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 and wellness tricks that can revive your tired eyes. From eye-brightening drops to makeup hacks, we've got tips from the experts to help your eyes look white, sparkly, and worthy of their own close-up.
Meet the Expert
Ahead, makeup artist Matin and board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. Diane Hilal-Campo share their tips and tricks to make your eyes look whiter.
Click Play to Watch MUA Matin's Tutorial For Whiter Eyes
Use Eye Drops
This one might be a no-brainer, but when it comes to itchy red eyes, nothing works like 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. Matin's pick is Lumify but makeup artists also love Rohto’s Cooling Eye Drops ($5) and Innoxa’s Gouttes Bleues ($16), a French secret for canceling out hints of red and yellow.
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 off of them because of it, consider giving the makeup tool another shot. Lifted lashes open up your eyes, which combats shadowing as a result and can help your eyes appear brighter and whiter. For the best results, start with the right tool. Matin's tip? Pinch right at the root of the lashes—you might have to do it twice for the best effect.
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 a no-fail lift and curl.
Dot Your Upper Lash Line with Liquid Eyeliner
While mascara might cover a good bit of your waterline during the application process, it definitely leaves some blank spots on your upper lash line. Matin recommends filling in those blank spots with black eyeliner to help create more contrast, making the whites of your eyes look more starkly white against a black lash line.
Apply White Eyeliner on 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 result can close in the eye and create darkness, as well as irritate the eye. 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 can make your eyes watery and bloodshot. So, for brighter, wider-looking eyes, Matin recommends leaving the waterline of your eyes bare and focusing on 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 bright white (or flesh-toned, for a more natural look) pencil to neutralize redness and contrast the blue eyeliner.
Highlight the Inner Corners of Your Eyes
A pop of highlight on the inner corners of the eyes can make the whites of your eyes look whiter, as well as help you achieve a more generally bright-eyed, awake-looking appearance. Using a tapping motion, gently pat a small pop of highlight into the inner corners of your eyes. You can use a sweeping motion to blend if you go a little too heavy-handed on your first go.
Finish Off With a Shimmery Shadow
Matin recommends looking for a shimmery (but sheer) eyeshadow to finish off the eye. This will help brighten the overall appearance of the eyes, with the whites of your eyes "picking up" the glitter on the lid and vice versa.
Drink Your Water
Being properly hydrated may not only help your skin, but your eyes too. "Being properly hydrated will help your eyes produce more tears. Well-lubricated eyes are more comfortable and less red," explains Hilal-Campo. "When your body is dehydrated, it will take water from the tears to keep the kidneys and other organs functioning, and eyes become dry and red."
Get Some ZZZs
Getting enough shut-eye is essential for keeping eyes looking and feeling healthy. Hilal-Campo explains in more detail, "Sleep is a time of repair for eye tissues which have been exposed to the air all day. When the eyelids are closed during sleep, the tears lubricate the tissues and bring needed oxygen to the cornea and mucous membranes of the conjunctiva. A lack of sleep interrupts this process, and the tissues do not have the reparative time they need, and the vessels of the conjunctiva dilate in response, causing eyes to be red."
Eat Your Veggies
"I'm sure you've heard that carrots are good for your eyes. That's not a myth—they're packed with vitamin A, which supports healthy vision by supporting the rods and cones in the retina. Dark leafy greens contain antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help stave off macular degeneration," says Hilal-Campo. She continues, "Zinc and other antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables can also prevent dry macular degeneration. To keep eyes white, foods rich in fatty acids, like nuts, oily fish, and flaxseed, will support the oil layer of the tears, which will help prevent tear evaporation and dry eyes."
Why does looking at screens cause eye redness and dryness?
Hilal-Campo explains, "When concentrating on screens, people do not blink as much, and this causes dry eye because the oils are not being excreted in the tear film properly and the tears evaporate quickly. The dryness irritates the eyes and the conjunctival blood vessels dilate in response, causing red eyes."
Does wearing contact lenses cause red eyes?
If you tend to wear your contacts too long or wear them overnight, you can cause eye redness. "Overwear of contact lenses or tight contact lenses can also cause red eyes by limiting blood flow and oxygen supply to the cornea and causing dilation of the conjunctival blood vessels in response," says Hilal-Campo.
What causes bloodshot eyes?
A lack of sleep, stress, excessive drinking, being in a smoke-filled room, looking at a computer screen for a long time, and environmental allergens are all causes of bloodshot eyes.