‘Sleepy Eyes’ is one of Gen Z’s latest beauty obsessions and it’s giving ‘exhaustion’. With a plethora of new TikTok and Instagram make-up and aesthetic trends fuelling my curiosity about what the younger generations think is cool, this one seems eerily similar to the ‘heroin chic’ trend from the early ’90s. Characterised by pale skin, dark circles underneath the eyes, emaciated features, androgyny and stringy hair—the only difference is that the ’90s look was associated with expensive drug abuse, and today’s ‘sleepy eyes’ look is just the result of a capitalist world burdening young people with mounting debts, a crippling economy and no time to sleep, given their multiple side hustles barely keeping them afloat. Whew! Digressing a bit here, but the origins of an openly trendy ‘fatigued’ look is simply a cry for help if you ask me. Hang in there, kids!
Now, don’t get me wrong, as someone who struggles with hiding my dark-circles and sleep-deprived look, I’m all for the sleepy eyes trend which is basically glorifying a dishevelled, tired look, and rebranding it as sultry and high-fashion. Truly exciting times.
With mega stars including Emma Chamberlain, Lily-Rose Depp, Billie Eilish and Zoë Kravitz embracing the viral make-up obsession (or, they naturally have those eyes and accidentally became the faces of the trend), the hashtag #SleepyEyes has already amassed close to 140 million views, and is in no mood to stop. This beauty hack is all about celebrating your natural self and amping it up with sensuousness.
The sleepy, ‘come-hither’ eyes can easily be achieved by *not* getting enough sleep and slapping on some dark eyeshadow to boost the aesthetic. Don’t even brush your hair to really sell the look, am I right?! Apparently the TikTokers are already ahead of me. After doe eyes, siren eyes and the likes, they’ve similarly devised a step-by-step make-up routine to get the sleepy-eyed look and emulate seductive exhaustion.
When it comes to this TikTok trend, it is almost the amalgamation of the doe eye and the siren eye—highlighting the sultry energy of siren eyes with the docile innocence of the wide doe eyes, sprinkled with a touch of a dark, dangerous and femme fatale aura. While glamourising obvious exhaustion might seem like fun and games, and convenient for people who do not care for make-up anyway, I wouldn’t recommend ignoring chronic fatigue and the real emotional and physical struggles of a person. As long as we realise the distinction between the fun make-up hack and the real-life symptoms of distress and depression, this ‘sexy’ beauty moment should be fun to try out for sure!
Learn how to achieve the ‘sleepy eyes’ make-up look below
Essentially a darker take on the siren eyes, sleepy eyes can be achieved by focusing on the under eye area and accentuating any signs of exhaustion. The angle of the eyes should be somewhat droopy and they should exude the ‘barely-awake,’ ‘I-need-coffee-in-an-IV’ kind of a look. Sounds easy, right?
Start by highlighting the grey hues to achieve the downturned, grumpy and sunken eye look and emphasise the roundness of the eye on the lower lid. If you naturally happen to sport the trendy dark circles, then you’re good to go. I’m sure every twenty-something year-old’s middle school self is screaming angrily at this trend and the irony, but oh well. Here are a few easy steps you could follow to get the aesthetic and unlearn years and years of YouTube tips and beauty advice given out to *erase* these very dark circles, but hey, it’s the ‘circle’ of life after all.
- Grab a smokey neutral-hued eyeshadow and buff it on your top lid with a fluffy blending brush.
- Take a small, pointed and sleek eyeshadow brush and extend the same colour towards the inner crease of the eye to produce a fatigue-induced hollowed-out darkness.
- Once that’s done, reach for a black eyeliner (gel, liquid, kohl or pencil all would work) and draw a line from the lower outer corner of the eye and pull it straight before connecting the wing to the upper lash line.
- Next, take a dark pencil or kohl liner and apply the shade just below your waterline or lower lash line, only up to the centre of the eye. Blend it out with a small brush and drag that same colour into the wing for a seamless smokey effect.
- Complete the look with a generous swipe of mascara on both bottom and upper lashes and there you have it!
Pair this off-duty model make-up look with tousled hair, casual loose-fitting clothes, and accessorise it with a yawn and a huge cup of coffee to finish your look.