Let’s be honest: most of the time, doing a full face of makeup is a pain in the butt. It’s all fun and games when you have the time to sit there blending eye shadow for twenty minutes, but when it’s 5:30 in the morning and you’re getting ready for work it’s a different story. Worse still, sometimes it’s 7:34 in the morning and you were meant to leave for work half an hour ago. Most of the time, you need something quick that will hide the fact that you haven’t had coffee this morning but without going too far over the top. With that in mind, today I’m going to share the five products you need for a super fast makeup when you’re on the go. Added bonus? These types of products are also what I recommend throwing in a gym bag to redo a quick face after a sweaty workout.
Step One: A BB or CC Cream
My recommendation: It Cosmetics CC+ Cream
How to use it and why: the reason a BB or CC cream works in these fast routines is that they often combine a few different products into one. A BB or CC cream can often take the place of moisturiser, primer, sunscreen and foundation all in one – though do make sure you check the specific properties of your chosen brand. I like the It Cosmetics option because it has solid coverage without being too heavy and definitely covers the bases of all the aforementioned products. The packaging of a squeeze tube/pump combination makes it a good option for throwing in a bag with less worries of it breaking or leaking. This cream is pretty high on the moisturising side of the spectrum, so if I’m not having a super dry day I can use it on its own without a moisturiser or primer (though I will prime if I have a 10+ hour day ahead of me). I love the high SPF factor because I’m allergic to sunscreen, so in summer this tends to be my standard go-to. It applies well with a sponge, my application of choice, but can also be used with a brush or your fingers in a pinch. One complaint? The shade range on this sucks a lot. In summer I can get away with wearing the shade “light” if I’ve seen a bit of sun, but any other time I absolutely have to mix the shade “fair” to be able to wear it. This limits its travel-friendly nature and makes it a costly choice, but if you can get a shade to match you won’t be disappointed. In saying that, any of your favourite BB or CC creams will do the job! Simply apply (via your chosen method) to clean bare skin working from the inside of your face outwards. These creams tend to provide enough coverage to add a little confidence to help you go about your day.
Step Two: Powder
My recommendation: RCMA No-Color Powder
How to use it and why: Once you’ve put down a base of BB or CC cream it’s good to apply a powder to set the cream down. If you’re in a hurry, waiting for liquid products to totally dry so you can blend something else on top is a luxury you might not have. In the case of the It Cosmetics CC Cream, I also just find a powder necessary because the finish is too dewy for my personal tastes. Any powder that works with your skin is fine. I recommend the RCMA No-Color Powder simply because it works well for a lot of different skin types and doesn’t change the colour of the base you just applied. Even more importantly, it’s cheap as heck so it’s accessible to most people. In saying that, the packaging is absolutely useless when on the go, so it depends if you’re doing your makeup in a rush at home or out and about. For a makeup bag, I’d go with a pressed powder option instead (preferably with very sturdy packaging as pressed powders can still shatter). To apply, pour a little powder out onto whatever you have handy (I use an old empty MAC compact) and press the powder into the skin. You can use a brush, a beauty blender or a puff to do this depending on your preference. I tend to opt for the velour puff option as I like the finish when I can press and roll the powder into my skin. You can either set your whole face or just the areas where you’re going to want to blend product over the top or the areas where you get oily. The choice is yours. I tend to set my whole face if I’ve used the It Cosmetics CC cream, but it depends on your skin type.
Step Three: A matte bronzer
My recommendation: Marc Jacobs O!Mega Bronzer Coconut Perfect Tan
How to use it and why: I specify a matte bronzer because you have a little more versatility with this option. A matte bronzer, in the right shade, can be used to add a little more definition to your face. Generally speaking, I would never recommend contouring with a bronzer because the two are at odds with what they wish to accomplish – bronzers are designed to warm up the complexion and thus tend to have warmer undertones, whereas contour shades are meant to create the illusion of shadows on your face, thus tend to have cooler undertones. In saying that, when you’ve got five minutes, beggars can’t be choosers. I usually apply the matte bronzer with a brush in a “3” motion down the sides of my face. This adds a little definition to your forehead, cheekbones and jawline without going overboard. I find a shimmery bronzer is a bit too over the top for this purpose. I recommend using a light hand when you do this – you’re trying to add some colour to your face so you don’t look like a flat 2D canvas (which is what happens when you use a base which removes all the colour from your face into one colour – always make sure you add some other colour if you’ve applied foundation, be it bronzer or blush or contour) but you’re not trying to actually contour. If you go too heavy-handed it’s not going to look great. The Marc Jacobs Bronzer shade seems to work well for me, but any matte bronzer is fine. At this step, I also grab a fluffy eyeshadow blending brush and sweep the bronzer shade all over my lids and into my crease for some quick and easy definition to the eyes. You’d be amazed how much of a difference this ten-second step makes to defining your eyes and adding a little colour to your face. Again, go light-handed and make sure you tap off excess from your brush or else you’ll have to spend more time blending and go over your five-minute marker. If you’re very lucky and have warm-tones to your eyebrows, you can potentially even use your matte bronzer as a brow filler, but only if you happen to have the right shade (I definitely don’t – my hairs are too ashy to get away with this). The point is that a matte product gives you a bit more versatility when you’re in a hurry or have limited items on hand.
Step Four: Mascara
My recommendation: MAC Extended Play Gigablack Lash
How to use it and why: Mascara is probably the makeup item I would choose if you told me I could only wear one thing for the rest of my life. I don’t know what it is about it, but just having that sweep over my eyelashes makes me feel like I look more awake and alert and therefore I feel a bit more confident and one step closer to Disney-princess-dom. Any mascara you like will do – sweep over the bottom lashes for one coat and do a couple on the top lashes and you’re good to go. With this look, I recommend the MAC Extended Play for a couple of reasons. I’ll be frank – it isn’t the best mascara ever. It doesn’t give me the dramatic volume and length I absolutely love, but it does a fine job. Truthfully, with a look like this that is pretty natural, not having such an over-the-top mascara look actually works better. But beyond that, I recommend it because of its staying power. For me personally, if I haven’t used concealer and then baked with powder under my eyes (something which a five minute look does not allow for), almost every mascara in existence will smudge. It’s just how it is – I am cursed with oily as hell eyelids and I accept it. The reason this MAC option doesn’t is because it’s what’s known as tubing mascara. Tubing mascaras are a unique formula which do exactly what they sound like they do – they form tiny little tubes around your eyelashes. The good thing about them is that they last extremely well – if you’re someone who always gets smudging, try tubing mascara. The problem with them is that they just don’t have the same oomph of other mascaras. This MAC option is probably the best I’ve found (and believe me, I’ve tried a lot both drug store and high end), but it still leaves me wanting more. Another good thing about them, however, is that they come off with water so you don’t need to stuff around with makeup remover in the evenings, which is a huge pet hate of mine so it’s a win in my book.
Step Five: Lip Balm
My recommendation: Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip
How to use it and why: Sweep a layer of lip balm over your lips and you’re good to go. I consider this step essential for a couple of reasons. For one, a balm will nourish your lips while also adding just the tiniest of sheens which suits the rest of this natural look very well. In addition to that, if you’ve been lazy (like me) in applying your base and have accidentally smeared a bit of foundation on your lips, a balm will tend to remove it so you no longer look pale and sick. I like the Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector because it adds a nice amount of sheen without really having a colour as such so it still looks natural. I also find it nourishing and it doesn’t aggravate my lips, which is sometimes a problem with balms. I have no idea why but I can wear almost every lipstick under the sun but I’m allergic to a lot of lip balms. Go figure.
And that’s it! With these products in your makeup bag, you’ll always be able to do a natural and quick full face in a pinch. Providing I don’t blink while putting on my mascara (damnit), I can get this done in under five minutes. If I have a bit more time, then I’ll add in a primer, setting spray, brow gel and highlight to an everyday look, but when I’ve slept past my alarm this is my easy go-to. What about you? What are your favourite products for a fast makeup look? Plus, if you could only use five products on your face, what would they be?