How to Look Awake Without Makeup

This, coming from the Queen of Looking Like A Cream Puff in the morning. Or, you know, like I'm in some sort of anaphylactic shock. Not sure about you guys, but there's only so much mascara can do when one's eyes are swollen shut. And while I may appreciate the certain plumpness of my sleepy lips, it'd be cool if I could, you know, smile with them. I do have pictures to prove this insanity, but LOL if you think I’m going to post any of them.

Waking up is hard, guys. It just is. And getting out of bed when you look like you could be the understudy to some bad, late-night insomnia thriller doesn't make the process any easier. So here I go, after years of experimentation, bestowing some of my well-earned, sometimes scientifically-proven knowledge on how to look awake before attempting to apply makeup.

Note: These are in a sort-of "Order of Importance." If you count numbers 1 and 6 of equal high importance and work your way toward the middle, numbers 3 and 4 as the center of high importance as you work your way out, and numbers 2 and 5 as the highly-important centers between the otherwise-highest points of importance, you should be good.


This may seem obvious, it may not. I did recently read an article that basically said you shouldn't shower too often because of skin dryness and "natural bacteria" and some other such bologna that I choose to ignore — and I know none of us are going to forget that As Told By Ginger episode anytime soon — but, sorry. Priorities, people! I'm not saying to shower three times a day (unless you live in NYC, because sometimes it's necessary). I'm just sayin' if you want to look and feel (and smell!) awake, a simple morning shower is the quickest and best way to do it. Play with the hot and cold, yes, but end it whichever way you please. That shiny hair thing never worked for me, anyway. The main thing, I think, is to go through a full range of emotions. No morning shower is complete without at least a few curse words — nor without a sigh of relief.

NOTE: Wash your hair. Just do it. Your entire head will thank you.


Prrrrobably the last thing you want to do, but it’s pretty much the first thing you should do. If you can get outside and walk/jog/sprint to the end of the block and back, that should suffice. (Fun tip that’s not a real suggestion but would probably work anyway? Do it in your jammies — the less you want to be seen, the faster you’ll go!) If you’re up for a real, say 20-minute walk/jog/run, just pop on some sunglasses; instant-cognito. Plus, you can make whatever kind of bitch faces you need to and no one will actually know. But if you really, honest and truly can’t do any of these things, try for some sleepy squats. You can even use your bed for support. Just make sure you have a goal: 3 sets of 10, 2 sets of 20 — whatever it is, it must be enough to get your blood flowing and your mind working.

My FAVORITE way, though? Throw on some music and #dance. (IwillnotmentionTaylorSwift, IwillnotmentionTaylorSwift, IwillnotmentionTaylorSwift...) It will put you in an unavoidably good mood, I promise. You must always remember that exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. And happy people just don’t wish they were still asleep. They just don’t.

BONUS: If you force yourself to sweat, you won’t be able to logically talk yourself out of that shower...

(BONUS BONUS: Take the hint from Olive up there and enhance your results by dancing IN THE SHOWER. I mean, don't YOU want a pocketful of sunshine?)


...preferably before said shower. Because if you put them in after, you have to go through the whole red, stinging, "Gufbjkdhvnjbgrebnvndvnk" phase again, and all that Emma Stone you just pulled will lose a bit of its magic.

(3.5. If you wear contacts, DO NOT SLEEP IN THEM. Besides the fact that YOU COULD LOSE YOUR CORNEAS AND GO BLIND, your eyeballs deserve just as much rest as you do! Think of all the crap you put them through every day. I mean, they have to read this article, for goodness sake! They're the messengers of this terrible news — it's gotta be exhausting.)


In the sense of sleeping too little vs. sleeping too much: Every person has his or her optimal sleep time. They — whoever "they" are — say eight hours a night. Fine, good. But I tend to be more alert with six or seven, and if I even think about sleeping 10, it's "Hello, Big Lips and Goodbye, Good Mood." So take note of your sleep schedule and your subsequent daily moods, and be honest with yourself. It may sound like the more you sleep, the better off you'll be, but if that's not what your body is truly telling you, listen to it, and heed its advice. Believe it or not, it knows what's best.

In the sense of actually needing to get up for something important at a certain time: Set your alarm to at least three hours before you have to look presentable, regardless of your commute (i.e., I don’t care if that 10 a.m. meeting is only 20 minutes away — Thou Shalt Not Sleep Until 9:30!). There are many logical reasons for this: 1: You will want your hair dry, and after that shower, you’ll either need the time for nature to take its course, or for you to blow it out (which is a workout in and of itself — more bloodflow, toned arms, check!). 2: You will want your face to de-puff before you even attempt to put on makeup, because there's no part of a morning routine as disheartening as getting mascara on your oversized eyelids. And 3: You will, I'd think, want to have time to relax. Rushing looks good on no one.

So... Ways to do this:

  • Ask your morning-person mom or friend to call you and not let you hang up the phone until you're out of bed and in the bathroom. I, for one, know that if I'm forced to form coherent sentences, I enter that state where, yeah, I'm sleepy, but no, I'm not falling back asleep.
  • Set your alarm to something different each morning. If you're a "wake to music" person, choose songs you hate. Nothing ruins your favorite tune quite like making it one of the most unpleasant parts of your day!
  • Set these various alarms for every two minutes. Because a nine-minute snooze can get you in BIG trouble.

...and if all else fails, figure out a way to scare yourself. I’ve never jumped (or fallen) out of bed more quickly than when I think I’ve slept through class, or an important meeting, or — god forbid — an article deadline. Disorientation is key. Of course it works best when you’re insanely sleep deprived and have just lain down for what you thought was 30 seconds only to find that, ohp!, it’s been two hours, but this I would not wish upon any human. My suggestion? Figure out a way to make your phone say that it’s 2:00 in the afternoon and you've missed what is very possibly the most important something-or-other of your life, when really it's 7 a.m. and you've still got those three hours to get the eff up! There’s gotta be an app for that.

Sigh. The things we do for beauty.


Or, if you’re like me and you’re at the mercy of your landlord’s OBSCENE heating habits, sleep with the window open! Better to pile the covers on and snuggle in than to find yourself sweating at 3 a.m. with only so much to take off. Science has shown us that bodies sleep better in a moderately-cool room than a warm one. And better quality sleep leads to an easier waking experience — and maybe one less set of squats in the morning.


We’ve heard about freezing spoons, refrigerating tea bags, slicing cucumbers. But who actually remembers to prepare that shit the night before? (And who actually has cucumbers?) So why not go straight for the source?

One of my fav things to do is to take an ice cube, wrap half of it in a paper towel (a handle, of sorts), and let the exposed side melt all around my eyes, above my cheekbones, and at my temples in small, circular motions. Then I lay down for a couple minutes with the damp paper towel opened over my face, pressed gently to closed lids. Add to this equation some Imogen Heap and it's like a mini-spa experience, there in your own bedroom.


Always, all the time. Not only is it awesome for your body in general, but it also helps you sleep better and flushes out any water retention that takes up residence in our face as the unfortunate result of last night's Pad Thai. If you wait only for that big glass of water in the morning, it’s too late. Drink a big glass of water at night. Heck, drink two! Having to pee when you wake is no joke — and it just might be that push you need to get up and out and do your thang.

Images: Fotolia; Giphy