Short On Sleep? 6 Tips For Reducing Puffiness And Dark Circles


Updated 8/1/17. Not getting your beauty rest and waking up with puffy eyes and dark circles? No worries. I’m sharing my expert tips for ways to get your eyes looking bright and fresh in no time.

What can I do for dark circles?

For starters, the most common reason for darkness under the eyes is that the skin may be extra thin (from long-term, overuse of prescription retinoid products, genetics and/or loss of collagen and “plumpness” from aging). This allows you to see blood vessels under the skin. Some people may also have a deep inset bone structure that can cause a shadow under the eye, which makes darkness appear. Others can get what is referred to as “leaky vessels” as they age. This is when the blood leaks from capillaries. The excessive blood causes under eye darkness.

Additionally, not getting enough sleep can lead to dark circles. When you don’t get enough rest, your body’s circulatory system is compromised. Blood then stagnates in the vessels under the eyes because they haven’t properly drained. When you are tired, it definitely shows.

1. Apply a skin brightening eye cream. 
Not all eye creams are equal, so using one exclusively formulated for reducing the appearance of dark circles will give the best results. My personal favorite and the one that I recommend to my clients is Vitamin C Eye Brightener. In this formula, stable vitamin C offers vessel-strengthening, anti-inflammatory properties along with ingredients to stimulate the enzyme detoxification process. Use it faithfully every morning and in time, the result is brighter-looking eyes. Be sure to follow it with a good concealer to help reduce the look of darkness.

2. Massage the eye area. Using circular motions with the tip of your ring finger (like when applying eye cream), will gently stimulate the stagnant blood flow (a contributor to darkness—especially from lack of sleep).

3. Thicken the skin with topical application of peptides or dermal fillers. The underlying cushion of the eyes naturally starts to deplete after age 40. Collagen-building ingredients, however, such as peptides (found in Total Eye Repair Cream) can help keep the underlying cushion intact. Peptides support the tissue renewal process, which helps thicken the skin, making underlying blood vessels less noticeable. You can also consult with a cosmetic nurse or dermatologist about dermal fillers. These can be injected around the eye to create a separation between the vessels and the skin, so the discoloration producing vessels don’t show as much.

What can I do for puffy eyes?

1. Ditch the cucumbers, and grab a bag of frozen peas. But first, take a hot shower. If you wake up in the morning with puffiness, taking a fairly warm to hot shower will be beneficial for two reasons. First, the heat from the water dilates (relaxes and opens) lymphatic vessels to help assist with fluid drainage (wastes and toxins). When you wash your face in the shower and water hits you directly with force, this encourages excess fluids to move out of the eye area. Secondly, in addition to the heat helping with circulation, your vertical position standing in the shower helps drainage move out of the face.

When you get out of the shower, you’ll want to apply something cold to quickly constrict the vessels to reduce fluid retention. Cucumbers don’t contain any miraculous puffiness-reducing properties. They do, however, have a gel-like consistency (from their seeds) that make them good for retaining cold temperatures. Cold temperatures are what ultimately help reduce puffiness and swelling. You can grab anything out of your freezer (ice, a bag of frozen peas, etc.) and it will do the trick—as long as it’s held on the area for at least 5 minutes. Note: The only type of puffiness that can be reduced from cold, is puffiness that is not normally there—like when you wake up in the morning. Unfortunately, there is no cure for chronic puffiness/bags, except cosmetic surgery.

2. Avoid yawning. If you stay up past your usual bedtime, chances are you’ll be yawning more. When you yawn, your eyes are more likely to water, which creates swelling and puffiness. Excessive yawning is actually the equivalent to crying during a sad movie because of the fluids it creates. So before you stay up past your bedtime to watch that last show or to read just one more chapter, consider the side effects. This is just one more reason to get a restful night of sleep. It’s called “beauty sleep” for a reason.

3. Avoid eating high sodium foods for dinner. Eating salt and high sodium foods will encourage the retention of fluids around the eyes, which can result in morning under eye puffiness. I know that personally, eating Chinese food for dinner will absolutely guarantee that I’ll be super puffy in the morning in both the eyes and the face. Regardless of what you eat, drinking a lot of water throughout the day will dramatically control fluid retention around the eyes. When you go to bed, sleep with your head slightly elevated with an extra pillow to help with drainage. (Speaking of puffiness, did you know that this contributes to monthly hormonal breakouts? Read why here.)

Read: 7 Surprising Ways You’re Aging Your Skin

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Renée Rouleau

Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”