Ask a Beauty Editor: 5 Ways to Get Rid of Under-Eye Bags Naturally

Bags be gone.


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Ever wanted to pick the brain of a beauty editor? Or get beauty product recommendations from someone who has tried them all? You've come to the right place. In our weekly series, beauty editor Hana Hong answers your biggest skincare, hair care, and makeup questions, all submitted by Real Simple readers. Tune in every Tuesday and submit your own burning beauty questions here for a chance to be featured.

Reader question: “What is the best way to hide under-eye bags?” —@bajash
“Under-eye bags, help!!!” —@krebsseven
“Born with under-eye bags and nothing seems to help. Anything you’d recommend?” —@elissagrace1

Considering that the skin under your eyes is ten times thinner than any other skin on your body, it’s kind of ironic that it often looks the thickest (read: puffiest). Alas, the most visible area of our face is the place that’s plagued with the most puffiness, and even the best concealer in the world can only do so much against swollen half-moons.

As much as I wish I could give you a list of things to avoid in order to prevent under-eye bags, the truth is that it’s inevitable. Factors such as allergies, stress, fatigue, genetics, and aging all play a part in creating under-eye bags—and if you didn’t pick up on the pattern, the one thing they all have in common is that they're absolutely unavoidable. Full disclaimer: If those bags are purely genetic, the only way to completely eliminate them is with hyaluronic acid fillers or a lower-lid blepharoplasty. Sorry to be a downer, but here’s some good news: You can employ some techniques to minimize their appearance.

To help, I tapped Hadley King, M.D., board-certified dermatologist in New York City, and Rachael Gallo, esthetician and chief operating officer of Silver Mirror facial bar, to talk about how to get rid of under-eye bags naturally (i.e. no injections, makeup, or treatments required)—so the only kind of bag you draw attention to is the cute one you’re wearing on your arm.

01 of 06

Sleep with your head propped up with pillows.

Remember how I said there’s a plethora of possible reasons for your under-eye bags? Well if we had to categorize them, it goes one of two ways: “Puffy under-eyes can be from either fluid or a fat pad,” says Dr. King. “If you notice that the puffiness is worse in the morning and better by evening, then your puffiness is probably from fluid.” (And FYI: fluid retention will make genetic under-eye bags look even more noticeable.) If this is the case, Dr. King advises sleeping propped up on a couple of pillows so the fluid doesn't all collect in the under-eye area during the night. And while we’re on the preventative train, keep in mind that fluid retention can also be nixed by inhibiting salt intake and drinking tons of water before bed.

02 of 06

Give yourself an ice facial.

Another powerful weapon against fluid retention? Cold. Freezing cold, to be exact. “Ice cubes or spoons left overnight in the freezer are an instant way to help reduce inflammation or puffiness under the eyes,” says Gallo. “The cold effect of these materials reduces blood flow to the under-eye area, which in turn reduces swelling. If using ice cubes, cover it in gauze or tissue first; then move the materials in a circular motion from the outer eyelid under the eye and circle across the brow.” This movement will help drain down any fluid.

03 of 06

Apply topicals containing caffeine.

In addition to being a cute and overused kitchen slogan, "But first, coffee" is a mantra that your skincare routine can also benefit from. “Caffeine constricts blood vessels and can therefore reduce the amount of fluid accumulating,” says Dr. King. Don’t have a caffeine-infused eye cream? You can make use of cold tea bag compresses (pop used tea bags in the fridge)—“these can be helpful because the caffeine and cold combined both help constrict blood vessels,” she says.

04 of 06

Wear cucumbers as an eye mask.

A cliché? Perhaps, but for a reason. “Cucumbers have been used in under-eye care for years to help reduce dark circles,” says Gallo. “Cucumbers are considered antioxidants that hydrate, reduce aging, lighten pigmentation, and fight against environmental damage. I recommend leaving the cucumbers under your eyes for 20 minutes to allow time for the vitamins to sink in.” (Expert tip: Wait until the cucumbers are slightly moist, but not completely dry.) 

05 of 06

Try a swipe of lavender oil.

According to Gallo, lavender oil is a great alternative in place of eye cream. “Lavender oil has anti-inflammatory properties (i.e., depuffing) and is commonly used in skincare products to treat dark spots,” she says. “When applied under the eyes, you’ll see an instant brightening effect that will only get better with time.”

06 of 06

Drain those lymph nodes.

Hold that lavender oil we just talked about—and grab a facial roller to boot. Lymphatic drainage, or the process of helping “drain” lymph fluid, can help get rid of puffiness. If you’re not familiar with giving yourself a lymphatic drainage roll on your face, just remember two words: upward and out. Although you can do this with your hands, it’s far more effective (and fun) with a facial roller—just make sure your skin has some slip first and use the smaller side (most traditional rollers will come with a smaller end for your under-eyes).

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