How do you function the day after an all-nighter, let alone looking competent and vaguely human? We covered this a looong time ago, back in the dark days of 2008 — but considering that Corporette has so many more readers now, I thought I’d update the Corporette coverage of the subject, and I can’t wait to hear what commenters say.
We’ve all been there — stuff needs to get done, and stuff needs to get done now. In the high-stress job, the all-nighter (sometimes several nights in a row!) is par for the course. One of my former bosses once said she reveled in looking like crap the next day — that she wore it as a badge of honor. Me: not so much. If you look sloppy and tired and incoherent, well, that’s how you tend to get treated (and sometimes the treatment lasts far longer than the sleep deprivation). (Pictured: IMG_9636, originally uploaded to Flickr by mikebitton.) So, that said, here are my tips for how to avoid looking and acting like the walking dead:
1. Get as much quality sleep as you can. Your goal on these nights is to complete as many sleep cycles as possible. There are four stages to sleep; the final stage is REM sleep. It generally takes 90 minutes to finish a full cycle, but it can vary, so play around with it. (A new product, the WakeMate wristband and smartphone App “optimizes your waking hours by automatically analyzing your sleep and illuminating personal habits that affect your sleep.” Lifehacker just rounded up some other helpful sleep tech, also.) My point here is that once you get home from the office, figure out how many 90-minute cycles you can get in. Go for solid numbers of sleep cycles, because it’s a little like doing your laundry: if you’re interrupted halfway through you’re worse than you were before. Note that a sleeping pill will interrupt your sleep cycles (as will other chemical aids). In general, if you remember your dreams, you’re waking up in the middle of a cycle.
2. Force your skin to look young and awake, even if you feel anything but. Almost every skin care line has masks or lotions that use natural acids to exfoliate the skin and promote the skin’s turnover rate. If you’re loyal to one skincare brand, check that line first — look for something like Bliss ‘The Youth As We Know It’ Anti-Aging Cleanser, which is part of a collection that contains “the top ten age-fighting ingredients” and guarantees to “leave skin smoother, brighter, dewier and firmer.” Another good one: Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse-Off Formula No Color One Size, which has won the reader’s choice awards for Allure magazine in 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007.
3. Ward off colds. No, an on-coming cold doesn’t really affect the way you look, but after a sleepless night your immune system will be vulnerable. If you’re a fan of zinc or echinacea, now’s the time to take a preemptory hit. You may also want to try some Emergen-C packets — you add them to 8 oz of water and the Kool-Aid type concoction gives you more than 1000% of you Vitamin C for the day. (Especially for when the office emergency has passed and you’re now just trying to make it to the end of the day, I prefer an Emergen-C packet to coffee for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up — no caffeine crash.)
4. Depuff your eyes. The adage says the eyes are the window to your soul — so it’s best to avoid that blank, swollen look in your eyes. Before you leave the house, apply something cold to your eye area. Tea bags soaked in cold water will do in a pinch, but a gel mask is far less messy. Second, invest in a good eye cream — let’s face it, this area always needs help. I like Aveeno Eye Brightener but, again, recommend you look first to whichever brand of skincare products you use; I’ve also started using Clinique’s All About Eyes. Also, Visine is handy if your eyes are very red (but avoid using it daily — I’ve heard the ingredient that gets the red out will eventually stop working.) If your eyes are continuously dry and sore, I luuurve TheraTears — they’re preservative-free and come in both a regular liquid and a super-duper thick and soothing gel.
5. Choose a safe outfit. Trust me, today isn’t the day to experiment with that new trend you just read about in Lucky. Even if it’s going to be a low key day, I suggest going ultra safe here: pull out your interview suit or some other outfit you’ve worn a thousand times, and pull your hair back into a bun or a French twist. The look you’re going for is clean, professional, and most of all, coherent.
Readers, what are your best tips for looking great the day after an all nighter and functioning normally? What products are your favorites?