NEW YORK -- If you're trying to streamline your beauty routine, experts say you should worry more about the tools than the time. Primping in 10 minutes or less is a realistic goal as long as you have all that you need -- and nothing you don't -- immediately available. Invest one afternoon to assess the condition of your hair and skin, get a haircut, buy the cosmetics colors you want to wear that season. After that, the clock can start ticking: HairMake sure you are using products appropriate for your hair type (moisturizing ones for dry hair or volumizing for fine hair, for example), advises stylist Frederic Fekkai. Otherwise, you'll waste time in the styling process trying to undo what you've just done in the shower, he explains. After hair is towel-dried and combed, address volume and texture. If you have curly hair, you want controlled volume, which you get by applying mousse, gel or hairspray only at the roots around the base of the neck. Flip hair upside down, then -- using one hand like a clip to gather the ends -- blow-dry the roots of the hair. Direct the nozzle of the dryer upward so it will give lift to the base, which will later act as support to the hair at the crown. You don't want the dryer too hot or blowing the hair around too much, says Fekkai. He suggests using a tennis sock and rubber band around the nozzle as an easy diffuser.
For the rest of the curly locks, flip your hair back, apply a finishing product and now point the dryer down from the crown while scrunching curls in your hand. No need to fully dry the hair. If your hair is straight, also do the hair flip after towel drying. Put mousse or finishing cream on the hair at the scalp. This is where gravity will help you, because you're trying to build a base. Now tip your head back and go full speed with the blow-dryer in every direction. "You want to keep it from getting flat," Fekkai says. "You want to go backward, forward, upward, downward -- the idea is to create a good cushion of hair." A quick spritz of glossing mist will minimize flyaways throughout the day. SkinTime spent on the skin is saved later on in makeup application, declares James Boehmer, lead makeup artist for Nars Cosmetics. If you stick to a skin-care routine of cleansing, moisturizing and wearing sunscreen, you have an easy canvas to work with. Concealer is a no-brainer for any dark circles or small patches of redness, he says. For those who feel their skin needs more coverage to even out texture and tone, there are tinted moisturizers that double as bronzer, although he prefers a brightening serum that has a more natural glow.
"I'm not a big fan of bronzer. Most women consider it a staple," Boehmer says, "but you could cut it out." This season, in particular, there is a trend toward a more matte finish, which can be done with a light layer of loose powder foundation. Another worthwhile use of your time is eyelash curling, Boehmer says. It takes only a few seconds -- if you have a good curler -- and it opens the eye and makes it look brighter, he explains. With good skin and bright eyes, you only need to focus on one color statement, perhaps a smoky eye, bright red lips or jet-black mascara. "If you think about your makeup and try to make it function, think about having one special thing to punch it up. It's the equivalent of your really special shoes that make the outfit," Boehmer says. ColorThere is one color that will work on your lips and cheek -- and sometimes elsewhere, according to makeup artist Bobbi Brown. Choosing it depends on skin tone and lifestyle. The easiest product to use is a pot rouge, she says. For fair skin, she recommends a pale pink; for darker skin, a cranberry. A neutral tawny tan will work on just about every skin color as a blush, lipstick and bronzer on the forehead nose and chin, Brown says. Jean Ford, co-founder of Benefit Cosmetics, says applicators are unnecessary when time is of the essence. She says the best makeup tool is your fingers. "You'll never misplace them and you have a lot more control over the product when it's in your hands."
She adds: "A product instantly becomes easier to work when using your fingers, and your body heat will help the makeup flawlessly melt into your skin."
If you want to play up your eyes, Brown recommends a brown eye shadow that can be used for brows, shadow and liner.
"When all else fails: black mascara. Three coats -- that will make a difference," Brown says.
And, she adds, if you have 10 seconds instead of 10 minutes, try pinching your cheeks and biting your bottom lip. That will last only a short while but long enough, say, for a photo.