Maybe you were having a dream about George Clooney that continued, thrillingly, well past the trilling of your alarm clock. Or perhaps your kids begged you to make homemade pancakes (which left you with three minutes to get the flour out of your hair, and no time for concealer).
When your day feels like a mad dash instead of a walk in the park, these tweaks to your morning routine, shower, and bedtime prep can help you at least appear to have your life under control. If you've ever wished you could squeeze a few more minutes out of your busy day, now you can.
Yikes! You overslept, and now you have to get ready and out the door at warp speed. These tips eliminate almost an hour of prep time — and you'll still emerge looking fresh and pulled together.
1-Instead of: A time-consuming shower
Speedy solution: Splash cold water or spray a hydrating mist on your face to energize your skin. Store the mist in the fridge, or quickly run it under the tap; it will feel more invigorating as it hits your complexion. "Cold water instantly tones and tightens your skin," says Ann Marie Cilmi, director of education and development at Bliss. Try The Body Shop Vitamin C Energizing Face Spritz. Minutes saved: 10
2-Instead of: Multistep skin prep
Speedy solution: Jump right to moisturizing. Skip cleanser and toner, and give yourself more even-toned, hydrated, and protected skin by slathering on a tinted moisturizer with SPF. "Go over any discolored areas a second time," says Blair Patterson, a global makeup artist for Estée Lauder. You can also add another layer to cheekbones to help contour the face when it's puffy from sleep. Try CoverGirl Aqua Smoothers Tinted Moisture SPF 15. Minutes saved: 5
3-Instead of: Elaborate eye makeup
Speedy solution: Stick with three express moves. Tame brows, apply highlighter, and slick on black mascara. You can quickly smooth unruly brows using a brow gel or a pencil-and-comb combo such as Prestige Browliner. Then add a pop of white or bone shimmer shadow just below the browbone. "It draws attention upward and gives your face a more awake, lifted look," says Ramy Gafny, a New York City celebrity makeup artist. Finish by applying black mascara from the base to the tips of lashes to give them maximum length. Minutes saved: 10
4-Instead of: Blush and lipstick and shadow
Speedy solution: Choose one triple-duty product. A creamy blush that also works on lips and lids is ideal. Whatever you do, don't skip blush; makeup artists say it's the most underrated beauty product for waking up the face. Just smile and use the heat of your fingers to dab color on the rounds of your cheeks and across your lips, suggests Marcia Kilgore, creator of Soap & Glory. Use the same shade to brighten lids. Try E.L.F. All Over Color Stick in Persimmon. Minutes saved: 5
5-Instead of: A styling marathon
Speedy solution: Stash your blow-dryer and brush, and try some quick "detailing." Pull slept-on hair back into the Tonytail, a faux-hair ponytail holder that creates the illusion your strands have been expertly wrapped around the base of the pony. Or give a cropped style instant polish by smoothing out bangs and short layers with one of the new purse-size flattening irons. "It's easier to control than a full-size version and costs less," says Joelle Dunrovich, a hairstylist at Rita Hazan Salon in New York City. Try Slik Stik Mini. Minutes saved: 20-plus
The Ultimate Time Saver
Surprise! It's beauty sleep. You may be off in dreamland, but your skin is working overtime. "Inflammation is down and stress hormones reach their lowest levels by the middle of the night," says Amy Wechsler, M.D., a New York City dermatologist. This relaxed state can improve breakouts, fine lines, dark circles — the works. Here's how to boost your looks while your body rests.
1-Take years off your face: "Nothing works better at night to prevent and correct wrinkles than a topical retinoid," says Doris J. Day, M.D., clinical assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Medical Center. With regular use, this potent antiaging ingredient helps speed cell turnover and ratchet up collagen production, so you awake with smoother, more radiant skin. If a prescription retinoid is too harsh for your skin, try retinol, a gentler, over-the-counter cousin. (We like Roc Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream.) Since they both can dry out skin, layer a hydrating lotion or cream over serums containing either ingredient (but wait five minutes to let the active ingredient sink in).
2-Slough off the rough spots: Slather on a body cream laced with glycolic acid before bed to loosen dead skin. Try Lubriderm Advanced Therapy Triple Smoothing Body Lotion. Apply a second layer to extra-dry areas like feet, elbows, and hands. In the morning, use an exfoliating body wash to send those loosened cells down the shower drain.
3-Reduce puffiness: The flip side of all the good things that happen to your skin while you sleep? "Lying flat for hours causes fluid to accumulate in your face, especially around your eyes," says Dr. Wechsler. Minimize puffiness by keeping your head elevated on at least two pillows and skipping salty foods like sushi with soy sauce for dinner.
4-Get softer, shinier hair: Deep conditioning can rescue hair that lacks shine or softness. Still, most women don't have the time to sit still while a messy, goopy formula sinks into strands. Instead, look for hair masks meant for nighttime use. Try John Frieda Frizz-Ease Crème Serum Overnight Repair Formula, which is formulated to go on dry hair, so you won't have to sleep with a wet head. It's also lightweight enough not to leave residue on your pillow.
5-"Work" on your tan: Applying self-tanner before bed lets you wake up looking sun kissed and sidesteps the issue of its potentially unappealing scent. Most self-tanners contain DHA, which gives off the odor of uric acid for hours as the color develops. But if you apply it before bed, the smell will be gone by morning, explains Cilmi. (Just be sure the product no longer feels tacky when you hit the sheets.) An alternative: Try lavender-infused Olay Touch of Sun Overnight.
Five cosmetic overachievers that save you time — and purse space — by offering at least three beauty benefits in one small package.
- Foundation + makeup brush + sun protection = Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Liquid Makeup SPF 20
- Nail file + cuticle softener + cuticle pusher = 5 Second 3-in-1 Manicure Pen
- Concealer + wrinkle smoother + sun protection = L'Oréal Paris Visible Lift Line-Minimizing & Tone-Enhancing Concealer SPF 20
- Eyebrow tamer + skin softener + blister blocker + more = Bliss Problem Salved 20-in-1 Wonder Balm Lip gloss + tooth whitener + breath freshener = Tarte Enbrightenmint BriteSmile Whitener & Tarte Lipgloss
Could you get in and out any faster — and still emerge with clean, soft skin and hair, and a refreshed spirit? Absolutely, say the experts. Here are six ways to make your time under the spray deliver more.
1. Simplify sudsing: "Just focus shampoo on the roots instead of lathering up the whole head," suggests Cilmi. "As the shampoo slides down your hair shaft during the rinse, the rest of your hair will get clean." Quickly squeeze out the excess water before you put in conditioner to prevent diluting the moisturizing ingredients. Then you can leave conditioner in for less time.
2. Get a brighter smile: Stash an extra toothbrush and toothpaste in your shower caddy. "I'm a firm believer that brushing my teeth in the shower saves time," says Los Angeles aesthetician Angela Nice. Makeup artist Ramy Gafny swears by Arm & Hammer Whitening Booster, a peroxide gel you put on top of toothpaste to brighten teeth in a hurry.
3. Steam-clean your complexion: Slap on a hydrating facial mask to deep-clean your skin. The treatment ingredients will penetrate further when they work in conjunction with the shower's pore-opening steam. Try Clean & Clear Soft In-Shower Facial, and rinse after one minute.
4. Eliminate stubble: "Never shave dry," says Dr. Day. Instead, use a moisturizing body wash in conjunction with your razor to get your skin clean, soft, and stubble-free. Try Weleda Sea Buckthorn Creamy Body Wash. If you wax, lather up with an exfoliating wash that will help reduce ingrown hairs made worse by waxing. Try: Johnson's Softwash Gentle Exfoliating 24 Hour Moisturizing Wash. New Veet In Shower Hair Removal Cream features a water-resistant formula that stays put under the spray. After two minutes, whisk the depilatory cream away with the accompanying sponge.
5. Clear your cuticles: Once your hands have been in the water for a couple of minutes, use a washcloth to gently push back cuticles. Doing this every time you shower will prevent cuticle buildup, so your nails look clean and well cared for, even when you don't have time for regular manicures.
6. Smooth your soles: Sally Hansen La Cross Foot Smoothing Disk is a palm-size, easy-to-grasp disk with exfoliating ridges that remove dead skin as you slide it back and forth across your feet. For spa-worthy results, wait until the end of your shower, when the warm water makes skin easier to slough off. If you shower in a tub, plug the drain and sprinkle in some bath salts for an instantly soothing foot soak that will also help soften any rough spots on your soles.