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9 Tips So You Don’t Look So Tired and Feel Sleepy Skip to content

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9 Ways to Wake Up a Tired Face

Blast the blahs with these fast fixes

A woman standing in shower with water coming down on her face.

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En español | "You look tired" is a phrase no 50-plus woman likes to hear. It's a loud and clear hint we're not coming across as fresh, healthy and attractive to others — and who needs that? Clearly some combination of stress, insomnia, the daily barrage of social media and news, family/work/health issues and a few too many late-night Netflix binges is throwing us serious shade. Here are nine ways to snap out of it with an at-home routine and a 911 fast fix.

1. Cold brew your face and body

No hitting the snooze button. Even if you feel and look like a zombie, a cold shower, steamy suds-up and icy rinse finish will get your senses tingling, smooth superficial creases from your face and lift any brain fog. Prefer languishing in a cozy bath? Do the cold, steamy, cool routine as you wash your face. The heated soothing cleanser part will still steam the lines and the cold will give your circulation a jolt.

2. Moisturize while skin is damp

Timing and technique matter. Think of a "tired" face like a deflated balloon, a "fresh" face like a round inflated one. If you lightly blot your face and immediately apply your hydrating cream or oil, skin gets plumped up. Wait five minutes, or 20, and you've lost that absorption window when emollients work best. Gently massage moisturizer into face, neck and décolletage for two or three minutes. This helps relax tension lines and gets a glow going.

3. Freshen eyes ASAP

The skin here is super thin and dry. It not only shows fatigue first, but amplifies it by going red, puffy, dark-circled and saggy. Clarify the "whites" with fast-acting drugstore drops like Lumify by Bausch & Lomb ($12, Target) or Alcon Naphcon-A Eye Drops ($11, target.com) both staples in A-list celeb makeup artist kits. Next a caffeine-packed eye cream like Garnier SkinActive Clearly Brighter Anti-Puff Eye Roller ($8, target.com) with vitamin C and caffeine, cool metallic roller tip soothes or Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel De-Puffing Eye Gel with caffeine and cucumber ($10, target.com) — chilled if possible (keep it on call in the fridge) — to soothe and reduce swelling and discoloration. No drops or cream handy? Check the freezer for frozen peas or blueberries and apply the icy bag over closed lids for five minutes. Or try cooled tea bags.

Smiling businesswoman talking to colleagues at a conference table

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4. Fake your best skin

When you look tired, stressed mature skin either gets temperamental (sensitive, ruddy and possibly prone to breakouts) or it can go desert dry (ashy, sallow), and expression lines and wrinkles seem to sink deeper. Either way, a creamy, dewy stick foundation with a wide range of 30-40 shades like Flesh Firm Flesh ThickStick Foundation ($18, ulta.com), Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick ($46, sephora.com) or Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick ($46, sephora.com) pulls your face together fast. Pricey? Yes, but when you're aiming for authenticity instead of a mask, multipurpose coverage pays off. Using fingers, makeup brushes or sponges, dab and blend the foundation stick where and when needed on red, brown, blue or violet discolorations.

5. Blush, don't bronze

Instinct says go sunny and beachy — but hold it right there. Don’t reach for a self-tanner or bronzing powder. That's OK for your best days. But to restore a glow, grab a creamy pink or peach blush like Revlon Insta-Blush ($8, Target) or e.l.f. Beautifully Bare Blush ($4 target.com) and give cheeks a yoga-class flush in seconds.

A woman applying eyeliner

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6. Lighten up on eye makeup, but don't ignore it

Now's not the time for smoky dark eyes — black liner and dark brown shadows can look sexy at night in dim light, but they'll drag you down during the day. To restore sparkle, choose a nude palette in light to medium shades of mauve, peach and shimmery taupe like Maybelline Total Temptation Eyeshadow + Highlight Palette ($9, target.com) or NYX Professional Makeup Eyeshadow Palette in Soft & Rosy ($8, target.com). The combo of muted brown liner and mascara and pale shimmer on your upper lids restores shape and keeps the emphasis there. Skip makeup beneath the eyes, where liner and mascara can emphasize bags and crepey skin.

7. Shake up your hair

Pulling hair back or wearing it up can exacerbate a fatigued look, especially if hair is pulled too sleek and tight. Always let a few pieces float or cut feathery bangs if ponytails are your thing. Keep your hair loose, tousled and free and play up texture, wave or color. Yes, it's a distraction but one that works and makes you look lively, animated. Consider getting highlights around the face — it adds a frame of light just where you need it.

Woman drinking and talking with a friend at bar

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8. Wear cheerful vibrant colors

A white shirt is a classic brightener and black makes us feel slim and chic, but juicy colors like orange, red, raspberry, yellow and bright blue signal an energetic attitude. Ditto to splashy prints, stripes — even in a scarf. When feeling blah, throw on some color. It’s an instant pick-me-up.

9. Wide awake in five?

Let's say you're already at work, a meeting, a party or a restaurant when a "frenemy" delivers the "you look tired" news. Grab an ice cube and head for the restroom. Rub the cube (or pat hands splashed with icy water) over your face right over face makeup. It revs up circulation like a cold shower. Brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with fresh water. Yawn to relax your jaw and de-tense facial muscles that exacerbate lines. Bend at the waist, run your hands through your hair and flip it back. Unbutton your blouse or shirt to a V to show more neck and upper chest, roll up your sleeves to show forearms, or take off your jacket or cardigan and go sleeveless — don't let it all be about your face. If possible, take a brief brisk walk. Movement has a caffeine-like effect that makes you look more alert. Breathe deeply from your diaphragm, five counts out and five counts in. Sit and stand up straight — no slouching — to appear more energetic. Add some statement glasses and bling. And smile: instant facelift.

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