How to reduce face and eye puffiness:
Step 1: Fill your bathroom sink with cold water and toss in 10-20 ice cubes.
Step 2: Pour 1/3 to 1/2 cup of natural witch hazel into the water. Try to use one that is alcohol-free, such as SkinCeuticals Equalizing Toner. Typically, the witch hazel astringent found in general stores DOES contain alcohol which should be avoided. Watch out for witch hazel containing SD Alcohol 40 or Denatured Alcohol.
Step 3: Dunk your face (yes dunk, don’t just splash!) about 10 times.
Why does this work? The cold water (hence needing ice cubes) shrinks capillaries and encourages drainage of the extra fluid while witch hazel has natural anti-inflammatory (puffiness-reducing) properties.
During the early 19th century, witch hazel became a staple in most medicine cabinets because of its healing and soothing properties. It has been used to tone our complexion, used as an aftershave, and used to soothe sunburns and disinfect cuts and insect bites. Alcohol was added to allow it to evaporate on contact and to provide a cooling sensation, but we now know the added alcohol isn't always ideal for our skin since it will create a drying effect.
Witch hazel, in more professional preparations, is an excellent ingredient to lessen oily skin, hydrate dehydrated skin, soothe redness in sensitive skin and disinfect problematic complexions.
Too much salt can make you puffy and not enough sleep can make your skin look dull. Sleep deprivation also causes you to yawn more than usual - which causes even more puffiness. Yawning encourages our eyes to water which creates swelling. Think about it - excessive yawning is actually somewhat like crying because of the tearing it creates, and we all know how puffy our eyes can look after watching The Notebook for the 10th time. It's called "beauty sleep" for a reason!
Unfortunately our eye and face puffiness may be self-induced on occasion, but the next time you find yourself needing a fix give the witch hazel-water-ice cube bath a try...and follow that by a good night's rest.
--Jean Gustafson, MD