An Easy 5-Minute Face

If you’re like me, it’s a weekly occurrence to get caught up in something at home and completely forget you need to leave the house until there’s exactly 6.5 minutes left before that car better be running. What’s a mom to do?

Well, on many days I just don’t care what I look like and run out the door—it’s especially nice when I’m just dropping the kids somewhere and don’t have to actually get out of the car to reveal I’m barefoot and wearing pajama shorts.

But on days I’m doing something where I want to look one notch above “Egad! Pull it together, woman!”, I’ve devised a fool-proof makeup routine that takes less than five minutes flat.

Here are the secrets to my “Crap, I’m late!” face.

Smashbox powder and Elf kabuki brushSHINE BEGONE!

First thing is to clean up the oil slick. My go-to is Smashbox Photo Filter Foundation ($42), a pressed powder foundation that blends evenly, is never chalky, and hides imperfections while mattifying for hours. (When I remember, I toss into my purse for touchups later in the day.) I usually wear it over liquid foundation or a tinted moisturizer, but in a hurry it stands reliably on its own. A quick swirl with my Elf Kabuki Face Brush ($6), then buff into my skin, and done.

Total time: 90 seconds

Sephora bronzer and Morphe bronzing brushA VACATION FOR YOUR FACE

I’ve recently rediscovered the wonders of bronzer. As someone with vampire-white skin, most bronzers impart a Cheeto-like glow. Then I found Sephora Collection Bronzer Powder in 3 Los Cabos ($17), which isn’t orange, isn’t brown, and doesn’t make me sparkle like a disco ball. It’s a perfect matte shade for all but the darkest skintones, and really wakes up your face (want more tips for ways to appear more awake?). I apply with a short, stacked, domed brush like Morphe E59 Tapered Bronzer Brush ($16.99)—domed brushes are easier to use and deposit a more even layer of color than tapered ones, which are better for contouring. Gently sweep in a “3” pattern on the side of the face—starting from my forehead brush gently along my hairline to my temple, forward onto the cheekbone, then back to my ear and around to the jawline.

Total time: 60 seconds

Sonia Kashuk eyelash curler and Urban Decay Perversion mascaraTHE EYES HAVE IT

I feel naked if I don’t have something on my eyes when I leave the house. And I’ve found the product that gives you the most bang for your buck is mascara. To really milk the mascara effect, take a minute to curl first. Sonia Kashuk Dramatically Defining Eye Lash Curler ($8.99) is reliable, doesn’t crimp lashes, and comes with a replacement pad (assuming you don’t lose them, like I always seem to do). Then follow with a single coat of Urban Decay Perversion Mascara ($23), which lengthens and separates like a dream and dries quickly—so no raccoon eyes for you.

Total time: 120 seconds

Loreal Color Riche BalmTINTED FOR THE WIN

With only five minutes, there’s no time for lipstick precision. That’s why I grab a tinted lip balm like L’Oréal Colour Riche Balm ($7.95). It’s hydrating, has a hint of shine, and can literally be applied without a mirror as you’re walking out the door. What more could a busy mom ask for?

Total time: 20 seconds

And there you have it! An easy, put-together face in less than five minutes—here’s hoping it helps draw the attention away from your mismatched shoes.

Natalie Kurz

Natalie is a writer and editor who published her first piece in 10th grade (in a national literary magazine, but her mother says it still counts). In her spare time, she's a parent to two kids (10 and 6) who provide her with daily fodder for her writing. And an added excuse to drink wine and eat chocolate.