How to Fix Red, Puffy Eyes After Crying

You’ve let it all out. Now it’s time to pull yourself together. These expert tips will take your face from blotchy red to ready for work, whether you have 10 minutes or 10 hours.

By Jenny Jin
Woman drying her tearsJohn Kernick

A swollen face, a bright red nose, and eyes to match are all telltale signs of a good cry. “These effects can last for as little as a few minutes or stretch on for a few hours,” says Marina Peredo, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, in New York City, with a private practice in Smithtown, New York. But there are a few things you can do to expedite the process.


If You Have 10 Minutes

Run your fingers under icy-cold water (or rest them on top of a few ice cubes), then, starting at the inner corners of your eyes, press down on the skin until you reach the outer corners of your eyes. Repeat several times to help drain the fluid that has accumulated underneath your eyes. If you can, follow up with an eye serum formulated with yeast extracts (try Origins No Puffery; $25, origins.com) to flatten the area further. To combat redness in the whites, use over-the-counter drops. “One to two drops per eye is sufficient and should wash away the redness upon contact,” says dermatologist Debra Jaliman, the author of Skin Rules ($14, amazon.com). (Try Clear Eyes Cooling Comfort Redness Relief; $5, drugstore.com.)  Finally, cover up your red nose, plus any other areas that have become flushed, with a yellow-tinted concealer (like Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer; $24, bobbibrowncosmetics.com). “Yellow undertones help cancel out red ones,” says celebrity makeup artist Tina Turnbow. Avoid foundation or powder. “If your skin is irritated from all the nose-blowing, the extra makeup will look cakey,” she says. Instead, apply concealer only where needed and set with a face mist. (Turnbow likes Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist; $48, tatcha.com.)


If You Have All Night

To tamp down swelling, splash cold water on your face, then wrap a bag of frozen peas in a washcloth (this will contour to the shape of your face better than an ice pack can). Hold the bag over your face for 15 minutes. Next, zero in on your eyes: Steep green-tea bags in cold water for three to five minutes, squeeze out the excess water, then rest them over closed lids for 10 minutes. The antioxidant effect of the tea’s catechins constricts the blood vessels under the skin, deflating remaining puffiness.

Still red? Relax with cold cucumber or potato slices over your eyes. As with the tea bags, the cold will tighten blood vessels. Also, “cucumbers contain powerful antioxidants that reduce irritation, while potatoes contain a skin-lightening enzyme called catecholase,” says optometrist Justin Bazan, a medical adviser for the Vision Council and the owner of Park Slope Eye, in Brooklyn. Either will relieve swelling, but starting with the cucumber and following up five minutes later with the potato will depuff and brighten the eye area. Any leftover redness or puffiness should subside while you sleep. But just in case, keep your head propped up on a firm pillow. The elevation will prevent excess fluid from pooling in your face.

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