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HOW TO: Apply Makeup in 90 Seconds

Updated on October 26, 2014
tick tick tick tick...
tick tick tick tick...

Wash your Face!

Not really. You don't have time for that! But do splash cold water on your face. Cold water helps balance out redness and shrinks the appearance of pores. Pat your face 80% dry, then smear on whatever moisturizer you can find. This is not the time to be picky.

Time: 15 seconds.

But wait...

Your hair and teeth are okay, right? Brush 'em. There are no shortcuts for that.

Eyeliner or Mascara

Pick one. I recommend eyeliner, unless you're one of those people who can't leave the house without mascara. If so, pick one you use all the time. Now's not the time to be messing with fancy new brushes and formulas. A curling mascara would be a great choice, since you don't have time to curl your eyelashes, but use whatever you love.

Eyeliner? We're looking for a pencil or a crayon. Liquid and gel eyeliners are gorgeous, but they take patience and a steady hand and time for starting over after a few failed attempts. Unless you can't live without it, skip the black, and go for something that brings out your eye color.

We don't have time for eyeshadow.
We don't have time for eyeshadow.
Almay Intense I-Color--purple for brown eyes.
Almay Intense I-Color--purple for brown eyes.

The Almay Intense I-Color eyeliners are great for quick application, since the crayon is soft and somewhat subtle, so it's hard to mess up. Sephora also has great colored liners on the cheap. Eyeliners that complement your eye color are the way to go when you're in a rush, because they bring out your eyes, not your eyeliner, which might not be at its most perfect.

Not an eyeliner person? Don't really care about mascara? Fair enough. Skip to Step 3.

Time: 25 seconds.

Cover Trouble Spots

A little-known fact is that cover-up and concealer are actually different products, with different uses. Cover-up should mask your skin tone exactly. It goes on top of pimples, red spots, or anything with a color you want to completely hide. Concealer should be a shade lighter than your skin, and it's primary use is for dark circles under your eyes. The purpose of concealer is to lighten the spots, since they are already a similar tone, just a different shade, from your desired color. (If you have blue tones in your dark circles, dab a little blush under your eyes before applying concealer to cancel out the blue.)

But those are not tips for today. In a pinch, any creamy product that matches your skin tone works for both cover-up and concealer. Use your ring finger (it's your softest fingertip, since it's the least-used) to dab three dots under your eyes and blend up towards the corner of your eyes, and dot it on trouble spots, making sure to blend the rims of the dots into your skin to get rid of hard lines.

For bonus points, especially if you skipped step 2, smudge a little concealer on your eyelids the way you would apply eyeshadow. The skin on your eyelids is naturally a little darker than the rest of your face, and lightening it is an easy way to make your eyes look larger and more awake without having to mess with more time-consuming products.

No full foundation. You don't need it, Pretty Thing.

Time: 20 seconds.

The right shape for under-eye concealer. The model didn't even have time to blend, clearly.
The right shape for under-eye concealer. The model didn't even have time to blend, clearly.


You don't need that. Pinch your cheeks a little. Done.

Time: 5 seconds.

Burt's Bees makes a variety of tinted lip balms from all-natural ingredients. Foolproof.
Burt's Bees makes a variety of tinted lip balms from all-natural ingredients. Foolproof.


You know what's lovely? A perfectly-applied red lip, maybe with a complementary gloss to balance it into the perfect red for your coloring.

You know what you don't have time for? That. But you do want to take a couple seconds to clear up chapped lips. If you've got 'em, Burt's Bees or regular ol' ChapStick is the way to go, especially if you've got one with a little color. If all you have is colorless chapstick, give your lips a little bite. I said 'little.' But some kind of lip balm is non-negotiable, especially if the weather's chilly. You didn't skip moisturizer, so don't skip this.

Time: 5 seconds.

eyes.lips.face. Studio SPF 45 Sunscreen UVA/UVB Protection. The powder goes on sheer to work for all skin tones.
eyes.lips.face. Studio SPF 45 Sunscreen UVA/UVB Protection. The powder goes on sheer to work for all skin tones.


Vital if the weather's warm, skippable if it's not. But it's always nice to take a few seconds to make sure your makeup doesn't end up missing. You don't have a face-full of makeup, but you do have some cover-up spots on your face and either eyeliner or mascara you don't want settling into your nice covered-up undereye.

A setting spray, like Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray, is quicker than powder. In my experience, following the directions on the bottle leaves you with too much of it on your face, and spraying too much liquid at your newly-applied makeup can be counterproductive. Hold the bottle an arm's length away from your face, close your eyes, and spray once. More than one spray isn't necessary, despite what the bottle says, especially since you're not wearing foundation. And, since it's $30, you want to save your sprays. Don't touch your face until it's completely dry.

Prefer powder? Go for it. It might take a few extra seconds, but that's worth it if you have a powder with SPF, like e.l.f Studio SPF 45 Sunscreen UVA/UVB Protection. It's beigey in the container but goes on completely sheer, and it performs double duty to protect your skin and set your makeup. Don't use the powder puff that comes with it; at $6 for the huge container, you can spring for a $5 e.l.f Studio brush. (As always with e.l.f, remember to go for the Studio brushes with the black handles, not the Essential white-handled brushes. They're four dollars more, but the difference in quality is staggering.)

Time: 20 seconds.


"Wash" face: 15 seconds

Eyeliner or Mascara: 25 seconds

Cover-Up: 20 seconds

"Blush": 5 seconds

Lips: 5 seconds

Powder or setting spray: 20 seconds


Total: 90 seconds!

How'd you do? Disagree with the time estimates? Think you can do it faster? Did I miss something you think is crucial, or put in something not worth the time? Let us know in the comments!

Other beauty hubs by me:

Top Seven e.l.f. Products

Three Worst e.l.f. Products

Top Five Kits from Benefit Cosmetics

Top Five Obsessive Compulsive Lip Tar Shades

Top Five Beauty Hubs

Hey, Lady--You Should be Shaving Your Face

HOW TO: Apply Makeup in 90 Seconds

HOW TO: Care for Your Damaged Hair

More on eyeliner color choice:

What Product Can't You Leave Without?

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