Recently, a reader e-mailed us to say that she didn't have the time for any kind of beauty regimen—the idea of styling her hair or putting on even a little makeup was completely overwhelming when she thought of everything else she had to do. We understand. But we wanted her to know that often the smallest thing—something that takes almost no time at all, like slipping on a headband or applying a tinted moisturizer—can make a big difference in how you look and feel. So we tracked down a few impeccably put-together experts—makeup artists, dermatologists, hairstylists, and colorists—and asked them how they save time. Here's what they said.
1. Set up an area on your vanity or bathroom counter to lay out your makeup and tools. They'll be easier to find than in an overstuffed bag.
2. When you brush your teeth, also brush your lips to remove flakes. Then swipe on a tinted lip balm or gloss with SPF (like Clinique Long Last Glosswear SPF 15, $14); you'll get moisture, protection, and color all at once, without needing a lipstick and liner (or even a mirror).
3. Switch to a tinted moisturizer with SPF. It hydrates, evens out your skin tone, protects against UV rays, and is easier to blend than foundation (try Smashbox Sheer Focus SPF 15, $30).
4. If you like face powder: Pressed formulas are easier to use than loose ones and give good coverage quickly (Lancôme Dual Finish Versatile Powder Makeup, $36, is terrific).
5. Choose big, fluffy brushes to apply face powder and blush. They will deposit a sheer wash of color that's easy to blend.
6. Instead of using a separate concealer and brush, dip a Q-tip into your liquid foundation and tap it on blemishes.
7. For the quickest hit of radiance, skip foundation and powder; instead, dust bronzer on your cheeks, chin, and around your hairline.
8. Or skip the bronzer and apply a facial self-tanner every few days to give yourself a healthy glow and even out your skin tone (L'Oréal Sublime Bronze Towelettes are fast and easy, $10).
9. Use a cream blush or bronzer as both a cheek color and eyeshadow.
10. A three-in-one product for eyes, lips, and cheeks (like Wet 'n' Wild 3-of-a-Kind Twist Up Stick, $4) shaves off a few seconds of switching between products; choose a warm rose or berry shade, which looks the most natural.
11. A pencil eyeliner is easier to handle (and so, quicker) than a liquid or gel (try MAC Pearlglide Eye Liner, $15).
12. If you like the look of a dramatic, smoky eye but don't have time to build layers of shadow, line the rims of your upper and lower lids with a black eyeliner pencil. Then smudge it all the way around with a Q-tip.
13. On mornings when you need a fast eye brightener, trace a creamy nude liner pencil on your lower inner rims, or dip a Q-tip in a light taupe shadow and run it under your lower lashes.
14. Before you apply mascara, roll the brush on a tissue to get rid of clumps so that they won't end up on your lashes (where you'll waste time getting them off).
15. Don't use mascara on your lower lashes. It smudges, and takes time to clean up.