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The Violet Files

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The quick-fix magic helpers a sleep-deprived mother uses to fake awake.

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There are three little words that, especially as a newish mom, I dread hearing almost more than anything else: You look tired. And, much to my chagrin, I get them lobbed at me with some frequency. While they aren’t a false assessment (my baby does usually like to get her day started by 5am sharp), that my face reveals the visual evidence of my very real exhaustion is a tough beauty burden to bear. And the first long weekend of warm weather revelry, with its accompanying non baby-related late nights plus a hangover has only helped amplify my tired look.

You’re likely familiar with the oft-referenced RBF (aka, resting bitch face), and to the category of beauty acronyms I would add RRF: Resting Resting Face. An affliction wherein one’s skin simply looks dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep; a woe that the combined impact of advancing age and baby-induced fatigue have bestowed on me. The visible symptoms? Besides a general laxity and dullness, I would conjecture that the other main pillar of RRF is entirely eye related: puffiness, dark circles, fine lines, and, whatever the polar opposite of glowy is. And even the best under-eye concealers and highlighters (my current favorite: RMS Un-Concealer) can only do so much. Reinforcements have been required; in this case, that has meant a brigade of eye masks whose merits I’ve been testing to fake awake.


First, Erno Laszlo’s Multi-Task Eye Serum Mask. Marilyn Monroe was famously a Laszlo devotee and I like to think she would have reached for these little wonders after a particularly late and/or indulgent night. The material they’re crafted with gets high marks from me: sturdier than most in the category, they retain serum without being drenched and slippery (ergo, they stay put instead of migrating down your cheeks), and, if mask selfies are your thing, the shiny pseudo-plastic appearance translates well in ‘gram form. The vitamin B3 (a natural illuminator) and algae-packed formula did bring my puffiness down and brighten in a discernible way, but, alas, I’m quite sensitive to scent (especially anywhere in the vicinity of my eyeballs) and this had too much for me.


I took the name of 111 Skin’s Sub-Zero De-Puffing Eye Mask to heart (they are apparently designed to mimic cold temperature’s invigorating effects on the complexion) and tucked them in the fridge pre-application for maximum cooling potential. Like Erno Laszlo’s, the depuffing capabilities (this time thanks to a slew of tetrapeptides) were truly remarkable—I used these after an evening of little sleep and a salty dinner so stakes were really high—but again, the scent while fine for someone else was a bit too much for me.


Chantecaille’s Gold Eye Masks, which are spun from peptide stem cells and seaweed and, as the name promises, 24-karat gold. If luxury were epitomized by an eye mask, this would be it: I hummed Sheila E.’s “The Glamorous Life” to myself while plopping them on. Drenched with all those aforementioned fancy ingredients, they feel slick at first but your skin quickly soaks it all up. While they didn’t have much impact on my puffiness, these were a magic bullet for hydration and dark circles. So much so that concealer will prove to be superfluous.


Sio Beauty’s Eye & Smile Lift Patches, which claim to smooth wrinkles overnight, were actually a surprise. The re-usable (one set gives you 15 uses) 100% medical-grade silicone patches feel like a next-gen version of face tape, except these actually do render the skin tauter (even after just one night of wear) and have a subtle blurring effect on more surface-level fine lines. While I love that they are reusable, storing them in the package isn’t ideal, and, I should add, my fellow restless sleepers may feel compelled as I did two nights in a row, to tear them off during particularly active dream sequences.


As it turns out, with eye masks, much like with face masks, I’m kind of a traditionalist: I prefer them in jar form. So Révive’s Revitalizing Eye Mask really resonated. Dubbed a mask versus an eye cream because the ingredients (hyaluronic acid and probiotics, among others) are more concentrated and therefore you only need to use it twice a week max, it feels immediately soothing, is entirely fragrance-free (woohoo!), and my skin felt plumper and firmer come my 5AM wake-up call. Now if I could only couple regular usage with more regular sleep I’d be golden.


For a wake-up call that instantly firms and adds pep to the eye area, the Chanel Le Lift Firming- Anti-Wrinkle Flash Eye Revitalizer delivers—and then some. The two-prong system includes a vitamin-rich serum that targets individual factors of aging (like suppleness, elasticity, puffiness, and dark circles) with the help of Edulis Morning Glory extract. A rollerball tip treats you to a mini massage while you apply the serum. The game-changing finale: 10-minutes with the double-C hydrogel patches (you get 10 sets in the box).


Adore the depuffing effects of an ice-bath facial but don’t have the patience? Not a problem thanks to Joanna Vargas. The renowned esthetician’s Bright Eye Hydrating Mask does the trick, but ten times better. The mask instantly cools the skin and tackles tired eyes from all angles. There’s arbutin to even pigmentation, licorice root extract for puffiness, a neuropeptide touted for its Botox-like effect, and hyaluronic acid to plump and hydrate. Basically, it’s the next best thing to seeing the pro herself.