Having clear eyes might not be a top priority for you. It may not even be the first thing you think of when you get out of bed and start the process of getting ready for the day, but you can’t deny the effect a bright-eyed gaze has on your overall look. Picture this: you're out for drinks, your outfit is on point, and you're really feeling yourself. But when you catch a glance of your reflection in the bathroom mirror, you see someone who looks, well, tired and already hungover—even though you're not. The telltale signs? Bloodshot eyes and dullness around the eye area. We put our eyes through a lot on any given day. All those hours in front of the computer screen, exposure to environmental irritants, and even makeup mishaps can lead to dullness, redness, or a yellowish tint. But no matter the reason for your tired-looking eyes, dull eyes can be a mood killer.
But, there are a few beauty tricks that can revive your tired eyes. From eye-brightening drops to makeup hacks, we've got eight tips to help your eyes look white, sparkly, and worthy of their own close-up. Keep scrolling for eight editor-approved tips and tricks for how to whiten your eyes and brighten a dull eye area.
Use More Serious Eye Drops
This one might be a no-brainer, but when it comes to itchy red eyes, nothing works as efficiently as eye drops. You might see improvement from using whichever bottle you find first at the drugstore, but for really noticeable results, ditch your standard eye drops and pick up one of the formulas beauty editors and makeup artists rely on instead. One long-time backstage beauty favorite is a Japanese redness-relieving solution called Rohto’s Cooling Eye Drops ($4). The tingling may be a little off-putting at first, but once you get past the initial shock, your eyes will be sparkling for eight hours straight. Or try Innoxa’s Gouttes Bleues ($12), a French secret for canceling out hints of red and yellow. These drops, which are actually blue in color, have all the hydrating and soothing qualities of a normal eye drop solution but with the added benefit of instant color correction.
Brighten the Under-Eye Area
You don't need us to tell you that dark under-eye circles only further emphasize a dull eye area. If you've addressed the redness with eye drops and still feel like you could use a little brightening, use a triple threat of eye products to diffuse the darkness around your orbital bone and create the illusion of overall whiter eyes. Start with a primer, like Koh Gen Do’s Maifanshi Makeup Color Base ($55), which has skin-brightening micronized pearl, to counteract the darkness, color correct, and reflect light around your eyes. Then, top it with a hydrating and illuminating concealer, like Tatcha's The Pearl Tinted Eye Illuminating Treatment ($48). Part makeup and part treatment, this sheer formula is like a tinted moisturizer for the eyes. And finally, use a brightening eye cream rich in vitamin C, like Olehenriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème ($38) to fight dark circles over time.
Highlight Your Eyes
Now that your under-eye circles are quite literally covered, tackle any last remaining dullness on your eyelids with a highlighting powder and a few tricks from the pros. Makeup artists love this Bobbi Brown Highlight Powder ($48) in Pink Glow, which is a dreamy rose gold shade that looks good on just about every skin tone. With a small pointed brush (dampen it first for a more intense color payoff), blend this shimmery powder into the inner corners of your eyes to make them appear more open, and in turn, brighter. With whatever product is left over on the brush, dust it onto your brow bone and the center of your eyelids to further enhance the area and the shape your eyes.
Open Your Eyes With a Curler
Never underestimate the power of an eyelash curler. If you have a history of bad experiences with lash curlers and have sworn them off because of it, consider giving the makeup tool another shot. Lifted lashes open up your eyes, which combats shadowiness as a result and can help your eyes appear brighter and whiter. For the best results, start with the right tool. Not all eyelash curlers are created equal, and we recommend the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler ($16), which a favorite of makeup artists for its ability to work on even the shortest of lashes. Pro tip: clamp the curler at the base of your clean lashes with your wrist slightly elevated for the perfect crimp-free bend. Hold it in place for 30 seconds before releasing for no-fail lift and curl.
Choose Color Over Black Eye Makeup
Rather than reaching for basic black eyeliner, try a color instead. Since blue cancels out shades of red, a swipe of blue eyeliner will neutralize the whites of your eyes and really make them pop. If a bright turquoise or aquamarine are too bold for you, go with a navy instead. A deeper shade like this will give the eyes a similar definition as black eyeliner and could pass as black at first glance, but it has a softer finish and all the redness neutralizing benefits of blue eyeliner. Try Smashbox Always Sharp Waterproof Kôhl Eyeliner ($21) in French Navy on your upper lashline but skip the bottom lashes. Eye makeup on the lower lashline has the tendency to bring the focus down and create darkness, so avoid using dark colors on the lower lid to maintain lifted, wide-open eyes. If you must mascara your lower lashes, choose a softer color, like brown. Or continue using the color blue to brighten the eyes—try Dior Diorshow Iconic Mascara ($30) in Navy Blue as an alternative to black mascara on your bottom lashes.
Use Flesh-Toned Eyeliner in Your Waterline
If you're someone who prefers to wear eyeliner along your bottom lashes, be careful when tracing your waterline (the area inside the rim of your bottom lashes) with a dark pencil. Many makeup artists use this technique when outlining the eye to create a smoky effect, but the end result can close in the eye and create darkness. And if you've ever applied makeup to your waterline, you know how easy it can be to poke yourself or get makeup fallout inside your eyelid, which in turn makes your eyes watery and bloodshot. So, for brighter, wider looking eyes, leave the waterline of your eyes bare and focus the line below your lashes. If you desperately want to correct redness along the lashes, lightly fill in the area where you need to with a flesh-toned pencil to neutralize redness and contrast the blue eyeliner. We recommend the waterproof Marc Jacobs Beauty Fineliner Ultra-Skinny Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner ($25) in Nude(Ist) 12.
Eat Colorful Fruits and Veggies
It goes without saying that healthy eyes shine brighter and whiter and have an overall healthier appearance. For a long term solution to address the overall condition of your eyes, take a look at your diet. Snacking on orange and yellow fruits and veggies can help prevent eye discoloration. Foods like carrots, apricots, mangoes, papayas, oranges, lemons, and pumpkins are rich in the vitamins and antioxidants needed for bright, healthy eyes. Dark leafy greens like kale are also great for maintaining the sparkle in your eyes by removing free radicals that cause harm. Cutting out alcohol, highly caffeinated beverages, and refined sugars will detoxify the liver, fending off dull, yellowing eyes too.
This last tip isn't so much something you should do to make your eyes brighter, but rather something you shouldn't. To keep the whites of your eyes clear, stay away from known irritants. First up, allergies. Pollen and seasonal allergies are common culprits behind red eyes and they're difficult to avoid altogether, so keep up with your allergy medication to keep the redness away. One irritant you can actively avoid though? Smoke. No matter if it's your own doing or of the secondhand variety, smoking irritates and dries out eyes, which in turn can cause redness.
Incorporate all of these tips into your routine, and red, yellow, or dull eyes will no longer be the mood killer it once was.
Click here for more tips on how to look wide-awake when all you want to do is sleep.
This story was published at an earlier date and has since been updated.