How to Get Rid of Under Eye Bags, Sans Products

Photo: Stocksy/Guille Faingold
Go into any store's beauty section, and you'll find a seemingly endless selection of eye creams that claim to get rid of under-eye puffiness and dark circles—AKA the stuff of so many early-morning nightmares.

And while great eye products can help (especially if they contain arnica, caffeine, or peptides), there are actually a ton of holistic hacks and self-care solutions that can make a serious difference in your under-eye situation. And to put even more of a sparkle in your eye—many of them are free.

Here are 13 natural ways to get rid of your under-eye bags and dark circles.

Under eye circles
Photo: Unsplash/Bruno Van der Kraan

1. Give almond oil a try

Dark circles can occur for a myriad of reasons, one of which is dry skin—a dehydrated under-eye area allows the blue and purple blood vessels to show through. If you're in need of hydration to help with this, you're in luck: The kitchen hero almond oil doubles as a dark circle demolisher.

"The primary constituents in almond oil that benefit the skin are the fatty acids linoleic and oleic acid," Heather Wilson, esthetician and director of brand development at InstaNatural told Byrdie. This duo helps to hydrate, reduce inflammation, and support the barrier function of skin thanks to high levels of vitamins B and E as well as phytosterols.

2. Use an extra pillow—and sleep on your back

Sometimes under-eye circles are most noticeable when you wake up, and if that's the case, grab an extra pillow—and rethink your sleeping position.

"If dark, puffy [bags under your eyes] seem to be the morning problem, consider sleeping on your back with an extra pillow so that fluid doesn't pool overnight," Rebecca Tung, MD, an Illinois-based dermatologist, told Allure. "Keeping your pillow protected from allergens with a protective encasement can also help when allergies are the culprit." Top it off with a silk pillowcase for extra skin-saving benefits.

3. Sleep more in general

Under-eye bags tend to show up more when you're lacking sleep, so be sure to get a proper amount of shut-eye.

And how much beauty sleep should you be getting, exactly? "The cheapest way to reduce the appearance of under-eye bags is to get on a regular sleep routine of seven to eight hours per day," Annie Chiu, MD, a California-based dermatologist, told Allure. Just be sure not to spend all morning in bed—when it comes to sleep, there is too much of a good thing, according to experts.

4. Eat more celery, asparagus, collard greens, and bananas

The next time you buy groceries, Kimberly Snyder, Well+Good Council member and celeb nutritionist, suggests adding these  fruits and veggies to your shopping cart.

"They balance important electrolytes such as potassium—it controls fluid levels in the body to lessen the puffiness around your eyes, which exacerbates the dark circles—while adding healthy fiber and essential beauty nutrients that help alleviate this specific issue," Snyder says. Make this summer asparagus soup and you'll beat bloating below the neck, too.

5. Use tea bags

If you're only using tea bags for a warm and cozy fall beverage, you're missing out, says Snyder.

She recommends soaking tea bags in cooled almond milk or rose water, then placing them on your closed eyelids for a refreshing boost. "This will naturally help reduce inflammation around your eyes, relieving those aging signs of fatigue," Snyder says. Green tea or chamomile are good ones to reach for.

6. Go easy on the salt

It's tempting to shake a bunch of salt on your meals, but cutting back could help get rid of dark circles. According to Snyder, it's best to only add a small amount of sea salt to your dish right before eating to avoid taking in too much sodium, which can contribute to dehydration.

7. Use adaptogens

Adaptogens don't only help with stress, anxiety, and fatigue—they can also help get rid of dark circles.

"I recommend a tea made from ashwagandha to help to relieve the stress in the body that is often a root cause of those nasty dark circles," Snyder says. (Stress often equals sleep deprivation, after all.) "The powerful adaptogenic herb, otherwise known as Indian ginseng, is so rejuvenating."

8. Drink lots of water

Staying hydrated will make you feel and look great—you just have to remember to keep drinking all day long to reap the dark-circle–nixing benefits.

"Sip room-temperature water or hot teas throughout the day," Snyder says. "Keeping your body hydrated is arguably the easiest thing you can do for your overall health and beauty—with the least amount of effort."

9. Take probiotics

Popping probiotics every day can give your skin a boost—and that most certainly includes the under-eye area, too.

"A balanced gut microbiome helps to support the absorption of B vitamins, which are essential to beautiful, healthy skin all around," Snyder says. Not sure what kind to choose? Here are the probiotics gut experts actually take.

10. Avoid alcohol—especially before bedtime

Sorry, frosé fans: Alcohol—especially when you drink a few hours before bedtime, can mess with your sleep, which, in turn, can lead to under-eye bags. Drink some soothing tea before you hit the sheets instead so you wake up feeling—and looking!—refreshed.

11. Up your vitamin C intake

Vitamin C works wonders when it comes to brightening the skin (eye area included), so focus on adding more into your diet through foods with high amounts of it, like bell peppers, broccoli, berries, citrus, pineapple, and cauliflower.

12. Eat more iron

Getting enough iron in your diet can be a challenge, especially if you don't eat meat. To make sure you're not deficient—which can contribute to dark circles—prioritize plant foods with a high iron content, like beans, spinach with a squeeze of lemon, apricots, and peas.

13. DIY lymphatic drainage massage around your eyes

Light massage around the eye area helps move trapped fluids that love to settle in this region of the face—ask any esthetician. Use a jade roller or your fingers and DIY it once a week or more.

Originally published November 7, 2017; updated July 14, 2018.

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