Babies and sleep. Name a more divisive duo. We won’t wait because we’ll be here all day long discussing just how unpredictable a child’s sleep pattern can be, and the thought of doing that makes me even more tired. 

But one thing is certain – at some point in your parenting journey, you will have to front up to the world after having little to no shut eye. I like to call it having a ‘baby-induced bender,’ aka the worst kind of all-nighter that involves no cocktails or dancing, but you’ll still wake up with that same groggy, hungover feeling. It’s so not fun and so not fair. 

And to top it all off, all your responsibilities for the day ahead still have to be met. Maybe you have a really important work meeting or a jammed schedule of back-to-back family appointments. Whatever the case, on these kinds of days, it’s when we wish there were some kind of makeup gun that could be put on the highest setting to make us look like we’ve had a full night’s sleep. Until then, we’re going HAM on the bright lippie, but what about the rest of our sleep-deprived mug? 

Well, from one zonked mama to another, here’s a tried-and-tested rundown of the best, most effective products that will make you look like a functioning member of society, and it only takes five minutes because who has time to go the whole hog when you have to get everyone out the door?


Start with a glowy, nourishing primer

Hilary Holmes’ cult primer ($65) is called ‘Golden Hour in a Tube’ for good reason. This genius formulation gives even the most exhausted skin a dewy, glowing base. As a mum, Hilary made this primer with pregnant and breastfeeding women in mind, so it’s totally safe to use. 

It’s packed with skin-loving ingredients like niacinamide, Kakadu plum, hemp and Jojoba oils and vitamin E, which nourish your skin and give you immediate radiance. Sign us up! 

This tinted, creamy fluid, which is available in several shades, can be used as a primer to build on and give your foundation longevity or completely on its own if you need some luminous coverage but don’t want a ‘done-up’ face. Honestly, it’s simply magic in a tube and the first thing I reach for after a rough night.


Opt for a foundation that will give your skin some love, not just cake it up

When we’re tired and have somewhere to be, it’s natural to think that you might need a thick foundation to wear like a mask, but in actual fact, a lightweight formulation you can build with skin-boosting ingredients is a much more strategic play.

So, what is the best foundation for sleepy skin in desperate need of a literal glow-up? I hear you ask. The answer is L’Oreal Paris True Match Liquid Foundation ($33.99).

This is the holy grail of affordable, everyday foundations and gives you a gorgeous, glowy coverage that makes your skin look like it’s just spent 12 hours at a day spa. It’s super buildable and infused with hydrating hyaluronic acid for a vibrant, luminous complexion that helps relieve tiredness and dryness. Its texture is soft and lush, and, as the name suggests, it perfectly matches your skin’s colour and texture.


A hardworking concealer is your best friend

Now, onto the next vital step – concealing the sins from the night before (thanks, baby going through yet another sleep regression). Having a hardworking concealer in your makeup kit is essential, and Clinique’s Even Better™ All-Over Concealer + Eraser ($50) does all the heavy lifting to make you look rested.

Besides its 12-hour lifespan, it completely vanquishes those pesky under-eye circles and bags. It’s formulated with a slew of skin-loving ingredients (think vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and caffeine) to hydrate, energise, and de-puff. It also has a dual-ended applicator with a flocked-tip doe foot wand and a built-in sponge blurring blender, so you can hone in on the exact areas that need TLC.


Put some colour back in your cheeks

You know what’s even better than an XXL cup of coffee after a horrendous night of sleep? Colour in your cheeks. Looking flushed-of-face is the easiest way to inject some life back into your mug, and the Hudda Beauty Cheeky Tint Blush Stick ($38) is where it’s at. 

Swipe the product across your cheeks, then blend it with your fingers or a brush. It’s buildable and glides on like an absolute dream, giving your skin that dewy, divine kiss of colour. Plus, it’s infused with lychee extract and vitamin E to give your skin a hit of antioxidants while brightening your cheeks with a flushed, natural colour.


Eyes on the prize

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Did you know the fastest way to brighten up fatigued eyes is with a nude-coloured waterline eyeliner? That’s right, put that black eyeliner down immediately. 

All you have to do is swipe the nude-coloured eyeliner across the waterline, and voila, who is that bright-eyed and bushy-tailed babe staring back at you in the mirror? 

As Victoria Beckham herself shares of this life-changing technique: “I distinctly remember the first time a makeup artist used a nude pencil along my waterline. It was preparing for the 2015 British Fashion Awards. I looked instantly polished and like I’d had eight hours sleep (far from it!). I’ve been searching for the perfect clean waterline pencil ever since.” 

Well, if it’s good enough for Posh, it’s good enough for us! 

And trust cosmetics queen VB to make the GOAT of all waterline pencils with her Instant Brightening Waterline Pencil ($50). The nude, not-quite-white shade instantly transforms snoozy, red eyes, making them look wide, fresh, and fabulous. 

Finish off your eyes off with generous lashings of a volumising mascara, like Lancome’s Lash Idole Mascara ($59), that will lift and fan out every single lash, giving the illusion of an extremely awake, doe-eyed human ready to take on the day with gusto.


Fluff up those brows

A good brow can completely transform your face. Often when I’m rushing out the door with the kids squabbling at my feet, it’s the only thing I bother doing, as well as my SPF 50+ (Cancer Council’s Face Day Wear Serum ($24.95) is elite. It’s an ultra-lightweight serum, backed by research and makes for the best base before applying the rest of your makeup), obviously, because it frames my face and makes me feel way more put together than I actually am. 

Enter Benefit’s Fluff Up Brow Wax ($48). This compact wonder is the holy grail of brow products, fluffing up and giving sparse brows texture, volume and shape. It can also be layered over other products if you have the time.

To apply, brush the wax through your brows using upward strokes. If you want maximum fluffiness and volume, stroke the product against the grain of your brow hairs, let it set for a moment, and then brush the brows back in the natural direction. It sounds like a lot of steps, but in reality, it takes about 20 seconds –  promise! 

If time permits, you can fill in your brows with a brow pencil (the Bobbi Brown Long Wear Brow Pencil ($72) is supreme), before fluffing them up. If not, just fluff up and go.


Apply a dusting of bronzer 

For a natural, sun-kissed complexion, a dusting of Estee Lauder’s Bronze Goddess Healthy Glow Bronzer ($72) will do the trick, and then some. This luxe all-in-one palette (bronzer, highlighter, and blush) will give you that just-been-on-holidays glow without any of the sun damage. 

To apply, use a bronzer brush on the perimeter of your face in the outline of a number three, starting at your forehead near your temples. Then, take the brush down to the high points of your cheekbones, looping out and around along your jawline.


Swipe on a dazzling, detracting, ‘nothing-to-see here’ bright lip

Sure, it’s the oldest trick in the book, but it works like a charm every time. An obnoxiously bright lip is the easiest decoy to detract away from tired eyes. Yves Saint Laurent’s Rogue Pur Courture in Rouge Insolite ($65) is the kind of vibrant red shade to rock on your most sleep-deprived days.


Glow get ’em

Finally, lock it all in with a next-level finishing spray. Hilary Holmes has absolutely nailed it (again) with her Golden Hour Glow Setting Mist ($49). It’s like spraying sunbeams on your face and beautifully sets your makeup with a soft-focus glow. 

I cannot tell you how many people I have recommended this product to. They must think I’m part of a secret pyramid scheme, but it’s unlike any other finishing spray I’ve ever tried.


Bonus tip! Fake tan your face for the week ahead

Every Sunday night, I fake tan my face as a little safeguard for the week ahead. Again, it’s another one of those beauty things that sounds like it involves too many steps, but I can assure you it takes less than 30 seconds. 

This is my go-to face fake tan; all you need to do is mix a few drops into your usual evening serum or moisturiser, and apply it to your face and décolletage (just make sure you wash your hands thoroughly afterward). Starting the week with some colour in my face makes me feel better and healthier, and it it pays dividends for those days when you have no time to apply makeup.

Low labour with big results? We love to see it!  


By Bella Brennan

THE INARRA works hard to select the best products for you, curating each inclusion independently. THE INARRA may earn affiliate commissions from some links.