The Minimalist's Guide to Low-Maintenance Makeup Products

At Byrdie HQ, we've celebrated the idea of high-maintenance makeup and not concealing the time and effort we put into our beauty looks in a series aptly named What's Wrong With Trying? While no-makeup makeup has turned itself into a full-blown movement, there's certainly no shame in artfully applying a sharp cat eye or finding comfort in a full-coverage foundation. But even though some days we find solace and pride in a full face of makeup, we also deeply appreciate efficient products that get us out the door in five minutes' time. We're all about making a statement with our looks, but sometimes that statement is just "This morning I was exhausted and couldn't be bothered."

Ahead, we've rounded up the products we use on days we'd rather spend less time getting ready or when we simply don't have the time.

Glossier Lash Slick $16

Glossier went through 248 different formulations of Lash Slick before landing on this lengthening variation. One pass is more of a lash tint than a mascara, but with a few more swipes and layers, you can achieve the same inky consistency you'd get from a high-quality tube. Though for days when you just want to gently perk up your lashes, this is the non-flaky, long-lasting formula for you.

Jetsetter Set by Mary Phillips
Nudestix Jetsetter Set by Mary Phillips $69

Nudestix's ethos is convenient, travel-friendly products, and this set by celebrity makeup artist Mary Phillips has just about everything you'd need to create a beachy, bronzed look in the time it takes for your Uber to arrive. The "palette" includes several eye, cheek, and lip pencils, as well as one chunky allover face color stick to add a bit of warmth where desired.

Lo-Fi Lip Mousse Boom 0.12 oz/ 3.5 g
Urban Decay Lo-Fi Lip Mousse Boom $22

Team Byrdie was instantly impressed by this innovative new lip color from Urban Decay. On contact, it almost feels like a putty that deposits just the right amount of color for a blurred, popsicle-stained color on the lips. You can certainly use a small brush, but you'd miss out on the sensorial experience, which is half the appeal.

Arch Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel Dark Brunette 0.10 oz/ 3mL
Hourglass Arch Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel $28

Even when I'm in a rush to apply my makeup in the morning, I still take the time to slow down when it comes time to do my brows—a rushed pass with a pencil would likely result in caricature arches. That's why we recommend swiping on this gel from Hourglass to shape your brows (or add a bit of tint if they're on the lighter side). If sparsity is your issue, it's formulated with fibers that grab onto your current brow hairs and fill them out.

Minimalist makeup
Flesh Fleshpot Eye & Cheek Gloss $20

This non-sticky gloss elevates your look within seconds, whether you place it on top of makeup or on skin alone. It's got a subtle peach tint flecked with gold and pink shimmery pigments, so the result is a touch of juicy glimmer wherever you place it.

Laneige BB Cushion Hydra Radiance $38

A more luminescent version of Laneige's fan-favorite BB cream, this compact is infused with micro pearls for a soft wash of radiance while moisturizers keep the skin hydrated all day long. It also offers a generous amount of coverage to even skin tone without leaving streaks behind. 

Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour 0.21 oz/ 6 g
Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour $23

Buffing on powder bronzer with a brush isn't exactly low-maintenance, but this stick from Clinique only requires some finger smudging to warm up the areas of your face where you'd normally be kissed by the sun. Gently draw a few lines along the hairline, on the cheekbones, and along the jaw, then blend in circular motions with your fingers.

Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Skinstick $25

Equal parts concealer and foundation, this matte stick provides medium to full coverage with a soft powder finish that doesn't overpower or masque your complexion. For a more skin-centric look, consider only applying the stick in areas where you need it, like under the eyes, along the nose, and on areas of discoloration and breakouts.

Simple makeup
Lolita Says So
Maya Chia The Highlight of the Day Serum Illuminating Serum $42

Beauty editors swear by this illuminating serum formulated with skin-loving botanicals. You can use it a few different ways: underneath makeup, mixed into foundation, or as a spot treatment over makeup in areas you'd like to highlight. It's the perfect product to throw in your bag when your complexion needs a bit of a revival.

On-The-Glow Blush and Illuminator Berry Whisper/ Nude Glow 2 x 0.11 oz/ 3.10 g
Wander Beauty On-The-Glow Blush and Illuminator $42

A dual-ended stick is what makeup storage dreams are made of. Apply this blush/highlighter combination straight from the tube or tap on with your fingers for an instant flush and pop of highlight. You might even want to apply the blush shade on your lips, making this product the ultimate triple threat.

Signature Set Pop Collection
RMS Beauty Signature Set Pop Collection $44

Editorial Director Faith Xue loves this multipurpose cream palette, which serves as either your morning routine mainstay or an easy desk companion for touchups. It comes equipped with blush and lip color, bronzer, highlight, and an allover balm to hydrate or give shine wherever you need it.

BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Defense Radiant Protective Veil $39

The perfect marriage of skincare and makeup, BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Defense gel cream diffuses imperfections while serving up skin-quenching moisture.

This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Want more low-maintenance beauty? Try these easy haircuts.

Opening image: Lolita Says So

Related Stories