We’ve all been there — you’re out with some friends at a hot new restaurant, the dirty martinis are flowing, the spicy noodles are plentiful, the gossip is juicy, and before you know it you’re face down in bed with your alarm clock blaring. Maybe you remembered to wash your face the night before, maybe you didn’t (gasp!), so you haul yourself to the bathroom, glance in the mirror, and a human puffer fish is staring back at you. Swollen cheeks and eyes quickly betray your night of indulgence, and you’re due at work within the hour. You need to depuff your face fast, lest your co-workers think you were out raging until the wee hours of the morning.
Obviously the choices we make have a major impact on the state of your skin — and the degree of swelling you’ll end up with the next morning — and while it is a smart idea to keep your sodium- and alcohol-fueled nights to a minimum, there are a few techniques you can administer to coax your cheekbones out from hiding and soothe any lingering under-eye bags before your 9am meeting. Best of all, you don’t need much more than five minutes to reduce puffiness and regain that glowing, sculpted complexion.
Keep reading for the pros guide to depuffing your face, fast.
Embrace Lymphatic Massage
According to celebrity esthetician Danuta Mieloch, the founder of both Rescue Spa and skincare line Danucera, we’d all do well to pay closer attention to the lymph nodes on days when puffiness has got the better of your face. “Lymph nodes filter substances in our bodies,” she explains. A buildup of this lymphatic fluid — which can occur from excess sodium or alcohol in the body — is what causes that tell-tale puffiness around your face. Moving this fluid from the areas that are swollen, like the under eyes, around the cheeks, and along the jawline, towards the lymph nodes will help with drainage and reduce fluid retention.
Says Mieloch, “Following a proper lymphatic drainage technique with light pumping motions under the eyes and down the jawline will show an immediate decrease in puffiness.” While any motion around your face is ideal for getting your blood flowing and increasing skin radiance, a lymphatic massage is really all about the direction of your hands (or face tool like a Gua Sha stone) and moving that lymphatic fluid towards the lymph nodes at the top of your neck, under your ears.
To start, apply a cleansing oil or balm for some slip and to prevent pulling your skin, like the Danucera CERABALM ($55). Mieloch then recommends targeting your décolleté, using the flat side of your tool against your chest and sweeping upwards towards your jawline. Move to the center of your chin and sweep the flat side of your stone along your jawline up to the bottom of your ear.
Next, use upward sweeping motions from your eyebrows to your hairline and across your forehead, applying gentle pressure. “Then, with the comb [or curved] side of the stone, use outward motions to sweep along your cheekbones, from the nose all the way to the hairline,” she says. Finally, using the tip of your tool, apply gentle pressure to the inner corner of your eye and move upward along your eyebrow, circling the eye and moving back down around to where you started.
Introduce Cold Tools
If you’re exceptionally short on time and can’t make it all the way through a lymphatic face and neck massage, you can always skip straight to cryotherapy, AKA using cold water or chilled tools to minimize puffiness.
“I always finish my shower with cold water to invigorate and wake me up,” says Mieloch. “Cryotherapy is an awesome way to immediately bring down the puffiness.” Tools like these ice globes ($20) can make a huge difference. “You can also use ice cubes or a cold compress,” says Mieloch. If you haven’t invested in cooling globes just yet, an old-school makeup artist hack is to keep spoons in your freezer and apply them under your eyes in the morning to bring down swelling (just be sure to test them on your hands to make sure they’re not too cold). Keeping a couple of sheet masks or under eye masks in the fridge is also a clutch move if your weekend schedule looks particularly packed with boozy events.
Mieloch also reveals that she often makes a homemade treatment to address puffiness. “A trick of mine is to brew a chamomile or a black tea then freeze it into ice cubes,” she says. “Chamomile has calming properties, black tea’s caffeine is revitalizing, and the cryotherapy from the ice will depuff.” Apply them to your undereyes for a quick blast of soothing cryotherapy before heading to the office.
So, you used your frozen tea cubes and lovingly massaged your cheeks and jaw but there’s still some lingering puffiness from the night before? Mieloch suggests completing a few stretches at home to increase your circulation, and incorporate some cardio (even if it’s just walking) into your morning routine. “[This] will energize the body and skin for more long-lasting effects,” she says. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Use Makeup to Your Advantage
When in doubt, turn to your makeup drawer to help sculpt your otherwise puffy cheeks. Use a sculpting stick a few shades darker than your natural skin tone — Freck Beauty FACE HACK Precision Sculpting Cream Contour Bronzer ($18) is a great option — and apply in the contours underneath your cheekbones (if you suck in your cheeks you’ll be able to see where to concentrate the color). Then turn to a bright, brilliant blush to add some brightness to your face. A cream stick like Revlon Insta-Blush in Candy Kiss ($16), a soft dreamy pink, is ideal to keep your color targeted along the top of your cheekbones and around your temples. This placement will help to lift your face and draw the eyes up, giving you a more sculpted, less hungover, effect.
Just remember that maintaining healthy habits is still the best way to minimize swelling and keep your skin bright and sculpted day after day. But when pilates and a salad aren’t feasible, be sure to stock your fridge with cooling products and practice your lymphatic drainage technique (even if you’re in a rush most mornings). Yes, you might still end up like a swollen blowfish after the occasional martini date with your best friends, but trust me — some things are worth being puffy over.
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