We've all had that moment where we look in the mirror and don't recognise the puffy-cheeked person looking back at us. With age, we all inevitably fall victim to the insidious weight gain and the face definitely can bear the brunt of the effects of Father Time.
But are there any ways to lose weight in your face or are we just stuck with what we've got? The answer is a bit of both. To some extent, our genes determine our facial shape: whether we'll have wobbly jowls; chubby cheeks; a flabby jawline or a double chin. They'll also have a say in whether or not we'll store inflammation in the face or elsewhere in the body.
There are, however, ways to mitigate those scenarios and other potential factors that could be causing your 'moon face'. Sun exposure, food allergies, fluid retention, thyroid issues can all lead to bloating and facial swelling or it could be as simple as eating the wrong type of food late at night. Facial fat is notoriously difficult to shift once you have it, so prevention is definitely the way to go.
But before you start Googling 'facial liposuction' it's worth investigating the possible causes and the easy-to-do remedies listed below to help shift, or keep, the weight off your face.
- You'll find more tips for toning up healthily in our guides to how to lose weight on your stomach and how to lose weight on your arms
- Here's our advice on how to lose weight naturally
- Building a home gym? These are the best exercise machines to lose weight
Reason #1: Too many processed foods
Refined and processed foods and drinks, while often tempting and delicious, have been linked with cancer risk, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. A diet high in trans-fats and fast food and sugary drinks can lead to general weight gain by triggering blood sugar spikes and signalling the body to store fat, which will show up in the face. Avoid highly processed foods and instead stick to whole foods wherever possible – fresh vegetables, wholegrains and healthy fats, for example.
Reason #2: Inflammatory foods
Vegetable and seed oils, which feature heavily in processed foods, are known to cause inflammation in the body and some people claim that vegetables that are part of the nightshade family (soanaceae) – tomatoes, aubergine, peppers – can exacerbate swelling. Supermodel Gisele Bundchen and her American football star husband Tom Brady, for example, steer clear.
Pack your diet with anti-inflammatory foods such as blueberries, turmeric, oily fish and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale. To ensure good gut health, you could also add probiotic foods to your regime, such as sourdough bread, natural yoghurt, miso and sauerkraut.
Reason #3: Food allergy
It could be that what you're eating simply doesn't agree with you, and the skin on our face is extremely sensitive to what we eat. Symptoms of gluten and lactose intolerances, for example, can include bloating and inflammation, which occur because your hormones are being disrupted. NHS.uk recommends keeping a food diary of what you eat, what time of day and how you feel after eating to give yourself an idea of what might be causing the issue.
You could then try excluding that food for two to six weeks to see if symptoms improve. If you have other symptoms, such as skin rashes, diarrhoea or pain, however, see your GP, who can order you a blood test if need be.
Reason #4: Dehydration
Thanks to our hunter-gatherer ancestors sometimes finding themselves without a water source, when the body is dehydrated, our clever organs cling on to as much water as possible. In modern life we have fewer issues getting our hands on H2O and fewer run-ins with sabretooth tigers for that matter.
Through sweating, stomach upset, some medicines or simply through not taking in enough fluids, we can find ourselves at risk of dehydration and in turn water retention, which will show up in the form of a puffy face, especially first thing in the morning. For women, 10-11 cups of water from fluid and non-fluid sources (such as fruit and veg) and 15-16 for men is recommended.
Reason #5: Lack of sleep
That first look at our face in the mirror in the morning is often the worst! And the puffy reflection can come from not getting the most out of your shut-eye. Sodium-heavy foods or nitrates in red wine from the night before are often culprits, but stress-affected sleep or a poor pillow situation can also lead to inflammation. Check your head is elevated to minimise the effect of gravity, sleep on your back, remove make-up, journal to wipe the mental slate clean, and pre-hydrate with 500ml of water before bed to maximise your morning face.
Reason #6: Too much booze
We've all heard of the phrase beer belly, but wine face is an actual thing. Depending on our age, weight, sex, what we've eaten and what we're drinking, our livers can only metabolise a unit of alcohol every hour. That's half a glass of wine, a measure of spirits or half a pint of low-strength beer. So when we 'overdo' it, our liver becomes overworked, which disrupts our hormones and can cause broken veins, wrinkles and dryness in our face as well as preventing nutrient absorption.
Alcohol itself is inflammatory, so mixing tonic with gin and other sugary fizzy mixers contribute more gas and bloating. Regular heavy drinkers might also notice a dull complexion that's prone to spots, bloating and saggy jowls. Aim to stay under 14 units per week (not all in one session) and try to ensure multiple alcohol-free days in a week.
4 more fabulous fast face fixes
It could be that none of the reasons above are to blame. If you've explore those different options, try these four quick fixes to help you lose weight from your face.
Roll your eyes
No, not like that. Invest in a jade or quartz facial roller and use that over your face to calm inflammation and energise the skin.
A splash of cold water
Revive your face and reduce any inflammation which might have taken place overnight by dousing yourself with cold water first thing in the morning. Better still, channel Wim Hof and take a cold shower – if you can take that, you can take anything and you'll spend the rest of the day feeling invincible.
Pull a face
Meghan Markle swears by a facial exercise routine and you can tone and strengthen the muscles of your face to perk up any sagging areas with a few simple moves.
Make cardio part of your life
Try to get 20-40 minutes of moderate activity such as running, walking, swimming or riding a bike, every day to help promote fat-loss and in turn lessen facial puffiness.