Wake Up Tired Eyes

Rehab your eye care routine to help soothe skin and reduce swelling overall.

wake up tired eyes

Photo by: Laflor/Getty Images

Even in your teens and 20s, you probably had mornings where you woke up with tired, puffy-looking eyes—fluid tends to pool there while we sleep, and salty foods and alcohol can both trigger excess swelling. As we get older, though, the area under the eye can get extra puffy, thanks to a redistribution of fat. Joshua Zeichner, MD, a dermatologist in New York City, explains it like this: “When you’re young, this area is like a well-packed suitcase: Everything fits. But with age, the suitcase starts busting at the seams.” These little fat pads are like sponges, adds Paul Frank, MD, a cosmetic dermatologist in New York City. “They don’t just protrude on their own, but they also soak up fluid as well.” Only surgery can get rid of fatty deposits permanently. But for chronic puffiness, dermatologists and facialists agree—this is one case where some simple habit changes and a few pampering DIY treatments can do the trick.


Every night Sleep with two pillows under your head, so any fluid around your eyes can drain, says Shirley Chi, M., a Los Angeles dermatologist. Also try to avoid triggers like salty foods or red wine, which is loaded with skin-bloating sulfates.


In the morning On days when swelling is especially bad and you have 10 extra minutes to spare, this retro fix still holds water: Place cucumber slices in the freezer before you get in the shower. After your shower, lie down with your head propped up on two pillows and place the cold cucumbers on your eyes. “The cold closes down the blood vessels in the area, giving you temporary relief,” says Dr. Frank.


Once or twice a week Give yourself a DIY spa treatment before bed using tea, which is a great natural anti-inflammatory. Here, a three-step guide from Robin Berger, lead therapist at Cornelia Spa in New York City.

1. Steep two chamomile tea bags, then let them cool to room temperature.

2. Next, lie back with your head elevated. Place a tea bag over each eye for 10 minutes, then rinse your face with cool water.

3. Follow with this 5-second massage: Holding two fingers together, pat a dot of eye cream under each eye, working from the inner corner out. With each pat, gently push the skin toward your temple. “It helps move the excess fluid out from under your eyes.”


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