite well. One to try: Herbivore Jade De-Puffing Face Roller ($30; sephora.com).
5 Look for eye cream with caffeine
Puffy eyes are a super common complaint; because the skin here is so thin, puffiness tends to look quite prominent, says Dr. Hayag. All of the above tips and tricks can help, but consider picking up a caffeine-based eye cream, too. “The caffeine constricts blood vessels and diminishes puffiness as a result,” she says. Being deliberate with the application can further up the benefits. Givens suggests applying three dots to the undereye area and gently massaging it in with your ring finger in sweeping motions. Bonus points if you can find a product that has a built-in metal applicator, like the First Aid Beauty Eye Duty Triple Remedy ($36; dermstore.com), to help massage it in even more effectively, and/or if you keep the eye cream in the fridge.