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A 5-Minute Makeup Routine for Busy Moms




Written by:

Barbara Mighdoll

After Caden was born, I made my mission to find a quick and easy makeup routine that worked for my schedule. I’ve always been into makeup, and always feel more confident when I wear it. Back in college, I was known as the go-to makeup artist, with friends queuing up outside my sorority-house bedroom for a glam session complete with a full face of makeup and an alluring smoky eye before going out for the night.

Since becoming a mom and in an effort to feel a little bit more like myself (and less like a hot mess!), I developed a simple, five-minute makeup routine. Even though I work from home, I try to do this routine most mornings. It makes me feel put together and ready to tackle the day, whether that means running errands or sitting in front of my laptop. I hope this 5-minute makeup routine can also make you feel more confident and ready to tackle the day ahead.

5 minute makeup routine

What is my top tip to apply makeup quickly and efficiently?

The biggest key is simplification. Find a set of products that work for you no matter the occasion, and stick with them. I prefer to use multitasking products like tinted moisturizer with SPF and a 2-in-1 cheek and lip tint. Invest in quality makeup brushes for faster application, and embrace the ‘no-makeup makeup' natural look to save time while still looking polished.

My simple, everyday 5 minute makeup routine

1. Cleanse and moisturize

I start my routine by cleansing and moisturizing my skin.I use gentle cleansing pads to wash away the night, followed by a hydrating moisturizer to keep my skin soft and supple. This not only preps my skin for makeup but also helps me wake up and feel more vibrant. It’s amazing how something so simple can make such a big difference in how my skin looks and feels throughout the day. 

At this point in my routine, I'll also add an eye cream. It's a small extra step, but it really helps brighten and depuff under my eyes, making me look more awake – MUCH needed with 2 toddlers with unpredictable sleep schedules. My splurge eye cream is Clarins Total Eye Lift, or First Aid Beauty Brighten + Glow Eye Cream is a good “save” option.

2. Start with a fresh base

After prepping my skin, I start with a base of tinted moisturizer. It helps me achieve an “I woke up like this” glow without the heaviness of foundation (I tested a bunch of foundations to find my favorite). This tinted moisturizer not only hydrates, but also evens out my skin tone for a no-make-up look. Plus, it's formulated with SPF 30, so I don't have to add another layer of skin protection. The product just melts into your skin when you apply it. I like to blend it all over my face with my fingers. Note, it’s got a very matte finish which is what I prefer, but if you want a dewy finish, try Ilia Skin Tint.

3. Conceal and brighten

For those pesky spots or dark circles that seem to have their own agenda, I'll apply a full coverage concealer. The Laura Mercier Serum Concealer is lightweight and creamy, and stays put all day. It also brightens, hydrates, and smoothes fine lines, making it appear as if I've had a full 8 hours of sleep (I wish!). Don’t use your fingers to blend in concealer! Instead, use makeup sponges, since they offer a smoother, more even blend for your concealer application.

4. Add a warm glow

After I've concealed any blemishes and evened out my skin tone, I love to add a bit of warmth and dimension with a swipe of bronzer. A little goes a long way! I use a fluffy brush or sculpting brush to lightly dust the bronzer along my cheekbones, temples, and jawline. It instantly gives me that sun-kissed look, as if I've just returned from a beach vacation. Plus, it blends beautifully, so I never have to worry about any harsh lines or looking like a contouring mishap. For that natural contour look, apply bronzer precisely at the base of your cheek line.

To highlight the glow, I'll also add blush. My go-to is the Merit Flush Balm Cream Blush which has a creamy texture and doesn't look the least bit cakey. I'll swirl it on the apples of my cheeks for a natural flush and use the Merit Blending Brush to blend it in with my skin. For extra brightening, add in a strip of highlighter right above the blush, and blend it at the same time.

5. Brows and lashes

I love to use a tinted brow gel vs. filling in with a brow pencil which takes more time and requires more precision. The result is a full, defined and clean look. For lashes, my favorite mascara is this volumizing mascara to add drama and length. This mascara is the only “drug store brand” I use in my routine. I’ve tested several more expensive options, but always keep coming back to this one. 

If I'm rushing out the door and can't do my 5-minute makeup routine, I'll just grab these two products along with concealer and toss them in my purse to do my makeup in the car. My point is that these two products are must-haves!

6. A subtle lip

It's important not to skip hydration for your lips. I have three different options depending on the color I’m looking for: sheer, tinted and opaque. 

For a day I’m WFH with no Zoom calls, I typically apply a sheer super moisturizing lip balm. I love this lip plumper, which adds volume and definition to my lips. For a touch of color, perfect for days full of Zoom calls or socializing at the playground, a swipe of a nourishing tinted lip balm keeps my lips from feeling dry and flakey (especially in the winter!). Or if you are really leaning into simplification, use the Merit Flush Balm under clear lip balm for a touch of subtle color.

Then if I want a pop of color I have a moisturizing lipstick. I prefer subtle colors, something that enhances my natural lip color but doesn't look too bold or overdone. My favorite is the Chanel Rouge Coco Bloom Lipstick, which makes my lips look full and vibrant.

5 minute makeup routine steps

Tips for makeup on-the-go

Rushing out the door, checking your reflection in your phone camera, and realizing your makeup could use a little…something. Who hasn't been there, right? Whether you're running from meeting to meeting or trying to make a dinner date after work, these tips can help you maintain a flawless look, no matter where you are or how packed your schedule is.

  1. Purchase a makeup bag so everything is in one spot without distractions. I have this one, but I also love how this one hangs up when traveling. I'm thinking of getting it for our upcoming trips. My favorite budget picks are this one and this one.
  2. Simplify, simplify, simplify! Just include the products you'll actually use in your makeup bag. Ditch those extra eyeshadows, multiple blush shades, and lipsticks. I prefer having one warm and one bright blush handy, plus the three lip treatments I mentioned earlier for different occasions. Everything else stays the same, no matter what.
  3. Always clean your brushes. I use this brush cleaner and love that it doesn’t leave my brushes soaking wet, so I can use them right away with its quick-drying solution.
  4. If you frequently travel, purchase travel-sized skincare – no one wants to haul a big glass jar of moisturizer around.
  5. Purchase a compact mirror for your makeup bag for on-the-go application. I love this one because it has magnifying options and an LED light.
5 minute makeup routine

How to get started with simplifying your routine

Simplifying your makeup routine might seem daunting at first, but it’s all about going back to the basics and figuring out what truly works for you. Begin by taking a good, hard look at your current collection. Lay everything out and assess what products you use daily versus those that only see the light of day on special occasions. Trust me, we all have that one glitter eyeshadow we thought we'd use. Next, focus on multi-purpose products that can save space and time. Think: tinted moisturizers with SPF, cream blush that doubles as lip color, or eyeshadows that can be used to fill in your eyebrows.

It’s all about finding the right products for your skin tone and that fit into your quick routine. If you’re overwhelmed by the products you’ve accumulated over the years and want to “start fresh,” I highly recommend getting The Weekday Set by Merit. It has everything you need for a quick and simple makeup routine.

Feature image by Susannah Townsend from corelens


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