12 ways to fake awake

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys. Morning!

I can hardly keep my eyes open after another night of fitful sleep due to scary nightmares, wet beds, the desperate cries for a bottle of milk and the possums with their nightly party on the roof. I’m tired.

And I know I’m not the only one who’s knackered.

Whether it’s long working hours, the neighbours partying next door, the back-wash of a bubble-filled night out, or like me, the cumulative effects of not having more than 6 hours sleep per night since I had kids, many of us are bone tired and just scraping by.

So I asked the sisterhood-of-the-most-sleep-deprived* – women with children under 6 – to share their best tips and shortcuts for looking alive when you’re dead on your feet.

Here are their top 12 tips for looking good when you are tired:

1. Make up

Suze, a mother of 3 advised “Keep it light, keep it fresh.”

If you want to prioritise in order of importance for an awake look, here are the top 4 make up items you’ll need:

Lip gloss or lipstick .  Adds instant polish, and distracts from tired eyes. You want them to be thinking “Whoa, check out that bright red lip!” not “Jeez, how bloodshot are her eyes?”.

Concealer , to cover under eye circles. Yves Saint Laurent Radiant Touch $44.50 was recommended by the mothers in the survey for this ardous task, and is also known to be a ‘makeup essential’ according to beauty editors for its amazing ability to deflect light from under-eye shadows. I lovingly refer to it as my “magic stick”.

Mascara. It’ll help rid yourself of that bare-faced, shell-shocked look. I’m a huge fan of Maybelline Great Lash Mascara . Curling your eyelashes can instantly open up your peepers too. 

Bronzer or blush to take away the ‘ashen’ look. My all time favourite is a true wonder product called Benetint by Benefit . Use it as a stain on your cheeks for a really natural glow that stays. As an added bonus you can use it as a lip stain too. At $28 a pop it won’t be the cheapest item in your makeup bag, but I’ll bet it lasts the longest. I’ve used mine daily for nearly 2 years. Or, try a cheek cream which will leave your skin with a fresh dewy finish.

For a great video tutorial by Zoe Foster on how to achieve bright eyes with your make up, click here.

2. Make more effort with your hair.

Gwyn's faking it. She's been up all night.

This is a great way to deflect attention from your tired face. And it doesn’t need to take too much time.

Super-fast shortcuts include:

– Pull your hair back into a ponytail. It looks cleaner and more streamlined, and can give you an instant face-lift. For instant polish, run a hair straightener over your ponytail to smooth it out.


Dry shampoo can keep your hair looking clean, even when you don’t have the time or energy to wash it.

– A low, messy chignon is fast, easy and tres chic. Click here for a quick 4 step how-to guide.

– Mercifully, the high, messy bun is still on trend. Simply secure your locks into a high pony on the top of your head. Twist hair around the base of the pony and pin into place.

3. Moisturise

When your skin is hydrated, you’ll look less tired and withered.

And save time by using products that do double duty with sunscreens and tinting. I started using You Rebel by Benefit after the birth of my second child and have been amazed by its lovely dewy finish. REVLON Age Defying Cream Makeup $28 is a triple treat: skincare, makeup and SPF-20 rolled into one.

Kate Hudson may be wearing PJ pants in the aiport but sunnies help.

4. Super Sunnies

Why do you think celebrities are always photographed in sunglasses when disembarking from a long-haul flight?

It’s not to look cool – although it certainly does help. Sunglasses are a fast way to hide those tired eyes and one of the easiest ways to add instant style to your outfit.

5. Treat your eyes

According to a sleep deprived mum of twin todders:

“Eyedrops will instantly clean and whiten – like a shower for your eyes.”

To freshen the area, try the old-fashioned trick of popping slices of cucumber on your eyes while you lie down for a bit. The quick rest, and coolness of the cucumber, will provide a natural pick-me-up. If you don’t have these in your fridge, try cooling two tea spoons and resting these over your eyes.

In addition, a good eye cream will do wonders for tired eyes.

Look for roll-ons and gels that have cooling agents or include caffeine, such as the Garnier Caffeine Eye Roll-on $15.99. I have tried this for the last couple of weeks, and while I’m not sure it has made a difference to my dark circles, it has a lovely cooling effect which is an instant pick-me-up.

6. Water yourself

Try to drink the recommended 8 glasses of water a day to keep hydrated, and awake. Oh, and the continual trips to the bathroom will keep you moving too!

7. Wash it away

A long hot shower is guaranteed to kick you into gear.  Try a blast of cold water at the end, to get your circulation going.


8. A smile

Nothing will brighten a tired face faster. A new mum confided: “I use concealer for the dark eye circles, but I still don’t really look good. I think a smile is the best way to look good.”

9. Trick yourself

One woman, with two children under 3 shared this tip: “Don’t count the hours of sleep you’ve had.  And if you start to think about it, put it out of your mind. I’ve been in denial about my lack of sleep for years.”

Does it come intravenously?

10. Caffeine

A cup of coffee can do wonders as an instant pick me up.

But don’t be afraid to try an energy drink either when you are really tired. They usually pack the equivalent caffeine of two cups of coffee, about the same sugar as a can of Coke, and some contain extra ingredients like Guarana, Taurine and B Vitamins that can give you a pretty swift lift.

They are not to be consumed if you are pregnant or nursing though, and you shouldn’t have more than two per day. These days, brands like V Energy Drink have extended into iced coffee and sports-type drinks so the perk up isn’t just limited to the fizzy format.

11. Add some colour to your favourite outfit

Gwen's balloons and red lipstick help detract from her tired eyes. But think carefully before accessorising with balloons…it’s not for everyone.

Grab your favourite jeans, your most comfy shoes and top, and toss on something bright.

A happy fun colour will instantly lighten the vibe, and take attention away from tired eyes. And use your crazy-sleep brain to its advantage. experiment a little with bright scarves, coloured earrings, chunky rings, rainbow bangles or a statement bag.

12. And if all else fails…cancel your plans and rest.

Call in sick from work. Excuse yourself from that coffee date, the gym, Auntie Jill’s Birthday party – whatever it is you have planned –  and put your pyjamas back on.  As a working mother with two boys under four said: “If you really think that the world’s gonna stop if you’re not participating for a day, you are kidding yourself.”

Have a guilt, stress and hurry-free day at home to recharge. Watch a movie, read a book and rest. Your body, your mind, and your under-eye bags will love you for it.

*The Fox in Flats survey of 150 women with children under 6 revealed that 94% are getting less than 8 hours sleep per night, and lack of sleep was one of their Top 5 Fashion Issues.

Andrea is the mother of two little boys, who she credits for the bags under her eyes and the motherhood induced fashion rut that she fell into sometime between the labour ward and now.

She created Fox in Flats to share tips, ideas and inspiration to make it much, much easier to navigate motherhood in style. You can find Fox in Flats on Twitter here and Fox in Flats on Facebook here.

What is your best tip for looking good when you are sleep deprived?

Tags: beauty , fashion
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