If you’re anything like us, the holidays likely involved lots of late nights and delicious wine, multiple servings of mac and cheese, and more missed gym sessions than we’d like to admit. But as we aim to get back on track in January, many of us here at Health have noticed that our faces seem to be holding on to some signs of our December overinulgence.
This is totally normal, says Marjorie Nolan Cohn, RDN and owner of MNC Nutrition in Philadelphia. “Any person may gain or lose more weight in specific areas of their body due to genetic tendency,” she tells us. Here, a few simple diet and lifestyle changes that can help de-bloat a puffy face, according to experts.
Less alcohol, more water
“Most changes in the face are from water retention,” says Cynthia Sass, RD, Health’s contributing nutrition editor. “The three biggest culprits for fluid retention that shows up on the face are sodium, excess carbs, and alcohol.”
So instead of reaching for that glass of red with dinner, swap it out for some good-old H20. “Alcohol is dehydrating, so your body responds to this by hanging onto extra fluid, like a rebound effect,” Sass explains. Drinking more water also helps flush out any excess sodium your body is hanging on to from previous salty meals.
Looking to boost the flavor in your glass? New York-based nutritional chef Melissa Eboli suggests adding a squeeze of lemon juice or drinking coconut water.
Get more shut-eye
Not only does lack of sleep wreak havoc on your immune system, it can also cause you to wake up with an inflamed or puffier-than-normal face. “The natural hormones in our body are really impacted by poor sleep,” Chris Winter, MD, sleep specialist and author of The Sleep Solution, tells us. “We have chemicals in our bodies that keep inflammation at bay, so if you’re not getting enough sleep, those chemicals are not produced the way they should be and it creates an inflammatory environment in your body.”
Dr. Winter notes that this is more common in people with chronic sleep deprivation, so one late night every once in a while probably won’t hurt you. However, he recommends aiming for seven to eight hours of sleep each night to keep your body in a natural rhythm.
Avoid sodium, carbs, and processed foods
Overdoing it on carbs and salty foods can cause your body to hold in extra fluid, which makes you look and feel bloated. “Many of my clients encounter all of these triggers simultaneously, like eating chips and salsa with a salt-rimmed margarita, or pizza with red wine,” Sass says. “When they ditch the processed foods—which are the biggest contributors to sodium—refined carbs, and alcohol, the water retention subsides, and they feel like their faces suddenly slim down.”
This doesn’t mean you can’t have French fries or Chinese takeout ever again. But eating an overall healthy, balanced diet and indulging in moderation can help prevent long-term weight gain in both your body and face.
Be more active
Experts agree that more physical activity can lead to weight loss, which will also show in your face over time. Fitness trainer and RK Solid creator Rebecca Kennedy tells us that her face is the first place she shows weight gain. Her go-to fix: Hitting the sauna more often to de-stress. She also incorporates more running into her weekly workout regimen.
Eat more ginger, zucchini, and coconut
Eboli recommends avoiding foods that may cause inflammation, such as gluten, fried foods, and processed foods. Instead, she loves adding lots of inflammation-fighting ginger, coconut, turmeric, and lemons to her meals. “You can add those ingredients into your smoothies or juices, sprinkle some ginger on some oatmeal, or cook up some zucchini and beets to have on a salad,” she explains.
For a de-puffing drink, try hibiscus tea, which contains polyphenols that can aid digestive function. (Note: Pregnant women shouldn’t consume hibiscus.) “Sipping on the fruity beverage helps [me] get rid of bloat,” says celebrity makeup artist Mickey Williams. “Heidi Klum taught me that little trick.”
If you’re feeling puffed-out, you might consider reaching for contouring tools, says New York-based makeup artist Neil Scibelli. The Kardashian-approved technique is a simple way to create more dimension in your face. “You can use either a cream or powder matte bronzer or contour product,” he says. He likes Benefit Cosmetics Matte Hoola for bronzer ($15; sephora.com), Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kit ($48; sephora.com), and Becca Cosmetics Shimmering Skin Perfector ($41; sephora.com) to highlight. Next, “create the classic three method: Blend product around the forehead up tot he hairline, down to the hollows of the cheekbones (you can suck in your cheeks to find the hollow), and finish along the jawline.”