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Myth or fact: Can tea bags really help with puffy eyes?

Can tea bags fix puffy eyes? A dermatologist explains

hands closing a tea bag
Anna Pou / Pexels

If you’re searching for how to get rid of puffy eyes, you may receive many recommendations from Google, social media, and real-life pals. While you may think all solutions for this sight for sore eyes will lead you to the skincare aisle of your local drugstore, you may be surprised at the number of suggestions that may have you hurrying to the grocery store instead. One such oft-recommended pantry staple? Tea bags.

Putting food on your face may be a tad cringe-worthy at first blush. After all, someone invented the napkin to prevent long-lasting milk mustaches. However, DIY skincare masks and spas have long used foods like avocado and berries. What’s the deal with tea bags? If you use tea bags to try to nix puffy under-eyes, how should you proceed (safely)? A dermatologist spilled the tea.

black and white photo of man looking in the mirror
Min An / Pexels

What causes puffy under eyes?

Before digging into how to get rid of puffiness under your eyes, a dermatologist shares that you’ll want to know what triggers the issue.

Eye puffiness stems from various causes,” said Viktoryia Kazlouskaya, MD, PhD, a New York City-based dermatologist

Puffy eyes can be caused by:

  • Fatigue
  • Poor sleep
  • Salt consumption
  • Allergies
  • Cheek volume

It’s crucial to acknowledge that eye puffiness can also be indicative of underlying medical issues, such as thyroid dysfunction, renal disease, autoimmune conditions,” Dr. Kazlouskaya said. “[Eye puffiness can also] be caused by a medication you are taking. For example, low dose minoxidil oral pill is an extremely popular treatment nowadays for hair loss and may cause eyelid swellings.”

green tea leaves in spoon and in a bag on table
Cherisha Norman / Pexels

Can tea bags help with puffy eyes?

Putting tea bags on the eyes might help reduce puffiness. Keyword: Might.

“Tea bags, believed to have anti-inflammatory and cooling effects, may offer relief, but their efficacy is debated,” Dr. Kazlouskaya said. “Cold tea bags might temporarily constrict vessels and lead to temporary improvement. Additionally, antioxidants in the tea may lead to reducing edema. However, there is not a single serious study confirming this.”

Applying tea bags to the eyes

While the efficacy of using tea bags to get rid of under-eye puffiness is debated and unproven in a scientific setting, some people swear by the method. If you’re going to get tea bags a shot, Dr. Kazlouskaya suggests:

  1. Check the tea bag composition. “Refrain from using the bag if the ingredient list is unavailable or contains potential irritants,” she said. She says cinnamon, citruses, and turmeric can be particularly irritating.
  2. Ensure the temperature is body temperature or slightly cooler to prevent burns.
  3. Apply.
  4. Take off.
  5. Apply moisturizer to “mitigate any potential irritation and manage skin hydration,” Dr. Kazlouskaya said.

When to stop using tea bags for puffy eyes

Despite the “all-natural” nature of using tea bags to reduce under-eye swelling, Dr. Kazlouskaya advised that there are some red flags this method is not for you.

“I would advise avoiding tea bags if the skin seems to be visibly changed with inflammation or rash,” Dr. Kazlouskaya said. “I recommend discontinuing the tea bag application immediately if you experience any sensations of burning, itching, or discomfort. If puffiness persists after a few applications, seeking advice from a primary care physician or a dermatologist is crucial for a thorough evaluation and appropriate guidance.”

Your healthcare team may recommend other ways to get rid of puffy eyes. For instance, Dr. Kazlouskaya said other more proven methods for nixing puffy under eyes include:

  • Prioritizing a good night’s rest
  • Limiting salty foods
  • Looking for eye creams with ingredients like arnica, caffeine, peptides, and vitamin K, known for reducing puffiness. (“My favorite recommendations are The Depuffer by Dr. Idriss, K-Ox Eyes by ISDIN, Advanced Eye Cream by Drmtlgy, or “No More Baggage” by Dr. Brandt,” Dr. Kazlouskaya said.)
  • Eyelid surgery for fat herniations.
  • Under-eye filler for a temporary solution. (“However, exercise caution,  as improper injections may worsen puffiness; always rely on highly skilled physicians,” Dr. Kazlouskaya said.)
  • Calling your doctor to rule out medical reasons for eye puffiness.

single tea bag, white background


Under-eye swelling can leave you feeling concerned and in “fix” mode. Tea bags for puffy eyes are a commonly recommended solution — right up there with cool cucumbers. A dermatologist says there’s no proven research on the efficacy of using tea bags for eye puffiness. However, the thought is they have anti-inflammatory cooling effects. Applying tea bags that don’t have irritating ingredients like cinnamon at room temperature or cooler might help, at least temporarily. That said, puffy under eyes have a range of reasons, including lifestyle factors like poor sleep or more serious medical conditions, such as of the thyroid. Your best bet is to speak with a doctor to rule anything serious out and go over different treatment options, like getting better sleep or treating medical conditions.

BethAnn Mayer
Beth Ann's work has appeared on and In her spare time, you can find her running (either marathons…
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