Being told “you look tired” is one of the worst-cloaked insults you can get. While it may come with the best of intentions, all you really hear is: “Look at those bags under your eyes. And that pale, grayish skin. Wow—you look awful!”
Sometimes, you simply can’t get the recommended eight hours of beauty sleep.
But just as a cup (or five) of coffee can help you make it through the day on a less-than-ideal amount of sleep, the right combination of makeup can help you fake looking like you went to bed so early you missed last night’s episode of The Bachelor. Here’s how to look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in under 10 minutes.
Meet Your New BFF: Highlighter
The less you sleep, the more your skin will show its resentment of the lack of rejuvenation by looking dull and drab. But swipe on a liquid highlighter, and you’ll get a bit of shimmer and light that wakes your face in just a few seconds. “Use your fingers to apply a sheer, skin-toned highlighter like Sonia Kashuk Super Sheer Shimmering Highlighter ($9.99, target.com) under your brow bone, on the inner corner of eyes, cheekbones, and the middle of your lower lip (over lipstick),” says makeup artist Nicole Culler.
Nothing clears up exhausted, oh-so-heavy eyes like a couple of drops of Visine. Don’t make it a habit—your eyes can get so used to it that the whitening effect wears off and causes them to look even more bloodshot—but it definitely works in a bind. For a more natural solution, steep some black tea. Once it’s cool, dip in a Q-tip and drip a bit into your eyes.
Erase Under-Eye Circles with Concealer
Start by picking a shade that’s warmer—not lighter—than your skin tone. “Anything too light will just accentuate tired eyes,” says Culler. For maximum coverage, choose a creamy version (these usually come in a little pot), or for moderate coverage, pick a concealer stick. “I like Neutrogena 3-in-1 Concealer ($7.83, drugstore.com) because it blends easily and gives the right amount of coverage for most people,” Culler adds. Use a small brush to apply to any dark areas, including the inner corners of your eyes, where shadows are often the darkest. Finish by dotting a bit over your lids, and your entire eye area will look refreshed.
Skip the Smoky Shadows
They’ll just make your eyes look heavier and even more tired. Instead, opt for a nude shade or a soft, sheer gold like IMAN Luxury Eyeshadow in White Gold ($7.99, soap.com) to make eyes shine. Apply all over your upper lid and down to the lashline. Finish by using your pinky to dab a touch of gold into the inner corner of your eye (against your nose). Add two coats of black mascara to your upper lashes only for an eyes-wide-open effect.
Put the Focus on Your Smile
A bright, cheery lip color will pull attention away from the tired areas of your face and liven up your look. “A swipe of golden pink lipstick like NYX Round Case Lipstick in Gem ($3.99, ulta.com) warms up the tone of your face and makes teeth look whiter, which detracts from the dullness that’s usually associated with being tired,” says Culler.
Next time you’re up for an early morning meeting after a late night, no one has to know that you spent the night finishing up that urgent project (or having cocktails with your pals). Looking great on four hours of sleep? You’ve got it covered.