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How to look less tired

21 January 2021

Find out what simple measures you can take to look less tired without having to buy expensive products, including tips for brightening your eyes and skin.

A older woman wakes up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day

A large part of looking tired is your perception of yourself because you feel tired. If your behaviour makes you seem tired, others will see you as having more wrinkles, puffy eyes and droopy skin, according to a study published in medical journal Sleep.

So try these tips to trick yourself into feeling and looking more awake.

Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water will help plump up your skin from the inside.

When you’re tired, opt to drink green tea. Not only will it help perk you up, a study in the Journal of Nutrition found it increased oxygen and bloodflow, which also help give you energy and more of a glow to your skin.

Give your moisturiser a boost

While drinking will moisturise you from the inside, a moisturising cream or lotion can work from the outside.

As you age your skin can dry out from moisture loss, which can also end up making us look tired. Part of this is believed to be due to a reduction in hyaluronic acid, a substance naturally produced throughout the human body.

Hyaluronic acid is a gooey liquid that is found in our lungs, eyes, heart valves and many other places, but almost 50% of HA in the human body is in our skin. Researchers are aware that while HA levels inside our bodies remain stable, our epidermal (outer skin layers) levels massively reduce. Although the reasons are unclear, there is some evidence this could be caused by UV exposure, according to a research published in the journal Dermato-Endocrinology.

Hyaluronic acid drops are now widely available (and often affordably priced) and can be used to help hydrate your skin. Only a very small amount is needed (just a few drops a day) followed by your normal moisturising cream, which should then be absorbed more easily into the skin so you can feel even more benefit.

Read our guide to putting the glow back into your skin

Make your eyes bigger and brighter

Nothing gives away tiredness more than red-looking sore eyes, so if you're trying to look less tired give your sleepy eyes a bit of a boost.

Tired-looking eyes are usually caused by lack of moisture, which you can restore with a specialised product such as Optrex Actimist (available from Boots and other pharmacies); spray it on closed eyes, and the liquid then works its way naturally into your eye via the edges of your eyelids. It helps replenish moisture and reduce irritation.

For a natural alternative you can also use banana skin, tea bags or sliced cucumbers – put any of these in the fridge before you use them to increase their effect. 

You’ll also want something to reduce redness. Eye drops such as Optrex Brightening Drops can work wonders, but you can also use cool coloured eye shadow such as  green or blue to reduce the appearance of redness. 

To create the effect of wide-open bright eyes, you can thicken and lengthen your lashes. Use a lash curler and mascara to do this. Add a line of eyeliner close to the lash line above the eye and that will add to the illusion of wakefulness. 

How to make the most of your brows and lashes


Dress strategically

Photographers often use a reflective white or silver surface under a model’s face to reduce shadows and give skin more of a glow, so you can use the technique yourself. A white or off-white T-shirt or blouse will do the trick.

If white isn’t an option, try warm colours such as yellow, orange or red. You might think that adding warm colours to your outfit would only serve to highlight your grey lack-lustre appearance but the  reverse is actually true. The colour will also reflect a little onto your skin, making it seem less dull.

Fake it until you make it with your posture

No one looks tired when they’re standing tall and proud, so when you're feeling exhausted but need to power through the day take charge of your posture. Tilt your chin up and straighten those shoulders.

It’s also a good idea to spend ten minutes stretching before you go out. Not only will this make you feel better and therefore look better, it’ll also help lengthen your spine, making you seem taller and more alert. 

Try this: position yourself on all fours on the floor then curve your spine to make a rainbow-shape, with your head down. Now slowly move out of that position and curve your back the opposite way, pushing your belly down towards the floor and raising your head. Do these moves gently  and slowly and if you feel any pain at all, stop immediately. 

Do you always have tired looking eyes?

If you're wondering why you always look tired you might be concerned about your health. If your eyes look grey and tired, no matter how much sleep you've had, you might even be worrying about having an eye condition.

Facial changes like this are more likely to be due to psychological problems, lifestyle issues or age changes.

We all know that the face can express happiness or sadness, often very evocatively and people’s facial appearance can be very different after missing a night’s sleep or being under stress at work.

Loss of elastic tissue in the skin of the face with age leads to wrinkles and looser skin. This is particularly noticeable around the eyes and may be partly responsible for their changed appearance.

There are some disease states that can change eye appearance, in general these are not eye diseases but diseases which cause widespread change in the body, including the eyes. Two common ones would be anaemia and thyroid disease and others would include jaundice, cholesterol deposits around the eyes and some skin diseases.

Eye diseases themselves can be present with a normal looking eye, or with specific symptoms such as red eye, blurring, loss of acuity and pain.

If you have any concerns about the health of your eyes make sure to get an eye test and speak to an optometrist about your concerns. 

Struggling to get through the day? Read our tips for getting by on little sleep, and find out how to solve common sleep problems. Plus, read Dr Guy Meadows' tips on how to beat insomnia.

Unlimited access to a qualified GP with Saga Health Insurance - you'll have access 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to a GP consultation service. Find out more about our GP phone service.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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