How Can You Get Rid of the Bags Under Your Eyes?

Under-eye bags are commonly described as a swollen or half-moon outline on the thin skin underneath the eyes, and may be accompanied by dark circles.1
Naik MN. Hills and valleys: Understanding the under-eye. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2016 Apr-Jun;9(2):61-4. doi:10.4103/0974-2077.184048

Bags underneath your eyes are commonly associated with a sleepless night, but there are actually several different reasons behind why under-eye bags happen.

Fortunately, there are a variety of at-home and professional treatments that can help reduce their appearance, no matter their cause.
What Causes Bags Under Eyes?
Puffy, swollen under-eye bags usually develop as a result of excess fluid or a layer of fat in the area.1 This can be caused by:23
Aging and genetics: As we age, the pocket of tissue and fat underneath the eyes can shift, sag, and lose volume—leading to more prominent under eye bags. 4 Some people may be more genetically prone to that happening, if they have relatives with the same issue.
Allergies: Allergens can trigger congestion and inflammation along the sinuses that can make the under-eye area appear swollen—and sometimes, itchy or darker than the surrounding skin. 5
Fluid retention: If your body retains excess fluid from eating a high-sodium diet or being dehydrated, this can prompt swelling underneath the eyes. 6
Sleep deprivation: Not getting enough sleep or sleeping without your head elevated on a pillow can wreak havoc on the skin—leading to under-eye bags and dark circles. 7
Infection or health condition: Infections or disorders that affect the eye area like conjunctivitis (pink eye), blepharitis (a bacteria overgrowth), certain thyroid issues and more can cause puffy under-eyes.
While virtually anyone can experience bags underneath their eyes, some people might be more prone to them than others. For example, people with a family history of under-eye bags and older people might be more likely to notice this issue.2
Home Remedies for Bags Under Eyes
Depending on the underlying cause behind your under-eye bags, there are several home remedies you can try to help lessen their appearance.2

Cool Compress
Using a cool compress along the under-eye area can help reduce blood flow to this delicate area— cutting down on inflammation and shrinking blood vessels that lead to under-eye puffiness and also dark circles.

To try this at home, you can use a cool washcloth or ice pack to apply gentle pressure to the area for a few minutes. These results are temporary, so it might be best to test this out daily.

Retinol Products
Reaching for an over-the-counter (OTC) eye cream is a solid first choice for combatting puffy under-eyes. Experts recommend trying an eye product with retinol (vitamin A derivative) as a main ingredient to help resurface the area, prompting skin cell turnover.8

Bonus points—in addition to smoothing out the under eye, retinol can also help improve fine lines and brighten dark circles.9
Vitamin C Products
Vitamin C has been touted for its ability to help reduce signs of skin aging, promote collagen growth, and protect the skin from UV rays.10 That said, trying an eye cream with vitamin C as a main ingredient could be helpful for restoring firmness to the under eye, smoothing out and de-puffing the entire area.

The results for this tactic can take time to add up, and will depend on the exact dosage of the product.11

Caffeine-Based Products
Caffeine isn't just meant for your morning cup of joe. Applying this ingredient topically underneath the eyes has benefits, too. That's because caffeine helps construct blood vessels and reduce swelling, making the under-eye area appear less puffy.12

While it's a temporary fix, caffeine is key for helping boost circulation and reduce overall inflammation.13
Green and Black Tea
Two items you may already have in your kitchen could be useful for the pesky under-eye area: green or black tea bags. Research shows that green and black tea can help reduce the appearance of under eye bags (and dark circles).8 That's because the teas are high in antioxidant, caffeine, and anti-inflammatory properties—stimulating blood flow to the skin and smoothing out the entire area.

Try applying cold tea bags to give under-eye puffiness the boot.
Gentle Skin Massage
Lymphatic drainage isn't just a full body massage tactic—you can gently massage the under eye area, too, to get some of the same effects. Research shows that doing so can help cut down on pain and inflammation and reduce under-eye swelling, particularly after cosmetic procedures.14

Experts recommend using fingertips or an at-home tool like a jade roller to lightly massage in an upward and outward motion underneath the eye. Practicing this regularly can help reduce any built-up fluid in the area.
Treat Allergies
If you think your under eye bags may be due to allergens, try an OTC antihistamine to help decrease the look of puffiness around the eye. Antihistamine eyedrops are also helpful when it comes to the bags and puffiness surrounding the eyes.15 You might also try to avoid excessive rubbing that would prompt further inflammation in the area.

Be sure to check with a healthcare provider or allergist for professional allergy treatment as needed.

Medical Treatments for Bags Under Eyes
Not satisfied with the results you're getting from at-home remedies? There are a variety of professional options for tightening skin and reducing the appearance of under eye bags.2
Chemical Peels
Chemical peels, which involve using a safe, controlled amount of acid to remove the outer layers of skin, can help leave the under eye area with a smoother appearance.

Depending on the exact type of chemical peel used, there may be discoloration and discomfort as the skin heals. Your healthcare provider will also discuss after-care and potential risks like scarring.16

Injectable Fillers
Injectable fillers can help temporarily restore volume and smooth out certain parts of the face—including the under-eye area. In addition, these products can help stimulate collagen production, contributing to a firmer, healthier under-eye appearance.

You'll likely have to repeat this procedure after several months to maintain the results. Temporary side-effects can include swelling, tenderness, occasional bruising, and discoloration.17

Laser Resurfacing
Lasers are another option for treating under-eye bags and all around signs of eye aging. Different types of laser treatments can help tighten skin, constrict underlying blood vessels, and reduce the pigmentation (discoloration)—all of which can contribute to the look of under-eye puffiness.

In the days post-procedure, discomfort, blistering, peeling, and a sunburn-like appearance can develop as the skin heals. Certain laser treatments come with the risk of discoloration, infection, scarring, and additional swelling.18
Cosmetic Surgery
For more severe cases, a procedure known as blepharoplasty can help permanently get rid of bags under the eyes. This involves removing excess fat or skin in the area through a small incision to help reshape and smooth the skin underneath the eyes, providing a long-term solution. That said, it's possible the benefits if surgergy are not permanent, as gravity and aging will continue to take effect on your lids, even after surgery.19

Your healthcare provider will discuss the risks of surgery with you, along with the type of recovery period to be expected.

How to Prevent Bags Under Eyes
While some under-eye bags may not be fully preventable, there are a few steps experts recommend taking to help reduce the chances of them forming—or getting worse.20

Use sun protection on a daily basis to protect the delicate eye area from UV rays that can break down collagen and elastin
Get plenty of sleep—usually around 7 to 9 hours daily—and try to sleep in a slightly elevated position to keep fluid and puffiness at bay
Manage stress with techniques like exercise, breathwork, and meditation, as increased cortisol levels can impact skin appearance and inflammation21
Limit sodium in your diet, and stay hydrated to maintain proper hydration and remove excess fluid retention from the eye area
Quit smoking, if applicable, to stop thinning skin and lost collagen in the under eye area
When to See a Healthcare Provider
For most people, under-eye bags are a cosmetic issue and not a cause for concern.

But if the under-eye area is painful, uncomfortable, itchy, red or discolored, or undergoing sudden puffiness or other changes—check with a healthcare provider to get to the bottom of the issue. These could be signs of an allergic reaction or another health condition, like a thyroid or sinus issue.

Also consider checking with a healthcare provider if the appearance of your under-eye bags is distressing or affecting your quality of life.