Trying to avoid "Are you OK?"
May 19, 2010 1:56 PM   Subscribe

How can I clean myself up after a proper crying and get back in the office?

For some time now my dog has been having complications and my family and I had to make a difficult decision today (which will not occur until next week.

So sometimes, often, everyday I have been and anticipate needing to go outside at work to take a phone call where I will probably cry or just to cry because i see a picture or hear someone talk about a dog or something. My face gets super red, my eyes puffed and ringed in purple and bloodshot. I need to be able to get back to work without looking like I'm on drugs. I really don't feel like talking to anyone I work with about it, i'd rather just be able to slip unnoticed back into my seat. What do you do to restore your face after a hard cry?
posted by WeekendJen to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Keep visine on hand (for the redness in your eyes, it works wonders) and hit the rest room before you go back to your desk. Get a paper towel wet with cool water, lock yourself in a stall, and just leave it over your eyes for a few minutes (Bonus points - calm down emotionally, too). Then touch up makeup with powder or concealer etc (if you wear those things).

After having this happen to me twice over the past year (the crying at work but not wanting to have to deal with explaining to other people thing), I now keep the supplies on hand : )
posted by CharlieSue at 2:01 PM on May 19, 2010

And if anyone should ask if anything's wrong, just wave your hands vaguely and say "Oh, you know, allergies."
posted by rtha at 2:08 PM on May 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: This works remarkably well:

Look up. Stretch your face into the biggest, widest smile you can manage. Make sure the muscles around your eyes are really stretched and squinting. Hold your fake smile for about 30 seconds.
Voila! Instant improvement in puffyness and a big decrease in redness.

I wish I had not had so many opportunities to test this in my own office bathroom.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:11 PM on May 19, 2010 [10 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding the allergies thing. Some people will take it at face value, and other people will take it as a sign that you don't want to talk about what's bothering you. There may be one guy who says "you don't have allergies, you've been crying? what's wrong?" and you can respond "well, sometimes your social faux pas make me cry."
posted by davejay at 2:15 PM on May 19, 2010 [21 favorites]

don't rub away your tears, blot if you need to.

the paper towel over the eyes works well.

fanning your face to reduce redness works well.

yes to visine and yes to using allergies as an excuse.
posted by nadawi at 2:16 PM on May 19, 2010

Best answer: A few phases of major public crying combined with a very pale, red complexion has led me to develop a somewhat complicated routine that combines some of the best tips I'd heard elsewhere.

1. Stop crying all the way. Any lingering tear leakage will ruin your hard work. My therapist suggested a move where you take a deep breath, lunge foward with one foot, spread your arms out very wide, exhale and smile. Then you lunge forward with the other food and repeat a few times. It oxygenates your body and loosens sad tight muscles. You feel like a goober, but it's actually quite effective. Then I like a sort of smile and stretch maneuver like CunningLinguist describes combined with gentle massage on the inner corners of my eyes/bridge of my nose.

2. A cool compress is good but vigorous splashing with very cold water is better. A quick but gentle rub around the eye area with an ice cube is can help puffiness. Actually, the very cold water splash can also help you stop crying; it's a sort of system shock some people with anxiety problems use to help stop a panic attack, so it does well with run of the mill tears as well.

3. Visine, I really flood my eyes and then blot. It's not great for your eyes long term, but mine get very, very red and it really does help.

4. Makeup. Concealer, obviously, all around the eyes and on the nose. You want something with a fair amount of coverage. I like Benefit Erase Paste or Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer, but that's not terribly important. Don't forget the area between your nose and upper lip if your a runny nose sort. Set lightly with powder.

Then, here's my secret weapon. I apply a layer of shimmery champagne eyeshadow to brighten the area and counteract redness, curl my eyelashes ,and apply waterproof mascara. Nothing opens up the eyes like curling your lashes. Seriously, it's magic. I keep my curler in my purse on days when I know I might be weepy specifically because it works so well to make nearly swollen eyes look more normal.
posted by mostlymartha at 2:28 PM on May 19, 2010 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Smallish reading glasses.
posted by sageleaf at 3:02 PM on May 19, 2010

The gets-the-red-out eye drops are key!
posted by SuzB at 3:07 PM on May 19, 2010

If you want the cosmetic solution and not the social one, which might be easier for you to accomplish, I've recently started using a concealer palette and it really knocks out all traces of redness and bluish bags. Brush the greenish one onto red areas and the orangish one onto blue areas and you'll even right out (provided you have the caucazoid skintone imagined by the cosmetic manufacturers).
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:09 PM on May 19, 2010

Nthing Benefit Erase Paste. Works extremely well when applied with a concealer brush. Keep in purse or makeup bag.

I'm sorry to hear about your dog. I've been there and know how difficult it is to lose one's faithful friend. I wish you strength for the coming week, and for your dog's last days to be as peaceful and painless as possible. There's no friend who gives us as much undiluted, pure joy as our dogs do.
posted by choochoo at 3:18 PM on May 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

(Bonus points - calm down emotionally, too)

There are whole old AskMe threads on this, but my trick is math, or lists, or saying the alphabet backwards, or trying to remember a string of anything. So, me, I would take a technical report with me and after the cry, spend a few minutes trying to figure out what the tables in the appendix were really saying. (It provides cover for being outside, too.) Or I might try to make a grocery shopping list in the elevator. Or, I'd see how many of my friends' phone numbers I could recite in my head. Sorry to hear what you're going through. :(
posted by salvia at 5:56 PM on May 19, 2010

I'm so sorry you're going through this. When I was getting divorced I cried in the car on my way to work, in the bathroom at work throughout the day and all the way home. I relied on soft, high-quality Kleenex (cheap tissues would irritate my eyes further and sort of ball up/fall apart/shed in a way that left me flecked with cheap tissue) and cold water. Obviously, splashing cold water on your face is less ideal if you're already wearing make-up, but since I was not, it worked really well.

That aside, the people who've said you should blame allergies are spot-on. It is the perfect time of year to make use of this excuse.

You're in my thoughts. Take care.
posted by kate blank at 6:07 PM on May 19, 2010

I read that the fleshy area between thumb and forefinger is a pressure point to stop crying, so I rub that. I try to get mad instead of teary. I believe, firmly, that women are prone to tears partly because of our hormones (omg, when pregnant, everything made me cry rivers) and partly because crying stops us from speaking up, being heard, being angry, so our culture encourages it. Whether I'm right about this, it has helped me get better at controlling the tears, sometimes. I've cried in offices 2 levels up form mine. (1. discussing v. sensitive family crisis, 2. v. rough year at work). If you're super-sensitive, learning meditation or CBT may help you control the tendency to get sad.

The cold splashing water doesn't fix the redness, but it helps stop the teariness. I carry a washcloth in a ziplock bag. (Cold cloth also stops panic attacks.) Get a pair of glasses, super-weak readers if you don't wear glasses, and say your contacts are bugging you, again. or allergies.

and, it's okay to be a compassionate person who sometimes cries. I hate crying and being asked about it, too, just want to say - it's nice that people are sensitive and not always hard as a rock.
posted by theora55 at 6:51 PM on May 19, 2010

Visine and icecubes on the eyes. It's not perfect, but you can claim allergies and folks usually buy it.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 7:38 PM on May 19, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, all.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:14 AM on May 25, 2010

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