Some of my favorite products that show up in the beauty closet end up being the most mundane—think deodorant, tweezers, or callus buffers. On one particular day in the office a while back, it happened to be eyedrops: Bausch & Lomb's Lumify Redness Relieving Drops, to be exact. I brought the tiny purple-capped bottle over to my desk, and a chorus of beauty editors who had already tried it began waxing poetic over how revolutionary they were. "They really work!" they swooned. The box promised to eradicate redness within 60 seconds, a claim that I had a hard time believing. As a major eye rubber and poor sleeper, the whites of my eyes are always a little pink. Skeptical, I threw the drops into my purse to try before a dinner with friends.
That night, after cleansing my face and moisturizing, I put one drop into each eye—ten minutes before I put in my contacts, as directed. I finished the rest of my makeup in a hurry and called out to my then-roommate to ask when she wanted to call an Uber. She popped her head in my room to answer, and then she shrieked. Thinking she spotted a roach or a burglar on my fire escape, I shrieked back, before she asked: "WHAT did you do with your makeup? You have DOLL EYES right now."
I looked in the mirror. In ten minutes it had taken to finish up my look, my face had been transformed. My eyes looked like they were open an inch wider, my subtle smokey eye bolder and my mascara inkier. The whites of my eyes were practically glowing, but in a healthy way. I looked like an honest-to-god American Girl doll, only with better hair and more risqué clothing. I handed her the drops—this is not me recommending you share your eyedrops! I'd had two glasses of wine at that point!—and she put a drop in one eye and not the other to test their effectiveness. Sure enough, within one minute, her left eye was significantly more radiant that her right. From that night on, we referred to the bottle as our Doll Eyes, and they became an everyday staple in our home.
Since that night, my makeup just doesn't look right without them, and I can't find another over-the-counter substitute that holds up for when I run out. The secret to Lumify's formula is its active ingredient brimonidine tartrate, which is often used to reduce pressure and treat glaucoma in prescription drops at a much higher dose. They're the only OTC product that contains the ingredient, and they're completely safe for use (though if your redness is caused by a more serious condition, it's best to stick with your doctor's prescription.) And though they're credited with lasting for up to eight hours—which I can absolutely confirm from experience—they don't cause the "rebound redness" other drops do when they wear off. So now, whether I've got allergies, a hangover, or I'm shedding a few tears for the state of our democracy, two drops a day are absolutely non-negotiable. Doll Eyes forever.