How To Look Good On (Very) Little Sleep

Modern life can be tough, especially when it comes to managing to get enough sleep! Whether you’re struggling with a little one who’s up half the night, or you just have so much to do that you can’t get to bed at a reasonable time – many of us are seriously sleep deprived… and it shows!! In a perfect world of course, the solution would be to make lifestyle changes, so that we get more sleep and awaken bright eyed and bushy tailed. Unfortunately, in the real world, that’s often impossible. Sometimes the best we can do, in the short term at least, is incorporate some clever tips so that we actually look good on little sleep!

When you wake up with dull skin, dark circles and blemishes, looking good can seem like a tall order. Especially when you need to keep your morning routine quick and easy. If you have little ones throwing tantrums (been there), or have to be in the office at a ridiculously early hour (and there), there’s no time for face masks and relaxing with cucumbers on your eyes! The following tips and tricks are quick and easy, and I promise you’ll see results. So let’s get to it – here’s how to look good on little sleep!…

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Top tips to look good on little sleep

Put some zing in your shower

A refreshing shower with a citrus zing is your first step to waking up properly (okay, maybe second step after a strong coffee). You need to get through your routine quickly, so the faster you can wake up properly the better. Feeling wide awake right away might not be an easy task when you’ve only managed a few hours sleep, but incorporating one of these products in your shower routine is a quick way to get started. Plus, they smell delicious – so you will too.

Our top picks are Aromatherapy Associates Revive Body Wash and Kiehl’s Grapefruit Body Cleanser. A great budget alternative is Yes To Shower Cocktail Revitalizing Body Wash.

Cheat your way to bright eyes

Eye drops are another fantastic way to feel wide awake quickly. There are several great options that actively clear blood shot eyes to make your eyes look really white. Try Rohto Maximum Redness Relief Cooling Eye Drops for instantly clear eyes.

Energizing Moisturizer

Your next step is to quickly apply some moisturizer. If you’ve been getting by on little sleep, your skin is likely to be dull and dehydrated. Help it out with a quick swipe of Origins Ginseng Energy-Boosting Moisturiser. It’s lightweight, and immediately peps up your complexion thanks to its coffee bean and ginseng active ingredients.

Look good with little sleep Origins Ginzing moisturizer

Remember that moisturiser is important even if your skin has reacted to lack of sleep with spots and greasiness. If you skimp on moisturiser, your skin will become dehydrated, so it’ll attempt to correct the balance by creating more oil, creating a vicious circle.

For a lower priced alternative, try Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer. The narural light diffusers will give you an instant glow.
Look good on little sleep Aveeno moisturizer
If you have puffiness around your eyes then use some eye gel too. Dr Brandt’s Eye De-puffing Gel is amazing for tightening up the area.
Look good on little sleep eye gel

A quick makeup routine – just 6 essential products

When you’ve had little sleep and you need to look good in a hurry, fussing around with a full makeup routine isn’t an option. You just need a few key products that really perform, so that you can look put-together and well groomed in a flash.


If you have time for both foundation and concealer that’s great, but if not then go for just a good-quality concealer. It’s a better option for speed because not only can you use it for full coverage on your dark circles and blemishes, you can also use a foundation brush to sweep a just small amount down the centre of your face to even out your complexion and reduce any redness.

You can use any concealer and brush, but Estee Lauder Double Wear Concealer and bobbi brown full coverage face brush is a really good combination.

If you don’t suffer with blemishes and your under-eye circles aren’t too bad, then you might prefer a foundation instead. The absolute best foundation for a ‘lit from within’ glow is Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk. I also rate Maybelline Fit Me Foundation for a lower priced alternative.

Once you’ve smoothed on your base, set it with a quick sweep of matifying powder. Use a very light touch to avoid the powder settling into fine lines or giving a cakey look. Try Maybelline Fit Me Set & Smooth Powder for a bargain buy that works brilliantly.


When there’s no time for contouring, just sweep on a healthy-look blush to look wide awake. The most common advice is to apply blush to the apples of your cheeks, but aiming a little higher can actually help to lift your features, which is very helpful when you want to look good on little sleep.

To locate the perfect spot, first of all smile to identify the apples of your cheeks – the fleshy parts that naturally stick out a little. Then move your brush just a fraction up and out, and apply your blush there. Experiment to see what works best for you.

Although cream blush can be great for creating a wide awake look, powder blush is easier and quicker when you’re in a rush. Just be sure to use a light touch so that you don’t have to worry about time consuming blending.
Look good on little sleep Nars BlushIt’ll come as no surprise that one of the best blushers to look good on little sleep is Nars Orgasm. It suits pretty much anyone, and the illuminating particles will give you an instant glow.


When you have the time, the most important steps for wide-awake eyes are: define brows; subtly line eyes; curl lashes; apply mascara.

If you’re in a massive rush though, just reach for the eyelash curlers and mascara, and run a damp finger over your brows to tame any strays. This is because making your eyes look wide-awake is key to looking good on little sleep, and these products work quickly to do the job.

Look good on little sleep eyelash curlers

If I could choose just one product to look good on little sleep, it would be eyelash curlers. Don’t be scared of them if you’ve never used them before! It’ll become second nature in no time and you’ll be amazed at the difference they make. If you’re struggling to get the hang of them, just search for some help on YouTube! Charlotte Tilbury Life Changing Eyelash Curlers are an excellent pair to try (the name says it all), and Benefit ‘They’re Real’ is a fantastic choice for mascara.


There’s clearly no time for lip-primer, liner and lip brush here! When you need to look good on little sleep, your aim is to create a healthy looking moisturised lip in a neutral colour.
Look good on little sleep Pillow Talk Lipstick

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Luminous Lipstick in Pillow Talk is a beautiful soft and creamy neutral pink which gives a lovely natural looking finish in a flash. Or you could also try a good tinted lip balm like Kiehl’s. Have a scroll through some of the options below to see some more of my favorite quick and easy lip products.

3 optional added extras

If you go through the steps above, you’ll be well on your way towards looking glowing and healthy in less than five minutes. If you have a few minutes to spare, try these little tricks to give your look a wide-awake boost:

Applying a white or flesh coloured eyeliner like Nars Larger Than Life Long Wear Eyeliner in Santa Monica Blvd to the inner rim of your eyes will really help to brighten them up. Because of the light shade it only takes a second, as you don’t have to worry about smudges or going wrong.

A small dot of highlighter on the inner corners of your eyes is another great way to look bright-eyed in a flash. This trick helps to make your eyes look wider and brighter by adding luminosity and reflecting light. Benefit Eye Bright Eye Highlighter Pencil is super-quick to use and works brilliantly.

Using a touch of the highlighter on your cheekbones too can also give a lovely glow. I recommend benefit high beam for both your eyes and cheeks.

Groom your hair

Greasy flat hair is a dead giveaway of a late night and rushed morning. If you don’t have time to shampoo, be sure to use a spritz of dry shampoo to freshen things up. I’m in love with Bumble and Bumble Hair Powder, which comes in two shades for lighter or darker hair. If you’ve run out of dry shampoo and you’re desperate, try using a very small amount of talc.
Look good with little sleep dry shampooWhen it comes to style, it can often be best to go for a groomed look like a low ponytail, if you want to look put-together. You can try adding a simple accessory like this gorgeous rose gold cuff ponytail holder if you want to look like you’ve spent a bit more time on your hair.
Look good on little sleep ponytail holder


Stay away from dark dreary colours on your top half if you’re worried about looking knackered. They can be unforgiving against some complexions, so are not the best choice when you need to create extra glow. Instead go for something with a little colour, or a simple white t-shirt. If you’re determined to wear your favourite black top, add a splash of colour close to your face with a lighter coloured scarf, to help lift your complexion.


You might think that an energising fragrance isn’t actually going to help you to look good on little sleep, but you’d be surprised! A subtle zingy scent can add a spring to your step, and make you feel like you’ve made an effort even when you’ve had minimal time to get ready. And feeling good is half the battle!

Try going retro with a refreshing burst of CK One, or try the classic Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin Cologne for a beautiful fruity citrus scent.

Another Coffee

And then, you are good to go.

Look good on little sleep coffee


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