Lessons Learned From Doing 15-Minute Makeup for the Past Three Weeks…

Published in: Clinique, Makeup

clinique pretty easy eye palette top

Maybe it’s because I’m subconsciously preparing myself for when Baby Girl arrives and I don’t have any time whatsoever to do my makeup, but for the past few weeks, I’ve had NO energy or patience whatsoever to do any makeup look that takes more than 15 minutes. And that’s a totally weird thing for me because I usually love sitting in front of the mirror with all of my colors and my brushes and just going to town for freaking hours.


I’m assuming it’s just a phase, but it’s also been a rapid-response 15-minute learning experience, and knowledge is power, right? 🙂

Here’s what I’ve learned so far…

It helps to let go of the idea of “perfect makeup”

Clinique Pretty Easy Eye Palette, Pretty Easy Liquid Eyelining Pen and Chubby Lash Fattening Mascara

Clinique Pretty Easy Eye Palette, Pretty Easy Liquid Eyelining Pen and Chubby Lash Fattening Mascara

For this 15-minute makeup look I used a few products from Clinique, namely their Pretty Easy Eye Palette ($44.50), Pretty Easy Liquid Eyelining Pen ($19.50) and Chubby Lash Fattening Mascara ($17), and even though I think it’s a fully functional look, now that I look closely at the pictures, I see things I could have fixed, like, I could’ve blended out the shadow in the outer corner a little better and perhaps thickened the liner on that end.

I also could’ve spent more time on my brows and used a lash primer before my mascara to make my lashes look longer and thicker, but ya know what? I had a schedule. After my 15 minutes was up, I just let it go…

And that’s the big thing I’ve learned about 15-minute makeup looks so far — to give up on the idea of perfect makeup, which, I know, sounds blasphemous. 🙂

But seriously, sometimes good enough is good enough, and a lot of the time, the little imperfections are only noticeable by hardcore makeup people, and only if they’re studying your face intensely.

Of course, it is those little extra touches — like blending everything to perfection, having a strong-@ss brow game and drawing eyeliner so sharp that it could cut glass — that turn an everyday look into something truly special, and those are all great when you have the time and energy for them, but when you don’t…that’s cool, too.

You can usually get away with much less than you think

“Uh…what do you mean I don’t have to wear four colors on my lids!?”

Yup, sometimes you can wear two. Or even one.

I KNOW! Mind blown. 🙂

And sometimes you can even skip primer, highlighter, bronzer or whatever other little extras you usually do. Everything will be OK.

If something doesn’t turn out the way you want, adjust your plan

clinique pretty easy eye palette k

There’s always a way to either fix a mistake or adapt to it and salvage a look, like, with this look, I’d originally planned to do winged liner…

Now, I don’t know why I thought I could do winged liner with a pen I’ve never used before and be able to finish in less than 15 minutes, because of course I couldn’t. When I started lining my lash lines, the liner on my right eye ended up OK, but the left side was a little jagged. Thankfully, instead of freaking out and trying to fix it, I changed my game plan.

I dipped an angled brush into the dark plum shade in the Clinique Easy Eye Palette, wet it, then ran it along the edge of the line to smooth out the jagged parts. I just skipped the wing and went with a liner with a soft edge instead.


Improv and imagination are your beauty best friends

With a little improv and imagination, you can usually use a product for something other than what it was designed for, and you can always cut corners to save time when you want to/have to.

When I was putting on my makeup for these pics, the whole thing with the liner ended up taking more time than I anticipated, so I improvised for my cheeks. Instead of bronzing first, then applying blush, I just mixed my blush and bronzer together and swept that combo on my cheeks.

Improvisation is your friend, yo! 🙂

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. Alison M says:

    I’ve been doing 15 minute makeup too, girl! Things I learned… 1) Mixing two eyeshadows quickly is faster than finding “that one I’m thinking of” in my stash. 2) There is nothing better than an insanely easy to blend eyeshadow. 3) An A+ morning moisturizer means easier application and better makeup all day.
    Alison M recently posted … NARS Eyelashes

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alison,

      It’s strangely liberating, isn’t it? I mean, I still love spending lots of time putting on makeup, but knowing that I can actually get it done in 15 minutes is so freeing.

      By the way, I’m a huge fan of blending eyeshadow too. Do you end up using the back of your hand as your mixing palette? That’s what I do. 🙂

  2. Chelsea says:

    Love this look, and 15 minutes is pretty much my limit for work makeup in the morning.

    I also own this liquid eyeliner in brown and love it!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Chelsea,

      Thank you! So, I’m really liking this liner so far, but I think I need to practice with it for a bit. Are you able to line your eyes without any jagged edges? And how is it with flicks?

      • Chelsea says:

        I’m still perfecting the flick with it, but I’m able to line my eyes really cleanly with it! I’ve always found liquid liners with felt tips the easiest liners to use though – pencils and gel require much more effort for me! I also like that it’s really gentle on the eyes.

        • Karen says:

          That’s so great! It’s not always easy to find a liquid liner that you love. My eyes are sensitive around this time of year, too, and I’ve also noticed that this liner doesn’t bother them, which is another reason why I’m digging it. Hmm, I think I’m going to put a little on right now, just for fun. 😀

          • Chelsea says:

            Definitely! My eyes are sensitive at the best of times, but with crazy el niño weather, and seeing a lot of people’s dogs for the holidays (and being at the vet today), they’re worse than usual!

          • Karen says:

            Why were you at the vet today? Is everything OK with the babies?

          • Chelsea says:

            QB had to go in for a rather routine molar trim, he is fine! He’s banned from too much activity for the next day (none of his favorite hobby lately, bunny parkour), but otherwise is up to his normal mischief.

          • Karen says:

            LOL bunny parkour! Glad to hear everything is OK. Going to the vet can be so stressful… He deserves a special treat!

          • Chelsea says:

            He definitely got some extra lurvies and treats today (partly because Mina knocked over half a bag of bunny chow, I’m sure it was a conspiracy). Everyone at the vet spoils him too, although there was a very scared great dane whose yelping Quincy disapproved of.

  3. Lorraine says:

    I love this look! It is fresh, polished and perfect for any occasion. You will be the mom who amazes the other moms in the group- the how-the-heck-does-she-manage-to-look-so-put-together-at-this-hour-of-the-morning???? mom!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lorraine,

      Aww, thanks girl. I gotta remember to wear this look again; maybe I’ll even be able to get that winged liner in eventually. You never know! 🙂

      Happy holidays to you! What are you up to this week? Are you staying in town or heading out?

    • Amanda says:

      Talk about a double-edged sword.

      • Amanda says:

        I meant, being the mom who looks put together. Frankly, there have been times when I got nasty side-eye by other moms because I got dressed and looked put together. Alas, that’s *their* problem, not mine.

  4. Lorraine says:

    Same to you and yours! We are staying put, and with all that rain here in Bay Area(we’re soaked in SF!!), I am SO glad we don’t have to travel out in it. There will be holiday baking, corny movies on cable and helping my daughter complete high school applications. Maybe we’ll get some shopping finished, as well.

    I hope you get some well deserved R&R this week. I’m betting that baby is demanding a lot of naps at this point.

    • Karen says:

      That sounds perfect. We’re soaked here in the North Bay, too. Haven’t seen a break in the rain all day long! Good luck to your daughter and I hope she gets into her first choice school. Which one is she hoping for?

      I’ll be able to sneak in a little bit of rest later on this week. 🙂 We’ll be traveling to the East Bay to see my parents on the 24th, and then going to Redding for the weekend to hang with the in-laws. Lots of napping and sitting on my butt is definitely on the agenda!

  5. jessica says:

    oh gosh, 15 mins is all I need for everything. I can do a six color eyelid primed lined and mascara’d in that time.
    jessica recently posted … The Vintage Train

  6. Jane says:

    I absolutely love your look and don’t even notice any need to correct anything. Trust me, you won’t worry about those things once baby girl arrives. You look wonderful and 15 minutes does you well. I probably do my makeup in about 10-15 minutes for weekdays and even less on the weekends, unless we are going out, which is rare these days.

  7. Erin says:

    I think a key is using easily blendable mid pigment items. Hard to mess them up and they don’t take forever. For daily makeup, I won’t tolerate anything fussy at all!
    Erin recently posted … Fresh Black Tea Overnight Firming Mask

  8. Nina says:

    Ahh, 15 mins – usually the peak of my patience for make-up or skincare, lol. Seriously though, I can get easily bored/annoyed if I spend more time than I could/should, and I absolutely hate wasting my time searching for something in my vanity drawer, so I always try to keep my things reachable. In the drawer everything has its own little section and my most used things sit on the vanity in a cute little wooden tray, so I can see and get them easily and put them back when I’m done. I spent a couple hours to get them this organized but I think it’s worth it, now my mornings are a breeze to get ready.

  9. hanna says:

    Thanks for all these tips.
    hanna recently posted … Outfit: 1990s James Bond Villain

  10. Unless I’m doing something special for the blog or have a special occasion I always just use two eyeshadow colors. My everyday smokey tutorial only features two colors and people seemed really stunned by that 🙂
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … Make-up look | MAC Matte

  11. For everyday looks I stick to quick and often improvised looks as well, even though I don’t set a timer. Half of the time is spend stopping my daughter running off with my brushes and trying to get her fingers on to my eyeshadows anyway, so the “perfect makeup” has become pretty alien to me anyway.
    But let me tell you: If you can do liner with a toddler around, you can do it everywhere!
    LindaLibraLoca recently posted … Driving home for Christmas and my 28 weeks bump update

  12. Pamela Haddad says:

    No kids, but I’ve mastered the make-up in 20 minutes. But your’s still looks better! Plus you have that baby glow they always talk about!

  13. Iris says:

    You look amazing. I get my makeup done in around 20 minutes each day. I’m in a rush to get to work, go shopping, etc. I use only one colour on my eyelids. Nowadays I’m using a creme eyeshadow as a primer. I couldn’t be bothered to buy more primer and the creme gives an additional “kick” to my loose powder eyeshadow.

  14. Pamela says:

    Yes, we moms are masters of 15 minute makeup. With two boys (one year and three years), 15 minutes is actually a luxury. Most days are 5 minute makeup which for me is BB, mascara, lipstick and maybe a swipe of blush–nothing that requires a lot of precision. None of my eyeshadows have been opened in awhile but I visit them at night when the boys are asleep….
    Good that you’re perfecting the technique now.

  15. Heather L says:

    I finally decided I was no longer going to spend an hour on my makeup just to go to the grocery store or run some other quick errand, and it was liberating! My favorite products for these times are the Benefit Big Easy primer/tinted moisturizer and a single color liquid to powder eyeshadow. Now I “cheat” and only spend 15 minutes when I have to be somewhere early in the morning because I’m not a morning person! But for work, school, going out on the town, and bigger shopping sprees I still go with an hour.

  16. Katie says:

    I’ve been doing 15 minute makeup the past week and a half because I got home from college (when I never had to be at class until 10AM!) and now I need to be at work by 8, so I’m a liiiiiitle bit pressed for time (I’m so lazy in the morning). I think my makeup application techniques and skills have actually gotten much better since I’m pressed for time. I’m able to now do the same looks much quicker. I’ve also finally gotten my brows to the shape/fullness I want them, so I only need tinted brow gel for an every day look (that shaves a good 3 minutes off of the routine!).

  17. Lena says:

    10 min is usually what i got, unless it is a special occassion or playing with new makeup. a bright lipstick and penci shadow-liners are my best friends.
    Lena recently posted … [Music] Delirium: Ellie Goulding’s new album

  18. Bea says:

    After baby it’s a luxury to have long shower and 5 minutes to Comb your hair. Moms find a way. For me Bb cream Is the way to go with mascara and one and done cream eyeshadow and quick lip gloss.

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