What Causes Bags Under Eyes? Lack of Sleep and 4 More Culprits
Have you ever woken up with dark circles and bags under your eyes? Find out what causes bags under eyes and get a few tips on how to show your eyes some love.
So, you woke up with bags under the eyes, did you? We’ve all been there. When you work a stressful job with late hours, eye puffiness and dark circles are often considered par for the course.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just late nights that can cause bags under the eyes. In fact, anything from allergies to excessive sun exposure can contribute to eye puffiness and dark circles.
If you want to get rid of under-eye bags for good, it’s helpful to know what’s causing them in the first place. Otherwise, the problem will just keep coming back and make you look perpetually tired.
Before we dive in, here are a few things to know about what causes bags under eyes:
- The skin around the eyes is extremely thin and delicate, which makes dark circles more prominent
- The area around the eyes is more vulnerable to sun damage and other external factors
- Bags under eyes are a normal part of the aging process
While under-eye bags aren’t typically a sign of anything serious, they can take a huge toll on a person’s self-esteem. Below, we’ll discuss what causes bags under eyes so that you can finally kick eye puffiness and dark circles to the curb.
1. Lack of Sleep
When you wake up with bags under your eyes, one of the first things you might hear from your coworkers is, “Wow, you look tired.” While this statement is annoying, it’s also understandable given how under-eye bags are one of the most common side effects of sleep deprivation.
According to a 2013 study published in the journal Sleep, sleep deprivation can affect a wide range of facial features, including the eyes. The study showed that sleep-deprived individuals were perceived as having more puffy eyes, dark circles and droopy eyelids compared to those who were fully-rested (see claim: “The faces of sleep deprived individuals were perceived as having more hanging eyelids, redder eyes, more swollen eyes, darker circles under the eyes.”)
Getting a poor night’s sleep causes your blood vessels to dilate. The skin around the eyes is thin and translucent, which makes dilated blood vessels and puffiness far more noticeable. The result is pesky dark circles under your eyelids that make you look tired.
If your lower eyelids are puffy, irritated and inflamed, allergies could be to blame. Common allergens such as dust and pollen can irritate the eyes, resulting in an allergic reaction that can make your face itch and produce symptoms such as watery eyes, swollen eyelids and reddened skin.
There are two types of allergies: Seasonal and perennial. Seasonal allergies occur during specific times of the year, whereas perennial allergies occur year-round.
Both types of allergies are typically treated with an over-the-counter antihistamine. If your allergy symptoms persist, be sure to see your doctor for allergy testing and/or prescription medication.
3. Sun Exposure
Excessive sun exposure can lead to skin discoloration that produces dark circles underneath the eyes. Unfortunately, studies have found that many people fail to apply enough sun protection to the delicate area around the eyes.
According to a 2019 study published in PLOS One, researchers found that nearly 21 percent of people using a moisturizer with SPF fail to apply enough sun protection around the eyelids (see claim: This difference was primarily due to decreased coverage of the eyelid regions (14.0% missed with sunscreen, 20.9% moisturiser, p<0.001).”) Missing these crucial spots can increase your risk of skin cancer, skin discoloration and premature aging.
If you use a daily moisturizer with SPF, make sure that you know how to apply it properly. Additionally, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you wear sunglasses with their Seal of Recommendation to protect the eye itself from serious eye conditions caused by the sun.
4. Sodium Intake
Do you enjoy your salty snacks a little too much? Unfortunately, a higher intake of sodium can be a sneaky cause of under-eye puffiness.
Consuming foods with high amounts of sodium can increase fluid retention in the body, which can give you a bloated appearance. This is especially apparent around the eyes due to the thin skin in this area.
On a related noted, crying can also cause puffy eyes because tears contain salt. The salt comes from electrolytes in our tears, which play an important role in our eye health.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that undereye bags are simply a normal part of the aging process. As we age, the tissues and muscles supporting the eyes tend to weaken, which can give the skin underneath your eyes a droopy appearance.
Unfortunately, no one has found a way to completely halt the aging process. However, there are plenty of ways to slow down aging around the eyes and retain your youthful good looks.
Anti-aging serums containing antioxidants and Retinol can stimulate collagen growth for younger-looking eyes. You can also use a powerful eye cream to tighten and firm the area around your eyes.
Show Your Eyes Some Love
There are several ways to get rid of dark circles under the eyes and fight eye puffiness. But before you start throwing money at treatments and products, it’s important to understand what causes bags under the eyes in the first place. Once you get to the root of the problem, you can finally refresh your eyes and restore your youthful appearance.
Sundelin, Tina, et al. “Cues of Fatigue: Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Facial Appearance.” Sleep, vol. 36, no. 9, Sept. 2013, pp. 1355–60. PubMed Central, doi:10.5665/sleep.2964.
Lourenco, Elizabeth A. J., et al. “Application of SPF Moisturisers Is Inferior to Sunscreens in Coverage of Facial and Eyelid Regions.” PLOS ONE, vol. 14, no. 4, Apr. 2019, p. e0212548. PLoS Journals, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0212548.