On a plane, the morning after the night before, on a sweltering hot summer’s day, or shortly after consuming a salty feast—all scenarios commonly associated with the dreaded puffy face. One of the common culprits behind puffiness (as distinct from facial swelling, which can be indicative of more serious issues), is dehydration and subsequently water retention, which explains why an evening of alcohol can impact how your face looks the next morning.
“Puffiness is caused by a number of factors,” agrees facialist Katharine Mackenzie Paterson. “As well as salt and alcohol, these also include a slow lymphatic system, lack of sleep and congestion—especially in the summer months when allergies come to the fore.” Skin expert Jasmina Vico recommends establishing the cause of puffiness first, to help prevent it from happening repeatedly. “Is it processed food, alcohol consumption, stress, allergies, or mould and humidity affecting your environment?”
How to rectify the situation? Read on for five tips on how to depuff your face now.
1. Use massage
As well as feeling ultra relaxing, using sweeping massage movements on your face can help to encourage lymph flow and drain puffiness away from the face, explains Mackenzie Paterson. While getting a professional to do it is always the dreamiest route, it’s also easy enough to do at home. “Concentrate on sweeping out to some of the facial lymph nodes situated in front and behind the ear, and around the jawline and down the neck onto the collarbone,” she advises. “I love doing this with a facial massage oil to make it more of an experience.”
2. Sleep on your back
Nighttime fluid retention is normal, but if you usually wake up with an ultra puffy face, you might want to reconsider your sleep position. Avoid sleeping on your front and “invest in a good pillow, keeping your head slightly elevated to allow fluid to drain easier at night”, recommends Vico. “To promote good sleep—also important for depuffing—your room temperature should be around 18C.”
3. Try gua sha
From Phoebe Dynevor to Alicia Keys, any number of celebrities prioritise spending quality time with their gua sha. “Gua sha helps to depuff the face by working on both Chinese meridian points and the lymphatic drainage system to stimulate blood circulation, enhance skin’s oxygen levels and regulate our internal balance, whilst removing toxins and stagnation,” says Ada Ooi, founder of 001 Skincare. “It also helps unknot any fascia and muscle tension, releasing blocked fluids in specific parts of the face—in turn, the face is less swollen and feels much lighter.”
Remember when Kate Moss name checked the ice plunge as her favourite beauty trick? “Fill a sink with ice cubes, cold water and slices of cucumber and hold your face in it for as long as you can,” she told the Sunday Telegraph. “It instantly reduces puffiness and tightens up your skin.” She was onto something. “I have been advising my clients to use ice cold water to wash their faces for years,” says Vico. “You can use frozen ice cubes, made with peppermint, camomile and/or green tea to help with this.”
Cryotherapy is a great way to reduce puffiness and swelling because, explains Ooi, it “provides a cold shock to the skin’s surface, which sends a regenerative flow of fresh blood to the area. This fresh blood flow is oxygen and nutrient rich, which boosts the skin’s metabolism, while flushing away toxins and reducing water retention.” The cold also constricts the muscles, creating a lifted and firm appearance.
These days, an array of tools are available to make getting your cryotherapy fix a breeze, from cryo balls to ice masks—simply stick them in the fridge (or freezer, check the instructions), and use them whenever you need them. You can also hold cooled kitchen spoons over areas in need.