Do you know what would be great? An Anna Wintour-style set up, where a team of hair and make-up artists descend on the house, while you’re still snoozing, to primp, preen and coiff, so that you don’t have to. Wouldn’t that be glorious? For most of us, though, the chances of that happening are pretty slim. So, we’ll have to make do with leaving the house with our coat half-on and mascara on one eye (we’ll do the other one later. If we remember). Except, except, I called on the help of some of the busiest women I know to decipher exactly what it is they do to look presentable, without spending hours in front of the mirror. Their tips, I have to say, are pretty handy to have in your back pocket (which, incidentally, is where I keep my mascara).
It's a rare day that I am not rushing to get my make-up done in time to catch a train. What I've learned is that products that are forgiving, buildable and can be applied with fingertips save loads of time. Laura Mercier's camouflage concealer compact, and both Glossier's Haloscope highlighter stick and Lidstar eyeshadows are all easily applied with fingertips. They're all buildable, pigment-wise, so if you're in a rush and not exactly precise, or if the lighting in your flat is crap, you'll still be OK. My philosophy is that, even if you're tired AF, as long as your skin looks glossy and hydrated, all is fine – and all three of these products allow for that!
Squirt serum, moisturiser, primer and foundation on to the back of your hand, swirl it around and use three fingers to dot the mixture all over your face. Bam – base in 30 seconds. Finish off with swift mascara and tinted lip balm on your lips and apples of your cheeks. Run a brush through your hair and you're ready for the school run.
My first time-saving tip is, if you need your make-up to last all day (and potentially all night, too) then use a translucent powder. This will set everything in place, making it last a lot longer without having to waste time later in the day doing touch-ups. After you’ve applied your base, swoosh Trish McEvoys setting powder over your face with a soft brush, then do a light dusting once everything else has been applied. If you get oily throughout the day, then use a pressed powder on your t-zone. Try La Mer’s Sheer Pressed Powder. Secondly, if you’ve no time to let your nails dry, put a drop of Deborah Lippmann’s Quick Dry Drops on your nails once you’ve painted them and they’ll be touch-dry, instantly. If you’re totally crap at painting your nails full stop, get a pack of Kiss press-on nails – file down to shape before sticking on.
Finally, if you need a blow-dry in a hurry, treat yourself to Babyliss big hair, which turns even the most cack-handed among us into hair-drying pros. The latest edition features a heat regulator to limit heat damage.
I’m a busy working mum of seven-year-old twin girls and I’m all about fast beauty. I love my products to be multi-use and work hard. Looked-after skin really is the foundation of all great beauty looks, so I slather on my new foundation from Ateh Jewel Beauty, which is coming next year (check out my Instagram for more details), as it’s packed full of skincare ingredients like vitamin C and hyaluronic acid that help to plump my skin quickly and give me a healthy glow. I also love wearing Chanel’s Stylo Ombré et Contour in Rouge Noir, smudged into the lash line for a daytime smokey eye. For evenings, I use the same product and pack it on to create a full-on glam look.
I am NOT a morning person. I will never be a morning person. I am forever in admiration of those people who live life before 7am and who bundle out of bed without a second thought. I, however, can barely manage to get to work every day. So, when I’m playing that very dangerous game of How Long Can I Stay In Bed Before It Gets Dangerous And I Don’t Have Time To Shower, I tend to fall back on the support of my old friends, bronzer and highlighter. Even if I don’t have time for mascara (shouldn’t have snoozed the alarm for a third time) or lippie (definitely shouldn’t have snoozed the alarm for that seventh time), I find that a quick dust of Bobbi Brown’s Bronzing Powder all over my face gives me new life in seconds. The dream scenario is to use Chanel’s magic (it’s actually magic and Val Garland agrees, so it must be true) Soleil Tan De Chanel, but it’s expensive (£40) so I don’t tend to use it on a daily basis. Step two of my super-speedy face jazz comes in the form of Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Flawless Filter, which is a very clever little product indeed. I tend to dot on to cheekbones and blend, which creates a lovely dewy glow. On really crucial days, however, I often use it more like a primer, lending that aforementioned glow to my entire face.
These days, I do my make-up with a nine-month-old balanced on my knee and a three-year-old commanding my attention, so any make-up in stick-form really cuts back on time. By Terry Stylo Expert Click Stick is a genius correcting pen – I use it wherever I need a little extra help in the morning. Clinique’s Chubby Stick Cheek Colour Balm makes creating a soft flush a doddle, and Eyeko Me and My Shadow scribbled on to lids and then swiped over with my ring finger gives me a completely effortless smoky eye, without the faff of using a brush.
Metallic Shimmer. This is it for fast evening beauty, because nobody can see mistakes. My friend recently got me an & Other Stories Paris Atelier nail varnish in the cold gold colour Astre d'Or, and last week for an event I did my nails in 40 seconds. There were bits all over my cuticles; didn't matter. Invisible. I also love GOSH Forever Eyeshadow Stick in 02 Beige, an almost identical colour to the nail varnish. You can smudge it in, but it looks better drawn on as a bold graphic line. Again, the edges can be messy, but it doesn't matter. It's like a shooting star across your eyelids. And for scent, apply Guerlain’s Mitsouko at breakfast and come cocktails, it's entering its best hours. A real trooper of a perfume.
This is something I stole from the excellent Caroline Hirons – I try to wash my face pretty much as soon as I'm up. The first thing I need to do when I wake up is go to the loo, so once I'm in the bathroom, I crack on with my morning routine – cleanse with a hot cloth, toner/exfoliator, serum, moisturiser – doing it while I'm barely conscious means I save time and faff less. For the evening, my answer to the question “lips or eyes” is always “cheeks!” A bit of blusher on the apples of my cheeks and a swirl of bronzer makes me look fresher, fast. I still love NARS Orgasm because I am spiritually the most 90s person you could ever meet. I think it's the business.
Ever since reading that Tracee Ellis Ross rocks a red lip to the gym with a bare face, I've adopted the same technique of keeping my face very simple and jazzing it up with a bold lip. I always keep a bright red lipstick in my bag, which does wonders to help me transition from a work to evening look, and I've trained myself to have a steady hand so I can apply my lipstick on the go.
After having my second baby, six weeks ago, I soon discovered that my morning beauty regime needed to be cut in half very quickly. So, my skincare routine is quick and simple – before the kids get up, I apply Clarins Extra Comfort Anti Pollution Cleansing Cream to dry skin as if it were a moisturiser, then quickly rinse it off with a splash of water. It takes 30 seconds and my skin is hydrated and cleansed by breakfast without having had to do a big old cleansing/moisturising ritual. If I know I’m going out in the evening, I’ll think ahead and do half the work in the morning as part of my daytime look – so, if I want a smoky eye later, I’ll quickly apply a sheer bronze eyeshadow that looks good in the day, too, lightly smudge a brown eye liner along my top lash line (brown because it’s less harsh for daytime – Rimmel London Eye Pencil in Sable Brown is perfect for both day and night) and finish with mascara. Then, all I need to do to my eyes before I go out later is add a bit of the same brown liner to my bottom water line and I’m done. I wouldn’t use black on the top and bottom as it’s too heavy, so this brown provides the perfect solution.
The best time-saving tip I’ve ever been given is to stick your hair up in a ponytail and curl around five chunks from that (see how, here), rather than dividing my hair out into dozens of sections. Then I take it down and curl the two front bits and I’m done. I’ve also found that using a larger barrel (I like Babyliss’ Soft Waves) gives me looser, less “done” curls. I’m massively cack-handed as far as my hair goes, so this has helped loads. No more getting tangled up with lots of layers, no more poodle spirals and far less faffing. Now, I can get a decent head of polished-looking waves done in under five minutes.