How to Apply Makeup in 10 Minutes or Less

Woman applying makeup

Heidi Coppock-Beard / Getty Images

Let's face it: There's no shortage of full-coverage makeup looks out there, from intricate eyeliner to highlighting, contouring, and everything in between. And while we love a done-up makeup look, sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day to spend extra time perfecting a daily makeup routine. We'll be the first to admit that sometimes it's helpful to get back to the basics when it comes to makeup application. And if you're new to the makeup scene, easing into a quick and simple routine will help you get comfortable with products, textures, and your own skin. With a few basics under your belt, you'll be able to experiment like your favorite Instagram artist in no time. And mastering how to apply makeup doesn't have to take long. In fact, with the right makeup tips, you can put together a makeup routine in under 10 minutes. To do just that, we turned to celebrity makeup artist Katie Mellinger for her expert tips and techniques.

Ahead, check out a step-by-step guide on how to apply makeup in 10 minutes or less.

Meet the Expert

Katie Mellinger is a makeup artist who splits her time between New York City and Los Angeles. She has worked with an array of celebrities including Emma Watson and Naomi Watts.

01 of 07

Start with the Eyes

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Glossier Lidstar in Cub $18
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You've likely heard makeup gurus debating between whether you should apply your face or eye makeup first, but when it comes to applying makeup quickly and efficiently, you'll want to opt for the latter. "Start with your eyes first before applying makeup on the rest of your face," says Mellinger. "That way, if you get any drop off from your eye makeup, it won’t mess up all the hard work you put into your face makeup."

If you do get fall out, Mellinger explains that you can clean it up quickly with some makeup remover and then move forward with the rest of your face. No need to redo any makeup—or waste any time. To clean up any residue from your eye makeup, try using Glossier's Milky Oil ($12) on a cotton pad.

02 of 07

Use Your Fingers

You don't have to invest in a slew of fancy brushes and blenders to get a flawless makeup look. "Your fingers make great tools for easy application," explains Mellinger. "I use my fingers almost exclusively on myself when doing a quick makeup look." If it's good enough for the pros, it's good enough for us! Not to mention, this application method will give you a bit more leeway in your makeup budget to splurge on other makeup favorites.

"Using your fingers is so much more time-efficient than busting out a brush or sponge that you’re going to have to clean later, and they are fantastic for blending cream products (we love Cover FX's Total Cover Cream Foundation, $42). Just make sure to wash them first!"

03 of 07

If You Use a Makeup Sponge, Make Sure It's Damp

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beautyblender The Original Beautyblender $20
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While using your fingers is a foolproof method for a speedy makeup routine, you can still turn to tried-and-true makeup tools if you'd prefer not to get your hands dirty. And if you choose a makeup sponge as your makeup applicator of choice, make sure to use it damp—not dry. "This will not only make your application more flawless but it will also absorb less product into your sponge, saving product in the long run," explains Mellinger.

Hold your sponge under lukewarm water for 30 seconds, then gently squeeze it to remove excess water. Her favorite (and ours)? The Original Beautyblender.

04 of 07

Take Advantage of Multi-Tasking Products

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Ilia Multi-Stick $34
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When it comes to speeding up your makeup routine, products that can be used for more than one step will be your best friend. "I love a multi-purpose product to help with a speedy application and take the guesswork out of color matching," Mellinger says. She recommends Ilia's Multi-Stick for the technique. "Swipe the color onto the apples of your cheek and blend out with your fingers for your blush. Then, use it on your lips to coordinate your lip color to your cheeks. If you like a monochromatic feel, you can even swipe and blend on your eyelids for a one-color product look." It doesn't get much easier—or quicker—than that!

Using a multi-tasking product will not only help speed up your makeup routine, but it'll also help you seamlessly create a uniform look.

05 of 07

Choose the Right Brow Product

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Browluxe Precision Brow Pencil $17
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Speaking of multi-tasking products, having an eyebrow pencil that you can use for your entire brow look is also a key trick to applying makeup fast. Mellinger recommends looking for brow pencils with a spoolie on one side and a pencil on the other to save on time. Her favorite? Browluxe's Precision Brow Pencil.

"Not only is it available in a wide range of shades—three cheers for appropriate shades for redheads—but the pencil tip is multi-functioning as well. Positioning the pencil in one direction gives you a wider stroke while the other direction gives you the ability to make hair-like sketches. I use the wide way to fill in the brow to give depth and then I twist in the opposite direction to draw in individual 'hairs' as needed. To soften and make as natural looking as possible, I brush out the entire brow with the spoolie end."

06 of 07

Don't Rush to Fix Mistakes

Let's be real—we're all human. And when you're in a rush, you're bound to make a mistake or two. One mistake that's all too common? Applying mascara too quickly and ending up with a smudge on your eyelid or under your eye while applying mascara. While it may be tempting, don't immediately wipe it off while it is still wet. "Doing this will just smear it all over the beautiful eye application you just did, adding more time to your overall application," Mellinger explains. Instead, she advises to wait until it is dry and then flick it off with a cotton swab or clean and dry spoolie brush.

Oh, and speaking of your lashes, Mellinger's favorite mascara for volume and curling is Marc Jacobs Beauty's At Lash’d Mascara ($27). For a more defined natural-looking lash, she recommends DHC’s Perfect Pro Double Protection Mascara ($19).

07 of 07

Take Care Of Your Skin

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e.l.f. Complete Skin Care Set $51
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Perhaps, the most important step: prepping and taking care of your skin. The skin is the canvas for any and all things applied, so having a fresh palette to paint on will make your makeup routine 10 times easier. To keep your skin in tip-top shape, be sure to use a cleanser daily, an exfoliator two to three times a week, and a hydrating cream in the morning prior to applying your makeup and in the evening before heading to bed. El.f.'s Complete Skin Care Set ($51) has everything you need to maintain healthy, glowing skin.

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