Lymph Nodes Under the Eyes

Under each eye, we have small little lymph nodes. When you perform the five eye exercises in the CFF™ program, you stimulate these lymph nodes which in turn, flush out any toxins or old, damaged cells that may be lurking in this area. This condition is usually the main cause not only for fluid retention, but for dark circles, as well. Ten times more oxygen is brought to a contracting muscle. Therefore, exercising the eyes also improves the over-all health of the eyes and the surrounding skin, as well.

Whisk Away Dark Circles and Bags

With the CFF™ facial exercises, you actually whisk away the old damaged cells, leaving the area under your eyes not only free of dark circles but less puffy, too. Since the muscle is attached directly into the skin on the face, the skin tightens up as the muscle tones and retains its youthful shape, making the skin under the eye – around the whole eye area – smoother, tighter and firmer. The parchment-like skin under the eye smoothes out. It appears to become thicker looking, as well.

Use Creams Only Formulated for Around the Eyes

In fact, the area around the eyes does not have oil glands the way the rest of the face does, so it’s very important to use a cream that is specifically made for that part of the face. You may find you are retaining fluid, especially noticeable under the eyes, if you use regular facial cream, instead of eye cream that is precisely formulated for this area. By the way, CFFormulas™ Moisturizer Plus was originally formulated as an eye cream. It is just so wonderful, we offer it for the entire face, as well.

A note from Dr. Richard Tew, M.D.:

Dark Circles and Lymphatic Congestion:

Dark circles under the eyes (around the eyes) to me mean one thing: lymphatic congestion. Not breaking capillaries (which can occur on the face and cause a reddening or even “spider vein” appearance). Alcoholics get capillary problems, as do certain people who lack vitamin B6 (cheeks get shiny too); certain women with autoimmune problems develop something that looks like this also. And there’s also rosacea, a skin condition affecting the nose, forehead, cheeks mostly close to nose, and the chin with redness (capillary congestion) and pseudo-acne.

But none of these are “dark circles”.

Some pediatricians talk of “allergy shiners”, ie, what looks like “black eyes” (what the eye looks like after it’s been hit). These also are symptomatic of lymphatic congestion. They occur in adults too.

How does lymphatic congestion occur?

The nasal mucosa (lining) and the lymphatic tissue in the nasal passages — includes the adenoids which are essentially tonsils located above (and out of sight) of the tonsils that are visible when you look in a mirror into your open mouth and throat using a flashlight) — react to any number of different allergens. In children, it’s foods and pollens, mostly. Fungal spores also can be a trigger. In older people, it’s these, of course, plus microbes. When these tissues react, they swell and lymph nodes enlarge and their filtering function is reduced despite their being larger. This all results in poor lymphatic drainage; often also the vein drainage does not work well. All this results in the face getting congested, which means the eyes get puffy, and dark (darkness mostly from vein congestion).

This is how chronic sinus conditions often manifest, though not always do people recognize they have chronic sinus problems. (At least 1/5 of US adults have sinus problems to some degree.) With many adults, the expected symptoms of nasal congestion (difficulty breathing through nose, or runny nose, or facial pain…) frequently don’t occur. Incidentally, these people’s condition might better be called chronic nasorhinitis (inflammation of the nasal passages and adjacent structures, including lymphatic tissue; from any number of causes) than chronic sinusitis, a related but different problem that often develops after chronic nasorhinitis has occurred for a while.

Facial Exercises Help to Lessen Dark Circles

Now anything that relieves this congestion is going to lessen the dark circles under the eyes. That certainly would include facial exercises. But it also includes removal of the allergen stimulus that provokes the congestion. So it seems (overly) optimistic to believe facial exercise will be enough to remove dark circles in most people because the congestion reaction is not appreciably affected by facial exercise. What facial exercise does is massage the lymphatics, ie, squeeze them via the various maneuvers of the face, and this will help move fluid from these congested lymphatics despite the obstruction caused by the nasal congestion, It kind of pushes the fluids out despite the hindrance of swollen mucosa and nodes. This is good as far as it goes, but one usually needs to address the cause of the congestion before the “dark circles” and puffiness will fade away.

Incidentally, this lymphatic fluid usually moves due to facial movement and gravity. Astronauts characteristically get puffy faces (often changes their appearance on camera) while in orbit. Why? No gravity, of course.

Because the skin under the eyes is so delicate, one has to avoid any direct massage of that area, lest the skin itself suffer trauma. Note, there is an exception, however.  Direct massage will work well to relieve puffiness as well as tightening the lower eyelid as long as you first contract the lower eyelid when massaging this area, first. Moisturizing this area is also a necessary step to help keep the integrity of the skin intact while executing the massage. A lighter touch will also stimulate the lymph nodes and in turn they tend to drain lessening the look of puffiness and darkness around the eyes. CFF offers the “Eye Firmer” in the bonus exercises just for this purpose.

So to the woman who wishes to fix her dark circles, it seems she might well want to figure out what is going on with her facial circulation and nasal congestion reaction, and deal with that. Then her facial work (exercises) will more effectively hasten resolution of the dark circles.

Salt Can Contribute to Puffiness

One other thing about the puffiness: if a person salt loads the body (ie, eats lots of salt), that salt will increase the fluid in the body and exaggerate the puffiness. So one has to be wise about salt and not consume very much (and drink lots of water so it will flush out the salt quickly). Lying down (sleeping) often exaggerates puffiness (and to some extent the dark circles) because the fluid in the body tends to move toward the head while we are recumbent. It is common for that puffiness to decrease at least partially and fairly quickly after one gets up from sleep time.


My suggestion for relieving nasal congestion directly is regular nasal washing with saline (removes allergens and microbes that may be joining the “party” to cause congestion). Use a neti pot or equivalent. Also possibly useful: antihistamines (at bedtime, or even twice daily); OTC versions are often enough, taken as directed on packaging. Vitamin C can be useful (500-1000mg daily). Bioflavinoids (strengthens the capillaries so they leak less fluid). Nettle plant in capsules. The list is long…

Sometimes a review of diet and/or environment (pets, dust, mold, plants in/out of home) will uncover something that is aggravating the nasal mucosal irritation. Foods are the hardest to identify; sometimes a food diary is useful — notice when the dark circles are worst, and recall all foods consumed in preceding 12 hours. Doing that a few times often will highlight a food (group) that is suspect. Alas, often this is a favorite food (for quite physiological reasons, interestingly enough).

So I agree there are lymph nodes “under the eyes” but they are deep in the head, not just under the skin. I don’t know any way they contribute to how “young” a person’s eyes appear. That seems to be due to many things, not the least of which is precisely what a face exercise program addresses. “Young eyes” also seem to me to be linked to facial geometry, spacing between the eyes, and bone structure around the eyes, and a person’s overall energy state and attitude.

So facial exercise may work less with those nodes directly than it simply does what any lymphatic massage does, moves the lymph fluid along its natural paths (gossamer tubes under the skin and really throughout the face, skull and body). To the extent that fluid becomes stagnant, it doesn’t carry wastes from the areas it comes from and fresh fluid doesn’t enter those areas as easily. For sure that sort of stagnation would contribute to poorer skin nutriture, to poorer skin tone and color, to poorer skin texture and other qualities of the skin and its underlying tissues. A good circulation improves the health of any tissue, and good circulation includes blood supply adequacy, vein drainage adequacy and good lymphatic drainage. The latter two are distressed in anyone with puffy or “dark circles”.

It May Get Worse Before it Gets Better

One other thing: the “parchment” effect under the eyes is symptomatic of old puffiness and skin stretching plus a loss of elastin/collagen. “Parchment” can worsen soon after the puffiness is relieved, so a person can look worse. With the passage of time, this will tone up, and I can’t imagine any more effective way to accomplish this than precisely what facial exercises do (topical vitamin A may help too). (facial exercises will help firm-up this area, too)

So from these comments perhaps you can appreciate that capillary problems generally do NOT contribute to dark circles or even puffiness, at least as far as how I see these things. Of course it has to be said that lymphatic fluid does come from capillaries because they are designed to slightly “weep” this fluid all the time (see my comment about bioflavinoids, above). The problem of puffiness, etc appears when that fluid can’t go anywhere because of congestion. To my knowledge, nothing exaggerates that “weeping” except local trauma (assault, auto-accident, etc) and certain life-threatening conditions that clearly aren’t relevant to this topic.