Aging is a slow process that starts around the eyes. Correcting subtle wrinkles in that area is no big deal. In fact, it’s one of the most effective ways to make you look younger. But bags under your eyes are a more obvious symptom that is easier to prevent than reverse.
“We all have pockets of fat under our eyes to keep our skin looking plump,” says Robyn Gmyrek, M.D., chief of cosmetic dermatology at Columbia University. “But with age, the thin skin in front of those pockets will lose its collagen and elastin, letting those fat pockets sag outward.” This symptom is largely genetic (thanks mom and dad!), and although the only way to rid yourself of them permanently is surgery, here are a few tips Dr. Gmyrek says can help you can avoid the knife and prevent the onset of droopy eyes.
Lower Your Salt Intake
High-sodium foods make you retain water, which is released into your body at night. That liquid pools under your eyes, stretching the skin out and making way for unsightly bags. “This same effect makes our face feel puffy in the morning,” says Dr. Gmyrek. Reducing salt intake will keep water weight down and skin as tight as possible.
Sleep Facing Up
When you sleep face down, you’re putting pressure on your skin, which can worsen the bags beneath the eyes. Instead, Dr. Gmyrek suggests sleeping face up with your head on pillows to reduce pressure and let the water weight in your face drain naturally back into your body
Use Cool Compresses
If your face is still swollen in the morning, use cool compresses—not frozen, which can irritate your skin—to force the liquids out of your tissue where they can stretch your skin and back into your bloodstream to be expelled.
Studies have shown that products with Vitamin A, commonly called retinoids, will increase collagen production, keeping your skin from sagging and giving way to fat pockets. Dr. Gmyrek recommends ROC Sensitive Night Cream. Just be sure to apply it at night—UV rays render the active ingredients useless—and use them consistently, or you won’t notice a difference, says Dr. Gmyrek.
This article originally appeared in Men's Health US.