Why Is My Face Puffy in the Morning? How Can I Manage It?

We all want to look bright-eyed and rested when we wake up. Unfortunately, many people see a very different face greeting them in the mirror every morning - a tired, swollen face with eyes that somehow appear simultaneously sunken are puffy.

If facial puffiness is something you’re struggling with occasionally or daily, know that you can control it. Understanding why your face gets puffy, and knowing how to avoid and manage the swelling at home will help that tired, puffy face go away for good. This article explores the causes of facial swelling in the morning and ways to treat and prevent it.

“What makes my face puffy in the morning?”

Puffy Face woman looking in the mirror morning

Dermatologists blame gravity for the overwhelming majority of facial puffiness in the morning. According to Dr. Zakia Rahman, a clinical professor of dermatology at Stanford School of Medicine, “During the day, as most of us are sitting or standing, gravity pulls all of our fluids. That’s why people can end up with swollen feet or legs at the end of the day.” But when we’re asleep and lying flat, some of the fluid remains in the face, especially “if we have anything that is causing our skin or soft tissue underneath to swell,” continues Dr. Rahman to Huffington Post.

So, which exact situations increase your likelihood of facial swelling? Listed below are the main factors that contribute to face puffiness in the morning:

Water retention

Puffy Face woman with puffy eyes

Lymphatic fluid always flows downward, which means that it can accumulate in your face when you’re sleeping, resulting in that swollen face look or eye puffiness. Face puffiness gets even worse if you do any of the following:

1. You sleep on the side or face down.
If you sleep on one side, you may even notice that the side you sleep on is puffier.

2. You cried the night before.
Crying before falling asleep often leads to a swollen face and eyes due to edema. The salt in your tears can irritate the skin, especially around your eyes, which can lead to temporary swelling. Rubbing your eyes can further exacerbate the swelling, so it’s best to rinse your face with cool water before you go to sleep.

Related Article: Say Goodbye to Puffy Eyes with These 6 Great Remedies


3. Your cycle
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menstruation worsen fluid retention. You may notice that your face is more likely to appear swollen before and during your period.
Puffy Face eye close up side by side

4. Foods and drinks
Dehydration is a common cause of water retention. When the body lacks water, it tries to compensate by holding as much water as possible. Not drinking enough could be the culprit behind your puffy face, but more often than not, some overtly dehydrating beverages like alcohol and coffee, or salty foods are to blame. Avoid eating too many salty foods, like potato chips, popcorn, cheese, salted nuts, pickles, or soy sauce, especially late at night.

Sleep problems

Sleep disturbances, insomnia, and even too much sleep can show on your face the next morning. "Tossing and turning all night can leave you with sunken eyes or a swollen puffy face," said Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, a board-certified dermatologist to Bustle.

Puffy Face insomnia

Sleeping in makeup

When you wear your makeup for too long, it can irritate the eyes and the skin, which leads to a mild version of a condition called contact dermatitis that causes skin redness, dry patches, and swelling.

Health conditions that can cause face puffiness

Healthy people can certainly wake up with a puffy face. But sometimes, your face may be swollen due to an underlying health condition. We examine such possible medical causes here:

  • Allergies or asthma. Seasonal allergies, indoor allergies, and asthma could certainly cause or exacerbate face puffiness. Having a congested, runny nose or rubbing your itchy, watery eyes in your sleep can absolutely lead to facial swelling.

  • Sinus or tooth infection. Your sinuses are an intricate labyrinth of passages located right under your nose, cheeks, and undereye area. When you have a tooth or sinus infection, these areas can get inflamed, leading to facial swelling. 

  • Hormonal problems - conditions like hypothyroidism and Cushing’s syndrome can make your face appear bloated.

  • Rosacea, an inflammatory condition where the skin appears constantly red and angry, often comes with increased face puffiness. The condition is caused by tiny blood vessels opening spontaneously and causing an inflammatory skin response, which results in puffiness and redness.

  • Taking steroid medications can sometimes cause facial swelling.

If you suspect that your facial swelling is caused by an underlying condition, you’ll need to see a doctor and address the issue for the swelling to go away completely.

“How can I depuff my face quickly?”

Puffy Face applying eye cream

Let’s start with the good news. In most cases, facial swelling will lessen on its own throughout the day. As you get back up in an upright position, the lymphatic fluid will drain downward and away from the face, which will also diminish some facial puffiness. However, you can also speed along this process considerably, reducing the swelling dramatically in a matter of minutes. Here’s what you can do.

The cold is your best friend

Water retention occurs when your blood vessels are dilated. So, it only makes sense that tightening them will also help with the swelling. A proven way of achieving that goal is by applying something cold to the skin. Note that we say cold, not freezing. This is important, as direct skin contact with ice-cold temperatures can actually create redness and irritation.

Puffy Face washing face
Here’s how to use the cold to your advantage:
  • Just rinse your skin with cool water - it works in a pinch.
  • A cold compress - wrap an ice pack or a few ice cubes in a clean facial towel and hold them for a few seconds on the areas of the skin that feel puffy.
  • Put your skincare in the fridge for 15-20 minutes while you’re having breakfast. Then wash your face with cool water and apply the chilled skincare products over it.

Take a minute to do lymphatic drainage

Puffy Face face massage

When your face is puffy, a facial “lymph draining” massage can do wonders. Massaging your face using either a stone roller, stone massager, a chilled spoon, or just your hands will help move all the swelling away from your face. 

If you decide to do a facial massage, remember to be gentle and always move from the center to the outskirts of the face, and from top to bottom. Take your facial roller (you can even chill it in the fridge beforehand for best results), and roll from the middle of the forehead along the eyebrows, and then down and away towards the temples and ears. For the jawline, move the massager or your fingers from the chin and towards the ears and down the neck.

Here’s a simple 5-minute facial massage that will help you depuff your face. Moisturize the skin beforehand with your regular cream or facial oil to reduce tugging. You can do each motion several times - see what feels right to you.

Puffy Face woman doing a face massage

1. Using your ring fingers, gently pat the fingers in circular motions around both eyes.
2. Sweep your fingers across your forehead several times, you can move in either direction.
3. Gently pinch your chin on both sides using your big and pointer fingers. Then move your fingers in small increments from the bottom of the chin along the jawline and towards the ears.
4. Place your pointer fingers on both sides at the top of the nose, then move downwards and then back up.
5. Sweep your fingers from the nose outward towards the ears.
6. To conclude, sweep the fingers from the base of the ears down the neck all the way to your collarbones.

You can also find a great facial self-massage tutorial right here - Rejuvenate, Depuff and Lift Your Skin in 5 Minutes.

Use caffeine for instant relief

Puffy Face eye patches

Caffeine has an instant but temporary vasoconstricting effect, meaning that it makes blood vessels narrow. Drinking caffeinated beverages, be it coffee, black tea, or green tea, will speed up the depuffing process. 

What’s more, there are topical caffeine products that work in an identical fashion. These are eye creams, facial serums, moisturizers, and eye patches containing caffeine as one of the main ingredients. Just apply it to the skin, and you should see a reduction in the swelling.

Some people even swear by applying used teabags on the skin. There’s no actual scientific evidence that this works, but if you decide to try it, make sure to chill the teabag before using it on the skin. The last thing you want is burning the delicate facial skin.

“How can I prevent face puffiness?

Puffy Face bed

It’s not always possible to prevent facial puffiness completely, but you can certainly cut down on the frequency by adopting a few of these simple lifestyle tips: 

1. Sleep on your back, propping up your head with two pillows. Elevating your head during sleep will help prevent fluid retention, and sleeping on your back will ensure that you’re not smashing your face against the pillow, blocking lymphatic drainage and blood circulation.

2. Avoid hot showers, for they too can make your face look puffy in the morning.

3. Doing any exercise, even a short walk or gentle yoga, can improve blood circulation and drain away the puffiness.

Puffy Face woman with a glass of water

4. Drink a glass of water before bed. Staying hydrated all day will prevent fluid retention, to begin with. “One of the most important things you can do to improve lymphatic drainage is to drink water,” stated Dr. Emma Craythorne, a dermatologist, to Women’s Health Magazine.

5. If you don’t want your skin to become dry, puffy, and wrinkly all at the same time, keep the alcohol in check. Regular alcohol consumption can also lead to chronic, permanent skin redness too.

6. Keep your diet in check. Avoid salty snacks late at night. Instead, enjoy something juicy and hydrating, such as your favorite fruit.

There you go! We hope this guide helps you look and feel more beautiful and energized every morning.

H/T: Huffington PostWomenshealthmag.com, Medical News Today, Bustle

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