Makeup tips for time-poor parents


I wrote a post on skincare tips for time-poor parents the other day (see here) and thought I'd follow it up with a similar post, this time focusing on makeup.

I suspect most new parents don't bother with makeup on a daily basis after having children - except those of us who are beauty obsessed! - and it's likely something that's cast aside until you need to go back to work or start to feel that you need to do something small for yourself each day to stay sane.

If there's no need for you to wear makeup (if indeed there ever is a need for anyone to do so ; )) and you only have time to commit to one thing, my vote goes to embedding a good skincare routine into your day. Forget makeup, forget fashion - hell, forget the ironing - your skin is for life and you can't necessarily undo damage done the way you can throw out a pair of shoes that give you blisters.

But if your skincare routine is sorted and you're up for dusting off that old lipstick - or at least learning to apply it more quickly - then I thought I'd set out a few tricks I've picked up ever since I became a parent for the first time. Hope it helps, or at least brings a few smiles : )

Choose easy products

This one's a no-brainer but it's worth saying anyway because not everyone knows that some products are a lot easier to use than others. If you're not big on makeup but need to slot it in somehow for work or play, it's time to have a look at what you own and do some research about whether you're shooting yourself in the foot whenever you reach for that patchy blush.

Like technology, makeup is constantly evolving and not all products are created equal. Before I became a beauty junkie, I had just the bare minimum and had no idea what made a good or bad product. Over time I've learned that the old blush I owned wasn't easy to apply because it lacked pigment and went on patchily (so it took a while to get an even look), and that a good eyeshadow can make application so much faster than one that's difficult to blend. 

So have a look at what you own and ask yourself whether anything isn't worth the hassle. Replace what you need to: it doesn't have to be expensive. Life's too short to waste time on difficult products.

Choose good tools

Related to the above, you're not going to get a fast application if you're using the wrong brush or if your brushes have seen better days. So have a good look at your tools and work out what's not doing you any favours. Invest in better tools if you need to: Real Techniques makes some decent brushes that don't cost the earth, and you can often pick them up on special from eg Priceline.

Similarly, don't forget your hands! I apply makeup with my fingers whenever I can because brushes can make things slower and they also need to be washed - plus I feel I get the best application from my hands because they warm liquids and creams before application, making them easier to spread and blend. You may well find that liquid/cream products also work better for you if you're time-poor - not only foundation but also blushes and eyeshadows - so have a play and learn what works for you.

Streamline and organise your collection

If you're one of those people who has a drawer full of unused, old makeup, it's time to declutter and get rid of anything you don't use. Rifling through a bundle of products to find what you need is a time-waster and too much clutter can feel overwhelming, so throw out the old stuff and donate/pass on anything that's still usable for someone else.

If it helps, leave your products out where you can see them so you don't need to think when you're putting your face on because it's all there before you. I have a friend who, ever since she had her little boy, leaves bits of makeup in different rooms of her house. If her son's playing in the living room, she reaches for the eyeshadow and mascara that she's left before the mirror there. If he's eating in the kitchen, she picks up the bronzer that's sitting on the windowsill. Because if something's before her, she'll reach for it. If not, she'll forget. Not a bad idea! 

Use things you love

If you don't like your makeup, you're not going to bother. But if you have a few special items that you want to use, you're more likely to enjoy the process of using them. So don't keep the stuff you can't be bothered using for whatever reason and stick to using things that make you feel special.

I know this won't apply to everyone, but for me, wearing a great lipstick in a happy summer shade can boost my mood and make me look and feel less tired - partly because bright colours can warm the complexion and draw attention away from the bags under your eyes. So I keep a couple of good lipsticks in my handbag and reach for those whenever I need a lift. You don't have to be leaving the house for makeup to be 'worth it'. If it makes you feel better, then it's worth it.

Choose double duty products and cut corners

This is an obvious one but it's worth mentioning all the same. Plenty of products exist on the market these days that are designed for more than one purpose: lip/cheek tints are a good example. 

If you can reach for one product and apply that to both your lips and cheeks, this saves time and also means you don't need to waste any thought on whether your coloured products will work together because they're one and the same.

Also, there's no rule saying that you have to use a lip-liner every time you apply lipstick (I never do), and you may find a blush redundant if you've already applied bronzer and it's successfully managed to address that 'dead' look you had going from lack of sleep. So just do the bare minimum if that's all you have time/energy for - you're more likely to do something if there's less involved in the process.

Pick up that blush and follow your toddler

As soon as my little girl became more mobile, makeup became something that I needed to be able to apply on the move. These days I'll follow her around the house to keep an eye on her, and I'll have one eye on her and one eye on my compact as she's playing.

This makes it even more important to pick easy tools and products (see above), because you're not going to apply a super pigmented powder with much care if you're not fully concentrated on the process. I tend to prefer powders that aren't ridiculously pigmented because I can whack those on without being too careful, since I may have to drop what I'm doing at any moment and stop her putting my husband's shoes in her mouth. This also means that I don't often use products that set too quickly, because I mightn't have time to blend them before they dry.

Involve your child in the process

I'm big on this one, not only with makeup but also with household chores. I don't chuck my daughter in the Jolly Jumper so I can hang out the washing - I bring her out with me and make the washing a game we can play together. Yes it makes the process slower, but I've wanted her to gain some understanding of the things we all do to make a household run.

The same applies to makeup. Ever since she was very young, I've involved her in at least some of the makeup process and explained what I'm doing as I'm doing it. She used to laugh hysterically when I put lipstick on - and I suppose it's the kind of thing that must look pretty ridiculous to someone who doesn't know what makeup is! Now that she wants to touch everything she sees, I might eg hand her a mascara tube and she'll bang that on the floor while I'm doing my brows. She has no idea what it is, but gosh it's bright pink and it makes a good sound so it must be fun!

Keep some of the process for yourself

While I do involve my daughter in some of the makeup application process, it's important to me to keep some of it for myself. My skincare routine is done when she's asleep or occupied, and I usually apply my base and some coloured products on my own: these things have become mediation for me and I think it's important to slot some of your own stuff into each day wherever you can. 

Skincare and makeup are easy ways to do this, and while they mightn't appeal to everyone, you may have other things you enjoy doing that you try to make time for every day. If you don't like the hassle of makeup but feel you need to do it for whatever reason, see if you can't make the process more enjoyable by marking it as 'you' time that has its own little place in the day. It doesn't require a brain or any high-level concentration, but it does yield visible results - so you may find that you start to look forward to it, even if it's never been your thing.

In sum

Them's my tips! Hopefully there's something useful in there : )

Do let me know if you have any time-saving tips when it comes to makeup: I'm always up for learning new ways to get things done as quickly and easily as possible!

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