How many times have you recently thought, heard or said: “You look tired”? I’m betting it’s a lot. Blame your eyes. They’re two gossips that can’t help spreading the word about your insomnia, allergies, last night’s extra cocktail, bag of chips or weep-inducing Netflix movie. And as if the mirror wasn’t bad enough, Zoom and FaceTime display our bags, crow’s feet and dark circles for all to see. Not to worry. Here are 10 things that will restore the twinkle in no time.
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PHOTO BY: Bloomingdale's; Target; Sephora
1. Have a cold-shot plan
Aging eyes look their worst in the morning after a night’s sleep when dry air, a horizontal position and fluid retention have had hours to do their dirty work. Older models and celebs still rely on a tried-and-true ice jolt by plunging their sleepy faces into a sink of cold water and ice cubes. Or they go back to bed for 10 extra minutes of ice rehab with frozen teaspoons or bags of frozen peas on closed lids. Yes, cold does soothe and reduce swelling, but there’s an easier, kinder update. Just store packs of under-eye patch masks with proven ingredients like caffeine, hyaluronic acid, peptides, retinol and collagen in your fridge and apply them first thing (after cleansing) for a head start while you sip your a.m. latte. No need to yelp or lie down when patches like Peace Out Puffy Under-Eye Patches ($25, sephora.com), Yes to Cucumbers Depuffing Under Eye Masks ($16, target.com) and Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Hydra-Gel Eye Patches ($55, bloomingdales.com) provide an instant, painless reboot.
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PHOTO BY: Target (3)
2. Get the red out
There’s a difference between medical reasons for red eye — like conjunctivitis, sties, blepharitis — and everyday redness. Daily hours of eye strain at a computer screen, a sleepless night when your eyes produce inadequate tears or allergies can all cause dry, red itchy eyes. Rubbing your eyes (we all do this!) only makes things worse. Three quick fixes help you face the day: First, apply cold compresses to reduce the itch urge; next, clarify the whites of your eyes with fast-acting drops like Biotrue Hydration Boost Eye Drops ($14, target.com); and last, line the inner lower rims with a beige eye pencil — like the Tarte Fake Awake Eye Highlight for Ulta Beauty ($20, target.com) or Revlon ColorStay Micro Hyper Precision Gel Eyeliner in Beige ($6, target.com) — for a swift cosmetic solution.
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PHOTO BY: Sephora; Target; Ulta Beauty
3. Let caffeine deflate puffs
Swollen under-eyes are not our best look. While it won’t help with genetic under-eye pouches, caffeine-loaded serums and eye creams can reduce temporary swelling caused by seasonal allergies or a night-before binge of salt or alcohol. Here’s why: Caffeine works as a vasoconstrictor to compress blood vessels beneath the skin, shrinking them to minimize swelling. Simply tap on a treatment like The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream ($10, sephora.com), DHC Eye Bright ($23, ulta.com) or Makeup Revolution Skincare Revitalizing Caffeine Eye Cream ($14, target.com). No caffeine cream or serum around? Brew some tea bags, let them cool and apply to closed lids for 10 minutes. And because I know you’re curious … skip the hemorrhoid cream as an under-eye fix. It’s a myth whose time has run out.
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PHOTO BY: Target (2); Neutrogena
4. Keep your eye area hydrated 24/7
You might wonder if your face moisturizer can double as an eye cream. You could, but a separate treatment is so much better — and here’s why. The eye area at age 50-plus is thinner and drier than the rest of your face, contains no oil glands and gets a real workout every time you squint or blink, making it vulnerable to stretching and sagging. Eye serums and creams — such as Olay Vitamin C + Peptide 24 Eye Cream ($29, target.com), Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Gel-Cream ($26, ulta.com) and RoC Multi Correxion Hydrate + Plump Eye Cream with Hyaluronic Acid ($20, target.com) — are concentrated, emollient and gentle for this sensitive area and contain one or more proven ingredients like collagen-boosting retinol, ceramides and peptides, vitamin C for brightening and hyaluronic acid for plumping lines and hydrating. Pat it on after moisturizer or whenever eyes need a boost during the day. You too, guys!
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PHOTO BY: Ulta Beauty (2); Bloomingdale's
5. Use the right concealer in the right way
For most women 50-plus “tired eyes” is not a temporary thing. It’s a constant, like thinning hair or wrinkles. The concealer you want for the eye area has got to be hydrating and able to glide on without caking or emphasizing crepey skin. So, to be clear it’s not the opaque one you’d use on blemishes and brown spots. For every day, just aim to brighten and illuminate the eye area, not blank out every shadow and bulge. A fluid creamy formula like NYX Professional Makeup Born to Glow Medium Coverage 12H Radiant Under Eye Concealer ($9, ulta.com), Tarte Shape Tape Concealer ($29, ulta.com) or Estee Lauder Double Wear Radiant Concealer ($30, bloomingdales.com) can even be used on lids as a primer to neutralize redness.
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PHOTO BY: Zenni (2); EyeBuyDirect (2)
6. Update your eyeglasses
Wearing bolder glasses is an eye wakeup that works for men and women, and here’s why. A strong shape frames tired eyes for a defined look that draws attention away from saggy lids … unlike rimless styles. For a visual lift, try a modern cat-eye — like the Zenni Optical Women’s Cat-Eye Glasses 4434824 in Teal ($36, zennioptical.com) or EyeBuyDirect Hepburn Cat Eye Tortoise Eyeglasses ($42, eyebuydirect.com) — or top-line frames such as the Zenni Optical Men’s Browline Glasses 195421 in Black ($16, zennioptical.com) or EyeBuyDirect Borderline Browline Black Eyeglasses ($55, eyebuydirect.com) to refocus attention up and away. Black, tortoise and refreshing shades of blue work for all.
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PHOTO BY: Almay; Target (2)
7. Modify your eye makeup
Save the dark smoky stuff, black liner and all under-eye makeup except for concealer and beige liner (see tip number 2) for another time. To make eyes look clear, crisp and wide awake, you’ll need to soften up on color. Choose medium-to-light shadows with shimmer (not glitter) in the sandy, beige, peachy, apricot, rosy-tan range — like the Almay Shadow Squad in Own It or Unplugged ($7, ulta.com) or Jason Wu Beauty Flora 9 Eyeshadow Palette in Desert Rose ($15, target.com) — and stick with brown liner and mascara. This will give you enough shape and definition to draw attention to eyes and away from other issues. Make sure to add a tinted brow gel such as Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow+ Tinted Volumizing Eyebrow Gel for Ulta Beauty ($14, target.com) to subtly enhance brows, and brush them upward to open the eyes.
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PHOTO BY: Ulta Beauty; Prive Revaux; Target
8. Create a distraction with bangs or lipstick
Not every woman wears eye makeup. Some of us skip daily eye makeup, while others consider a sexy pair of dark sunglasses as an eye makeup substitute. Another group gets through the day with just moisturizer and sunscreen. However, don’t rule out lipstick or a full fringe as two other ways to pep up tired telltale eyes. Try a bright red lipstick like Clinique Pop Reds in Red Hot ($20, ulta.com) or a trendy berry shade like MAC Powder Kiss Lipstick for Ulta Beauty in Dubonnet Buzz ($22, target.com) to grab all the attention … especially if you smile. And let’s not forget the transforming abilities of long and full or sideswept bangs for powering up tired eyes. You’d never believe what a swipe of color and snip can do until you try it. And don’t forget your sunglasses. Gradient lenses let you play hide and peek. Wink wink.
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PHOTO BY: kali9/E+/Getty Images
9. Change your habits
A healthier lifestyle can also help restore your eyes. Set a daily water-drinking goal to help flush excess salt; counteract dehydration that can contribute to saggy, sunken-looking eyes; and restore a softer look to dry, lined skin. At night, double up on pillows so your head is elevated while you sleep. Keep your weight stable, since frequent weight ups and downs contribute to sag. Move your body daily. Even a brisk morning walk helps boost your circulation and further drain fluid that accumulated overnight in the face.
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PHOTO BY: B2M Productions/Photodisc/Getty Images
10. Consider a surgical solution
Age plays a role in physical eye changes that make us look always exhausted. Cosmetic eye surgery performed by a board-certified surgeon experienced in eyes is the most drastic solution, but something to consider. While some women opt for an upper-lid blepharoplasty to restore saggy or hooded lids (expect to pay $4,000 with a two-week downtime), others head for a lower-lid lift or do both. Here’s why. As we lose collagen the fat pads beneath our eyes that used to cushion the eyeball slip lower. They become more visible and may seem like under-eye bags but are fat protruding through the skin. A lower-lid blepharoplasty removes the fat pads, tightens the superfluous leftover skin, costs around $3,000 to $4,000 — depending on where you live, experience of the surgeon and other factors like medications, operating room fees, anesthesia — and requires a two-week recovery.
Lois Joy Johnson is a beauty and style editor who focuses on women 50 and older. She was the beauty and style editor at Ladies’ Home Journal and a founding editor of More magazine. She has written three books: The Makeup Wakeup, The Wardrobe Wakeup and The Woman's Wakeup.
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