Eye bags on woman face

It’s normal to experience bags under your eyes now and then, especially if you’ve not slept well. But for some of us, puffy eyes and dark circles remain even when we’re well-rested. Some people with under-eye bags complain of puffiness and swelling, while others experience rolls of excess skin in the under-eye area.

Dark circles under your eyes are the result of visible blood vessels, which can become more noticeable when the layer of skin in this area thins or the blood vessels become enlarged. A survey conducted in America showed that eye bags are one of the most common skin problems we face, affecting 27% of people. If you’re someone who suffers from chronic eye bags and dark circles, you’ve probably wondered what may be causing them and how you can improve their appearance — read on to find out.

A closeup view on the eye of a pretty young woman. Details of a puffy eye bag are viewed, caused by fluid retention beneath the thin skin. Lady before blepharoplasty surgery.

Causes for Bags Under Eyes

Under-eye bags and dark hollows can result from several things, such as lifestyle factors, heredity, and medical issues. Here are some of the most common causes for bags under the eyes:

Lack of Sleep

As you may already know, getting too-little sleep spells trouble for your under-eye area. When you have a restless night, your blood vessels dilate, leading to increased blood flow. As the layer of skin under the eyes is thinner, a higher volume of blood becomes more noticeable here, causing dark circles that make you appear exhausted.


It’s normal for bags under the eyes to become more pronounced as you age. Part of the natural ageing process involves collagen levels depleting and muscles and tissues weakening over time, resulting in a loss of firmness in the skin. As you get older, you may find that the fat supporting the eyes slips lower, causing the under-eye area to appear puffy and swollen.


Another reason for pronounced bags under your eyes may be genetics. Unfortunately, this can be a physical feature that runs in the family — some people are simply more prone to having them.


Studies have proven that smoking reduces collagen production, which can lead to the development of forehead wrinkles, perioral lines and under-eye bags, among other skin problems. The nicotine in cigarettes also disrupts your natural sleep pattern, which can cause excess fluids to collect beneath your eyes.


Common allergy symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing and watering eyes, but did you know that puffy eyes can also be a telltale sign of a reaction? This can happen due to congestion and swelling in the sinus tissue.

High-Salt Diet

When considering what causes under-eye bags, you may not have thought about your diet. If you struggle to resist salty snacks, this could be what’s behind your tired-looking eyes, as your body retains fluid when you eat salty food. Beneath your eyes is one of the places in your body where water collects, which is why excess fluid from salty foods can lead to swelling.

Sun Exposure

Spending too much time in the sun can damage skin cells and deplete collagen levels, causing bags under your eyes to develop.

Alcohol Use

Drinking a lot of alcohol causes your body to become dehydrated, which has a negative impact on your skin. Bags under the eyes may develop when the skin in this area becomes dry, dull and weak.

Makeup and Creams

Makeup can help mask bags under your eyes, but forgetting to wash products off before bed can make them worse. Applying eye creams too close to the lash line has a similar effect, with products irritating your eyes and causing swelling.

Medical Conditions

Certain health conditions such as thyroid disease can cause the delicate under-eye area to become swollen. Health problems like dermatitis, chronic kidney disease and dermatomyositis can also have a negative impact.

How to Get Rid of Eye Bags and Dark Circles

Under-eye bags are usually nothing more than a cosmetic issue, but if you’d like to improve their appearance, there are some treatment options available to you.

At-Home Remedies


Attractive woman applying anti-fatigue under-eye mask while looking at the mirror in the bathroom. Skin care girl touch patches of fabric mask under eyes to reduce eye bags


Wash Your Face before Bed

Make sure you remove makeup from your face before bed to avoid irritation. Use a clean washcloth and gentle cleanser to remove cosmetic products and prevent bags under the eyes.

Try a Cold Compress

A cool compress under your eyes can reduce blood flow and help with inflammation and swelling. You don’t have to use a product made for this purpose — try an ice pack, frozen peas or chilled cucumber slices instead.

Improve Your Bedtime Routine

Help yourself get enough sleep by improving your evening routine. Avoid screens and caffeine in the lead up to bedtime and try taking a bubble bath or reading a book to wind down more easily. It may also help to sleep with your head slightly raised — try using an extra pillow or elevating the head off the bed a few inches.

Use a Haemorrhoid Cream to Reduce Swelling

Did you know that over-the-counter haemorrhoid creams can narrow blood vessels and reduce puffiness beneath the eyes? While we don’t recommend using this as a regular treatment, you may find that carefully applying a small amount will brighten your eyes up on days when you’re feeling self-conscious.

Seek Treatment for Your Allergies

Seeing a doctor will be a big help if your under-eye bags are caused by allergies. The right medical treatment should reduce swelling in your sinuses and ease any other allergy symptoms you suffer from.

Apply a Product Containing Caffeine

Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor and is increasingly being used in eye creams to reduce the appearance of puffiness. Try a specialist skincare product or rest chilled tea bags on closed eyes for rapid relief.

Cut Out the Bad Stuff

If you were to lower your salt intake, limit the amount of alcohol you drink and quit smoking, this could significantly improve the appearance of eye bags and dark circles. Cutting out these negative triggers will decrease fluid retention, boost hydration and help you retain collagen for radiant, plump skin.

Protect Your Skin in the Sun

Another way to keep bags under the eyes at bay is by reducing sun exposure and using sunscreen daily. Protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays is essential for a radiant complexion.

Medical Treatments to Reduce Under-Eye Puffiness

Changing everyday habits can be helpful, but some patients may require treatment to combat dark circles and under-eye bags. A combination approach is often the most successful in getting rid of bags for good.


Attractive young woman with beautiful skin receiving an injection under her eyes to maintain a youthful expression. Beauty model getting a rejuvenating treatment


Lower Eyelid Surgery

Blepharoplasty is an outpatient procedure that can improve sagginess and wrinkles in the under-eye area. In this treatment, a surgeon reduces bagginess from the lower eyelids by tightening the muscle and skin. Fat will also be adjusted in the targeted area to create a smooth appearance.

Although this surgery can provide permanent results, it can also be expensive and involve weeks of recovery time. As with any cosmetic surgery, you should always weigh up the risks and speak to a qualified doctor to see if it’s the right option for you.

Under-Eye Filler

Tear trough filler is an excellent option to rejuvenate the area beneath your eyes, especially if you’d rather not resort to plastic surgery. During this safe and minimally invasive treatment, a qualified professional injects hyaluronic acid (HA) into targeted areas of the face for a younger, fresher appearance. HA fillers can make your under-eyes appear plumper and less sunken, helping you feel rejuvenated and refreshed.

Chemical Peels

If you’re looking for skin therapies that can treat wrinkly under-eye skin, chemical peels are a great choice. In this treatment, a chemical solution is applied to the skin to remove the top layer, revealing a new, healthy layer of skin underneath. This will help your under-eyes appear tighter, brighter and smoother.

How to Choose a Clinic for Under-Eye Rejuvenation

The under-eye area is very delicate and sensitive. If you’re considering a cosmetic procedure to improve the appearance of under-eye bags, you must find a qualified and highly experienced doctor you can trust to provide treatment. The right clinic will take the time to talk through your requirements, answer any questions and explain your options, helping you decide on a treatment that’s right for you.


If you’re sick of tired-looking eyes and feel like you’ve tried everything, we’d love to help you achieve the look you’ve dreamed of. Contact us for a no-obligation consultation at our Harley Street cosmetic clinic and discuss treatment options with our expert team.


Founder at Harley St M.D.
Dr. Chia Tan is a UK trained medical doctor that specialises in cosmetic and aesthetic medicine and testosterone replacement therapy. He is qualified as a medical doctor since 2003 and has since trained extensively. He has been featured in several leading magazines as well as invited to appear on TV to discuss aesthetic medicine and the latest cosmetic procedures.
Dr. Chia Tan
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