The Best Makeup Products To Make You Look Awake, Even When You're Dead Tired

No matter how little sleep you got last night, these expert-backed picks can help.
John Slater via Getty Images

If only there existed a wayback machine that could put you in bed at 10 p.m. last night, getting all the beauty rest you need. Instead, here you are the next morning, checking out a mirror that might as well be lit with a neon sign reading, “Look who’s tired.”

But all hope isn’t lost, especially if you follow these “fake it til you make it” tips from makeup experts who have been there, done that and still managed to look their best.

If you think your face can’t be fixed with mere cosmetics, experts say there’s hope for even the most tired face.

“Looking dull is a result of lack of sleep, lack of hydration or just life in general,” said Jamie Greenberg, makeup artist and founder of Jamie Makeup. “The right makeup, applied correctly, can help push your face toward what it looks like at its healthiest.”

Makeup artist Marco Campos agreed. “If used properly, makeup can really make you look like you’ve had a full week of the best sleep. With the right concealer, you basically can erase the tiredness around the eyes. A little brush up of the brows, a curl on the lash, and a hint of mascara will open and lift your eye right up.”

A full-face plan for looking well-rested

Remember that even though all you want to do is go lie down in the dark, brightness is your mantra for the day.

“The key is to accentuate features without looking heavy, keeping a fresh feeling to the skin and makeup,” said makeup artist Fiona Stiles. “Products with a soft sheen impart light to the face without it looking sparkly and too highlight-y, so the glow feels as though it’s emanating from you.”

Take a look at your palette and act accordingly.

“I stay away from using dark eyeliners and shadows on my eyes, and I lean into fresh colors and extra radiance to compensate for dull skin and puffy eyes,” Stiles said.

“Warmer colors like peaches and golds give the illusion of health,” said makeup artist Gregory Arlt. He also suggested thinking “upwards” with everything you do: “Applying mascara to just the upper lashes will bring a lift to the eyes, making them look more perky. Next, apply blush to the apples of the cheeks or just above. Adding it lower can drag down the face.”

If you’re running short on time, here’s a quick rundown of the most important areas:

Undereye: Makeup artist Jaleesa Jaikaran suggested starting with a peach-to-orange color corrector to neutralize darkness.

“A little goes a long way, so use a little at a time, gently tapping the skin with a fluffy brush or fingertips,” Jaikaran said. “Let the color corrector sit for a second and then go in with a full-coverage concealer to lift and brighten.”

“Don’t over-apply concealer,” said makeup artist Marco Campos. “Apply a small amount on the inner and outer corner of the eye and blend. Add a little more if needed, then gently set with a fine setting powder.”

Makeup artist Jamie Dorman remembered using eye makeup to look more awake in school.

“I used white liner on the inner rim of my eye and concealer that was lighter than my skin all around my eye, so I’d look more attentive,” Dorman said.

Lashes: “I always curl my lashes, because it’s the number one way to make you look more alert and peppy,” said makeup artist Sandy Ganzer. “It opens the eye, giving an instant refresh to your face.”

Color matters here, too. “A dark mascara like Diorshow Black Out immediately makes dark circles less apparent and helps you look refreshed,” said makeup artist Melissa Murdick.

Cheeks: “Never underestimate the power of blush in the right color,” Dorman said. “It can seriously brighten a face and bring out your eyes.”

Lipstick: “Put a drop of bright lipstick on the bridge of the nose to give the face a brighter, more healthy look,” Arlt suggested.

DIY hacks

Even if you don’t have tons of fancy cosmetics, there are ways to energize your look on the cheap.

Ice, baby: “If you don’t have a cool jade roller or face mask to take down puffiness, just rub an ice cube under your eyes with clean hands,” Greenburg said.

Curl with cutlery: “In a pinch, you can heat the curve of a spoon with a blow dryer and very carefully press it gently to your lashes to get a curl,” Ganzer said.

Spoon me: “If you don’t have access to your favorite products, put metal spoons in the freezer for five to 10 minutes, then use them under your eyes to smooth out puffiness,” Jaikaran said.

Coffee (inside and out): “A DIY help for dark circles is to add a touch of water to crushed coffee beans, apply it as a paste, let it sit for seven minutes and then wash it off with cold water,” Jaikaran said.

Take it easy

Finally, remember that as tired as you are, less might be more when it comes to camouflaging fatigue. “The techniques don’t have to be drastic,” Campos said. “Small tweaks can really make you look more alert and ready to take on the day.”

And keep these words from Murdick in mind: “If you look tired, it’s OK. Don’t pick yourself apart or give it too much of your focus. We all have good days and off days, but you’re still beautiful, I promise.”

Below are some of the experts’ favorite makeup picks for your most tired days.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

Wander Beauty Baggage Claim eye patches
"First things first — you need to use something to tighten up the undereye area and decrease puffiness,” Murdick said. “These patches really do help. Leave them on for a few minutes and then massage in the leftover serum.”
Shiseido eyelash curler
"This curler is one of my favorites since it gets really close to the lash line, which adds a great curl at the base of the lash," Campos said.

"This is one of my favorites," Ganzer said. "I’ve tried the ones that heat and I find them a little gimmicky."
Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara
“A good mascara is a must, and my shoutout goes to this one,” Greenberg said.

Pür Push Up 4-in-1 Sculpting Concealer
“A perfect, hydrating concealer also helps not only cover up but lift the face, and this is my favorite,” Greenberg said.
Mineral Fusion 3-in-1 Color Stick
“I like to pat a bit of this cream berry blush high on the cheekbones after skin care and before concealer/foundation,” Stiles said. “It gives a pretty flush to the skin that feels healthy and fresh, like you just took a quick jog.”
111SKIN Harley St. London Sub-Zero de-puffing energy facial mask
“If I have time, I always like to start with these masks,” Campos said. “The product's formula helps reduce puffiness from lack of sleep while also adding hydration back into the skin.”
Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage concealer
“This comes in a duo, which I love, and a little can go a very long way,” Campos said. “Each compact has two shades: one that helps correct dark circles, and the other helps brighten up the skin. My pro tip is to apply it with my fingers to really warm up and blend the product."
Westmore Beauty Shadow Edit Magic Shadow Eraser
“This product neutralizes blue and purple tones,” Dorman said.
Lys Triple Fix Full Coverage Brightening Concealer
“I stand by this concealer for its extensive color range, coverage, natural finish and brightening effect," Dorman said.

Lime Crime Softwear blush
“I like this product for its cream-to-powder formula that blends easily and its bright colors that perk up skin,” Dorman said.

Before You Go

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