Drooping, sagging, swollen - all words you don’t want to be associated with your delicate eye area. However, if you struggle with bags under your eyes, you could probably use one (if not all) of those descriptors to illustrate your symptoms. Well, it’s time to rest easy. Here’s our guide for what causes under-eye bags and how you can minimize their appearance.
What Are Under Eye Bags?
When it comes to eye woes, dark circles, puffiness and under-eye bags often get lumped together. While they tend to occur simultaneously (thanks, universe), each has its own unique characteristics and causes.
Under-eye bags are a loss of tightness and tone in the tissue underneath the eyes, created by multiple causes, which forms a perceived tired or fatigued look. Typical signs and symptoms of under-eye bags are:
- Mild swelling
- Saggy or loose skin
- Dark circles
- Fine lines and wrinkles
What Causes Bags?
Several factors contribute to the emergence of bags under the eyes. Here’s a closer look at the main culprits.
As you age, the tissues and muscles that support your eyelids naturally begin to weaken. When this occurs, the skin around your eye area begins to slacken and sag. The loss of skin tone allows the fat that is normally confined to the space around your eye area to shift and slide into the lower eyelids. This causes droopy, puffy-looking eyelids that resemble bags.
Another contributing factor for under-eye bags is fluid retention. Over time, natural aging, poor lifestyle habits and environmental stressors cause the lymphatic system to slow. Without proper circulation, lymph fluid begins to accumulate in the body. One place it loves to hang out is underneath the eye area. As fluid pools in the space below your eyes, they can take on a puffy and swollen appearance.
Enemy number one for a tight, toned eye area is inflammaging. Brian tells us: “Inflammaging, or accelerated aging triggered by inflammation, is the primary cause of under-eye bags. When the body or skin moves into a chronically inflamed state, the healthy supportive tissues of the skin begin to break down more rapidly.”
Inflammaging, or accelerated aging triggered by inflammation, is the primary cause of under eye bags.
Some of the triggers of inflammaging include sugar intake, pollution, and toxins - all of which cause collagen, elastin and adipose tissue (fat cells) to degrade. Brian explains: “As collagen and elastin break down, the skin underneath the eyes loses its suppleness, tensity, and strength, leading the skin to droop. The fat cells also change in volume and shape, causing a raised area to form underneath the eyes, creating the appearance of bags.”
Under-eye bags can also be hereditary. If under-eye bags run in your family, you’re likely to develop them with age. Just like your skin type, this comes down to genetics and your skin’s cellular makeup. While you can’t change this, you can take measures to minimize their appearance.
How To Minimize The Look Of Under Eye Bags
If your eyes have started to sag and swell, there are several things you can do to improve their appearance. Here are a few ways to minimize the look of under-eye bags.
Apply A Cold Compress
A cold compress using caffeinated tea bags can work wonders for swollen, sagging eyelids. According to Vogue: “The cold temperature acts as an anti-inflammatory compress while the caffeine in the teabag will decrease fluid and improve circulation under the eyes.”
Follow these steps to treat your eyes to a cold tea compress:
- Steep 2 tea bags for 3 to 5 minutes
- Let them chill in the refrigerator (this can take up to 20 minutes)
- Squeeze out the remaining liquid
- Apply to under-eye area for 15 to 30 minutes
If this method isn’t your cup of tea (pun intended), you can use cucumbers or chilled spoons to achieve a similar result.
Stay Elevated While You Sleep
Another trick to reduce under-eye bags is to keep your head lifted while you’re sleeping. Gravity can cause excess fluid to pool under your eyes, causing them to droop and sag. Try to sleep on your back and prop your head up with an extra pillow to keep it elevated. You can even purchase a special wedge pillow for additional comfort.
Cut Back On Salty Foods
Salty foods can also be at the root of your under-eye bags. As WebMD advises, “Put down that salt shaker! Water will always find its way from parts of your body that are low in sodium to those that have the most. The area around your eyes is a prime example.” If your bags are particularly puffy, it may be time to avoid packaged, processed foods that are high in sodium and load up on whole foods like fresh fruits and veggies.
Give Yourself A Facial Massage
Facial massage is an easy and effective way to improve circulation and activate a sluggish lymphatic system. Lymphatic drainage is a massage technique that targets the lymph nodes to encourage the movement of fluid throughout the body. This, in turn, helps to reduce swelling and de-puff areas where lymph fluid has accumulated, like under your eyes.