9 things to help you look and feel awake without coffee
How I fake the energy, without any of the jitters.
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I know that not enjoying coffee, like being tall and having a bad sense of direction, is not a personality trait. It does not make me any more interesting or fun at parties, and it’s not something particularly admirable. Some would even say it’s childish!
That being said, my distaste for coffee—and the raging anxiety its caffeine gives me—has left plenty of friends and strangers bewildered. They ask, “How do you survive without coffee? Aren’t you tired?”
The simple answer to that yes, I am often tired, but I also haven’t developed a caffeine addiction that makes starting my day without an IV of espresso impossible. I’m also lucky to have a pretty normal schedule that usually allows me to sleep at least seven hours a night. But on days where I haven’t slept, I’m hungover, or I just need a pick-me-up, I turn to my non-coffee remedies to keep me feeling like a real person.
Whether you’re trying to cut caffeine from your diet or just want to know how the other half lives, here’s a list of products I use to look and feel more awake.
1. A hydrating mask that makes four hours look like eight
When I’m up late working, out at a concert, or just know it’s going to be a long night, I like to do whatever I can to reduce the damage my lack of sleep will have in advance. Sure, my brain might be fried, but I can try to make sure face doesn’t show it.
That’s when I turn to the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, a super thick and hydrating overnight mask that makes my skin look soft and bright after just a few hours of wear. It’s honestly just as good as a lot of the luxury options out there, and a little goes a long way.
2. A face roller to eliminate puffiness
At this point, you’ve probably heard enough about crystal face rollers. You might be obsessed with them, or you might think they’re absolutely ridiculous. But I swear by using my rose quartz roller from Skin Gym to reduce puffiness after a long night.
I use it straight from the freezer, usually on weekends when I have time to sit in the morning (and when I’m, ahem, hungover), and it visibly reduces puffiness around my eyes and cheeks. I also love using it when I have sinus pressure from a cold or allergies. It leaves me feeling a lot more calm and balanced than a cup of coffee every could.
3. A classic tea that I keep in every drawer
Twinings? For breakfast? Groundbreaking.
Yes, I know everyone under the sun has heard of Twinings English breakfast tea, but it’s a classic for a reason—it’s delicious, it’s inexpensive, and it’s available everywhere. And if you’re trying to wean yourself off coffee or cut back on caffeine, it’s a great black tea that’s still somewhat caffeinated and mimics the dark richness of coffee.
I have boxes of Twinings in my desk drawers at work, in my cabinets at home, and probably in some of my purses. That tea has gotten me through some early mornings and bad jobs, and I will be forever grateful.
4. A quick kettle for non-coffee brewing
What’s tea without a good kettle? This super fast, super sleek kettle from Breville is probably one of my most-used kitchen appliances. It’s great to have when I’m trying to brew tea in the morning before work, or boil water for pasta faster than my stovetop burner can. And yes, my boyfriend also uses to make coffee in the French press.
While we didn’t test this Breville for our roundup of the best electric kettles, I can attest to its abilities—and another great Breville kettle ranks super high on our list.
5. A durable, hot-cold travel mug for tea and smoothies
One of my close friends gifted me a plain navy Klean Kanteen, along with some other college essentials, for my high school graduation. That same travel mug is still stainless and sitting pretty on my desk some five and a half years later. I might not use it for coffee, but I use it for everything else.
This canteen has carried everything from water and tea to smoothies, kombucha, wine, and questionable mixed drinks for me over the years, and the metal hasn’t absorbed any odd flavors. Travel mugs designed for coffee might have better lids for sipping, but if you want an all purpose travel canteen that keeps a variety of hot things hot and cold things cold, a Klean Kanteen is for you.
6. Aromatherapy balms to keep me alert and focused
If you rolled your eyes at face rollers, you’re probably going to stop reading now—but aromatherapy balms have been super helpful in signaling to my brain when it’s time to be awake and when it’s time to sleep. I originally bought this set of two balms from Scentered as a gift for my boyfriend, but after stealing them both from him night and day I eventually bought my own.
The Sleep Well balm is based in lavender, while the Focus balm centers around rosemary, mint, and sage. I keep the Focus balm with me at work and rub it on my wrist and temples to give me some clarity and focus when I’m feeling tired or distracted. Scent therapy might not be for everyone, but it’s a great, non-caffeinated ritual I’ve found helpful.
7. A full-coverage foundation for sleepless nights
While I try to wear a BB cream or other light coverage on my skin for daytime makeup, sometimes it’s not enough. Sometimes I’m so tired or blotchy or acne-ridden that I need to throw on a full coverage foundation to feel like a person.
I’m a huge fan of Fenty Beauty products in general, and their Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation is no exception. It’s high coverage without being cakey, and while I need to add an extra layer of moisture to my face before applying to make sure it doesn’t flake on my dry skin, it definitely keeps me looking fresh. Thanks, Rihanna!
8. A hydrating concealer for dark circles
In addition to a good foundation and pre-makeup moisturizer, a moisturizing concealer like the Stretch Concealer from Glossier does wonders at hiding dark circles and making me look more awake.
I don’t need to tell you about everything Glossier sells, but some products are winners while others are duds—the concealer is a winner. I keep one with my makeup at home and one in my purse.
9. A bright cologne that keeps me feeling fresh
As an extension of scent therapy, I like to wear bright, invigorating scents during the day, particularly when I’m feeling rundown or sleepy. This gorgeous, gender neutral scent from Atelier Cologne is full of citrus and coconut and always puts me in a good mood.
Who needs to smell like stale coffee when they could smell like a Polynesian paradise?
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.
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