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Su-Man Hsu's Guide to Puffiness

Komal Basith

A puffy face is the adult version of a new zit on the morning of an important day – it tends to show up when you want it least, and there’s no telling how quickly (or when) it’ll go away. It strikes indiscriminately, too; we’ve all had it, regardless of how big, skinny, boozy, spinach-eating, famous or plebeian, which, in addition to making it a great leveler, also renders it a bit of a mystery.

I, for instance, have spent the last two weeks training (and eating) like a horse, which involves lots of running in fields, eating oatmeal for breakfast and apples (apples! The horror) as snacks in a bid to lose a couple of kilos and I still wake up with a puffy face every now and then. Pourquois?

I hadn’t the faintest idea and so I got on the line with Su-Man Hsu, the very lovely, incredibly talented dancer who also happens to be Freida Pinto and Anne Hathaway’s facialist. (Read her incredible story here.)

She had some very interesting things to say about bloating in general and even recommended a couple of things to help with it, along with a DIY video for her very own, very famous face massage. Read on for more deets.


1/8 Stress ruins everything.

“Chronic fatigue and stress both cause fluid retention in the face, resulting in puffiness. The lymph in your body drains away the waste from other systems in your body, and it’s only activated by breathing and movement. (Editor’s note: all the more reason to get your yoga on.) When you’re stressed, the lymphatic system can get blocked and reduce drainage; the result is swelling and a puffy face.”


2/8 Or maybe you’ve just been partying hard.

“Drinking too much alcohol, which has a lot of sugar, eating a lot of salty food or eating and drinking too late at night can cause the body to dehydrate. When this happens, the body clings on to the water to compensate for the lack of it.”


3/8 A trip to your doctor might help, too.

“Sometimes having an underactive thyroid prevents your lymphatic system from draining properly, which causes puffiness. This is a medical condition so if you think that might be a reason, it’s best to see a doctor. Additionally, you might also be allergic to certain types of food or cosmetics, which can cause puffiness in different parts of your face – a doctor can help you figure out which foods or products you might be allergic to.”


4/8 What your puffiness really means.

“Oriental medicine believes that different parts of your face are connected to your internal organs. Here are some signs to look for; but keep in mind that the diagnosis should be used as a method of realizing your strengths and weaknesses only, not to self-medicate in any way.

Under the eyebrows: stagnation or congestion of the gall bladder.

Under the eyes: this is a potential sign of excess fluid in the kidneys, meaning too much fatty and salty food.

Side of the nose: a sign of sinus congestion.

General facial puffiness: spleen and lymph imbalance.

Oily skin at the temples, swelling discolouration or pimples: these are all signs of an imbalance in the spleen.


5/8 Changing your diet will help, but not in isolation.

“Food plays a big part in puffiness and there are many dietary recommendations you can follow to address this, like eating only raw food or going on a detox. Having said that, it’s easier to just cut down on the bad things than going on a whole new diet. It’s all about balance; cut out the fatty, salty, sugary foods and replace them with fresh vegetables and fruit and vitamins and minerals.

It’s just as important to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. The causes of puffiness are so different for each person, but a healthy lifestyle goes a long way regardless. Laugh a lot, it helps with stress, and do some form of exercise that makes you break into a sweat.”


6/8 Su-Man has an anti-puffiness tea!

“Boil a bunch of organic parsley with two litres of water, then simmer for ten minutes. Wait until it cools, then drink it through the day for internal cleansing. Parsley is great because it also has the ability to cure kidney dysfunction.”


7/8 Speaking of drinking the bloat away...

“Pear juice cleanses the bowels and kidneys, cranberry juice helps aid elimination, and peach juice helps eliminate stored waste. Try drinking them along with the parsley tea; you should be able to see a difference after about a week.”


8/8 Try Su-Man's face massage.

Finally, here’s a 2-minute version of the famous facial massage Su-Man performs on Anne Hathaway, Freida Pinto and Juliette Binoche, which she recommends doing on yourself once a week, or during a bloat emergency for instant de-puffing.




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