13 Ways to Make Your Eyes Look Brighter

If your eyes look dull and tired, staying hydrated or using the magic of makeup can help brighten the whites of your eyes.

Your eyes show people a lot about you and convey a cornea-copia of emotions and expressions. Sparkling, bright eyes – thanks to the contrast of eye color and the whites of the eyes – especially make a person look healthy and lively.

But life can take a toll on your peepers. Staring at a computer screen for hours on end, air conditioning, and pollutants can leave the whites of your eyes looking bloodshot, dull, and dry.

Fortunately, a few beauty and health tips can restore your bright-eyed gaze. From makeup hacks to getting enough Zzz’s, here are 13 tips for brighter eyes.

person looking at eyes in compact
Giorgio Magini/Stocksy United

How to brighten your eyes with makeup

1. Under eye concealer

Using a quick slick of undereye concealer can brighten your whole face and make your eyes look more awake.

But if you also have dark under-eye circles, not just any concealer will do the trick. Look for concealers packed with pigment that cover dark areas, while also being moisturizing enough to hydrate the delicate skin under your eyes.

2. White eyeliner on your waterline

Applying white or nude eyeliner on your waterline (the area between your bottom lashes and your eyeball) is an easy way to make your eyes look brighter. Unlike dark eyeliner’s defined, sultry effect, lining your eyes with white creates the illusion of wider, brighter eyes.

Just note your eyes may object to any type of liner on the waterline. So if you find your eyes getting irritated, ditch the liner and try a different method instead.

3. Highlight on inner corners of the eyes

Highlighter isn’t just for your cheekbones. Adding a pop of highlight on the inner corners of your eyes reflects light and makes your eyes look brighter and more awake. Apply highlight on its own, or after your base eyeshadow, using a small precision brush in a tapping motion.

Just don’t get too heavy-handed. Appling a ton of highlight can reflect too much light and give you more of a disco ball gaze.

4. Shimmery or pale eyeshadow

For a foolproof eye-brightening method, reach for a shimmery or pale eyeshadow. The light-catching properties of shimmer immediately make your eyes look brighter, and a pale shade helps neutralize any darkness on your lids.

If you want to intensify the color of shimmery eyeshadow, try applying it with a damp brush. You can also use a pale base shadow first and add shimmer to the center to really make your peepers pop.

5. Curl eyelashes

Curling your eyelashes not only makes them look longer, but it also lifts and separates them to open up your eye. The result? You guessed it — brighter eyes!

Any ole’ curler from the drugstore will do. Just be careful not to tug or pull on your lashes, and hold down the curler for about 10 seconds before releasing.

6. Mascara

Once your lashes are curled, adding a coat or two of mascara helps increase the drama. The contrast of the dark mascara and the additional lifting effect on your lashes will help your eyes look more open and bright. If you have sensitive eyes, though, choose a hypoallergenic formula to avoid irritation.

You can also go the extra mile by investing in a primer. It’s an extra step, but it helps create an even base for your mascara while adding extra length and volume.

7. Black eyeliner on the upper lash line

The stark contrast between the whites of your eyes and black eyeliner on the upper lash line can create the illusion of brighter eyes. It’s also one of those makeup tricks that looks good day and night.

Just be sure to use a waterproof or long-wearing formula. That way, you don’t have to worry about your liner smudging or running.

How to have brighter, healthy eyes

8. Eye drops

Dry, red, and irritated eyes can look tired and dull. Partying a little too hard the night before or living in a dry environment can zap moisture from your eyes. But, you could also have dry eye syndrome. This condition is usually associated with aging, but wearing contact lenses or taking medications like decongestants and antihistamines can also cause dry eye syndrome.

Over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops or artificial tears can banish dry eyes by lubricating your eyeballs. If OTC drops don’t help, chat with your doc about prescription eye drops to rehydrate and soothe your peepers. If you have low-lying lids, a new eye-opening prescription eye drop called Upneeq may also help make the whites of the eyes appear brighter.

9. Drink more water

Drinking plenty of water is critical to your overall health and gives your skin and eyes a hydrated, bright glow. Wetter is better for your eyes!

If you find it hard to down eight glasses a day to stay hydrated, try carrying around a reusable water bottle or infusing your H2O with fruit for added flavor. And remember: if the weather is hot and humid, or you’re being active, you’ll need even more water. 

Another way to up your water intake is snacking on fruits and vegetables with high water content. Reach for watermelon, grapes, cucumbers, tomatoes, and leafy greens.

PsssstSparkling water is also hydrating!

10. Get more sleep

It’s impossible to look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed without enough sleep. So make sure you get a minimum of 7 to 9 hours of sleep.

If you struggle to catch Zzz’s every night, ditch your phone before bedtime. According to a 2018 review, artificial light screws up eye health and your natural sleep cycle.

11. Eat foods rich in vitamin A

What’s up, doc? Follow Bugs Bunny’s example and eat more carrots if you want bright eyes. Carrots are rich in vitamin A, an essential nutrient for eye health.

Vitamin A is an antioxidant that helps maintain the eyes’ surface and allows you to see at night. A deficiency can lead to blindness.

If carrots aren’t your thing, try these other foods rich in vitamin A:

Natural remedies for brighter eyes

12. Soothe your eyes with cucumbers

Putting cucumbers on your eyes may help soothe swollen, irritated peepers thanks to cuke’s vitamin Cfolic acid, and water content. Research shows vitamin C’s antioxidant power can help cell growth in the skin around your peepers. Cucumber’s folic acid, which is a B vitamin, may help reduce puffiness and swelling. The water in cucumbers also helps it add moisture back to the skin.

Place cucumber slices over your eyes for about 10 minutes while you sit back and relax. When you’re done, your eyes should feel refreshed, brighter, and less puffy.

No cucumbers to hand? Try tea bags instead.

13. Calm redness with rosewater

According to a 2018 study, rose water has some nifty anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe irritated eyes, reduce redness, and banish any bacterial baddies.

You can find rosewater in the skincare aisle of most drugstores, or make your own by steeping rose petals in boiling water for 5 minutes. Let it cool and then strain it before storing it in a clean container in the fridge. To use rosewater for brighter eyes, just dab a little rosewater on a cotton ball and lightly apply it to the area around your eyes.

tl:dr

If your eyes look more dull than sparkling, you can may be able to brighten your eyes with makeup hacks and lifestyle changes. Getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water, and eating foods rich in vitamin A are simple ways to keep your eyes healthy. Natural remedies like cucumbers and rosewater may also help you achieve brighter eyes.

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