Reader Question: Quick Makeup for Busy Ladies

A reader asks a question about quick makeup for busy ladies & looking professional in the workplace.

Hi, Susannah! Do you have any tips for female small business owners and staff? As a home-based business owner, I find it's easy to be a bit too casual and careless with my appearance, and I see owners and employees in the shops of some of my small business clients who would, I think, command a bit more respect if their appearance was more professional. The issue for most is time, so I know they would appreciate ideas on how to look your best without spending too much time on it. Thanks!  - Elizabeth

Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for your question. I can totally relate to the feeling of wanting to look put-together, but not having enough time. Lately, I've taken the time on weekends and long mornings to leisurely apply my makeup, taking all the time I want, trying new techniques and looks. I love it, but I don't always have time for it. Sometimes I have an early client, I want to make sure I get breakfast before I head to work, and I didn't quite get up early enough, so quick makeup is key! It just doesn't leave me the time to use a ton of products in a bunch of different ways.

So what's the best way to still look put-together without spending a ton of time on your face? Well, there's something you have to think about. What makeup products make you feel like you look more professional? A while back I wrote a post on Levels of Makeup - different products and looks that I wear depending on the situation, ranging from as little as possible to full-on makeup face. Trying to figure out what amount of makeup makes you feel professional is your first step.

Related: Natural Makeup Tips for Older Women

For the most part, I believe that it's all about your makeup routine and what you want out of it, but I'll tell you what I have in mind. Your goal, I think, is to look like you put at least a little bit of effort into your face without looking overdone. To start, you'll want something to even out your skin tone. The lighter the coverage, the less effort you have to put into applying it; on the flip side, the heavier the coverage, the less the rest of your makeup has to work to make you look "done." I would recommend a medium-coverage foundation (like Benefit Hello Flawless! Oxygen Wow)  applied with your hands. You can work faster with your hands than with a brush, just make sure they're clean before you start!

Next up is an optional product: concealer. It all depends on how much you need it (typical spots are under the eyes & around the nose) and how much your foundation covered the spots you would want to conceal. You may feel like you need a little bit of extra coverage in those spots, or you may feel like your foundation did the trick. If you want some concealer, find something you can dab on with your finger without too much blending. Thicker concealer = more blending. I love Avon Extra Lasting concealer.

I always recommend powder to set everything, but that's up to you. If your skin is dry, you may not need it, and you can save yourself a little bit of time. If you do think you need it, try a powder with some coverage to just boost what your foundation did. My favorite right now is MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural, which gives your skin a really beautiful finish! Pop it on with a fluffy brush all over.

Personally, I think you can skip the bronzer. If you have a minute, brush it on the places where the sun would hit you to add some color back into your face (top of your cheeks, top of your forehead, bridge of the nose). It's a nice addition, but not absolutely necessary, especially if you're in a hurry.  So skip ahead to blush on the apples of your cheeks and blended back up your cheekbones toward your temples. Extra points if you get yourself a multi-tasking product like Tarte's cheek stain, which can also be used on your lips! This may or may not save you on time since it's really the application and not the product that takes up time, but it will save you on products and perhaps make you fee more low-maintenance :)

Eyeshadow and eyeliner are good additions if you can manage the time, but if not, pop on some mascara to define your eyes (extra points for using eyeliner, also). They can tend to get lost when you've evened out your face with foundation & concealer! And last up, if you haven't already taken care of this with a multi-tasking cheek and lip product, apply some lipstick. This, in my opinion, is non-negotiable when it comes to looking put together. There's nothing to ruin a face of makeup like undone lips!

So, to boil it down, my Professional Face: Foundation, optional concealer, optional powder, blush, optional liner, mascara, lipstick. That's pretty simple, right? And honestly, if your skin is pretty even and you feel like you don't need the foundation, just skip it! Pick a few choice spots to conceal, and move on. You can easily complete this in five minutes or less!

I hope that helps, Elizabeth -- and of course, the products you use depend on how you define looking put-together, as well as how much time you do have. You may need a quick makeup routine most mornings, but don't be afraid to play with more (bronzer, eyeshadow, eyeliner) when you have extra time. The more you practice with other products, the faster you can apply them when you're short on time!

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