Undereye Bags? Here’s How to Unpack Them

Undereye bags are high on everyone’s list of unwanted baggage. The puffiness and drooping, known medically as infraorbital edema, make us look old and tired. That’s probably because age and lack of sleep are the two main causes of bags under the eyes.

As we get older, the skin around our eyes — already some of the thinnest skin we have — gets even thinner and dryer, losing its natural elasticity. At the same time, gravity is at work on the fat pads that give youthful contours to the face; they slip south, pulling down the stretched undereye skin with them. Thin skin wrinkles more easily, too, adding to the aging appearance of undereye bags.

Lack of sleep — something that’s epidemic these overscheduled days — also leaves undereye skin less time to recuperate. The fluid from swelling that might normally be reabsorbed when we’re horizontal just continues to puff up, the longer we’re up and around.

According to a Medical News Today article by Jennifer Berry, other conditions that can contribute to bags under your eyes include injury, weakened facial muscles, irritation from smoking, allergies and colds, and even genetic factors (more family baggage!). If the undereye bags show up suddenly or are accompanied by unexplained redness, itching, or discharge from the eyes, you should check with your health care provider.

Here are some precautions you can take to keep undereye bags from developing and to minimize their appearance if they do show up.

  1. Up your dosage of Vitamin Zzzzzz. Good-quality sleep is good for your whole body, mind, and spirit. Sleep allows the skin to carry out its normal turnover process, instead of being clogged by dry, dead cells. Skin care products that promote rejuvenation — including eye creams to prevent wrinkling and edema — also work best while you’re sleeping. Sleeping on your back or with your head slightly elevated, if these positions are comfortable for you, are best for reducing swelling and smoothing wrinkles.
  2. Cut back on caffeine and alcohol consumption. These beverages are dehydrating to the skin and can interfere with quality sleep. One exception: Skin care products containing caffeine can be applied topically to reduce the swelling of undereye bags.
  3. Don’t smoke. Bags under your eyes are the least of your worries when it comes to the harmful effects smoking can have on your looks and your life. Get help quitting, or better still don’t start.
  4. Get treatment for seasonal allergies that cause eye irritation.
  5. Moisturize and repair. The fragile skin around your eyes needs to be well hydrated even if the rest of your face tends to be oily. Choose quality products like SkinMedica’s TNS Eye Repair and Uplifting Eye Serum.
  6. Don’t put concealer on with a spatula. We sometimes have a tendency to slather on foundation or concealer or even highlighter to “cover up,” but all that does is draw more attention. A touch of concealer or a roll-on product that reduces puffiness are the best options.
  7. Keep cool. Undereye bags caused by lack or sleep, irritation, or stress can be soothed using cold compresses. Some people swear by sliced cucumbers, others by cold tea bags (the caffeine effect), but a cool washcloth or chilled eye mask will do just as well. So will the rest your eyes get while you lie back to keep the compresses in place.

More extensive cosmetic procedures for reducing bags under the eyes include these treatments and more offered by Comprehensive Dermatology Center of Pasadena:

If you would like to explore further treatment for undereye bags, contact us today and request your complimentary consultation with our cosmetics consultant, Mary Lou Brimecombe. She’ll help you decide what products and treatments are best for you.