How to banish tired looking skin and maintain a dewy complexion (even when you're exhausted)

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Alessia Armenise
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Tired? Us too! We’re not quite sure what it is about the early months of the year but can hazard a guess that it’s the combination of arctic temperatures, lack of sunlight and post-Christmas slump that conduces to have us crawling into bed at 10pm (ok, 9). 

And, since we are no longer 22 (with the complexion to prove it) we’re all too aware that this tiredness is visible on our faces.

So, we grilled skincare experts from the Stylist beauty team and Aveda for beauty tips, as well as gathering advice from makeup and beauty professionals around the country, to find out exactly what we should be eating, using and avoiding to ensure our skin looks healthy and dewy, even when we’re fantasising about some shut eye.  

You might like: The 10 routine changes that are proven to improve your skin, hair and nails


We probably don’t need to tell you that a lack of sleep will have a massive impact on how tired you look. Not only can it affect your mind, it was also prevent your body from restoring itself properly. 

We spoke to skincare expert Georgia Hosny, head of spa at the Aveda Lifestyle Salon and Spa Covent Garden, who made it very clear why we need shut-eye to not look tired: “The night-time is when our body’s natural circadian rhythm cycle to heal and restore itself happens, if you are not getting this vital rest time then your body and skin cannot recover.” 

Evidently, to not look tired we need to start with snoozing right. But how exactly can you achieve this?

Work out when you wake up: This will in turn help you sleep better and therefore make you feel more energised.

Regulate your sleep: Try, and we know it’s a difficult, to get at least seven hours of sleep each night to ensure you get enough rest. Also, and this might be heresy to some, you shouldn’t allow those massive lie-ins at the weekend, however tempted you might be. Sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley explains: “Wake up 30-40 minutes earlier on weekends than you would usually to ensure that Monday morning shock to the system is minimised.”

Still struggling? If you’re still not able to get to sleep easily, suffer from insomnia or keep waking up during the night, here are the 10 sure-fire ways to ensure you get a decent nights.


Eat well: While there's no guaranteed way to get you looking more awake and less tired, there are certain foods you can eat to make sure you look rested and will help sleep: “The amino acid tryptophan helps the body get regular sleep. The best sources include salmon, turkey, cottage cheese and grapes – which are brilliant for your skin too,” says renowned American dermatologist Dr Nicholas Perricone

Water: We don't need to tell you how important water is for your body and general well-being, but did you also know that if you don't drink enough it can weaken your under-eye skin causing bags and more wrinkles? Start guzzling now, and you'll start feeling and looking more awake, we guarantee it. 

The prep

So you've got your eight-hours and also started religiously carrying a bottle of water everywhere you go, but you still feel like you want to look more awake? Before you start slapping on the makeup, make sure you've got a great base to start with.

"The right products will make a real difference to the quality and health of your skin. [They can] revive your complexion at the beginning as well as at the end of a long day," says Harley Street beauty expert Lesley Reynolds 

Overnight masks: Avoid tight and flaky skin, which can make you look tired, with a product that works while you sleep. “My favourite is Origins Drink Up Intensive Mask which smells divine. I put mine on last thing at night and rather than washing off ten minutes later, I sleep in it and come the morning it has all fully sunk in,” recommends Stylist's Beauty Assistant Shannon Peter.

Exfoliate:  A Model Recommends blogger, Ruth Crill suggests that you "get rid of dead skin cells as that's what makes skin cells look dull". To do this she uses a mask, such as GlamGlow, although you don't want to do it every day it will help shed that dead skin.

Tan: Kate Moss loves a good tan “[It] gives you a healthier glow; you just look healthier in general. You can get away with a late night with a tan – it covers up a multitude of sins.” We know her favourite is St Tropez, and we have to say it's also one of our favourites too.

Cleanse and tone: This should be a ritual for anyone who doesn't want to look tired in the mornings. 

Maggie Hitchins,'s editor particularly loves Emma Hardie's Amazing Face Morning Cleansing Balm. "It has, no exaggeration, changed my skin. The accompanying abrasive muslin cloth sloughs off dead skin at the end of the day and lets skin breathe overnight. And the ingredients – which include neroli, jasmine and rose – are designed to recondition dull and dry skin. If you want a fresh, dewy complexion and to banish the dull pallor that the British winter is just so good at inducing, grab yourself some of this magic potion."

Moisturise: Georgia at Aveda says "reaching its highest temperatures overnight our skin both loses and absorbs moisture faster and more effectively while we sleep, consequently lack of sleep can cause your skin to become dehydrated as well as dull and lacking in vibrancy. Use a hydrating moisturiser day and night to help combat dehydration of the skin".  


Pay close attention to the driest spots:ShaanxoMaracula Brighter Eye Treatment cream


Wake up your face with an ice bath:

The make-up

Now you have your base, there are simple rules to stick to when it comes to making sure your face doesn't look dry when you're wearing makeup, which can make you look tired. Georgia at Aveda recommends you use products that "increase hydration and luminosity to help bring a radiance back to your complexion".

Foundation: Sheer foundation, instead of a powder, is ideal for giving a dewy, wide-awake look. Elinor Block,’s senior writer loves Shisheido’s Perfect Refining Foundation SPF 15 30ml as "it’s a great sheer liquid oil-based foundation that glides easily and doesn’t cake or look dry". But remember to apply your foundation carefully, here’s step-by-step guide on how to apply it

You can also try a moisture-rich base product such as Aveda Inner Light Tinted Moisturiser for a good amount of coverage with the benefits of a moisturiser. 


Don’t skip on the bronzer:how to apply

Moisturise those lips: Beauty assistant, Shannon Peter is a lip balm aficionado: “In the winter, I can’t live without lipbalm, stocking up my pockets, bags and even my desk drawer with different balms so my lips never get to that horrible chapped, flaky stage. My most recent balm discovery is Dior Addict Lip Glow. In the tube, it looks a slightly unnerving shade of Barbie pink, but on the lips, it not only hydrates better than so many balms I’ve tried, it reacts with your skin’s chemistry to boost your natural lip colour. The result is fuller, pinker, healthier looking lips.”

Avoid the smokey eye: This will only make you look sleepy and heavy-lidded. Instead, go for nude lines inside your eyes to make them look a bit brighter. Makeup artist Allie Clark says: “Nude is less obvious than white. Skin-toned liner on the waterline helps to open the eyes, making them look bigger and more awake.” 

Highlighter is key to getting that dewy look: It also gives your face a lift. Makeup artist Jenny Patinkin says it's "face makeup that attracts light, creating the illusion of brightness and height, hence that lit-from-within look". We have a couple of favourites but Benefit's High Beam is easy-to-apply and great value for money (you probably won't need much more convincing, just look at the amazing product reviews). Then there’s also the classic YSL Touch Eclat.

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Alessia Armenise

Alessia Armenise is picture editor of Stylist and In her free time you'll find her tasting vegan street food around east London and sharing her (many) opinions on London Fields Radio. Instagram