Bag Lady: Getting Rid of Under-Eye Baggage

“Bag lady you gone hurt your back, dragging all them bags like that”, well not those bags, but as Erykah Badu sang, extra bags are no good in any situation, specifically as it relates to under-eye baggage. So, let’s find out what causes them and how to get rid of that puffy, swollen look.

Mild swelling or puffiness under the eyes, is quite common as you age. With aging, the tissues around your eyes, including some of the muscles supporting your eyelids, began to weaken. Normal fat that helps support the eyes can then move into the lower eyelids, causing the lids to appear puffy.  Fluid also may accumulate in the space below your eyes, adding to the swelling and the appearance of darkness. 

Bags under the eyes are usually of cosmetic concern and rarely a sign of a serious underlying medical condition. Here are some causes for under-eye baggage: 

Sleep issues

When you sleep, fluids settle in the tissue beneath your eyes. Getting too little sleep can cause your blood vessels to leak and mix with those fluids, leading to dark circles.

Allergies/sinus problems

In addition to stuffing up your nose, allergies cause swelling in sinus tissue, which can appear as puffiness under your eyes.

Tobacco use

The nicotine in tobacco disrupts your natural sleep patterns, which can cause fluids to collect beneath your eyes. Smoking also produces substances that break down the elasticity of the skin and the collagen that helps keep skin firm.

Alcohol use

Although alcohol is a liquid, it dehydrates the body. When you are dehydrated, the skin under your eyes becomes flabby and weak, causing bags to form.


As you age, muscles and tissues weaken, and the fat that naturally supports the eyes can sink to the area beneath your eyes, making them appear swollen. Fluids can also collect in the area.

Eating salty foods

Your body retains fluid when you eat salty foods. One of the places these fluids collect is beneath your eyes.

Not removing makeup

If you don’t remove makeup before going to sleep, it can irritate the tissue beneath your eyes, causing it to swell.

Too much sun

Sun exposure can damage skin cells and the collagen that keeps the skin beneath your eyes firm.

Ways to Get Rid of Under-Eye Baggage

Tea isn’t just for sipping. You can use caffeinated tea bags under your eyes to help with dark circles and bags. The caffeine in the tea contains powerful antioxidants and may increase blood flow to your skin. It’s also said to protect against UV rays and potentially slow the aging process. Green tea has been touted by researchers for its potential anti-inflammatory effects.

Use a cold compress - Toss out those pricey creams. Relief from dark circles may be as simple as using a cold compress you make using materials you already own. Applying cold to the area can help the blood vessels constrict quickly for some temporary relief. Although you can purchase a cold compress at the store, do-it-yourself methods can work just as well.

Some DIY options include a:

chilled teaspoon
cool cucumber
wet washcloth
bag of frozen veggies

Some people (me, I am some people) swear that using a neti pot can help remove your under-eye bags and dark circles. A neti pot is a device you fill with a saltwater (normal saline) solution. You place the spout in your nose and irrigate your sinuses, removing mucus and other debris. You can grab one from Target, Amazon or your local drug store.

To do this:

Fill your neti pot with a saltwater solution — 1/2 teaspoon of salt into 1 cup of water. Heat the water to dissolve, then cool to body temperature before use. Warm or lukewarm is best for comfort.
Tilt your head sideways over the sink. Place the spout of the pot in the upper nostril, the one now closer to the ceiling.
Breathe through your mouth as you gently pour the solution into the nostril. The solution should drain through the other nostril.
Repeat this process with your head tilted the other way.
Rinse your pot after use with filtered, distilled, or otherwise sterile water.
Let the pot air dry before storing.

Stay hydrated - Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight. Given this, it may not be surprising that dehydration can contribute to under-eye bags. Upping your water intake should help.

Take your makeup off before bed - Improving your nightly routine may also help you avoid bags under your eyes. It’s important to wash your face before bed each night.

There are several reasons why you shouldn’t sleep in makeup. First, if you sleep with mascara or other eye makeup on your eyes, you may:

irritate them
experience an allergic reaction
develop an infection that creates redness, puffiness, or other symptoms

And finally, if you can, get at least eight hours of sleep - beyond how you sleep, how much you sleep is also a factor. Although limited sleep may not actually cause under-eye circles, getting little sleep may make your complexion paler. Any shadows or dark circles you have may be more obvious as a result. It’s a good idea to get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night.

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