Awake Face: How Not to Look Tired

by Janine on 28 November 2011 · 16 comments

My occasional stretches of sleep deprivation show on my complexion. My skin gets blotchy, rough, dry and slack, and my usual light makeup looks all wrong. Sometimes my skin’s distress is noticeable. More often, though, it isn’t. Because I camouflage my skin’s exhaustion with some or all of the following skincare and makeup moves. Here, nine ways — you might not need all at once — to fake an awake complexion:

1) When I’m running on zero sleep, my skin starts to look papery. GAH! Prevent that unpleasantness via a hydration boost with thermal spray water or moisturizing face mists — click here for details. Particularly lovely is the Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence ($65 at, which contains botanically-sourced hyaluronic acid. Apply before serum.

2) Use a hydrating serum, which should contain hyaluronic acid and probably glycerin. Properly hydrated skin = radiant, not-tired complexion. If your usual skincare isn’t quite doing the job, a serum, which is more concentrated than lotion or cream, can pick up the slack. Apply after cleansing, before moisturizer and sunscreen. Note: If you have oily yet dull or feels-tight skin, you need extra hydration, too — your skin’s not holding onto moisture properly. Try: Make Up For Ever HD Elixir ($43 at Sephora), Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate ($48 via; or Raw Essentials by Carol Alt Moisturizing Face Serum ($29.99 at Shoppers Drug Mart).

3) Fifteen minutes or so with a hydrating face mask makes skin look like you got eight hours of snooze time. Try Neostrata Intense Moisture Rescue Sheet Masks (8 for $40 at drugstores), or Olay Professional Pro X Intensive Treatment Masks (5 for $22.49 at If you’re a make-your-own-mask type, Alana Delcourt, owner of Fresh Esthetics Studio in Vancouver, says to mash a banana, add honey, and slather it onto your skin. Rinse 15 minutes later, then apply your usual skincare.

4) Try a BB cream or CC cream*. Apply it after you’ve already moisturized; tired skin needs all the moisturizing help it can get. Maybelline New York Dream Fresh BB ($10.99 at, L’Oréal Paris Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream ($17.09 at, Estée Lauder Daywear BB ($45 at and Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm ($41, are BBs with slightly better coverage than many. CC creams promise superior skin enhancement via brightening pigments, all the better for dull, tired complexions. Try Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream ($39 at or L’Oréal Paris Visible Lift CC ($17.99 at Some CC formulas also offer brightening skincare benefits; try Almay Smart Shade CC Cream ($15.99 at or Olay Total Effects CC Cream ($34.29 at

5) Wear a cream concealer that matches your skintone (the part without dark circles). Apply it after foundation or BB cream, CC cream or tinted moisturizer, and tap-blend it over undereye shadows, in the inner corner of upper lids at the bridge of the nose, around the base of the nose, and under lower lip. Try Clinique Advanced Concealer ($17.50 via, a creamy, high-pigment formula. Makeup artist Dino Dilio loves L’Oréal Paris Truematch Concealer ($9.29 at; he says its consistency works well under eyes as well as over blemishes.

6) Make shimmery white eye shadow (champagne if you have darker skin) and liner your makeup staples. Line the lower inner rim of each eye, and dab a tiny bit of shadow at the inner corners. You’ll look instantly alert. Covergirl Eye Enhancers 1-Kit Shadows in Snow Blossom ($4.59 at is an easy, breezy-priced shadow option; Smashbox Eye Beam Double-Ended Brightener ($25 at Sephora, Murale, Shoppers Drug Mart) includes a liner for the inner rim of your lower lashes, which makes eyes look alert.

7) Curl. Your. Lashes. Your eyes will look wider and more awake even before you apply (black) mascara. Chanel Precision Lash Curler ($36 at Murale, Chanel counters).

8) Put a flush in your cheeks (click here for how-tos). A rosy complexion makes eyes look sparkly, too. Try a cheek stain, cream blush or powder blush in the colour your cheeks go when you’ve been running after your child. I love cream blushes; these are still my favourites. If you prefer powder, try a Stila Custom Color Blush ($29 at Shoppers Drug Mart, Murale and Sephora), available in pink and coral — it adjusts to your skin’s chemistry. Or go for Smashbox O Glow ($26 at Sephora), a gel formula that pinkens on skin after you apply it.

9) Slick on a watermelon, berry or rosy lip balm or gloss. This holiday set of Korres Cherry-Picked Cherry Oil Lip Gloss ($36.50 at Sephora) offers a range of perfect shades.

What’s your foolproof look-awake makeup move?

*UPDATED to include CC cream suggestions.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jane 3 December 2011 at 8:37 am

I would be lost with my Kiehls’ Midnight Recovery Complex and my face mists! LOVE Caudalie, those little bottles from Sephora are perfect in the purse. I swear the air in shopping malls sucks the moisture out of my skin. Not to mention the alcohol…


Janine 4 December 2011 at 3:59 pm

Just for fun I bought a little bottle of Caudalie in Paris, for face-spritzing on the flight back. A couple of months ago, the bottle fell into my sink and shattered. Pooh! Bathroom smelled lovely, though.

I know I can get a replacement here, but no need yet — lots of good stuff to get through.


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