THE SKIN CARE ARENA
by Madeleine Arena, B.S., M.B.A.*
Almost all of us have woken up with swollen, puffy eyes that diminish as the morning goes by. There are an unlucky few whose puffy eyes are worse in the morning, and then never go away. Puffy eyes are one of the major skin care complaints; and since it is so common, nearly every skin-care company sells products claiming to treat chronic or occasional puffy eyes.
The question is can an eye cream, gel, or serum, eliminate puffy eyes? Regretfully, the answer is no. But don’t be discouraged, because there are things you can do to help minimize puffy eyes once you know what causes them.
Puffy eyes can be caused by one, or a combination of the following reasons: fluid retention, allergic reactions, inflamed and irritated skin, or prominent fat pads surrounding the eye area.
These are the most common causes of puffy eyes and what you can do to minimize them:
- Sleep Position
Fluid collects in the tissue around your eyes when you sleep with you head flat. Sleeping with your head slightly elevated, making sure that your neck is properly supported, can help prevent fluid retention in the eye area. Gentle fingertip massage around the eye area when you get up can also help relieve this swelling.
Alcohol consumption and a diet high in salt not only increases puffiness around the eyes, but also cause it to linger throughout the day. This is an easy fix. Moderate (or eliminate) your intake of alcohol, sodium, and processed foods. Add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet (e.g., fruits, vegetables, salmon); and drink plenty of water.
- Contact Lenses
Contact lenses, even under the best of circumstances, can cause irritation and swelling. Ensure you are wearing the most comfortable type of contacts for your vision correction. Follow your eye-care provider’s exact instructions for cleansing, wear, and disposal. Keep your eyes lubricated with the appropriate eye drops.
Exposure to allergens, either in the air or by rubbing your eyes, can cause redness and lasting puffiness. Avoid touching your eyes, because rubbing not only pulls at the skin, and encourages sagging, but also increases inflammation, making puffiness worse. Talk to your physician about taking an antihistamine or using anti-allergy eye drops to control your allergy symptoms. Applying a cool (but not ice-cold) compress to your eyes also can help.
- Dry Skin
Dryness around your eyes can contribute to swelling, and make them look wrinkled and tired. A well-formulated moisturizer can make a remarkable difference. Remember to protect eye-area skin daily with a product rated SPF 30 or greater.
- Makeup Residue
Makeup, when left on overnight, can cause irritation, which is a sure way to cause puffy eyes. Thoroughly remove your makeup every night. Start with a gentle, fragrance-free eye make-up remover, (one that’s also colorant-free is best for the eyes). Finish with a mild, fragrance-free cleanser for your face, neck and décolleté.
Make no mistake, when the tears start to flow, puffiness follows. Why? The physical act of crying causes inflammation around the eyes. That irritation, plus a person’s natural tendency to rub and wipe their eyes while crying, leads to puffiness. There’s no remedy for this, and remember the longer you cry, the worse the puffiness.
- Exposure to Irritants
Irritants of any kind, especially those in your eye make-up, cause irritation and inflammation, which almost guarantee puffy eyes. Ingredients like menthol, camphor, alcohol, essential oils, fragrant plant extracts, or any kind of fragrance shouldn’t come anywhere near your eyes.
- Fat Pads
For some people, puffy eyes are genetic. Typically, this results from overly large fat pads around the eyes; or because over time the fat pads have bulged through the facial muscles and begin to sag. In this case, the only way to solve the problem is with cosmetic surgery.
- Sun Damage
If you suffer from puffy eyes, your eyes are even more susceptible to the negative impact of unprotected sun exposure. The resulting sun damage causes the skin around your eyes to lose its elasticity, which in turn allows more fluid to accumulate in the area. In addition, sagging skin just tends to look puffier. Wearing a sunscreen every day is crucial. Be aware that, many eye creams don’t contain sunscreen.
* Madeleine Arena is a cosmetic chemist who develops private label skin and hair care products for the trade. Madeleine can be reached through her website – www.tscsource.com
Madeleine is the author of the Skin Care chapter in the book
Tick Tock, Stop the Clock ~ Getting Pretty on Your Lunch Hour