Massage for Puffy Eyes - Inward or Outward?

Some eye moisturizers are made in the form of eye rollers so that it is easier for us to massage puffy eyes. The instructions of these eye roller massage are not the same. Clinique All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage and Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Renew Anti-Puff Eye Roller ask to roll under the eye from inner corner to outer corner while Olay Regenerist Eye Derma-Pod (not a roller but requires massage) is opposite. So which is more helpful for puffy eyes?

According to Dr. Baumann’s article, Say Goodbye to Puffy Eyes, you should start from the outer corner of the lower lid and massage toward your nose because it follows the direction of the lymph vessels. It is hard to know whether this is true because very few of us know the direction of the lymph vessels. So in this post, I am going to show you some images about how eyelid lacrimal and lymphatic systems look like. After knowing them, you will have a better idea on what might work for puffy eyes and how to apply your eye cream.

Puffy or baggy eyes have different causes. Massage, no matter to which direction, cannot help every situation. Here, I am going to talk about three common causes and what kind of massage might help.

  1. If the baggy eyes are caused by aging, massage does not help. With aging, the tissues around eyes weaken. Normal fat that helps support the eyes can then migrate into the lower eyelids, causing the lids to appear baggy. Cold compresses can make baggy eyelids appear temporarily better but will not make any essential changes. Skin care products cannot do much either, but anti-aging products (mainly the ones with retinoids) and products with anti-inflammatory ingredients can somewhat improve the under-eye skin.
  2. If your eyelids are not that aged and the lower eyelids seem to provide sufficient support, then massaging lymphatic pathways can improve puffy eyes. The lymph flow will help transport fats and fluids. The following image describes how lymphatic vessels are distributed around eyes.

    The lymphatic drainage of most of the upper lid and the lateral half of the lower lid is following the red path to nodes at number 1 (preauricular lymph nodes). The medial half of the lower lid drains into nodes at number 2 (submandibular nodes) following the green path. Massaging these paths can help lymph flow. One massage that works for me is the following:(Before doing the massage, please make sure that both your hands and face are clean.)

    • Place your index fingers on the spots indicated in the picture below. Gently press and circularly massage these spots about 30 to 40 times slowly. This step helps with the green path in the image above.
      (puffy eye massage img)
    • Place your thumbs on your temples. The other four fingers bend. Use the sides of your index fingers to massage from the inner corners toward the outer corners along your upper eye bones, then from the inner corners toward the outer corners along your lower eye bones. Do this slowly about 15 to 20 times. Use some lotion to make sure you do not pull your skin or else it can cause crow’s feet. This step helps with the red path.
      (puffy eye massage img)

    Please keep your expectation realistic. As I said, massaging the lymphatic pathways can improve puffy eyes but the effects vary among individuals.

  3. The third case is temporary puffiness. After crying, eating salty food or poor sleep, all the eyelids look like having a lot of water retention. It can go away in several days. If you want to massage to let the liquid move, you should follow the canaliculi of tears. The spots marked red in the image below (the original image is here) are where your tears are drained into the duct on your nose side. So in this case, you should massage both your upper eyelids and lower eyelids toward your nose. I find it hard to do so without pulling the skin though. Another way to move the water retention is to cover the eyelids with slightly warm clean pads.
    (puffy eye img)

Finally, no matter what massage you do around your eyes, please be extra gentle. If the under-eye skin is injured, even sightly, the tissues are going to weaken faster and baggy eyes will become permanent.

Wish you all have beautiful eyes!

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