Malar bags, or festoons, are a common form of under-eye swelling that many of us start to develop as we get older. They are a bit different from puffiness, which usually appears directly under the lower eyelids. You’ll usually find the swelling associated with malar bags or festoons lower down, across the top of your cheekbones.
In this post, I’m running through a simple Face Yoga routine to reduce or prevent malar bags without needing to resort to surgery. In total, it should take just ten minutes, so you can hopefully make it part of your daily routine without too much difficulty.
If you prefer to follow along with a video, you can find one of me demonstrating these techniques on my YouTube channel. Please hit the subscribe button while you are there – I share weekly videos with Face Yoga techniques, facial exercise and massage tips, and other wellness hacks to support you on your health journey.
What Causes Malar Bags and Festoons?
Many different factors can affect whether we develop malar bags and other forms of swelling under the eyes. Most of these are to do with lifestyle.
Sun damage is a really big one. In fact, around 80% of skin ageing is caused by sun exposure, so it is vital that you make sure you are applying your SPF every single day. It is one of the best things you can do to protect your skin. This includes on cloudy days or when you are going to be inside – those harmful UVA rays penetrate through glass too.
Other lifestyle factors that can affect your risk of developing malar bags or festoons include:
- Your stress levels
- Your sleep
- Your diet
- Your alcohol consumption
Age also plays a big part. As we get older, the natural loss of collagen and elastin from the dermis (middle layer of skin) leaves us more prone to swelling.
There’s also a genetic component. But don’t worry – even if your parents or grandparents had malar bags, it doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get them too. Making the right lifestyle choices really helps to reduce swelling and can even prevent it altogether.
How Can We Treat Malar Bags Naturally?
I’m going to take you through a Face Yoga sequence with five easy techniques that help to reduce or prevent malar bags. These techniques aim to do three things:
1. Encourage Lymphatic Drainage
The lymph system is your body’s natural way of removing toxins and preventing fluid build-up. But it often needs a helping hand. In face yoga, we use a combination of breath, massage, and movement to stimulate lymphatic drainage and reduce swelling.
Our first two techniques work with lymphatic drainage to encourage the removal of toxins from the eye area. They also get the prana, or life energy, flowing freely again.
2. Strengthen and Tone Muscles
Malar bags and festoons are often caused by the weakening of the muscles around the eyes. By using face yoga techniques that target these muscles, we lift and strengthen the eye area.
As we work the muscles, we also tighten, tauten, and firm the skin attached to them.
3. Boost Blood Circulation
Finally, all the techniques we’re using today help to boost the blood circulation to the eye area. This blood brings with it all the oxygen and nutrients that your cells need to keep them healthy.
Increasing the blood flow to the skin around your eyes helps to make your skin look refreshed and energised.
Before You Start
Make sure you have clean hands and a clean face before you begin this face yoga routine.
Apply a few drops of the Fusion by Danielle Collins Serum to the area above your cheekbones. This helps your fingers to glide easily over the skin without dragging. It is also packed with high-performing botanical seed oils designed to nourish your skin.
Unlike most creams and moisturisers, the molecules in this serum are small enough to penetrate into the middle layer of your skin, the dermis. This is where collagen and elastin production takes place. As a result, you’ll get all the vital vitamins from the organic seed oils deep into your skin.
I like to use the serum in place of a moisturiser. It is non-greasy and won’t block your pores. But I know other people prefer to layer it under their regular moisturiser. Either way works!
1. Lymphatic Massage
Place the tips of your ring fingers at the inside corners of your eyes. Keeping your touch very light, smooth your fingers up beneath your eyebrows, across to the outer corners, and then down over the tops of your cheeks.
Continue with this circular massage for a minute or two, concentrating on the area where you notice the swelling.
As you massage, connect with your breath. Feel your abdomen rise and fall as you take deep, slow inhales and exhales through your nose.
It is important to work very gently around the eyes. The skin here is thin and delicate, so we don’t want to drag or pull at it. Applying serum will help your fingers to move easily.
You might feel like you’re not doing much here. But there’s no need to be heavy-handed, especially when we’re working with lymphatic drainage. In fact, going gently will give you better results.
Next, take three fingers underneath each eye where the swelling is. Press gently – again, there’s no need to go too hard here.
Gently pulse your fingers to stimulate the lymphatic drainage further. Continue for a minute or two.
Remember to keep those deep, calming breaths going as you pulse. Try to relax the rest of your face too.
This technique also helps to relieve puffiness and dark circles.
3. Flirty Eyes
We’re moving on to some facial exercises that target the muscles around the eye area. If you’ve done my teacher training course, this will be a familiar move!
Place your index fingers horizontally beneath your eyes where the swelling occurs. Your fingertips should rest near your nose. Your fingers are mainly there to provide some resistance and engage the muscles further.
Make an ‘O’ shape with your mouth, tucking your lips around your teeth. Moving just your eyes, look up towards the ceiling. Flutter your upper eyelids rapidly for around 45 seconds.
Close your eyes for a moment and take a deep breath in and out through your nose. Tune into how your eye area is feeling. Hopefully, you will already notice the lifeforce running freely instead of being blocked or stagnant. Known as prana in yoga or Chi in Traditional Chinese Medicine, this energy helps to reduce lines, wrinkles, and swelling.
4. V / Mini-V
Make a ‘V’ with your index fingers and middle fingers. There are two variations of this move.
If you’ve done my teacher training course, you’ll be familiar with the V, where you place the middle fingers between your eyebrows and the index fingers at the outer edge of your eyes. This works a bit more of the muscle, so I recommend this variation if you have quite pronounced malar bags or festoons.
The other option is the Mini-V, which comes from my new book, the Face Yoga Journal. In this variation, you place your fingers lower down. The middle finger sits at the inner corner of your eye.
This works less of the muscle but gets deeper. I suggest trying this version if your swelling is closer to the eye, or if you are prone to crows’ feet.
Look up towards the ceiling. Half-close your eyes, feeling for a little flutter in the muscle underneath your index finger. Hold for two to three seconds, then release. Take the pose again, repeating it five times in total.
Don’t worry if you don’t feel that little flutter at first. It takes some practice to get the hang of this technique.
5. Draining the Lymph
Our final move returns to working with lymphatic drainage. Take your index fingers to the acupressure point at the inner corner of your eyes. Keeping your touch as light as a feather, glide your fingers over the swollen area.
Continue smoothing over the sides of your face to your temples and then go around behind the ears and down the sides of your neck until you reach your collarbone.
Repeat several times to help to drain fluid away from your eye area and reduce swelling.
And that’s it. Hopefully, your eye area already feels refreshed and energised.