No one’s going to deny that it feels good to take care of ourselves and look pretty, but a lot of us are guilty of too much time in front of the mirror. In fact, one survey found we spend nearly three years primping and preening over the course of our lifetime. Three years. Sheesh.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Blame it on the old “grass is always greener on the other side,” says Nick Arrojo, owner of Arrojo Studio in New York City.
“The number one beauty mistake follows a similar principle,” he says. Women want things that are unrealistic to achieve, and we tend to go overboard trying to get there. The focus should be enhancing our natural beauty, not fighting it, Arrojo explains.And that starts with simplicity.
So if bounding out of bed each morning to fight with your hair and perform a litany of beauty chores is not exactly your idea of a fun way to start the day (hey, we’d much rather spend more time snoozing), then you’re in luck. Our experts have broken out their best advice on how to simplify your routine. Here’s how:
1. Clear out the clutter. “Many women have too many products, which makes the beauty routine difficult,” says Jemma Kidd, makeup artist and founder of her namesake beauty brand. So toss any old or expired products, along with anything you haven’t worn in the last month (powder blue eye shadow, we’re talking to you). Then clean all of your brushes, sponges, tweezers and lash curlers, and sharpen eye and lip pencils. When you’ve tossed more than you’ve kept, reward yourself with one (just one) new lip or eye color so you don’t get stuck in a style rut, advises Kidd.
2. Put down the tweezers. Not only is it a time sucker, but over-plucking ages women significantly, according to Jeanine B. Downie, M.D., YouBeauty Dermatology Expert. “It’s also impossible to grow your eyebrows back in later,” she adds, conjuring up images of old ladies with wispy, thin brows. Treat yourself to a professional brow shaping a few times a year, and you’ll save yourself the time of trying to wrangle your own brows into a desired shape. On your own, only pluck the most obvious strays, such as between your brows.
3. Skinny down the eyeshadow. If you are sorting through a hodgepodge of colors each morning, you have too many eyeshadows, says Andrea Pomerantz Lustig, longtime beauty editor and author of the beauty book “How To Look Expensive.” Instead, stick with two palettes: a classic black/grey/pearl and a brown/bronze/taupe. “I like to whittle a women’s beauty choices down to the essentials because it’s easier to know what to use when you have fewer choices.”
4. Ditch the false lashes. False eyelashes are an absolute no-no, says Downie. Not only do they take forever to put on correctly, but they’ll rip out your own eyelashes. For most people it can take two to 10 years for lashes to regrow—if at all. Instead, Downie advises using the prescription lash-grower Latisse consistently to shave time off your morning routine in the long run. “You will use less mascara overtime,” she says. “And, longer lashes make everyone look younger.”
5. Eliminate toners. You know those expensive toners that cosmetic counters are always pushing? Forget about ‘em. “Toners are not necessary in my opinion,” says Downie. It’s just one more step in our skin care routine that we can do without.
6. Go with a “two for” on moisture. To simplify body care, use a razor that has built-in skin conditioners, like the Gilette Venus ProSkin that includes a gel bar made with body butter. Lustig also recommends using old hair conditioner on your body after cleansing in the shower. “It’s a great way to get rid of it, and even though you rinse it out, it will work on your body.” Scented moisturizers also eliminate the need for a separate fragrance.
7. Do double-duty with mascara. To save time, your mascara wand can double as an eyebrow pencil, says Downie. “If you want to make your eyebrows a little heavier, just use the excess mascara from the wand and fill in your eyebrows before you dash out of the house.” Reclaim space in your makeup drawer: bonus!
8. Get sassy with your hair. Shorter hair is definitely easier to style, advises Arrojo. But don’t assume that means a pixie or a crop. “Razor-cut layered bobs are super-easy to manage, and you can style them smooth or messy in five minutes, without having to pick up a blow dryer,” he explains. “Remember, shorter hair actually gives you more creative and versatile styling options –with long hair, you either wear it up, or you wear it down.”
9. Go two-toned. Ombré hair colors, aside from being all the rage, are actually a great way to extend the life of color-treated hair, says Arrojo. “Because ombré fades from dark to light, it has a melting effect that requires less upkeep than traditional highlights.” To get the most bang for your coloring buck, opt for subtle variations of dark to light brown, using caramels and chestnut, perhaps with a hint of red for added depth and dimension, he recommends.
10. Use a lighter nail polish. The best way to minimize time between manicures is to stick with clear pink on your fingers, says Lustig, because it doesn’t show chips. Instead, have more fun with color on your toes. “I cant tell you how many awful chipped nails I see on the subway!” she explained. “Better to wear no polish at all than chipped polish.”