I love myself a good midnight snack, so it was a huge bummer when my mom would prevent me from eating after hours. She’d give me one of her finger-wagging lectures warning against “ramen face”—a term that Koreans have long used to refer to a puffy, bloated visage—come morning. On the days that I would defiantly cave to my late-night munchies, I soon discovered that her admonition wasn't an urban myth. Eating any sodium-laden meal would indeed make me look...puffier.
“Eating sodium can cause our bodies to retain water, as it tries to make up for the added salt and even out the tonicity (or concentration) in our system,” says Dr. Anthony Youn, a holistic plastic surgeon in Troy, Michigan. Is it worth sacrificing your looks for a 99-cent meal? As a sodium enthusiast, I advocate yes. Sadly, there's really no known way to completely prevent bloating when eating delightfully salty fare, but there are ways to counteract the effect and minimize the appearance of fluid retention later. In addition to Dr. Youn, I also called up New York City–based dermatologist Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali, to get the best anti-bloating tips right from the experts.
1. Sleep with an extra pillow under your head.
The slightly elevated angle could help overnight. “I tell patients to add in an extra pillow to fight against gravity,” says Dr. Bhanusali. “This is one of the easiest ways to prevent bloating because it reduces the amount of fluid that retains in the face.” Cover your extra pillow with a Real Nature pillowcase, which is made with naturally antibacterial conductive silver to acts as an anti-inflammatory.
2. Splash your face with cold water in the morning.
Nothing like an icy face bath to wake you up and get your blood flowing. According to Dr. Bhanusali, the cold temperature is a quick way to tighten pores and vasoconstrict the vessels (meaning, drive the fluid out) in your face, helping the swelling go down.
3. Roll your face.
Some face-rolling advocates claim that the motion of the stone (often jade) on your face can balance your aura, clear toxins, and stimulate collagen. Science can’t confirm that, but it sure does give one hell of a lymphatic massage. So, can’t hurt right? “Most salt-induced puffiness that we see is concentrated around the eyes,” says Dr. Bhanusali. “De-puffing the eyes can be done using a jade facial roller. Place the roller in the refrigerator to make it cold, then roll over your puffy eyelids for several seconds. This can push out swelling.” Combine the jade roller with a facial massage to further reduce inflammation.
4. Under go a green tea + potato treatment.
This one requires a grocery visit beforehand, but it’s worthwhile. Dr. Youn describes how it works: “Steep some green tea, put it in the fridge to get cold, cut a white potato into several slices, and dip them into the cold green tea. Then, apply the saturated potato over your eyelids. The cold temperature and caffeine will quickly de-puff the eyes, especially when paired with the antioxidants and starch.” Bonus: You can drink the green tea after for an extra (ingested) boost of antioxidants.
5. Slap on a LED mask.
If you have time, indulge in some light therapy. Red LED lights have been shown to have significant anti-inflammatory effects, and can stimulate the natural production of collagen and elastin.
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