Wondering how to depuff your face? Dermatologists explain the most common puffy face causes—and share their best treatments.
So you woke up, looked in the mirror, and noticed your face looks a little puffier than usual. (You’re not alone.) It’s not the end of the world, but face puffiness can be annoying, especially if you’re sitting on Zoom all day or have a big event. After all, neither your best full-coverage concealer or nourishing face lotion can solve it. Whatever the cause—having one too many margaritas or snacking on extra potato chips, for example—there are ways to fix it ASAP. Below, dermatologists share what causes a puffy face and exactly how to depuff your face.
The Most Common Puffy Face Causes
What causes a puffy face anyway? “Facial puffiness that is new or sudden may occur as a result of allergies, infections, skin irritation, medication reactions, and more,” says Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist from New York City. “Fluid retention can contribute to facial puffiness as well, and this can result from lifestyle factors.”
These factors include:
- Lack of sleep: Sleep allows the parasympathetic nervous system to drain excess fluids from the facial soft tissue back into the veins. When you don’t get enough sleep, it creates a stress response that creates more swelling and inflammation in the face.
- Alcohol intake: Alcohol dehydrates the body because it’s a diuretic, which causes us to urinate more. As a result, our skin and other vital organs try to hold onto water—causing bloating in the face and other areas of the body.
- Excess sodium: So you snacked on a whole bag of potato chips and you’re noticing your face is looking extra puffy. That’s because excess sodium pulls water into your blood vessels and enlarges them—leading to a more bloated appearance.
If you notice that your undereyes look puffier than the rest of your face, it’s not in your head—it can happen. “Undereye puffiness can occur as a result of genetics or as a result of aging,” Dr. Garshick explains. “Some people can experience fat herniation in the undereye area, causing the fat to come forward making the undereye area appear puffy,” Dr. Garshick explains. Typically, this is genetic, but other factors (such as age and environmental stressors) can cause this as well. Treatments for this include undereye fillers, surgical procedures, or topicals (such as retinol or caffeine).
It should be noted that if a puffy face is accompanied by other symptoms, you should seek medical help. “If you have any throat tingling or swelling, shortness of breath or difficulting swallowing, go to an ER as it might be an allergic reaction and emergency,” says Caren Campbell, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist with offices in San Francisco and Napa Valley.
How to Depuff Your Face
For one-off puffy days, try one or more of these expert-backed methods to reduce puffiness.
1. Apply Cold Tea Bags
Soak tea bags in cold water, and apply them below your eyes to help with undereye puffiness. “Cold tea bags are a great home remedy—not only does the cold provide a depuffing and soothing effect, but the tea bags contain caffeine, which helps to shrink the blood vessels, reducing both redness and puffiness in addition to antioxidants to help brighten the undereye skin,” Dr. Garshick says. (Psst: That’s just one of the many green tea benefits for skin.)
2. Use Caffeine-Infused Skincare
In the same way your morning cup of coffee can perk up your brain, caffeine-infused skincare products can perk up your skin (read: depuff your face). “Caffeine in skincare works to constrict the blood vessels, which can help to reduce puffiness and swelling,” Dr. Garshick says. “When looking for eye creams specifically, it can also help to use ones that use a cold metal applicator which can help to achieve a depuffing effect.”
3. Cool Your Skincare Products
If you’re constantly dealing with a puffy face, it may be time to clear out some space in your fridge—from your skincare products. Dr. Garshick says it’s one effective way to depuff your face. “Keeping skincare products in the refrigerator can offer an additional cooling benefit to the skin, which can help to depuff the skin,” she says. You can also invest in a mini skincare fridge to keep products close by to where you get ready (and avoid any condiment mixups!)
4. Try Antihistamines
Another solution for how to depuff your face in a pinch? A trip to the drug store could help. “Antihistamines can be helpful in some cases—such as Zyrtex, Xyzal, or Allegra Daily,” Dr. Campbell says. However, if you’re dealing with a more serious infection, Dr. Campbell says a trip to the doctor is the answer. They can prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, like steroids or antibiotics, to help.
5. Use a Facial Roller
There are so many fancy skincare gadgets on the market, but the best one for a puffy face is simple: a facial roller. More specifically, a cold facial roller. Dr. Garshick says using one can help depuff your face. “They can temporarily be helpful to reduce puffiness by helping to mobilize the fluid and improve circulation,” she says.
6. Ice Your Skin
All those TikToks you’ve been seeing of people applying ice cubes directly to their faces? There is some merit to this method, Dr. Garshick says. “It is thought that icing can be soothing on the skin and have a depuffing effect, helping to tighten the overall appearance of the skin,” she says. “It is also thought to help reduce inflammation and redness, which can also help to reduce blemishes. In addition, it may actually help promote better absorption of other skincare products as when the capillaries restrict, it is thought to cause a pulling effect, drawing subsequent products in.” All that said, she notes that applying ice directly onto the skin can be harsh.
Instead, keep a face mask in the fridge and apply it to your skin, Dr. Campbell says. “Or try using an ice pack with a dry washcloth in between your skin and the ice pack.”
7. Adjust Your Diet Accordingly
The foods you eat can help your body naturally detox itself, boost collagen levels, improve your liver and gut health, balance your hormones, and so much more. By adjusting your diet, you can prevent your face puffiness. “Try to avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sodium to minimize facial puffiness, as these can be dehydrating and contribute to puffiness,” Dr. Garshick says.
8. Keep Your Head Up
Changing your go-to sleeping position may be difficult, but it’s worth the work if you want to get rid of a puffy face. When you sleep, fluid can pool in your face (especially under your eyes) and cause excess face puffiness. The fix? Try sleeping with your head slightly elevated, Dr. Campbell says. It will help reduce any fluid retention and help depuff your face.
The Best Products to Depuff Your Face
Want to stock up on some de-puffing products? These derm favorites can help you achieve the perfect look.
- Herbivore Jade Depuffing Face Roller, $32: “This roller works to improve lymphatic drainage and improve overall circulation leaving the skin looking radiant and glowing,” Dr. Garshick says. “It can be used in conjunction with a facial oil to help boost absorption of the facial oil.”
- Skinceuticals Biocellulose Restorative Mask, $20: Dr. Campbell says to look for, “a simple biocellulose mask with no additives like fragrance or essential oils (a must to ensure things don’t get worse).” Store this one in the fridge to depuff your face.
- Garnier SkinActive Clearly Brighter Anti-Puff Eye Roller, $13: “This drugstore, affordable option is a great quick fix for undereye puffiness as it contains caffeine to help reduce the appearance of the undereye bags by constructing the blood vessels, as well as vitamin C and mint,” Dr. Garshick says. “The cool microstimulating roll-on applicator makes it so satisfying to literally roll the puffiness aside.”