Why Too Much Salt Can Cause Under-Eye Bags

It's a common scenario. You had a great night out with good friends — and, along with that, good food and drinks. During the night, you notice you're pretty thirsty, so you grab some water. On the way back from the kitchen, you notice that your eyes are super puffy.


Was it the late night, the alcohol, or the food? The truth is that each of those things contributes to swollen under-eye bags (via Johns Hopkins Medicine). Yet, it's not just lifestyle choices that can cause unsightly bags under the eyes. They can also be caused by simple aging, per the Mayo Clinic. As you age, the fat in the eye pad can sink into the lower eyelids, giving a puffy appearance. Other reasons include lack of sleep, allergies, and certain medical conditions. 

While they're not medically dangerous, under-eye bags can be unattractive. Though there are some factors you can't change, staying away from salt is something you can do.

How salt results in puffy eyes

Your body naturally aims to balance sodium levels in your body. So, when excess salt is ingested, the body retains water (via Healthline). This can be a result of a big meal laden with extra salt or an ongoing excess of salty foods. Too much sodium throws off the body's ability to filter out the salt when intake is consistent. If you have a big meal here and there, your body will flush out the sodium in a matter of hours within a day or so.


While you are holding onto the water from excess sodium, the water retention will be seen all over the body but will appear very pronounced under the eyes, where the skin is very thin and sensitive. "Eyelid skin is one of the areas where the skin is the thinnest in the body," Dr. Melissa K. Levin tells Byrdie. "So, essentially you have very thin delicate skin sitting over a hollow structure around the eyes where you have bone, blood vessels, fat pads, and muscles."

This is how much salt you should consume daily

According to the Food & Drug Administration, Americans consume approximately 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day, while the American Heart Association advises a maximum of 2,300 milligrams per day. However, they advise aiming for 1,500 milligrams as an optimal amount.


With our foods so laden with sodium, it can be a difficult goal — not because we pour salt directly on our food, but because so much prepackaged, store-bought, take-out, and restaurant food is already packed with sodium, per SF Gate.

The easiest way to prevent under-eye bags due to salt intake is simply to eat less of it. But another way is to fill up on potassium-rich foods, which help balance sodium in the body. Try incorporating more bananas, avocados, celery, and dark, leafy green vegetables into your daily diet. Of course, one of the easiest ways to offset puffy eyes is simply to drink lots of water each and every day.