A blotch, a blemish, a fine line—negligible woes, and all easy to conceal or moisturize away. But bloat? That’s a little different. And if you’ve been finding yourself waking up with a face like a boxing glove more often than usual recently, well, you’re not alone. It turns out that it’s not just the Negroni, or two, that you knocked back last night during virtual cocktail hour, or even the hours of sleep you lost while binge-watching your distraction du jour, but rather a confluence of factors—including dry indoor air, lack of exercise, maybe even a soupcon of seasonal allergies—that make you particularly prone to puff. What’s more, circumstances are such that you might be noticing changes in your face with extra acuteness. “We are all very aware of the way we look because of video calls, which force us to stare at our faces for hours on end,” says dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD. “It is a prime set up to scrutinize the state of the skin and the shapes of our faces.” Regardless of the cause or severity, fear not—there are solutions. Here, the best ways to depuff in a hurry, and fend off bloat before it even begins.
What’s giving you a puffy face?
All of the elements listed above can cause water retention in the face, but the most pernicious factor, says Gohara, is the one that’s hardest to escape: stress. “When cortisol levels rise, it is our primal fight or flight response that kicks in,” she says. “Think of what would happen if you were being chased by a bear. Your heart, muscles, brain and lungs need blood to move as fast as possible and your body retains water for the organs as a matter or preservation. It’s a biological stress response.” And while most of us are probably not being chased by bears, we are reading the news—and perhaps indulging in sweet and salty snacks, which can also induce bloat.
Lymphatic drainage massage can help.
Manually pushing the puff away is key, says celebrity facialist Joanna Czech, who lifts and sculpts the features of A-listers with masterful massage techniques and lymph-clearing devices. “You want to create a draining effect with either your hands or a massage tool,” she says. “It is important to start at the center of the face and work outwards to the side of the face and down to the bottom of the ear and further to the base of the neck (where the lymph nodes are). Start with your forehead, and move 5 times from the center to the side of the face and then down to the ear and neck. Then do the rest of your face (eye area, cheek area, above and below lips and under the chin.” Whether you’re using a roller or your fingers, she says, “Make sure you use a delicate touch. You are not trying to manipulate your muscles here.” Gohara loves gua sha stones, which can be cooled in the refrigerator, for deflating and contouring. “The cool stone helps to depuff, and the motion moves liquid away from areas where it can collect—like a broom pushing water to grates in the ground after a storm.”
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Raid the fridge.
When it comes to beating bloat, anything cold is your friend. Store skincare such as masks and moisturizers in the fridge, as well as jade and metal rollers. Gohara suggests chilling damp tea bags overnight to depuff morning eye bags; Czech recommends “using cold compresses which can include cryo sticks cucumber slices, ice cubes made from dandelion tea or even teaspoons that you have put in the freezer for a few minutes.”
Watch your diet.
Those Quarantinis are not helping, sorry, but you can mitigate alcohol’s bloating effects by drinking more water, and trying to stay hydrated throughout the day. Czech warns against processed and salty snacks, and suggests adding potassium-rich foods to your diet, including apples and tomatoes. “Potassium is a vital electrolyte for the functioning of all your cells,” she says. “It helps control the amount of water you retain.”
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Select de-puffing skincare ingredients.
“Caffeine, green tea extract, and antioxidants including rosemary and vitamins C and E help constrict blood vessels to decrease swelling,” says Czech. And again, the de-puffing powers of anything you apply will be supercharged if you keep them cool, or massage them into skin with a cold tool.
Getting adequate, good-quality sleep is essential—but on the flip side, sleeping too much can also cause features to inflate. Aim for 7 to 8 hours a night, and avoid drinking alcohol, or guzzling too much water, for at least three hours prior to turning in. Daily exercise, too, will help keep lymph moving and increase circulation, clearing away excess fluid and making you less likely to retain it. Then be sure to be mindful—baths, meditation, whatever it takes to “be more zen,” says Gohara. “Decreasing cortisol levels will almost certainly make things better.”
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