Puffy Face In The Morning: Why It Happens and How To Treat It

If you have stumbled to the bathroom in the early morning, looked in the mirror and thought, “what happened to my face!?” you aren’t alone! It’s what actress Julianne Moore calls her “sushi face” - a puffy face the morning after a sushi dinner.  Unfortunately, the puffy morning face (aka facial bloating) is all too common and can be quite a nuisance. You may experience an overall roundness to your face, deeper pillow lines, or a little more baggage under your eyes.


There are a few things that can trigger this phenomenon that causes fluid retention in the face. Fortunately, it is often harmless, and there are at-home remedies to help the puffiness go down before your morning meeting.


Before looking at treatments, let’s explore the cause. The three primary triggers for AM puffiness are skincare, diet, and sleep. If you wear makeup and don’t properly wash it off, it can cause redness, irritation, and puffiness. In addition, old makeup brushes, face cloths, and even past-due creams can cause a skin reaction known as contact dermatitis.   


Every night before bed, cleanse your face and ensure all the products you use aren’t expired or contain bacteria. For example, some jars of face cream can become contaminated with bacteria from your fingers or if you leave the jar open. If you think any of your makeup or skincare products may be causing irritation and puffiness, replace them and be diligent about removing makeup before bed. 


removing makeup before bed

Next, consider your diet. Have you noticed that after you eat specific foods, your face is puffier the next morning? This is because certain foods cause the body (your face included) to retain water. For example, foods high in sodium like take-out, fast food, processed foods, or salty snacks can make you thirsty, so you drink more water. This water is collected in different parts of the body and can make your face look puffy in the morning. Dr. Mayou, a Dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic, recommends avoiding foods such as potato chips, anchovies, olives, pickles, soy sauce, cheese, salted nuts, processed meats, and salt fish if you are prone to a puffy face. 


Alcohol is another known trigger for puffiness. Because alcohol causes you to urinate more, it can cause dehydration. When you are dehydrated, your body will try to hold on to the water it has and can retain water in your face. Not only can alcohol cause puffiness, but because it causes dehydration, it can simultaneously make your face look wrinkly and dry. 



If you’ve got a solid skincare regime and eat a low sodium diet, then it could be your sleep. Not enough sleep or too much sleep can cause your face to become puffy. It is normal for some overnight fluid retention, but it isn't often noticeable after a good night's sleep. 


If you are a stomach sleeper you are more prone to a puffy face in the morning. When you’re face down, gravity takes a toll, drawing lymphatic fluid downward into your face, where it will pool.  This causes a swollen appearance and puffy bags under your eyes. 

stomach sleeper


Proper alignment and sleeping on your side or back can help. First, ensure you are using the right pillow, like a buckwheat pillow for back and side sleepers or a stomach sleeper pillow if you sleep face down. A proper pillow and alignment will help circulation while lying down, so you don’t have pressure points on your face.


Proper Alignment and Sleeping Posture

Sleeping on a rough pillowcase, in addition to retaining fluid,  causes creases and wrinkles in your face. A buckwheat pillow with a bamboo pillowcase can help prevent this as buckwheat hulls support your head and neck, reducing pressure points, and the soft fabric can prevent wrinkles.


Tossing and turning can also cause a puffy face. You need sleep for your body to repair and recharge, and if you don’t get enough, it can make you feel and look worse. By prioritizing a good night's sleep and practicing proper sleep hygiene you’ll get the rest you need and reduce your risk of a puffy face.


Though skincare, diet, and sleep are the most common contributors to a puffy face in the morning, other potential causes include allergies, PMS, hypothyroidism, and Cushing’s syndrome.  Allergens like dust mites or pollen can be inhaled at night as they may live on your pillow. An open window or pet can bring in outdoor allergens, and they may get into your pillow or sit on your pillowcase. Additionally, certain pillow fillings are the perfect environment for dust mites. 


You may not notice any symptoms until you wake up in the morning.  After sleeping on a pillow with allergens, you may wake up with a running nose, sneezing, watery eyes, or a puffy face. If you think allergies may be causing your puffy face, you should try a buckwheat pillow. Buckwheat hulls promote airflow through the pillow, making it clean and dry – an environment that is not hospitable to dust mites! In addition, these pillows are organic and hypoallergenic and could reduce an allergy-caused puffy face. 


allergies may be causing your puffy face

If an underlying health condition causes your facial puffiness, you should speak to your health care provider. In these cases, there may be medications available that will reduce water retention and stop your face from getting puffy. 


However, if it is caused by one of the other common triggers listed here, you can prevent it by making the appropriate adjustments, like getting a buckwheat hulls pillow or a bamboo pillowcase. And, if you aren’t sure what is causing it, try making the adjustments recommended above and see if that helps. Until then, if you are continuously waking up with a puffy face that sticks around until after lunch, here are some ways to fix it. 


How to Reduce Morning Puffiness


Several effective at-home remedies can reduce water retention and swelling. Here are a few great options you can try: 


Face rollers

Face Roller

As soon as you get up, massage your face with a face roller. Face rollers have become very popular as of late. If you haven’t seen one, it is a tiny device with a 2-inch roller that you roll across your face. Often made of jade or other stone material, the act of massaging the face with a roller is said to promote circulation and encourage lymphatic drainage. Many users recommend keeping them in the refrigerator or freezer, so they are extra cool. The cold will help reduce the puffiness. 


Cold water

cold water

Fill your sink with cold water and add a few ice cubes. Then, submerge your face in the water for as long as you can. Not only with this help you wake up and get your adrenaline going, but it will reduce puffiness. This is how actress Jennifer Aniston starts her day and is her secret to great skin and energy! If you can't bear the thought of dunking your head in cold water in the morning, use a cold towel instead. 


Coffee or tea bags


If you drink coffee or tea in the morning, this is an excellent option for you! After you’ve brewed a cup, allow the coffee grounds or tea bag to cool. Once it has cooled, place them on the puffy areas. This will help constrict the blood vessels that will reduce puffiness. 




By promoting blood circulation, you can decrease water retention. Start your day off with a heart-pumping cardio session like a spin class or run and you will reduce puffiness, feel more energetic and even sleep better at night! 


 Drink water

drink water

A puffy face can be caused by dehydration, so drinking water can help. It may sound counter-intuitive, but when adequately hydrated, your body won't feel like it needs to retain water, and you will reduce the puffiness. 


Facial products 

facial products

There are several skincare products that can be kept in your refrigerator or freezer, so they are cold when applied. These products, like moisturizers, are also super hydrating and will help reduce puffiness. 


Lukewarm shower

luke warm shower

A hot shower in the morning may feel great, but it isn’t doing any favors for your skin. 

When you are hot, it can increase fluid and the blood supply to the face, making your face puffier and red. Instead, turn down the temperature to lukewarm and make it quick. 


Ice cubes

ice cubes

If you need to get rid of puffiness in a hurry, get some ice cubes, wrap them in a paper towel and run them over your face, focusing on your under eyes and forehead. This will reduce puffiness as well as make skin brighter, lifted, and tighter. 


Drink tea

Drink Tea

Green tea or ginger and turmeric tea can help reduce inflammation. These ingredients have natural anti-inflammatory properties and will simultaneously hydrate you to reduce puffiness. 


Don’t let a puffy face ruin your morning! By making some minor adjustments to your bedtime routine, avoiding certain foods and alcohol before bed, you can prevent it. And if not, try one of these at-home methods to quickly de-puff. 

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