“Brighter eyes” is an alluring claim—who in their right mind would ever turn their nose up and say, “No, not me, I do not want bright eyes?”—but as it stands, the term is a bit ambiguous.
Let’s clear it up once and for all: The overall effect is one that’s awake. Not deer-in-the-headlights wide, but open, illuminated, and alert, the way you look when you’ve had just the right amount of sleep and enough (but not too much) coffee. The whites of your eyes are white, rather than shot through with red, and under-eye darkness is diminished.
The nature of life is such that we can’t always manage nine hours of sleep every night, and sometimes it’s easier (though not recommended!) to subsist on a diet of Chipotle burritos and on-the-go granola bars than fresh fruits and vegetables.
Stress, lack of rest, genetics, partying are all factors that contribute to dark circles and tired-looking eyes. That’s when we turn to these tricks to get us looking bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, even when we feel anything but.
Look for eye creams that contain caffeine and vitamin C.
Caffeine and vitamin C are the two ingredients to look for when it comes to skin care that helps to clear up under-eye shadows and darkness. Caffeine stimulates and constricts underlying blood vessels, which improves the appearance of puffiness, while vitamin C brightens while strengthening blood vessel walls. Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream ($30, origins.com) contains both for long-term care, as well as optical brighteners that improve radiance immediately upon application.
Layer different types of concealer.
This definitely doesn’t factor into your five-minute makeup routine, but if you’re serious about brightening your under-eye area, two concealers will most certainly do the trick. Dab a yellow-tinted color corrector like Lancôme Maquicomplet Complete Coverage Concealer in Correcteur ($30.50, lancome-usa.com) on the area under your eyes and tap gently with your ring finger to blend, then layer a liquid-y illuminating concealer like Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat ($41, yslbeautyus.com) over it to reflect light. Just stay away from the illuminating products when cameras are involved.
Use a highlighting eyeliner.
Nothing immediately improves the look of tired eyes like a shimmery flesh-toned liner used inside the lower waterline. Topshop Precision Highlighter ($15, topshop.com) was formulated for this exact purpose, and it does its job especially well. The gilded end glides on like velvet, stays put all day with no transfer, and doesn’t irritate even the most sensitive eyes.
Read more: Makeup Tricks to Make You Look Less Tired