“Wow, you look great! Is the baby sleeping through the night?” I smiled at the question. “Nope!” I replied, and held out my new eye brightening stick. I had been tired of looking so tired, so when the Bare Minerals eye brightener caught my eye at the mall, I had to go for it. I couldn’t believe what a difference it made, and I was curious to see what else was out there.
It would be hard to think of someone I know who wouldn’t like her eyes to look brighter. Having that healthy glow not only looks great, but it makes me feel great as well. When I’m looking good, I feel like I can conquer the world. When I’m exhausted (and look like it), I’ll probably stay in my leggings and topknot, not accomplishing much of anything. So I spoke with eye experts — everyone from makeup artists to surgeons — about how to brighten up those peepers!
Use a light eye shadow
One of the easiest ways to make your eyes look brighter is by lightening up your eye shadow. By brushing a light color with just a hint of shine, your eyes will pop. Makeup Artist and Beauty Blogger Hillary Kline plays with eye shadow colors to get that bright, wide-awake look.
“Go light in the corner of your eye,” she told me. “To really make your eyes pop, put a light colored eye shadow on the inner-third of your eyelid, as well as close to the tear duct. By doing this, it makes the eyes look fresh and more awake.” Try it this morning and see what happens!
Downplay your lips
Here’s another makeup tip I hadn’t thought of. When you choose a subtle, nude lip color, all of the attention stays with your eyes. This will help bring the gaze up, naturally making your eyes seem brighter. “Make your lips a lighter color because then the attention will be on your eyes,” M.J. Forte, a New York City-based makeup artist told Women’s Health.
Try a cold shower
If you have trouble waking up in the morning, a little ice water could be just the thing. No, not to drink, but to shower in. When we sleep flat on our backs, fluid can pool underneath our sensitive under-eye skin. This leaves us with swollen, dark eyes in the morning. One of the best ways to get rid of swelling is with ice.
Puffy eyes look dull and tired. “What also works wonders is anything cold,” makeup artist Susie Sobel told Allure. “Even a bag of ice.” Try filling your bathroom sink with cold water and dunking your face. Not only will you get rid of the eye bags, but you’ll instantly feel awake without coffee!
Find a bright concealer
A bright under eye concealer helped me go from “exhausted new mom” to “busy mom on-the-go.” It’s such a quick step, but makes a big difference. An easy tip from NYC Cosmetic and Oculofacial Plastic Surgeon Dr. Brett Kotlus is finding the right concealer. “Concealer, BB cream, or creams with reflective properties are great to reduce the look of the under-eye shadows and dark circles but these can be off-putting for men [to use],” he told me. ” An alternative for males is a tinted mineral sunscreen that matches your skin tone that performs the double-duty of UV protection and shadow reduction.”
It’s important to play around with products until you find the right one for you. “Brightening eyes isn’t just about covering up, it’s about camouflaging in a way that looks natural,” cofounder of Chalet Cosmetics Andrea Rodriguez told me. “Not all concealers are created equal, especially when it comes to the delicate skin around the eye area.”
Curl those lashes
When I’m getting ready in the morning, I like going for a five-minute face. I don’t spend a lot of time on makeup, so I want each product I use to work beautifully. I always thought of an eyelash curler as an extra, unnecessary step, but I may be convinced to try it out after hearing from the experts.
Kline recommended everyone invest in an eyelash curler. “Seriously, this will be your best friend,” she told me. “By creating length and volume to the lashes, this will make the eyes look like they are wide open. I always tell my clients to curl their lashes first and then apply a few coats of mascara.”
Some of us may have naturally straight lashes, which can keep your eyes from looking bright. An eyelash curler can be a quick fix for that. “If someone’s lashes are straight, they can cast a shadow on the eye area,” Sobel told Allure.
Try out false lashes
Speaking of lashes, amping up yours is another quick way for an instantly brighter eye. I always thought adding more lashes would make your eyes look darker, but it’s just the opposite.
“To make my eyes look bigger and brighter, I sometimes wear two pairs to add more drama,” said Kline. “Lately I have been loving the lashes that Red Cherry Lashes puts out! They are awesome, affordable and look natural!” Next time you’re going out on the town, grab a pair or two of false lashes and see the difference.
Line those lids in white
Lighter eye shadows can brighten up your eyes, but don’t forget about your liner. If you’ve used the same black eyeliner everyday for the past few years, it’s time to shake things up. “Use white eyeliner,” recommended Kline. “To make my eyes looking brighter, I like to use a white eyeliner and line the lower lash line. This is my life saver when I haven’t had much sleep and need to look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!”
Andrea Rodriguez agrees. “Apply a white eyeliner pencil on the water line. The white will disguise any redness and make eyes appear healthy and refreshed,” she told me. “This is a subtle way to make eyes naturally brighter. Try Love That Liner in the color Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best for a non-irritating, natural pencil that goes on smooth and stays in place.”
Don’t forget your brows
Heavy, furry brows is a quick way to make your eyes appear dark and tired. Make sure you’re keeping up with trimmed, clean eyebrows to give your face that bright look. “Make sure your brows are in shape,” said Kline. “Honestly, having properly groomed and arched brows can make a huge difference in brightening the eye area. Brows frame the eyes and can help make the eyes look larger.”
Once your brows are perfectly groomed, go ahead and highlight them. Placing a highlighting color on your brow bone will instantly make your eyes pop. Sweeping a lighter color on your brow bone is also going to draw the eye up. “Anything that’s lighter is going to brighten,” Forte told Women’s Health.
Break out the needles
If you feel like you’ve tried everything, but still have tired-looking eyes, it may be due to aging. Fine lines and wrinkles can’t always be covered up with a great concealer, so if you’re looking for the next step, talk with your doctor.
“A conservative amount of Botox, Dysport, or Xeomin in the frowning muscles between the brows and the smile muscles causing the crow’s feet can lift the brows and reduce the angry look, giving your eyes a brighter, more open look,” said Dr. Kotlus. “Be sure to see an expert injector, ideally an oculoplastic surgeon, facial plastic surgeon or dermatologist and don’t let them put too much in the forehead if any at all because this can make your brows heavier.”
Raise your brows
If you’re not ready for medical interventions, Dr. Kotlus had another suggestion. A new product — eyelid tape — has been gaining traction lately with women looking for an instantly brighter look.
“If you don’t have much eyelid platform showing because of heavy upper eyelid skin, you can try using eyelid tape or eyelid fibers,” Dr. Kotlus told me. “It hides away some of the skin fold of the upper eyelid, giving your eyes a nicer, wider frame. Eyelid tape is popular in Korea and China because a sharper upper eyelid definition creates a brighter look.”
Upgrade your eyelids
If you’ve ever felt like your eyes look dull and tired, take a closer look. Do your eyelids tend to droop, or not open all the way?
“This condition can occur from birth or it can happen later in life and is sometimes associated with contact lens wear,” said Dr. Kotlus. “Droopy eyelids (meaning that the eyelid is slightly closed) can be seen on both eyelids or only one. The only long-term fix for this is ptosis surgery which brightens and enhances the eyes by making them more open.”
Check your vitamin C
Dry, sagging skin is always going to look tired. Cosmetic line founder Rodriguez loves utilizing vitamin C for bright, flawless skin. “Vitamin C is one of the most effective brightening treatments as it helps erase sun spots, age spots, and discoloration,” said Rodriguez.
Eating fruits high in vitamin C is good for your entire body, but if you want to just target your eyes, look for products that contain the vitamins and nutrients. “Serious C for Eyes contains Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C. Hyaluronic Acid holds 1000x it’s weight in water,” Rodriguez told me. “That means it’s going to pull moisture from the environment into the dermis. Skin is therefore plumped from the inside out and sagging skin is firmed.”
The best and easiest way to make your skin look younger is drinking enough water. Dehydration immediately makes your skin appear flat and wrinkled. Rodriguez warned me that some skincare products can also dry out your skin. “Many concealers that are made to hide imperfections are drying,” explained Rodriguez. “A good under eye concealer needs to be hydrating so the area around the eyes appears healthy and refreshed.”
When looking for the right concealer, try it out on a small part of your skin and look to see if fine lines appear more pronounced. Also pay attention to the color. “Try using a concealer with pink undertones to neutralize grey and eliminate dullness,” said Rodriguez. “Under Cover is a great all-natural product to use to brighten. Apply to the skin under the eye area as well as over the lid for a more vibrant appearance.”
Get your rest
New York and Miami-based dermatologist Fredric Brandt, MD told Health that getting enough shut-eye is a huge factor in brightening your eyes. Try adding some extra pillows to your bed. Not only will you feel like you’re in a hotel, but elevating your head while you sleep will keep fluid from pooling around your eyes by morning.
Next add a retinoid treatment to your bedtime beauty routine. “It’s the next-best anti-aging ingredient after sunscreen,” says Dr. Brandt. “Retinoids amp up production of collagen and elastin to make skin firmer and healthier, minimizing fine lines and shadows in the process.”
Don’t forget the SPF
Wearing sunscreen won’t make your eyes look brighter in the moment, but it will help you over time. Sun exposure is damaging to your skin, so make sure to invest in good sunscreen, sunglasses, and a fabulous hat.
“Over time, excessive sun and wind exposure can cause the whites of the eyes to yellow due to damage of the DNA in the cells,” Sophie Bakri, MD, an ophthalmologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota told Health.
The more you take care of yourself and protect your eyes, the brighter they’ll shine!