I appreciate what makeup can do, but I don’t feel like spending a lot of time and effort on cosmetics. Still, I like the way my lashes look curled and my eyes look shadowed. Here are some tips to get the most out of your makeup routine with the least amount of time, effort and products.
If you choose to wear makeup, it can be a time-consuming process. With a little organising, you can come up with a basic routine that will make it easier.
Cut Down Your Stash
Like most makeup wearers, I’ve experimented here and there over the years. A new eyeshadow colour, a failed attempt at bright red lipstick — it’s easy to build up a small landfill of products in your own makeup bag. The first step in streamlining your routine? Get rid of everything you don’t use.
First, trash any duplicates. If you experimented with a few different blush colours before finding the right one, get rid of all the products that didn’t work. The Frisky also recommends tossing anything you haven’t worn in five months. It may be hard to get rid of something you spent money on — especially if it’s still good — but be honest with yourself about what you will and won’t use. Makeup has a shelf life. Chances are, if it’s been in your stash for a year or so, it’s probably time to toss it. According to Good Housekeeping, here’s when common makeup products go bad:
- Mascara: 3 months
- Liquid eyeliner: 3 months
- Cream eyeshadow: 6 months
- Lipstick and gloss: 2 years
You can check out the full article for the reasoning behind each of these dates, but it’s mostly based on bacteria and effectiveness.
Keep Two Makeup Bags
There’s the makeup I use every day, which isn’t much, and then there’s the makeup I use when I’m trying to look fancy, which includes foundation, smoky eyeshadow, bronzer and so on. So, to keep my routine simple, I have two makeup bags. One everyday makeup bag, and one for the fancy, seldom-used products. That way, I don’t have to rifle through a bunch of products I don’t normally wear.
Cutting back on your products makes the whole process quicker. It’s sort of like cleaning out your closets — the fewer options you have, the easier it is to make decisions.
Find Multipurpose Products
In the spirit of less is more, it also helps to find products that serve multiple purposes. There are the standard “double-duty” products, such as anti-ageing creams, BB creams and CC creams. They’re designed to be multipurpose and are marketed as such, but beyond that you can get creative with regular products. Money Crashers gives a few examples:
- Cream blush can be used as lip gloss
- Bronzer can be used as eyeshadow
I’ve also often found myself using two products because one doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. In this case, it helps to buy high-quality stuff. For example, I used to buy cheap, dollar-store eyeshadows that creased up on my eyelids. To prevent this, I primed my eyelids with a concealing stick. I used two products to do one job, when it was better to just spend a little more money on one name-brand, quality eyeshadow. They don’t cause the dreaded eyelid crease, so I can ditch the stick and save time.
Pick and Prioritise
Your makeup might have a bigger impact the more products you use, but the idea here is to simplify. It helps to pick a few areas you want to focus on, then prioritise your products.
First, figure out what you want to focus on, such as your eyes, lips, cheeks or skin tone. This might be based on your day-to-day activities, or it might be based on features you want to highlight. A general rule of thumb is to only focus on eyes or lips if you’re short on time, because those make the most impact. Pick the areas that work best for you.
Then, mentally list all the products you use in your routine, considering those features, and prioritise them. For me, it’s moisturiser, eyeliner, eyeshadow, mascara and blush, all of which I keep in my everyday bag. On a busy day, I know that at a bare minimum I’ll put on moisturiser, eyeshadow and blush. If I have more time, I can dig into my eyelid primer or bronzer, but I know exactly what to go for when I’m in a hurry.
Pick a couple of features to focus on, pick a few basic products, then plan your routine accordingly.
Or Use a Basic, Universal Routine
If you don’t know where to start with makeup, or if you don’t know what to focus on, just use a basic, pre-planned routine. Here’s a five-minute routine suggested by Best Health:
- Prep skin with moisturiser, and, if you feel like it, primer and foundation (2 minutes)
- Apply eyeliner (1 minute)
- Curl eyelashes and apply mascara (1 minute)
- Put on blush (1 minute)
- Apply a sheer gloss or lipstick (15 seconds)
It might not be customised to your liking, but it will do the overall trick for just about anyone.
Know Tricks of the Trade
Beyond cutting back on products and picking the best ones, there are quite a few specific makeup tricks that can make a big impact without taking much time. Here are some of my favourites:
- Bend your mascara wand: Bend the brush at a slight angle. This helps to more easily apply mascara to the outer corner of your lash line.
- Use eyeliner to draw a pound sign (or hashtag) on your eyes. Blend in with a brush (or better yet — your finger) for an easy “smoky eye” look.
- The triangle concealer trick: Draw a triangle under your eyes with concealer, then blend for a more even, fuller look.
- Prep your eyelash curler with liner to curl and line eyes at the same time.
- Warm eyelash curlers with a blow dryer: It helps set the curl faster. Just be careful that it’s not too hot before putting it to your eye.
These tricks are simple enough to incorporate into your everyday beauty routine, and they can save you at least a little time and effort. Cosmopolitan has a decent YouTube series, Beauty or Bullshit, that tests these tricks and tells you which ones actually work.
Ditch the Tools
Makeup tools serve a purpose, but they can take up a lot of room in your makeup bag and add extra time to your routine. And there are plenty of ways to apply makeup without them. The Live Well Network goes into detail, but here a few highlights on how to put on makeup with your fingers:
1. Dab three dots of lipstick on your cheekbones and rub in for instant cheek colour.
2. Dab three dots of a light metallic eye shadow above your cheek colour and blend in to give a natural glow.
1. Dot the foundation on the high points of the face.
2. Blend gently with your fingertips. The warmth of your fingers will help the makeup go on smoothly.
3. You can get more coverage by “stippling” or patting the makeup into place. It can also build the coverage in an area (for larger pores or discolouration).
Of course, you want to start with clean hands, too.
Another factor to consider: cleanup. I don’t want to spend much time putting on makeup, and I don’t want to spend a lot of time taking it off either. This is why it helps to have a basic, less-is-more routine — there’s less to remove. Cold cream can also help take makeup off easier, and it especially comes in handy if you use foundation.
Makeup obviously isn’t a necessity, but there’s nothing wrong with using it to look more awake or put together. Plus, it can be fun to play with. If you want to get the biggest impact with a minimal amount of time and effort, these tips should start you in the right direction.