Rub out dull skin
"A good face scrubbing works wonders to charge up sleep-deprived skin," says Marcia Kilgore, founder of Bliss Spas. Exfoliating not only removes dead cells (which can build up and give your skin a gray or sallow look), it also stimulates circulation, which helps restore healthy color. Don't be heavy-handed -- gently rub exfoliator on skin in circular motions with your fingertips, for about a minute. We like new Good Skin Polished Skin Gentle Exfoliator, $14.
Perk up with a ponytail
Nothing's easier on tough mornings than pulling your hair into a ponytail -- and it can be a real asset when fatigue shows in your face. Start with shine enhancer -- gleaming hair brings light to your face, says New York City hairstylist Nathaniel Hawkins, who suggests using a weightless spray-on formula (like John Frieda 100% Shine Glossing Mist, $6).
Then do your pony so it gives you an instant face-lift: Avoid a low-set style, which can visually draw down your face. Instead, pull your hair straight back at eye level so the ponytail is in the center-back of your head, or plant it an inch higher for a more uplifted look. Secure with a simple elastic and spritz on a soft-hold hair spray to keep your handiwork (and potential flyaways) neatly in place all day.
Turn up the glow
Make your skin radiant and brighten your eyes: Apply step-saving tinted moisturizer with SPF. To counter paleness, "cheat" with a shade darker than you'd normally wear, suggests New York City makeup artist Troy Surratt. "Tinted moisturizers are sheer enough that you won't see demarcation lines," he says. For best results, smooth lotion over your jawline and just onto your neck.
Slick on sheer rosy-pink lip gloss to warm your face (we like Sonia Kashuk Sheer Vibrancy in First Date, $6). "Dark or bright colors are too hard to get right when you're wiped out," says Surratt.
Never underestimate the power of an eyelash curler -- three squeezes, moving from lash line to tips, takes only five seconds. The payoff: Besides making lashes look longer, curled fringe allows extra light to hit the eyes, so they sparkle more.
Sweep nude, shimmery shadow from lash line to brows, and skip the pencil liner -- it can make eyes appear heavy-lidded. (Try Mark Eye and Face Hook Up Stack in Daylight, $6). The light hue and subtle gleam will make you look energized.
Stroke on dark black-blue mascara to brighten the whites (Almay Bright Eyes Mascara in Black Blue, $8). "It acts like bleach for your eyes," says Surratt.
Target dark circles with concealer. You'll use less, and look more natural, if you apply it over tinted moisturizer rather than under it. New pen-style products are a cinch to use. Our favorite: Neutrogena Skin Soothing Undereye Corrector, $9. Besides dabbing concealer onto darkest areas (like inner corners of eyes), sweep the pen tip right beneath your lower lash line. This camouflages those fine, purplish veins that intensify the sleepy look.
Apply gel blush. It won't melt away like powder can, it's easy to blend (apply to the apples of your cheeks in thin layers, using tiny, circular motions), and it gives you a natural outdoorsy flush that lasts for hours (try Clinique Gel Blush in Warm Glow, $12).
- For allover puffiness, dunk your face in a sink of ice water. It wakes you up like nothing else, and it takes the swelling down. Do it for 15 seconds; repeat twice.
- If that sounds too drastic (though it works like a charm), store facial-cleansing cloths in the fridge and use them cold.
- To target tired eyes, apply a chilled eye pillow or a bag of frozen peas (it conforms to the eye sockets) for five minutes.
Try these preemptive strikes to soften the beauty toll of a planned late night, whether it's a well-deserved evening out or a child-in-transition night, like the one where you bid goodbye to a pacifier:
- 24 hours ahead of time: Get a good night's sleep. Avoid stimulating movies or reading before bed -- anything that stirs emotions can cause your mind to race and make it harder to settle down.
- Relax your brain and body with a warm bath, treat your skin to body lotion in a relaxing scent (like lavender or chamomile), and slip into bed at a reasonable time. (Retire too early and your mind can wander.)
- That day: Skip caffeine after 4 p.m. or it may be hard to doze off when you finally get to bed -- what's more, you may wake up frequently during the night.
- That night: Snooze on your back with your head elevated. It'll help prevent fluids from pooling in your face, which contributes to puffy eyes, says New York City dermatologist Arielle Kauvar, M.D.