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5 Best Ways to Stop "Puffy Skin," Says Science

Beat the bloat by avoiding these facial faux pas.

There are few things worse for your appearance than waking up with puffy, dull skin. While puffiness sometimes results from hormonal changes—for example, some women might experience puffiness before their period—others are due to lifestyle choices. Here are five health mistakes that cause puffy skin. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Avoid Salty, Inflammatory Foods

salty snacks

Foods that are inflammatory and high in sodium can wreak havoc on your skin, making it appear puffy and bloated. "Eating foods that are too salty can cause your body to retain water, making you not only feel and look bloated, but also create puffiness and swelling around your eyes and in your face," says Michael Lin, MD. "This could explain those pesky under eye bags that won't seem to go away." 

So which anti-inflammatory foods are best for healthy skin and what should be avoided? "Anti-inflammatory foods, like tomatoes, avocado, turmeric, peppers, green leafy vegetables, salmon, olive oil, berries, grapes, dark chocolate, cherries, nuts, and seeds," are best, recommends Dr. Barbara Sturm. "Also avoid inflammatory items, like fried foods, sugar, alcohol, processed meats, vegetable oil, refined carbohydrates, and artificial trans fat."

RELATED: How to Get Rid of Inflammation Quick, Says Science


Sleeping In Your Makeup Is a No-No

Woman splashing face with water above bathroom sink

If you regularly fall asleep without washing the makeup off your face, something called "contact dermatitis" can cause puffiness in your skin and eyes. "For many reasons, falling asleep with your makeup on is detrimental to skin," says Desiree Stordahl, Senior Research and Education Manager at Paula's Choice skincare. "Overnight, it can cause bumps and clogged pores, dull skin, puffy eyes, and generally aggravated skin. What a headache."

RELATED: How to Detox Your Body Fast, Say Doctors


Alcohol Is Ruining Your Skin

red wine
the blowup/ Unsplash

Drinking too much alcohol not only prematurely ages skin, but makes it look puffy and dull the morning after. According to Dr. Harold Lancer, it can take your skin thirty days to get rid of a hangover. "A glass of the finest red wine is 400 calories of sugar." Dr Lancer says. "Does this mean you can't periodically have a glass of red wine? No. It means you can't have three glasses of wine."

RELATED: The #1 Worst Health Advice You Should Never Follow


Manage Your Stress For Better Skin

woman puts head down on desk, tired, stressed, burned out

Did you know that stress can make your face puffy? "When cortisol levels rise, it is our primal fight or flight response that kicks in," says dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD. "Think of what would happen if you were being chased by a bear. Your heart, muscles, brain and lungs need blood to move as fast as possible and your body retains water for the organs as a matter of preservation. It's a biological stress response."

RELATED: The #1 Cause of High Blood Pressure


Your Skincare Routine Isn't Cutting It


Certain ingredients in skincare might make the difference between a puffy face or tight, glowing skin. "Caffeine, green tea extract, and antioxidants including rosemary and vitamins C and E help constrict blood vessels to decrease swelling," says facialist Joanna Czech.

RELATED: Here's What Skin Cancer Looks Like, Say Dermatologists


How Can I Depuff My Skin?

woman with good skin

Sometimes, despite our best intentions, puffy skin happens—what then? Czech recommends lymphatic drainage to help combat puffy skin, either using a roller or simply your hands. "You want to create a draining effect with either your hands or a massage tool," Czech advises. "It is important to start at the center of the face and work outwards to the side of the face and down to the bottom of the ear and further to the base of the neck (where the lymph nodes are). Start with your forehead, and move five times from the center to the side of the face and then down to the ear and neck. Then do the rest of your face (eye area, cheek area, above and below lips and under the chin. Make sure you use a delicate touch. You are not trying to manipulate your muscles here." And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan
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