Beauty is brutal, especially in the morning. You often have five minutes – a mere 300 seconds – to pull yourself together. When battling puffy eyes, blotchy skin and less-than-sexy bed head, “go with minimum product for maximum impact,” says Ramy Gafni, creator of Ramy Cosmetics. Here are his and other pros’ step-by-step makeup and hair tips on looking your best under the morning sun gun:
In 2 ½ minutes: A fresh face
First, apply tinted BB (beauty balm) or CC (color-correcting) cream, especially under your eyes and around the chin and base of the nose. “Look for active ingredients, like antioxidants and SPF (sun protection),” Gafni says. “Why not diminish fine lines while perfecting your canvas?” Add another layer where you need concealer. If you have oily skin, add a dusting of translucent power in your T-zone.
Next, paint your lips, cheeks and then eyelids with a single gloss, cream or three-in-one soft pencil that’s peachy, light bronze or pale pink. Judge the shades first on your eyes, Gafni says. “If they don’t look good there, they’re not right for you.”
Blot colored lips with your middle finger, smile and transfer a dot to each cheek apple (or prominent part). Blend outward in circles, says Joanna Schlip, Ellen Pompeo’s makeup artist and Physician’s Formula spokesperson. If you’re tired, also sweep a peach blush slightly lighter than your skin tone on under-eye bags, Gafni says. “It’s a lighting trick.”
To apply mascara with less mess, dab the wand tip on a tissue to remove excess, then apply it only to your top lashes. Hold the brush horizontally, moving from lash roots to ends with a slight back-and-forth motion. Let set 30 seconds, Gafni says. “Then add an extra coat for every decade over 30.”
If you’re truly time-pressed, skip your lips, Gafni suggests. “You always can apply lipstick or balm later.” Or, take the opposite tactic and put on lipstick before your eye makeup, as does Stella Kae, Cloutier Remix celeb makeup artist for Alyssa Milano. “I can’t tell you how many times someone has gushed over my lipstick when I also sport eye bags and blemishes. Highly-pigmented products pack the most punch and generally last longer.”
For a mid-day touch-up, apply one dot of concealer at the inner corner of the eye and one at the bottom center, Schlip says. Spread with your ring finger. “Add a puff of tinted powder around the nostrils, and you’re back in business.”
Finally, remember that your best face begins the night before. “Always go to bed with a clean face,” Gafni says. “At the very least, apply toner with a cotton ball or clean with a premoistened cloth. That eliminates skin problems and allows you to start the day with a fresh palette.” Before turning in, put on a good anti-aging moisturizer and lip balm to let the ingredients do their job while you sleep.
In 1 ½ minutes: Fabulous hair
Just stepped out of the shower? Blot hair with a towel, rub a quarter’s worth of lightweight conditioning oil in your palms and onto your hair, and then create a fashionable braid along the side of your head, says Dueñas. “Once the hair’s dry you undo it, and you’ve got perfect beachy waves without fly-aways.”
But what if you don’t have time to wash your hair? Keep an aerosol can of dry shampoo at hand so you can flip your hair forward, spray the shampoo at the roots and go. “The powder distributes itself,” says Brian Magallones, Exclusive Artist Management celebrity hair stylist. You also can reactivate yesterday’s products by lightly misting clean hair with plain water, says Mario Russo, owner and lead stylist at Boston’s Salon Mario Russo.
For a polished, no-fuss style, you can’t beat a sleek ponytail, says Magallones. While looking toward the ceiling, pull hair tightly to the nape of your neck. Wrap the pony base with an elastic tie, then rub a nickel-sized dab of hair gel into palms from crown to nape to calm any flyaways. Take an inch-wide swatch of hair from below the pony, wrap around the base and clip beneath with a 1 ¼- inch hair pin.
Or try a trendy top knot: Gather tresses into a ponytail on the top of your head. Wrap the pony into a bun toward your face and tuck the ends underneath the knot. Set with 3-inch pins, one each at front, back and sides. “A spritz of light hairspray (or an unscented clothes dryer sheet) will fight fly-aways,” says Michael Dueñas, Reese Witherspoon’s stylist and founder of Hair Room Service in New York and Los Angeles.