“You look…tired” is probably one of the worst things to hear on a Monday morning. Thanks to those eye bags of yours that date back to your college days, they’ve been making you look like you’ve been pulling all-nighters to cram or pulling three night benders at the campus pub.
But after college you can’t get away with looking like you’ve just dragged yourself out of bed after a 4 hour sleep. What’s irritating though is that sometimes no matter how much sleep you get, you just can’t shake the “tired” look and those pesky bags persist.
Let’s take a look at what causes eye bags, and how to minimize their appearance.
PS In K-beauty under eye bags are trendy! More on this revelation below…
What are Under Eye Bags?
First, let’s understand exactly what type of eye ailment we’re talking about. Under eye bags are not to be confused with dark circles or puffy eyes, which are commonly used interchangeably because they do tend to occur simultaneously. Under eye bags are also different from the puffy bag under the eyes that are hugely desirable in Korean beauty standards called aegyo-sal, which is associated with a fresh, cute and youthful appearance. Unfortunately, the under eye bags we are referring to are anything but fresh, cute or youthful.
The under eye bags that we are talking about are often described as saggy, sunken, or swollen. The skin under your eyes are delicate and as we age, collagen and elastin production decreases, causing a decrease in volume and skin to become loose and saggy. Because of the loss of tightness and volume, this can creates creases of skin or “bags” under the eyes creating a look of tiredness and fatigue which is medically harmless, but cosmetically unappealing. Bags under eyes often occur with other symptoms including: mild swelling, droopiness, sagging skin, dark circles, fine lines and wrinkles or crows feet.
What Causes Under Eye Bags?
So what exactly causes the bags under your eyes? There are a various contributing factors to bags forming under the eyes but we’ll focus on the main culprits.
1- Ageing tissue under the eyes
As we mentioned briefly before, as you age, the muscles around your eyes naturally begin to weaken. This causes the skin under your eyes to loosen and droop, contributing to that sagging look. The loss of volume in the skin cause the fat to slip into the lower under the eyes creating those creases or “bags” under your eyes.
2- Fluid retention
This is where the culmination of your lifestyle choices, dietary habits, and environmental stressors compound together to contribute to the bags under eyes. As you age, your lifestyle choices and environmental stressors can impact your lymphatic system and cause it to slow down. The lymphatic system is responsible for helping the body get rid of toxins, waste, and other unwanted materials. It does this by transporting lymph, a fluid containing infection white blood cells throughout the body. Without proper circulation, lymph fluid begins to accumulate in the body concentrating on areas like under your eyes. As the water pools under the eyes, puffy or drooping occurs, creating bags under the eyes to form.
3 – Aging triggered by inflammation
The primary cause of bags under eyes is due to accelerated aging caused by inflammation. When you body or skin is constantly triggered by inflammatory causing stressors, it will enter a chronically inflamed state and causes the healthy supportive tissues in the skin to break down more quickly. Chronic inflammation can caused by dietary issues like allergies or sensitivity to different types of ingredients, pollution or toxins. These things may all contribute to a loss in collagen, elastin and fat tissue causing the appearance of bags under eyes.
4 – Genetics
Just like how tall you are and what skin type you have, if bags under your eyes run in the family, then you’re likely to develop them as well (thanks mom and dad). While genetics isn’t something you can change, there are things you can do to minimize the look of bags under your eyes.
How to Minimize the Look of Under Eye Bags
1 – Cold Compress
If you have ever wondered what the purpose of cucumber slices covering your eyes were for at a spa or beauty treatment, well we have the answer! They act as a cold compress to help cool and soothe the eye area while acting as an anti-inflammatory to reduce puffy eyes. Tea bags make an effective compress because the caffeine will decrease fluid retention and improve circulation to the under eye area.
Steps for a cold compress:
- Steep 2 green tea bags for 5 minutes.
- Leave them to chill in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes or until cold.
- Squeeze to remove excess liquid.
- Leave the bags to the area under your eyes for 15-30 minutes.
2 – Use an extra pillow
If you want a remedy you can do while you sleep, try sleeping on your back with an extra pillow to prop your head up while you’re sleeping. By elevating your head, gravity will do its job by draining excess fluid in the bags under your eyes. Also, getting enough sleep a night contributes to a healthy life style that also contributes minimizing the look of bags under the eyes.
3 – Focus on your diet
Main culprits of water retention in your diet are foods high in salt content and alcohol. That late night junk food run or alcohol binge makes you have that super “puffy” feeling in the morning due to all that water retention, which is not helping your under eye bags. Avoid things like fast food, processed or packaged foods, and drink in moderation. Opt for whole foods and cooking your own meals so you know exactly what is going into them. This is not going to be an overnight miracle, but an accumulation of good health choices over a period of time that will show you true results.
4 – Facial Lymphatic Massage
Giving yourself a facial lymphatic massage is an easy and effective way to improve circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system. The massage helps target your lymphatic nodes to stimulate the movement of fluids in your face to de-puff and decrease swelling of the face and of the under eyes. If you are unfamiliar with facial massages, YouTube is a great resource to quickly learn how to give yourself one.
5 – Eye Cream
It’s never too early to start using an eye cream. If you’re looking for an eye cream to specifically help with your under eyes, find eye creams with ingredients like a very mild retinol. Retinols help to stimulate collagen production, but ensure to choose a mild one with a very low dosage as the skin around your eyes are very delicate. Caffeine is a great ingredient to look for in your eye creams as they help to relieve puffiness, along with ingredients like tea extract, coffee seed extract and cacao extract. A study found that Heparan Sulfate (LMW-HS) is also an effective ingredient in topical products as 73% of subjects found improvement in puffiness and wrinkles.
Final Thoughts on Under Eye Bags
Chronically looking fatigued or tired on the outside isn’t ideal but it’s important to look inside when it comes to under eye bags.
While there is no “cure” for those persistent eye bags, it’s important to focus on sustainable choices that contribute to a healthy lifestyle that can reduce under eye bags over the long term.
Home remedies like compresses and facial massages can also help to minimize the look of puffy eyes but are more of a quick fix.