Ask Jean: What Do I Do About Puffy Eyes?

We want to answer your most pressing questions—or, you know, just the things that you’re curious about. Please keep them coming to: [email protected], or tweet us @goop. Below, a q for our new beauty director, Jean Godfrey-June.

Dear Jean, I wake up with poufy eyes and bags pretty often. What’s the cause and how can I prevent this? And what can I do when it does happen?

Why the universe designed our eyes to be so critical in terms of attractiveness, yet so exquisitely vulnerable to looking not-so-attractive—the skin around the eyes is thinnest on the body, has no oil glands to moisturize, plump, or firm—who knows, but it is so.

Drinking, sadly, is a major reason anyone wakes up looking like hell (and by hell I mean puffiness and bags, specifically). Salt causes some people to retain water and look puffy, but the inflammation sugar causes (alcohol: chock-full of sugar) wreaks havoc even more predictably.*** How much alcohol is needed to cause morning hideousness varies depending on your genes; try, of course, drinking less, but also the aspirin-and-water-before-bed anti-hangover strategy is a fantastic hedge against bags because you flush away toxins with the water and decrease inflammation with aspirin.

For many people, drinking red wine causes the most eye-area trouble the next morning because they’re slightly (or majorly) allergic to it. Any allergy—pollen, animals, food, etc.—or sensitivity to toxins like pollutions can give you puffiness and bags. Rubbing your eyes (the typical reaction to the itchiness of allergies or toxin-sensitivities) makes things about 7 billion times worse.

Perhaps the most obvious—and certainly the worst to contemplate lying awake at 3:30 in the morning—culprit is lack of sleep. The least preventable cause of puffiness and eye bags, on the other hand, is age. As we lose collagen and elastin (essentially the structural support within skin) as we age, skin thins and every flaw, even a temporary one like too-many-glasses-of-champagne-last-night, are much more obvious.

Whatever the reason, the fixes for puffiness and eye bags—and when I say fix, what I really mean is treatment, since nothing truly fixes them—are the same:

1. Cold. Coldness decreases inflammation. Refrigerated eye masks, cold tea bags, iced eye gel, cool slices of cucumber…they all work. First line of defense.

2. Moisture. Moisturizer plumps up your skin, smoothing the hills and valleys of eye bags. This is why every makeup artist pats in eye cream before starting foundation or concealer on anyone, no matter how perfect-eyed.

3. Antihistamines. If allergies are involved, stopping some of the reaction and some of the inflammation can make a big difference.

4. Concealer. With a brush, paint concealer only on the lowest, darkest spots surrounded the bag or poufiness. One dermatologist put it to me this way: “If you’ve got a pile of dirt, the second you put more dirt right next to it, the first pile looks a little smaller.” Not the prettiest image, but true.

5. Massage. A talented aesthetician can make you look, truly if temporarily, as if you just awoke from eight incredibly restful hours of sleep. Even just lightly patting around your eyes, temples, and sinuses can make a difference.

7. Eyeliner and mascara. When all else fails, distract. Bright lipstick can perform a similar function.

***Serious alcoholics often look older than they are by 10 years or more, and when they stop drinking the Benjamin-Button effect can be more striking than any facelift.