It can take an army of makeup artists and stylists hours to get a model to look fresh-faced for a shoot. When you're not a model, don't have a fleet of stylists on hand and have less than 30 minutes to get ready for a night out, how do you do it? And after a workday to boot? It's easier than those highly paid models and stylists might think.
You may not feel comfortable wearing a bolder (lip) color during the day at the office, but it's an easy way to feel a little more dressed up instantly.
Abby Gardner, site director of MarieClaire.com
If you have only a few minutes in your office bathroom, focus on your complexion, advises Abby Gardner, site director for MarieClaire.com. She suggests carrying oil blotting papers with you at all times. "You probably don't have time to wash your face and start from scratch," Gardner said, "but you might be a little shiny."
Christine Mikesell, creator of the 15 Minute Beauty Fanatic blog, agrees and advises blotting papers rather than powder. "If you keep piling on the powder, it ends up caking," she said. And if you're without blotting paper in your office bathroom? A dirty little beauty secret (we swear it's sanitary): Use a toilet seat cover from a stall. It's a perfect substitute, but you might want to be covert about it.
After blotting, apply a bit of concealer or tinted moisturizer if you need it. Mikesell says she always carries concealer for under the eyes and to even out her complexion. "I like to look as awake as possible," she explained. "And it's makeup that wears off easily." But don't overdo it. "Don't think you have to pile it on," Gardner said. "I'm a big fan of having your natural skin texture show through." Gardner warns that too much concealer or powder is a common mistake for end-of-day application and can make you look older or tired.
After concealer, add a dab of color to your cheeks to instantly add a pop and get rid of that office-weary drain. Gardner recommends a product by Tarte called Cheek Stain. It's a stick that's easy to apply -- no brush needed -- even when you're not in front of a mirror. Unlike powder blush, which sits on top of your skin, a cheek stain sinks into your skin to give a natural-looking flush.
Want that dewy, just-stepped-out-of-a-steam-room look? Gardner suggests misting spray. These are fine sprays sold in drugstores and makeup counters and are often just distilled water, but Gardner says that some have antioxidant properties. This can be the final touch after blotting and concealing.
Our beauty experts agree that lip color is an easy, quick way to get you looking polished and glamorous. "You may not feel comfortable wearing a bolder color during the day at the office," Gardner said, "but it's an easy way to feel a little more dressed up instantly."
Mikesell recommends lipstick, as it can double for blush in a pinch. If you're shy around lip color, go to a makeup counter for a consult and ask for help choosing one that suits your skin tone. Once you've found your shade, you and your lipstick will be BFFs.
If you have at least 15 minutes of preparation time, you have time to glamorize your hair. (Or at least cheat it.) Gardner suggests keeping a little bottle of styling product in your purse, be it gel or anti-frizz product, because it can settle the flyways no matter the texture of your hair. Mikesell recommends a special product for time-sensitive hair prep by Jonathan Product called Redo Freshen-up Mist for Hair & Skin. The fine mist is appropriately dubbed a reactivator, as it reactivates the styling products you have in your hair. Just brush your hair, spray it in, and it will reset everything, all in mere minutes.
If your hair started the day wavy and shiny but ended up sad and limp, don't worry. A quick updo can hide your "Bad Hair Night." Gardner suggests a high ponytail or a low bun. The low bun should be at the nape of your neck and is a great way to hide frizzy or greasy hair. If you want a 'do that's a bit more trendy but equally easy, the side ponytail or side braid can do the trick. Adding a headband or barrette also can fancy up a hairstyle fast.
If you can get those precious primping minutes at home rather than out in public, refresh your hairstyle with a once-over with a straightening iron or throw in a few curls with a curling iron. Gardner suggests that in a pinch, you can just run a straightening iron over the front sections of your hair.
If your hair started out curly in the a.m., Mikesell suggests adding just a few curls to liven up the hairstyle. But don't go from curly to straight or vice versa if you're in a time crunch. "However I have my hair styled," Mikesell said, "I would probably do a few things with my tool just to refresh the style."
Eyes on the Prize
If you have less than 15 minutes, redoing your eyes can be a tricky business. But you can and should refresh your mascara. Just don't overdo it and end up with spider lashes. You can refresh with disposable brushes (like the ones used at makeup counters) and makeup remover, Mikesell suggests. Dip the brush in makeup remover and run it through your eyelashes to instantly refresh the lashes.
While your lashes are drying, add a coat of mascara and you'll be set. If you don't have remover with you, use an eyelash comb or even your fingers to get rid of clumps, Gardner advised. Certain mascaras work well for the reapplication process. Mikesell recommends looking for a thin mascara. "Maybelline's Great Lash is always mentioned as the favorite of makeup artists," Mikesell said. "Models are always running from fashion show to fashion show, and Maybelline Great Lash is very good to use over other mascaras because it's much less clumpy." Gardner is also a Maybelline fan and recommends one of its newer mascaras: Volum' Express The Falsies. She says it works well for layering.
If you have closer to 30 minutes of primp time, amplify your look with eye makeup. Mikesell recommends upping the intensity of your eyes by adding a thicker eyeliner or changing your eyeliner from brown to black.
If you're at home, remove the day makeup from your eyes and start fresh. But if you need to add more shadow, do not, under any circumstances, do it in a public bathroom. Why? Bad lighting. Our experts say to go where there's natural light, such as your car or by a window in your office. This applies to eye makeup and blush, anything that requires color and detail. Rely on natural light, and you'll be set for any lighting scheme, from a well-lit restaurant to a cozy one-on-one encounter.
Smells Like A Party
Even when you've perfected your last-minute makeup routine, it doesn't mean you'll feel ready and confident. While sight is a key beauty sense, another of our other senses -- smell -- can get us ready for a night out.
Abby Gardner, site director for MarieClaire.com, says that a bit of perfume can help you get into the social mood. "I put on a fragrance and it's just a mindset of 'OK, I'm going out now,'" she said.
And no, don't tote your very breakable and very spill-able glass bottle of perfume along with you. These days, virtually every fragrance line offers relatively inexpensive roller-ball bottles that you can stick in your makeup bag. Keep one in your purse, and you and your nose will be ready for a night on the town.