Wake Up Makeup

by Michelle

Many of our friends and readers are busy professionals and moms, so one of the questions we’ve gotten more than once is how to use makeup to perk up your face when you are extremely tired or sleep deprived (or just at that age where you start looking that way, regardless). So, here are some of my favorite perk-you-up products and tips.

1. Smooth and shiny skin

As we age, and/or when we aren’t taking the best care of ourselves, our skin becomes dull and blotchy. Smooth, shiny skin projects youth and health – you are “radiant” and you “glow from within”. This only occurs in real life before the age of 27 and during pregnancy. For the rest of us, we’ve got to fake it.

If you’re past your late 20’s, you can no longer get away with skipping foundation (I mean, unless you don’t care about looking tired. If you don’t give a fuck, neither do I! Present however you want to. Do you). The goal is to even skin tone and reduce redness, so if you tend to get ruddy, look for a foundation that is close to your skin tone but has yellow or beige undertones to correct this. DO NOT, and I repeat DO NOT, buy a pink-toned foundation no matter how pink you naturally are. Also, foundation is one of those categories in which spending a little more money does net a superior product. There are many products you can get away with buying at the drug store. This is not one of them.

One of my favorite foundation tricks for glowing skin (though I usually save this for when I’m going out at night), is to mix a few drops of luminzer into my foundation. My favorite is NARS Iluminator. The resulting effect is, well, luminous. When your skin is slightly reflective, wrinkles and other imperfections are concealed as the light bounces off of your beautiful face.

2. Conceal!

We’re all big fans of concealer, I know, but there are a few tweaks you can make to your routine when you have been running on fumes.


I woke up like dis.

If you aren’t too tired or are just naturally blessed with a full under-eye area, you can get away with a few dots of a formula that matches your skin. For the rest of us, you’ll need something a shade or two lighter (you can even go up to 3 or 4 shades lighter here if you want to do the “extreme glamor” thing – think Kardashians). When you’re using your lighter product to look woken up, the normal undereye placement doesn’t work – it will look obvious, like reverse racoon eyes. Instead, you’ll need to extend the shape to cover dark circles AND highly bone structure. You can do this either by extending the shade in a larger half circle out to cover your temples, or by bringing the concealer down into a triangle shape under the eye. This effectively gives the illusion that the lighter color is your actual skin tone, and turns your normal skin into contoured spots. I like Amazing Cosmetics Amazing Concealer.

3. Highlight

Yes, we sort of covered some of this, but…MOAR HIGHLIGHTER. Get something like Touche Elcat in a color a shade or two lighter than your skin, and run that bitch under your eyebrows, on your temples, down the bridge of your nose, above your top lip. Go crazy. LOOK HOW LIT FROM WITHIN YOU ARE.

4. Go for contrast

When you are tired, wear more makeup. The days you feel the least like putting on makeup are probably the days you need the most makeup. If nothing else, at least you’ll look like you cared enough to try.

But seriously – contrast is your friend here. Which means, don’t shy away from dark and bold colors. Fill in your eyebrows. Line your top lid (only your top lid!) with black eyeliner – it makes the eye look bigger and brings attention to the top of your eye, which makes you look AWAKE! Curl your eyelashes or use a mascara that does it for you, like Diorshow Iconic Overcurl. And bright pink and red lips are most definitely a DO on a tired day – just make sure you’ve depinkified your skin first, or they will just blend in with the ruddiness. DON’T skip blush (layering cream under powder will ensure that your flush lasts past breakfast).

Did doing all of this take you a full half hour? Yes, yes it did. But just look how age-defyingly radiant you are! Of course, if you are a real person with a real life and only have 5 minutes, feel free to cherry pick any one of these techniques. Any of them will give you some improvement.

Here’s my before and after (sorry for the shitty lighting, I’m tired…and oh so lazy). When you try, you might actually want to put some life into your eyes or something.


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