How Not to Look Tired


Celebrated beauty editor Lois Joy Johnson answers the $64,000 beauty question

I bet you hear “You look tired” way too often. Every woman knows it’s code for “Whatever happened to you?! You look like hell!” We often say it (in a more snarky way) to ourselves at 7A.M. No surprise. In addition to the age demons — menopause, hair loss, insomnia and weight gain — we’re dealing with saggy skin, droopy lids, puffs, circles, bags and wrinkles. Even designer clothes, five inch heels, a mojo perfume and a sexy swagger can’t compensate. These ten makeup tricks — and ten minutes — make all the difference:

1. BUFF TO GLOW. Use an exfoliating cleanser or enzyme mask to boost circulation, slough off dead cells and de-clog pores. Healthier-looking skin surfaces in seconds.

2. LIFT YOUR BROWS. Tweeze away droopy hairs that curve around eyes and exacerbate droop. Use pencil and powder to fill and extend brows outwards.

3. USE A FACE PRIMER. Prevent makeup from creasing, caking and settling in expression lines and fill the pores on your nose in one step. Your face won’t look like an unmade bed.

4. GO SHEERER AND WARMER WITH FOUNDATION. Yellow toned foundation freshens grey, pasty, stressed skin. Skim a damp makeup sponge over you face to remove excess coverage and create a dewy skin-like look.

5. WAKE UP EYES WITH HIGHLIGHTER. Piling on skin tone concealer emphasizes under-eye bags and puffiness. Use a highlighter pen or soft white pencil to brighten eyes at the inner eye corners and add sparkle.

6. CORRECT CIRCLES WITH TINTS. Hide super-dark circles with tinted shades- orange/yellow concealer for blue/purple circles, mauve/rose for brown circles. Skin-tone cover-up won’t do it.

7. KEEP EYE MAKEUP CLEAN AND CRISP. No smudgy or smoky– a crisp eye compensates for loose skin and pouches below. Dot a felt-tip black liner beneath the top lashes (hold lid taut and lift it to do this) to keep definition sharp.

8. GET OUT THE BRONZER. Apply a skin compatible bronzer (not too dark) in a C-shape to cheekbones and forehead, on chin and down the neck for radiance. Skip the nose.

9. APPLY CREAM BLUSH ON CHEEKBONES. Forget about apples. Blush goes high on the cheekbones away from the nose and nasal labial folds. Cream blush makes bronzer look real and adds life to your face.

10. BRIGHTEN LIPS. Swap nudes for clear pink, apricot, coral, rose or raspberry shades that bring attention to lips not lines.

Editor’s Note: Style expert Lois Joy Johnson is coauthor, with makeup artist Sandy Linter, of The Makeup Wakeup: Revitalizing Your Look At Any Age. A founding editor of More magazine, she has spent decades working women who changed the face of beauty, including Christie Brinkley, Lauren Hutton, Isabella Rossellini, and Diane Keaton. Lois has been a frequent contributor on The Today Show, The Early Show, Extra, and CNN.

11 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Briana Baran says:

    So…you’ll still look tired, but with a ton of pore-clogging stuff, some of which is extremely difficult for non-professionals to apply correctly, slathered on your face. Mm-hm. Okay.
    How about addressing the issues that might cause us to look tired (or…and how much more snarky and even vicious and condemning can one be?…”look  like hell!”)? And why assume that all of us are hearing such rot way too often, and that we are all suffering from such a plethora of moribundity induced facial decrepitude issues? I guarantee that spending a fortune on fashion-maven must-have designer crap that only flatters hipless, stork-legged, Auschwitz victims (but will break any normal woman’s budget, and bring her to tears because it doesn’t look like it did in those fashionista rags when she puts it on), or five inch stilettos (which most women cannot walk in successfully, and which can cause back pain as well as foot and leg agony…and which some idiots are having their feet surgically altered to fit into), and expensive perfume that the cosmetic counter fiends (on commission, remember) foist off on you, but which does not suit your body chemistry and is full of toxic chemicals will not improve the things that cause us to look tired.
    Such as stress, lack of real rest, adequate hydration, exercise, and a healthy diet. No amount of make-up can make-up for having these things missing in your life. And you can’t achieve the desire to give that “sexy swagger” (or roll, or sway, or the bright eyed look of confidence, or the genuine smile) if you are not healthy and at least content with the effort you’re making. We are not dolls that can simply be re-painted when we start to wear out. We are living beings who need constant care and rejuvenation from within in order to maintain our ability to be beautiful on the outside.

    • avatar Lila says:

      “…moribundity induced facial decrepitude issues…”  I LOVE the way you write!
      I think I will just wear a Mardi Gras mask everywhere.  Mysterious, eccentric, and SO much easier.

  2. avatar Rita@ Goldivas says:

    I agree I’m not thrilled with the author’s assumption that we must be looking tired, but her makeup tips are good ones.

  3. avatar Miss Lee says:

    I look tired because I am tired.  It’s tax season and I am working god-awful hours 6 days a week and trying to keep clean clothes and food in my house on the 7th.  I have a right to be and look tired, I earned it.  I also have the same right as the men I work with: to show up clean and presentable, with no makeup on and be judged on the work that I produce not on whether or not I look “beautiful”.  Just when did a woman’s face become unfinished and unpresentable in polite society without a mask painted on it while a man’s is wash and go?  Sorry to vent but this time of year, I have little time or inclination to put up with stupidity.

  4. avatar D C says:

    Yesterday, while waiting in the lobby for my husband to get the packing removed following his sinus surgery last week, I scanned the print media placed on the tables and racks.  My husband’s doctor used to be an ENT, and still does the sinus surgery, but the majority of his practice has evolved to cosmetic surgery above the neck.  I walked out of there feeling like maybe I really COULD use “some work” after all.  Or maybe that was what they were going for — send my hubby to the procedure room for over an hour so I’ll have plenty of time to peruse the other offerings available — because they would get a lot more money out of MY work than they ever would out of his. 

    Alas… I inherited great skin and the practicality bone. 

    But… if I hit that lottery… anything could happen.  It was that one line, under “expected results” from a full face lift:  You will look 5-15 years younger than your actual age no matter how old you get.  So when I’m 90, I can look like a spry 75 year old!!! 

    Might be worth it. 

    Or I could look like Joan Rivers. 

    Nah… I’ll skip it. 

  5. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    Whenever anybody tell Mr. Wow he “looks tired” I reply, “and fuck you, too.”

    This is the worst thing you can say to anybody. Especially as we all look tired because we all work like dogs.  If you think you friend looks tired, he or she most assuredly is.  Give your friend a hug, treat them to lunch and drink.  Tell them they look terrif.  This is by far the best of all beauty treatments.  And it’s nice, too.

    As to the above remedies, they are okay.  Kinda.  I’ve never found the tinted undereye concealers to work.  Bronzers are  a bitch to apply.  I agree re blush.  Apply up near the cheekbone.  This works to partially conceal the inevitable hollowing of the eye area.  (wearing glasses, as Mr. Wow does, also hides a multiitude of sins.)

    Don’t wear liner on the bottom part of the eye—just drags it down.  concentrate on the eyebrow and the upper lid. 
    Mr. Wow has no advice on lips, as his own pucker has retained an unusually rosy hue.  BUT…I do apply Vaseline and then scrub with a good washcloth every other night.  Use sunscreen everywhere, including the mouth. (lip balms now contain suncreen)

    All this said, it is best to refrain commenting upon a friends obvious fatigue.  Unless they collapse into the appetizer.  Then, you might offer, “hard day at work?”   Do not recommend a new concealer.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Mr. Wow, my very sweet and lovely friend has a habit of refusing to cancel our lunch dates when she is so exhausted from her job working an emergency services dispatch floor all night that she can hardly hold her head up. Like me, she has a 13 year old son, but she is a single, very hard working mother.
      When I see her eyes are glazed, and darting around because she is desperately trying to stay awake, I don’t tell her she looks tired, I just say, “You are exhausted, I’m worried about you, please go home and get some good rest…you’ll never hurt my feelings if you cancel because you’re tired”. She’s a beautiful woman, and seeing her that way hurts my heart.  I do give her a hug, and I send her off to bed.
      I’ve seen too many women, and a few men, try their hand at make-up such as that recommended above and end up looking like a Lautrec La Goulue painting…and my, dear, that is not meant to be flattering. Painted in brows usually look, well painted, primer is truly terrible for the skin, people don’t seem to understand that one doesn’t apply blush of any color, in any position of the face, with a pallet knife…and yellow-based foundation is a thing to be feared, especially over leaden skin, because one small misstep, and you end up looking like a zombie whose original death certificate might just have mentioned jaundice.
      My mother spent a few seasons in yellow, one or two in pumpkin orange, and then converted to chalky white (at least we know this one is just make-up…). And bronzers can look awfully peculiar if your neck and chest are paler than the lilies…

  6. avatar elaine s says:

    Thank you for the excellent tips.  Could you elaborate a bit on how to apply the eyeliner?  I have tried a gel, a pencil, and even an eyeshadow powder I moisten and apply with a tiny brush, and still am not satisfied with any of these options. 

  7. avatar eleanore wells says:

    Oh my goodness.  I’m exhausted just reading all that.  10 steps to not look tired might have the opposite effect on me.

  8. avatar says:

    Eyeliner. My favoite makeup product for the eyes. Use a dark brown or black pencil, hold the eye firm, almost taught (I have this photographed in The Makeup Wakeup) and lean the side of the pencil as close down to the lashes as you can. starting on top of the pupil of the eye. Not the inner corner. no one can draw a straight line, so cheat it. Do dashes, around 5 dashes, starting from  the pupil of the eye, then blend together with a short, firm brush (I can use an angled brush) and connect and soften the dashes. Then you can go back and fill in towards the inner corner of the eye, with small dashes, and connect. If pencil tends to fade on you, then retrace with a gel liner, or a dark brown or black shadow.  This empasizes the eye in a way so that it doesn’t look like too much makeup. at the end of the eye, take a dampened q-tip  squeeze together so you don’t get fuzz in the eye)and push the pencil upward, so the ends of your eyes are lifted and not downward.  Love this newly found site. It’s a little scary posting here. You guys are sort of blunt but then so am I. Love makeup been doing it for 40 years. Let me it goes.

    • avatar elaine s says:

      Thank you!  I will try this.  My mistake was in trying to do it all in one or two stokes.  I’ll try the dashes while the lid is taut, then filling in, and going over it with the gel if needed.  I love the tip about the Q-tip for the ends to be lifted.  This was a problem for me too.