A 5 (ish) min makeup routine – tips & products

I love makeup. Like, hoarder style. My collection is way too big for just me and I love it that way.

…but I love sleep even more. So here’s a 5 min makeup routine with less than 10 products. Ready? Let’s go:

1. SPF

This Clinique SPF face cream has a slightly tackier texture that makes it work well as a primer.

Wanna look old? Of course you don’t. Or maybe you do if you’re an underage kid who’s trying to walk into a bar, but you don’t need wrinkles for that. So always wear sunscreen. You may go to sleep after too many margaritas at 7 a.m. after a Saturday night without removing your makeup (who hasn’t, really) but atone for your sins by always using SPF. Ok? Ok. Double this up as your primer.

2. Foundation

The Make Up For Ever Ultra HD stick foundation has good coverage and a natural finish, and it’s probably the best stick foundation I’ve tried. The Anastasia one is much drier (terrible for dry skin) but probably a longer lasting option if you’re very oily.

If you don’t need it, I kinda hate you a little bit. JK. (not really). I feel an even skin is the best way to look ok. You’re in a hurry, so skip the tools, and apply it with your fingers. This is why I think stick foundations are great. They’re fast to apply, directly from the tube to the skin, and look great blended out with fingers. Skip the concealer – apply extra foundation on more critical areas. I draw a semi-circle with my foundation stick right under my eyes and blend downwards, so that most of the pigmentation stays on the undereye circles and hides them better.


I use the Diorskin Forever Extreme Control compact for its extra coverage since it’s a powder foundation. The Nars Translucent Crystal powder has a more natural, subtle finish. The Dior compact has a sponge that I sometimes use, but I prefer the e.l.f. flat-top Powder Brush to apply either powder.

Disregard this if you have dry skin. But if your face produces enough oil to fry an egg mid-afternoon, you know you can’t skip this. I need to set my face so that the foundation doesn’t get a will of its own and starts to gather on the nooks of the face. Seriously, it’s like a party of beige cream on the little creases of my face if I skip the powder. You can use the puff from the powder compact if it has one. I usually go for a flat top kabuki-style brush.

4. eyeliner (on the waterline)

Since they discontinued – at least my Sephora stopped selling it – the best waterline eyeliner ever (Marc Jacobs’ Blacquer Highliner), here’s the NYX’s retractable one in Black.

To me this is key. My eyes are tiny and invisible and lining them makes other people know that they’re there. I know waterline eyeliner isn’t for everybody – even though I think it makes anyone’s eyes look sexier and smokier – so you can opt to line the upper lid instead. That’s a universally flattering look, although it takes a while to draw it perfectly and get it to look even on both eyes, and then your 5 minutes are due. Opt for the waterline on a crunch – it’s like paint-by-numbers.

5. Mascara

Kiko’s Extra Sculpt mascara

Simple, completes the look, makes your eyes look bigger. It’s also a fast step for normal people. For people like me, you have to account the time it takes to remove mascara from the top lid because you forget and look up before it dries completely.

6. Cheek colour

Fast and flattering. It can be a blush, a bronzer, a darker highlighter (blush topper, as they sometimes call it). I recommend a foolproof colour, something soft that isn’t easy to over-do, because removing extra blush takes too much time. I’ve been using MAC’s Seduced at Sea Extra Dimension blush lately, one of my favourites. It was limited edition, but there are many great shades in the Extra Dimension line and they are typically easy-to-use blushes that last all day. I use a discontinued blush brush from The Body Shop with this one.

7. lipstick

I’m not counting this for the 5 minutes because you can apply it in the elevator mirror when you leave the house. Or on the bus/subway. If you have just a tinted lip balm you can even apply it while walking, without a mirror. Minimum effort here.

P.S. – If you wanna give the appearance that you put a lot of extra work into the makeup, go for a bright/dark colour, like a hot pink or a dark red.

And there you go! I numbered the steps by order of most to least necessary, so that if your time stops short of the ending of this list, you have the most important steps already done to look polished or at least close enough to a healthy human.

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