We all know the seemingly endless beauty tricks to employ when it comes to looking rested—use an eye cream with caffeine, dab a shimmery pale shadow in the inner corner of your eyes, apply mascara on your top and bottom lashes, don’t forget blush and bronzer—but there are also other measures you can take to ensure you look more awake without using makeup.
1. Get moving first thing in the a.m.
As dreadful as it can be to wake up an hour or two early to hit the gym, it actually works. Think of it this way: Morning exercise wakes your organs, your bones, and your muscles after a long slumber, which sends a “we’re up!” message to your brain. It also gets your blood pumping, giving you a rosy, healthy, awake-looking glow.
Don’t belong to a gym? Try following a 15-minute workout in the morning from YouTube, or pledge to run, bike, or speed-walk around your block a few times before getting dressed for work.
2. Wear colour—but it has to be the right colour.
Super-drowsy mornings are not the time to reach for neutrals. Black won’t do you any fresh-faced favours, as it can cast dark shadows on your face, while the wrong shade of white will make you look washed out. Instead, it’s key to choose a colour that will flatter your skin tone and give you a healthy flush. Choosing the wrong colour, though, can actually make you look more tired. Here’s a quick breakdown:
If you’re cool-toned: Choose jewel tones: shades of blue, pinks, purples, blue-greens, magentas, blue-based reds, or pure whites.
If you’re warm-toned: Choose earth tones: yellows, oranges, browns, chartreuses, army and deep greens, orange-based reds, or ivory.
3. Use ice-cold water. Or spoons.
Splashing your face with ice-cold water as you get up shocks your brain, and opens up your eyes. If you’re brave enough, you can also try turning your shower knob to the coldest setting for 10 seconds before getting out (which will also give your hair some extra shine—bonus!) If you’re really dedicated, place two spoons on the fridge or freezer the night before and lay them over your eyes in the morning for a cooling, de-puffing fix.
4. Grab earrings.
The right pair of statement earrings—generally those with soft-colored stones or gems like mint, emerald, turquoise, or amethyst—can reflect beautifully onto your skin and eyes, giving you a more awake visage. Plus, they’ll take away unwanted attention from those tired eyes.
5. Drink as much water as you can during the day.
It’s not rocket science: If plants—which are living things—wilt without water, we will too. Try keeping a large water bottle at your desk throughout the day and refilling it each time you’re done. Water hydrates our organs and our brain, so we’ll not only feel more awake, but look it, too. Plus, all those trips to the water cooler (and the bathroom!) will keep you moving.
6. Put down the mobile/cell phone at night.
According to researchers at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, those of us who spent two hours using a device backlit with LED display—such as an iPhone or iPad—had a corresponding dip in melatonin levels. Melatonin, as you probably know, is the chemical that induces sleep, so decreased levels means you’ll have a harder time zonking out.
7. And practice the 20/20/20 rule all day.
If you stare at a computer all day with no breaks (we’re totally guilty), try practicing the 20/20/20 rule, which doctors say reduces eye strain and redness: Take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes.
8. Eat (or smell!) a grapefruit. Or an orange. Or a lemon.
Whereas white-flour and sugar-laden foods will drag you way down in the morning, citrus fruits pick you up, as they’re packed with vitamin C, and can increase energy and alertness. Not a fan of eating citrus? Simply smelling it can trick your brain and shake up your senses (yes, lemon-scented body wash counts!)
9. Wear dark sunglasses.
If you wake up feeling—and looking— groggier than usual, be sure to grab a pair of dark-lensed shades. This isn’t only to hide puffy, bloodshot eyes, but it also prevents your eyes from squinting, tearing, and swelling as a result of the bright light outside. (Note: Oftentimes UV rays are stronger on overcast days, so keep that in mind.)
10. Get an allergy test.
If you often wake up with tired, puffy, watery eyes and sallow skin, hidden allergies can be a culprit. Getting tested could revela an aversion to seasonal things like pollen, which can make eyes perpetually tired-looking. (Interesting ideas: If you think you’re allergic to pollen, try laying off hair gel, serum, and other hair products which act as “pollen magnets” during the height of allergy season, and wear a cool hat while commuting to and from work to stop pollen from settling on top of your head.
11. Do some DIY accupressure.
Some say full-on acupuncture can work as an antidote to lethargy, but it takes time and money. A quick fix? DIY accupressure. Try pinching the point between your thumb and forefinger to give you a quick energy boost.
12. Use eye drops, but sparingly.
Unless they’re prescribed by a doctor, over-the-counter eye drops shouldn’t be used as a daily method (they can irritate the eyes more, if used long-term), but on those days that you’re seriously zonked and your eyes show it, a few drops in each can help remove redness and puffiness.