Feeling exhausted can seem like a permanent state of mind, especially while trying to balance your work and family lives (while the threat of a global pandemic looms over). Couple this with an attempt to eat healthy, get enough sleep and work out, and you’re likely to feel overwhelmed and well, tired. If it’s showing on your face (think: fine lines, dark circles and puffiness,) you’ll want to re-haul your food, sleep, physical activity, skincare and makeup repertoires. We roped in the experts in each of these arenas to put together a no-nonsense guide to looking and feeling fresher and brighter in the AM.
How your everyday diet impacts your energy levels
It’s the oldest adage: you are what you eat. If your diet consists of carbs, sugary sodas and packaged food, there’s a good chance that will reflect on your face and body. However, going on a crash diet by completely omitting food groups can also be a reason for your fatigue. You’re likely to look and feel low if you “have been on a very low calorie diet, are constantly eating processed or instant packet foods, are not drinking an adequate amount of water or are unknowingly eating certain types of food that you’re intolerant to”, says Mumbai- and Bengaluru-based nutritionist and food coach Anupama Menon. Apart from drinking enough water and getting your daily fix of fruits and vegetables, an added dose of antioxidants helps give your system and your skin a boost of energy. “Vitamin C from lemon and amla is one of the best antioxidants to help your skin look healthy [and rejuvenated]. Have a shot of either lemon or amla juice daily,” says Menon.
Nutritional deficiencies can easily creep up on you and start to impact your daily life, including whether you wake up feeling well-rested or not. “Chronic fatigue could also be owing to a deficiency of Vitamin B12, Vitamin D or protein deficiencies, making it important to not ignore them,” says Bhavna Sharma, founder and CEO of health supplement label Cureveda. It’s best to get a thorough blood test to understand if your body is absorbing enough nutrients or if you need to take to a dietary change or supplements. She recommends including adaptogens as herbal supplements “which are phyto-nutrients that work at a biological level to help you thrive, stay upbeat, maintain energy and as a result of that, look fresh and healthy.”
Regular workouts really do energise you
The post-workout endorphin rush almost always feels amazing. The struggle, really, is to get yourself to actually exercise. If you’re still trying to choose a routine you actually enjoy, get yourself a monthly subscription to a fitness app. This allows you to try different routines, so you can pick the one you actually enjoy. Mumbai-based fitness expert and head coach at Kinetic Living Urmi Kothari recommends working out along with a few daily diet tweaks to feel like your freshest self. “Work out to sweat out the toxins in your body. Eating healthy, sleeping enough and working out will have you looking fresher.”
Apart from physical workouts, it’s important to look after your mental health as well. According to Mumbai-based psychotherapist Tara Mahadevan, stress and mental fatigue can also show up on your face as dullness, “Daily or regular exercise at least three times a week is very helpful to release and work with difficult emotions and to feel more energetic mentally and physically. Choose an activity you like, whether it’s dancing, swimming, jogging, walking, strength training or ideally a combination of a couple of things to keep you engaged and work your body and mind in different ways.”
Trust in the magic of makeup
Mumbai-based celebrity and bridal makeup artist Ojas Rajani spends a lot of her time getting exhausted brides to look fresher than they ever have. According to her, your skin prep is absolutely essential to making your face look more alive. “You most likely look tired due to lack of sleep, stress or dehydration. It’s ideal to use water-based skincare products to reduce signs of tiredness from your face like bloating and puffiness. Use a Vitamin C serum under the eyes for an instant energy boost to brighten and illuminate the area. Boosters with peptides for the skin or even those with a concoction of vitamins can do wonders for your skin. Use an amethyst roller to depuff the under-eye area and reduce water retention. I also love using ice cubes all over the face as a cold compress,” she says.
Once you’ve prepped your skin, blend a peach/orange-toned colour corrector to tackle dark circles and top it up with a concealer that perfectly matches your skin tone. Use a tinted moisturiser all over your face for a dewy glow and just enough coverage. Apply a warm brown eyeshadow all over your lid, dot highlighter in the inner corners of your eyes, ditch the kohl, apply multiple coats of mascara, blend a warm, peach blush into your cheeks, opt for a tinted lip balm for your pout and you’re set.
Let your skincare routine help
“A brightening agent like Vitamin C, a hydrating agent like hyaluronic acid and nutrient-rich moisture are all ideal to revitalise your skin,” says Dr Yannis Alexandrides, renowned plastic surgeon and co-founder of 111Skin. “Healthy skin is normally skin with an intact epidermal barrier, so it is important not to strip that away with too many active products. Wide, sparkling eyes are often a good indicator of freshness, so a de-puffing treatment like eye masks are ideal to calm any swelling. Top tip: leave them in the fridge prior to application.”
“The most fundamental cause of tired looking skin is dehydration,” says celebrity aesthetic specialist Dr Barbara Sturm. “Dehydrated skin cells and depleted moisture reservoirs in deeper skin layers manifest as dull, dry, irritated and tired looking skin. For a skin care routine fix, boost your skin’s barrier function and skin matrix while restoring both superficial and deeper skin layer moisture with a high concentration of hyaluronic acid serum coupled with an anti-aging powerhouse ingredient like purslane. Apply a kaolin clay-based face mask at least twice a week to freshen tired skin,” she says.
Dr Sturm also shares a step-by-step routine for an at-home lymphatic drainage massage to detoxify your skin. “Gentle lymphatic drainage is also incredible to wake up your skin. The lymphatic system is responsible for carrying away and filtering out toxins and waste from every cell, tissue and organ. The accumulation of toxins causes blockages and congestion in the flow of lymph harming its ability to perform its job, which shows up first in skin puffiness and other disorders. Very gently, and using a serum or moisturiser to reduce friction, use the heel of both hands to lightly massage (using an upward motion), your way from the top of the forehead down to the eyebrows, then to the temples and following the jawline. Then, go down through the sides of the neck while transitioning from using the heels of the hands to using the outer small finger side of the hands. Repeat this motion several times. Then, beginning just above the collarbone in front of your neck, massage the skin in slow, gentle circles for about a minute. Move up the neck in a line from the collarbone toward your ears, massaging each inch or two 20 seconds, moving very slowly. You will see a de-puffing effect, less sallowness in your skin, and more glow and general skin health.”
Get some sleep
Nothing compares to six-eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, and nothing compares to getting this shut eye every single night, at a decent hour. “The most common reason that makes people look tired is that they are chronically sleep deprived,” says Luxembourg-based sleep expert Christine Hansen. “Also, when you don’t sleep enough, your cell repair isn’t happening. Which basically means that you can put on any beauty creams you want, but if your natural cell repair is not taking place, you will not look as refreshed as you could.”
According to New York-based sleep health educator Soda Kuczkowski, your body follows a certain schedule of regeneration while you sleep. When melatonin is released near bedtime, the skin is most able to absorb topical treatments and DNA repair is boosted. Then, between 11pm and midnight, cell regeneration is at its peak. From 11pm to 4pm, the human growth hormone (HGH) is responsible for accelerating skin repair, and then between 2am and 4am, cell division peaks.
Getting enough sleep and getting good sleep are both important to make sure you give your day a refreshed start. “In the morning, hit your eyes with light, especially if you are naturally a night owl and who have difficulty waking up in the morning,” suggests Hansen. “Light therapy glasses or light therapy lights are something that I really advise. And then for night-time, make sure that you take enough time—about an hour—before you go to bed to get ready to wind down and to get your brain ready for sleep. Another thing that you should do is be mindful of your nutrition. Make sure that your blood sugar levels are well-balanced, instead of going from spike to spike through sugary foods, and then crashing and having that rhythm continue at night-time, which can keep you awake as well.”
Inadequate sleep can play a significant role if you’re suddenly starting to spot acne, dry patches or under-eye darkness and puffy bags. “Most people do not think of their sleep cycle as an issue until they are unable to fall asleep or stay asleep,” says Kuczkowski. “In fact, low energy throughout the day is also a good indication that your sleep needs to be evaluated. Getting quality sleep helps to avoid elevated cortisol levels. High cortisol levels make it hard to combat stress and anxiety which can keep you from falling asleep or staying asleep and can also cause inflammation in the body—think acne. Also, while you are sleeping, the body’s hydration rebalances. Not getting enough sleep leads to poor water balance which causes puffy bags and undereye circles. When you sleep your body also produces collagen which prevents sagging and wrinkling.”