Sleepless nights don’t lead to bouncy, juicy, glowing skin — take it from my personal experience as a mom. Thankfully, the beauty industry churns out countless products that claim to deliver an instant glow for those moments when you need to look wide-awake (like, that surprise Zoom meeting that just got added to your calendar). As a beauty editor, I’ve tried hundreds of things that promise to help you fake a well-rested appearance, but the 13 I spotlight here are the best fake-it-til-you-make-it formulas. I promise that whichever one you choose, it will give you that lit-from-within glow to cover up the fact that you haven’t seen the inside of your eyelids for, well, too long.
Here are the best glow-giving products — sleepless mother-tested (and approved).
My normal-to-combination skin breaks out easily and I’m currently dealing with a case of perioral dermatitis that I’m doing my best to quell with my dermatologist. That said, I look for very specific things in a moisturizer — the first being that it needs to be a super-gentle formula with potent ingredients and rich texture to keep my skin nicely hydrated, while ensuring my skin barrier stays intact.
Rich enough but not too heavy for my sensitive, acne-prone skin, this non-comedogenic moisturizer from Dieux hydrates and plumps dry skin using glycerin, ceramides, peptides, and a plant-derived lipid complex — all of which work together to strengthen and protect my skin’s barrier, leaving me with a glowing angel baby face that gleams literally the instant I put it on.
Again, I have very sensitive skin and have spoken, at length, about redness and triggering inflammation directly with Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali, a board-certified dermatologist in NYC, who also helped formulate this barrier-restoring cream, part of Hailey Beiber’s new skincare line. The cool thing about Dr. B, though, is that he, too, deals with redness and sensitive skin and basically cherry-picked ingredients to remedy inflammation in his skin, as well.
I’m blown away by this mask. Created by cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson, it contains a blend of natural clays and charcoal to help remove impurities from your pores without stripping your skin’s natural oils — but that isn’t even the best part. It also contains medical-grade pure silver, which is antibacterial, antiviral, and helps to keep the skin’s natural bacteria in check by reducing the bad bacteria and keeping the good protected. When you gently rinse off the mask, the silver stays on your skin, further fighting off the bacteria you don’t want — until you wash your face again.
New York City-based, board-certified dermatologist Shereene Idriss had independent clinical studies conducted that revealed 90% of users saw a reduction in hyperpigmentation and 100% saw brighter, more radiant skin after using this serum (yes really). It also has an instant illuminating effect, thanks to the ingredient diglucosyl gallic acid. I’ve just started using it on my chest and can attest to its immediate brightening powers.
I look for foundations that offer a lot of hydration and leave a finish that makes you say, “Oh, that person’s skin looks really healthy and good.” I don’t want my face to look so shiny that it seems like I’ve unloaded a ton of highlighter on it, but I definitely love a subtle sheen.
This formula offers up medium coverage with a super long-lasting wear time (it claims to last 24 hours but we all know we need to wash our faces at the end of the night, right?) and comes in 12 shades from “ultra-fair” to “ultra-deep.” Also, a little goes a long way, which means you also don’t need to use a lot to get the correct amount of coverage your skin needs.
I love the illuminating effect this foundation gives my skin. My husband jokes that he has this one houndstooth coat that he wears and always gets compliments on and this is my houndstooth coat — every single time I wear this, without fail, someone asks me what I do to/for my skin. And they ask it that way because this formula isn’t cakey, it’s more like a veil that makes everything look even, hydrated. and supple.
Is there a more important piece of the skincare puzzle? Not in my opinion. Retinol is a close second, but sunscreen can save a life — and leave you with the most appealing glow without even trying. Fun hack, if you want your skin to glisten (and be protected from the sun), demand more from your SPF.
This formula will leave you glowing, thanks to the hyaluronic acid (hello, hydration!), niacinamide (to help even out your skin tone), and the peptides it contains, but it’s the pearlescent finish from finely milled mica that will have you beaming. I actually used this down the front of my chin and thighs and across my chest, shoulders, and down my arms (I basically bathed in it) when I went out the other night and my skin looked incredible IRL and in photos. (They also make a formula for body, too, so you aren’t using up your entire face SPF.)
Props to Venus Williams for coming out with a neutrally-tinted SPF for body that blends in seamlessly, no matter how fair or dark your skin is. It also contains hydrating allantoin that also helps minimize inflammation, bisabolol, which is anti-inflammatory and anti-viral, and non-nano zinc oxide to help protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays — all while giving your skin the dewiest glow with its beautiful finish.
I never used to be a “highlighter person,” but I’m a recent convert thanks to a couple of formulas that give a subtle sheen.
I wear the “white pearl” shade, but this brand carries six options that match the fairest and deepest of skin tones. The reason I love this baby so much is that the contour stick is on the other end packs a one-two punch, and neither the contour and the highlight leave a grayish hint on the skin — instead, the colors are so true and blend into your skin without giving that unnatural effect.
If there was ever one highlighter created for all skin tones, it’s this one. It perfectly illuminates, thanks to the light-reflective particles embedded into its baobab seed oil-infused formula, and adds a glow for fair and melanin-rich skin tones. Pop this baby on over clean skin or over your foundation/blush/contour — either way, it will glide on seamlessly without skipping or making your makeup look clumpy.
If you don’t have time to slather your skin with glow-boosting products, you can always turn to makeup. I love adding a glowing sheen to my look with my products — whether it’s shimmery eyes, juicy cheeks, or glossy lips, all of these products will instantly brighten up your face and help you look well-rested.
I have the silver shade of this liquid eyeshadow and am obsessed with it, but I also love this pinkish tint that looks stunning on any skin tone and helps you look refreshed. It’s beauty sleep in a very tiny bottle. Pro tip: if you’re dealing with visible capillaries on your eyelids due to poor sleep, just tap some concealer over your eyelids to provide a smooth base before applying this liquid formula.
This is one of the coolest blushes I’ve seen in a while — the green oil-balm formula transforms into a universally-flattering color that reacts to your skin’s pH levels to impart the perfect natural flush. It’s also an oil that can be worn solo or blended in on top of makeup. You’ll basically look like the most fresh-faced version of yourself with a youthful, pinkish glow to your cheeks.
My favorite shade of this dreamy lip oil is Rosewood, but it comes in many shades that all add a stunning, wildly glossy shine to your mouth that isn’t sticky. Swipe it on, pucker up, and thank me later.
With zero sleep, you might be resorting to a cup of coffee/espresso/cappuccino to keep your eyes open — or maybe you get your fix of caffeine via tea. Either way, these necessary vices can leave your teeth looking slightly duller than you might like (coffee thanks to its dark color and tea with its tannins, both of which can stain your teeth and gums). The products below might help give your smile a little extra glow — alongside brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing, of course.
Created by Dr. Michael Apa, DDS, a New York City cosmetic dentist, this gloss is infused with blue crystals that reflect light when you say cheeeese, giving the appearance of slightly whiter teeth and an overall brighter smile.
Okay, this kit is so cool (it’s also the number one whitening product in Australia, btw, where it was formulated by Dr. Georgios V. Sotiropoulos, a cosmetic and restorative dentist in Sydney). It uses the a blue light technology that’s similar to what your dentist uses in-office, but you whiten your teeth at home — all of them (!!) not just your front 10 teeth or so, which common strips tend to reach. Here’s how it works: You line the top and bottom of an LED-lit mouthguard with the whitening gel, click the button to active the 10-minute timer, and watch as the blue light speeds up the bleaching reaction from the peroxide in the gel. From there, the light will automatically turn off when the time is up and all there’s left to do is swish some water around in your mouth to rinse. Within the accelerator there are 50 applications and the brand claims you’ll see whitening after the first use and eight shades whiter within seven days. Oh and in case you’ve had unpleasant experiences with whiteners before, this gel is packed with papaya and pineapple extract to aid in pain-free whitening.