If you have a puffy face, it's a good indication that there's some water retention going on. While there's no way to target the face directly, there are some water retention remedies that you can try, like watching your sodium intake and upping your B vitamins, so you lose excess water all over.
Keep in mind that water retention can be a sign of something else going on underneath the surface, though; so if water retention in your face seems severe, make an appointment with your doctor to rule out anything serious.
Drink More Water
It may seem counterintuitive to drink more water when you're trying to get rid of water retention in your face, but it can actually help a lot. Drinking more water helps dilute the concentration of electrolytes in your blood. As a result, your body stops trying to hold onto excess water to maintain the proper balance of electrolytes and, put simply, flushes out your system.
There's no exact science when it comes to the perfect amount of water for you, though. If you ask several different experts, you may get several different answers. That's because the amount of water you need each day depends on your age, sex, activity level and the climate of the area you live in. It can even change from day to day depending on how much you're sweating.
A general recommendation is to drink half your body weight in ounces. That means if you weigh 200 pounds, you'd want to aim for 100 ounces of water, or around 12.5 cups daily. In an August 2014 interview with the American Heart Association, John Batson, MD, a sports medicine doctor and an American Heart Association volunteer, points out that thirst is an indication that you're already dehydrated, and dehydration can cause you to retain even more water.
Harvard Health recommends drinking your water gradually throughout the day, instead of just chugging it all at once to meet your needs. This can help supply your body with a steady supply of water to perform its functions and help reduce your risk of developing dehydration.
It's also a good idea to cut back on dehydrating drinks, like coffee, caffeinated tea and alcohol, or at least drink an extra cup of water for every caffeinated drink or glass of alcohol that you consume.
Read more: 12 Ways to Make Water Taste (Much) Better
Reduce Sodium Intake
In addition to drinking more water, it's also helpful to reduce your sodium intake. When you consume a lot of sodium, your body holds onto water to try to maintain its delicate sodium and fluid balance. On the other hand, when you cut down on sodium, it allows your body to flush out excess water, which can help reduce the look of water retention in the face and the rest of your body, too.
The current recommendation for sodium is no more than 2,300 milligrams per day — that's equivalent to about 1 teaspoon of salt — yet the average American is currently getting closer to 3,400 milligrams every day, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But it's not really the salt that you add at home during cooking that's the problem; it's what you get from processed and packaged foods.
The FDA notes that a whopping 70 percent of the sodium most Americans get comes from packaged and already prepared foods. That means that you can greatly reduce the amount of sodium you're eating just by choosing fresh foods over packaged foods as much as possible. The sodium in certain packaged foods varies based on the manufacturer, but in general, the biggest sodium offenders are:
- Pizza (frozen and prepared)
- Deli meats and cured meats (hot dogs and sausages)
- Canned soup
- Snack foods, like chips, pretzels, popcorn and crackers
- Processed cheeses
- Frozen foods
If you can't eliminate all processed foods completely, try to avoid these foods — or at least reduce your intake of them as much as possible.
Read more: The 10 Worst Foods You Can Buy
Other Things You Can Try
Increasing your water intake and limiting your sodium intake is a pretty powerful combination for getting rid of water retention in the face, but there are some other lifestyle tweaks that may be able to help:
- Up your intake of vitamin B6 (through foods like chicken, fish and eggs), vitamin B5 (found in salmon, yogurt and lentils), calcium (which is in dairy products, nuts and seeds) and vitamin D (found in tuna, mackerel and fortified milk). These nutrients may help the body excrete extra fluids and help improve cases of mild water retention.
- Get more potassium. Potassium triggers the body to flush out any excess sodium. When the sodium gets flushed out, so does extra water.
- Drink 100 percent pure cranberry juice. Cranberry juice has a natural diuretic effect, so it can help remove excess water from the body and reduce puffiness. As an added bonus, it also decreases your risk of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI).
- Exercise regularly. Exercise helps your body use glycogen — the storage form of glucose. For every gram of glycogen in your muscle, there are 3 grams of water. Using up that glycogen for energy also helps you get rid of that extra water, too.
If you're also experiencing water retention in your legs, lying down with your legs higher than your head whenever you get the chance and wearing specially designed compression stockings can be helpful, according to the Better Health Channel of Victoria, Australia.
Serious Water Retention Causes
While most water retention causes are fixed with simple solutions, there are some potentially serious underlying conditions that can make you hold onto water. If you have water retention in your legs or face that won't go away, it's a good idea to pay a visit to your doctor to rule out anything serious, like:
- Heart failure
- Kidney disease
- Other liver problems
Your doctor will be able to run some lab tests to figure out if there's something else going on underneath the surface that you should know about. If you get a clean bill of health, you can try these water retention remedies until you're feeling like yourself again. If you do find out there's a problem, you'll likely be able to get rid of the water retention in your face by getting the underlying condition properly managed.
- Harvard Health Publishing: "How Much Water Should You Drink?"
- American Heart Association: "Staying Hydrated - Staying Healthy"
- Better Health Channel: "Fluid Retention (Oedema)"
- MedlinePlus: "Edema"
- European Journal of Applied Physiology: "Relationship Between Muscle Water and Glycogen Recovery After Prolonged Exercise in the Heat in Humans"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Use the Nutrition Facts Label to Reduce Your Intake of Sodium in Your Diet"
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.