How To Get Ready In The Morning When You Have Zero Time

Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
No matter how much we may deny it, we’ve all been that person stuck applying makeup in the least convenient of places (a.k.a. the 4 train). We’ve also more than likely thrown shade at someone as they try to feverishly and discreetly (or, not-so-discreetly) apply bronzer before the train rolls into their stop.
The truth is, when it comes to applying makeup on the go, you need to give yourself some tough love. While blotting your nose, or perhaps touching up lipstick, is acceptable — chic, even — breaking out the foundation is a definite don't. “Don’t try to contour in public, please,” quips celebrity makeup artist Daniel Martin. “Whipping out makeup brushes and swirling around a bunch of powder is a big no-no.”
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When you’re in your bedroom, what you do with your face is your business. In public, it’s only polite to keep your routine to an absolute minimum — no matter how dire the circumstances. “Once it gets to 10 minutes, it can get awkward,” says makeup pro Fiona Stiles. The key is keeping it quick and even entertaining, as makeup artist Edward Cruz suggests. For that, you need some enviable products.
We talked to a few pros to find out the best methods for foolproof in-transit makeup application, plus suggested some items that may even have people asking to peek into your cosmetics bag. Click through to master the art of the on-the-go face.
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Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
Taxi Touch-Up
When you’re in the backseat of a taxi (or an Uber, or a Lyft, or god-knows-what-else), you are in the best of on-the-go circumstances. You have natural light at your disposal — assuming it’s daytime — so face the window when applying concealers or other face products. Fasten your seatbelt and cozy up to the side of the car, so you can perch one arm in the little window nook for more precise application. Don’t you forget: Your driver is working for a tip (or a five-star rating). Politely inform them that you’ll be doing your makeup en route, and perhaps they’ll avoid potholes or even slow down while you touch up your lipstick. Just make sure to adjust gratuity accordingly.
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Photo: Via BeautyCounter.
1. Prepare Yourself
If you're only taking a 10-minute taxi ride, it’s much easier for you to have everything in one place, rather than all over your purse. We love these cheeky, tote-friendly bags — but resist the urge to load them up with your latest Sephora haul and store samples. Just the essentials, please.

BeautyCounter Pouch, $30, available at BeautyCounter.
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Photo: Via Aesop.
2. Clean Up
“A dab of hand sanitizer is essential before you start anything,” says celebrity makeup artist Anthea King. This is pretty much the most elegant option available — and it won’t make your cab smell like alcohol.

Aesop Resurrection Rinse-Free Hand Wash, $10, available at Net-A-Porter.
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Photo: Via Tom Ford Beauty.
3. Perfect Your Complexion
Unlike other methods of transportation, your taxi gives you some time to yourself. So, you could actually pull off putting on liquid complexion products. This concealer pen is genius because it has a sponge-tip applicator — you can dab it under your eyes and even around the corners of the nose, chin, and on any red spots, and blend in with clean fingertips. It will make you look instantly awake. Our only suggestion? “Wait for the red lights!” Cruz insists. “We look better in red lighting.”

Tom Ford Beauty Concealing Pen, $52, available at Tom Ford.
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Photo: Via Ilia.
4. Go For Glow
Why not add a little glimmer? Just dab this highlighting stick onto the high planes of the face — most importantly, the tops of the cheekbones. Press it into your skin with your fingers to make sure it’s settled. You may even consider popping it into the inner corners of your eyes using your ring finger.

Ilia Polka Dots & Moonbeams, $34, available at Ilia.
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Photo: Via laura Mercier.
5. Blend
Finish with a quick blot to make sure the product settles evenly and without creasing. (And, of course, so you’re not greasy.) Loose powders will get all over your clothes and the backseat, so a pressed option is best.

Laura Mercier Mineral Pressed Powder SPF 15, $39, available at Sephora.
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Photo: VIa Maybelline.
6. Line 'Em
Hey, if you’re going for it, you’re going for it. Sometimes, traffic can be the late girl’s secret weapon for a fresh-looking arrival. “Don’t attempt anything that needs precision while moving,” Martin says — we all know that means eyeliner.

There’s a golden rule when the pencils come out to play: “Brace yourself, so you don’t stab yourself in the eye,” Stiles cautions. Maybelline’s kajal is thick enough to create a quick, angled line without spending too much time. Hold it flat against the eye when you apply so that, even if you do come to a (very New York) screeching halt, you won’t end up needing cornea surgery.

Maybelline Master Kajal, $7.99, available at Maybelline.
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Photo: Via Revlon.
7. Add A Quick Coat
The same rules apply for mascara. Brace yourself or wait for a stop. (Better yet, ask your driver to stop at your destination, but keep the meter running until you're done. Safety first!)

Revlon Lash Potion by Grow Luscious Volume + Length Mascara, $8.49, available at Ulta.
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Photo: VIa Guerlain.
8. Seal It With A Kiss
A lipstick that comes with its own mirror is every backseat beauty addict's best friend. This creamy formula lends itself to less-than-precise application.

Guerlain Rouge G de Guerlain Jewel Lipstick Compact, $51, available at Sephora.
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Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
Subway Session
We've seen worse underground than a woman touching up her mascara. Still, this doesn’t mean that any and all public displays of beauty are welcome — etiquette is important. Only do your makeup if you can secure a seat. Otherwise, you're endangering and probably concerning the people around you. Keep everything quick (think a two-stop maximum for application time), and make sure your elbows are always safely at your sides. “You should really try and do foundation and concealer at home,” Martin suggests. That way, you can just focus on the eyes and lips. But, don’t worry — if that’s not in the cards, we’ve got you covered.
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Photo: Via Truffle.
1. Be Transparent
For discreet makeup application, everything needs to be in plain sight. Nobody wants to be jostled by your elbows as you try and find that mascara tube at the bottom of your bag, and you should not have more with you than you absolutely need. A clear makeup bag will keep things simple and organized.

Streamlining things will also help you drastically cut down the time you spend on your face. “Keep it quick and glamorous,” Stiles says. “A swipe of lip color, a bit of blush, possibly some mascara... A quick application is okay — we’ve all been in a rush — but when your public routine runs [longer], it begins to feel very intimate and a little weird.”

Truffle The Clarity Clutch Small, $42, available at Truffle.
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Photo: Via Chanel.
2. Invest In A Chic Mirror
“Now is not the time for dirty brushes or broken compacts," says Cruz. "It grosses people out. Plus, colored dust is dangerous because it can stain someone’s belongings.”

You heard the man: If you’re touching up in public, you better be doing so in the most presentable way possible. Nothing will elevate your slightly déclassé morning routine like a Chanel compact mirror.

Chanel Miroir Double Facettes, $42, available at Chanel.
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Photo: VIa Intelligent Nutrients.
3. Keep It Clean
You have undoubtedly touched something not-so-pristine while entering the bowels of your city. Please, for the sake of your pores, sanitize before you touch your face.

Intelligent Nutrients Sanitizer, $12.50, available at Intelligent Nutrients.
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Photo: Via RMS Beauty.
4. Fake Awake (If Necessary)
Especially in less-than-stellar lighting, it's key to find a concealer that blends seamlessly and you can apply with just your fingertips. RMS’ creamy formulas come in pot form, so you can dab 'em on without looking like you’re going overboard. Check your work in the mirror before moving on — and resist the temptation to do a weird duck face when examining yourself.

RMS Beauty "Un" Cover-Up, $36, available at RMS Beauty.
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Photo: Via Surratt.
5. Add A Dash Of Drama
This is so not the time to perfect your flick — nor is it the ideal setting for making sure your eyes look symmetrical, since your neighbor is likely already annoyed. “Skip the shadow and smudge it across the lid instead, and then use the liner against the lashes for definition,” says Stiles. This dual-ended pen can come in handy: One side is a cream stick that you can use for building definition, and the other is a little sponge that imparts an easily blendable, shimmery powder. Tap it on the lid, and then smudge. We love Cendres, a taupe color, for a barely-there glow.

Surratt Smokey Eye Baton, $35, available at Barneys New York.
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Photo: Via Stila.
6. Be Bold
“When in transit in public, think multi-use products for lips and cheeks, like Stila’s, to add some vibrancy and make things easier,” says King. Careful on the blush there, killer — either skip it altogether, or add a dab to the apples of your cheeks. But, feel free to build on the lips: A burst of color will make you look instantly presentable, even if you've skipped the prior steps.

Stila Convertible Color, $25, available at Stila.
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Photo: Via Tatcha.
7. Blot, Beautifully
“Blotting is one thing, but breaking out powder from a compact is inconsiderate to those around you,” says Martin. Gorgeous blotting papers make the whole process a lot more desirable.

Tatcha Original Aburatorigamo, $12, available at Tatcha.
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Photo: Via MAC.
8. Mascara, If You Must
Save this step for a lash emergency. If you must, make sure you only do one quick coat per lash — watching people wiggle wands into their eyelids can be a bit nauseating for fellow passengers. (Not to mention, bacteria is harvesting in that open tube while you apply.) A big wand will make it easier. But, just so you don't poke yourself in the eye, wait for a stop before attempting this.

MAC In Extreme Dimension Lash Mascara, $22, available at Nordstrom.
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Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
Beauty & The Bus
The good news is, you’re above ground, so there's natural light! The bad news? It’s probably more crowded, and a bit noisier, than the subway. Traffic is on your side again (at least, makeup-wise), so you can take advantage of a standstill moment to check your reflection — but that doesn’t mean you should resort to a full taxi cab touch-up. Remember, you're in close quarters with people: Keep it short and sweet.
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Photo: Via Orla Kiely.
1. You Guessed It: Stay Clean
You are sitting where someone has potentially urinated. Clean your hands.

Orla Kiely Geranium Hand Sanitizer, $12, available at Beautyhabit.
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Photo: Via Nudestix.
2. Bring Your Box Of Tricks
“People tend to be a lot more social on buses, so be ready to share your tips and tricks,” says Cruz. Your Nudestix box should be chief among them. Nudestix is a makeup line composed entirely of pencil products, each of which is housed in a minimalist black tin that pops open to reveal a mirror. It was made for girls on the go. If you’re doing something as daring as putting on your makeup on the bus, you need these in your life — put all your products in there for a five-minute face.

While all our pros caution against slathering on complexion products in public, sometimes a girl’s gotta touch up her undereyes. Do so with one swipe under each eye, and then tap gently with your fingers so the concealer melts into the skin. Avoid picking your blemishes: Nobody wants to see you prodding a juicy zit when they’re in easy pus-shooting distance.

Nudestix Concealer Pencil, $24, available at Beautylish.
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Photo: Via Nudestix.
3. Make Your Eyes Pop
“Use products that blend easily in case you make an error in application, like creamy eye sticks versus eyeliner,” Stiles says. The genius girls of Nudestix also made chubby pencils that come with sharpeners should you crave more precision. Opt for a lighter shade and pop your inner corners (or, sketch all over your whole eyelid). It will create an instantly wide-awake look that takes zero time.

Nudestix Eye Pencil, $24, available at Sephora.
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Photo: Via Bite Beauty.
4. Go For A Natural Flush
Skip the blush and the precise lip products. “Beware of long-wearing lipsticks while doing your makeup on the go, because one slip of the hand and you will have a very hard time cleaning up the mess,” says Stiles. Since you’re on a bus, you’re probably getting jostled around, so a hydrating wash of color will have to suffice. Bite’s BB will give you that "your pout, but better" look — choose your favorite shade and apply liberally.

Bite Beauty BB for Lips, $24, available at Sephora.
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Photo: Via Boscia.
5. Take Off The Shine
“Powdering the nose is socially acceptable,” King says. (As for the rest: Rules are meant to be broken, right?) Blotting is the one step we shouldn’t skip. These papers leave behind a semi-matte finish that makes skin look polished.

Boscia Green Tea Blotting Linens, $10, available at Boscia.
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Photo: Via Lancôme.
6. Touch Up The Lashes (When You're At A Stop)
It's not wise to apply mascara while the bus is in motion. In fact, our pros recommend saving this step for a quick bathroom break once you’ve arrived at your destination. But, if you get to a stop and can manage a quick coat, more power to you.

Lancôme Hypnôse Drama Instant Full Body Volume Mascara, $24.75, available at Nordstrom.
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