Makeup Hacks for the Time-Crunched Collegiette

Makeup can be used in any number of ways, from an art form to a show of self-expression and anywhere in between. It’s very mainstream in our society to wear makeup to appear “more professional”--and in some cases, it’s almost expected. But when you’re balancing a course load, your health and wellness, a social life, and maybe even a job, sometimes it’s hard to find the time to do your makeup.

When I was in high school, makeup was my favorite part of getting ready in the morning. I would take the time to get my blend perfect, get my wings sharper than a knife, and get my highlight so poppin’ I could distract a bird flying up above. In a family with three daughters who all have an artistic flare and need for self-expression, makeup was something I grew up doing, perfecting, and loving. College changed a lot of that.


In not having the time to put as much effort into my makeup as I would have liked, I learned to adapt and overcome. Not, necessarily, by somehow creating time for makeup, but by finding ways to do my makeup in a faster, more efficient way. Whether you’re not good at makeup, too lazy to be bothered too much with it, or you just don’t have the time to put into your makeup that you’d like to, these tips help to give you that lowkey glam look in a time-friendly way.


  1. Eyeliner. I used to use liquid liner (I still sometimes do), but the time it takes to make sure I’m precise, and the extra time involved if I mess up or they end up uneven isn’t something I always have. For a softer look, take a flat liner brush, dip it in some darker eyeshadow, and simply press the line against your lash line. My suggestion is to keep the focus more on the outside than the inside of your lash line. What you end up with? A soft, naturally full looking set of lashes, and it only took you 3-5 minutes instead of the hour it took for that liquid liner wing that you had to redo seven times.

  2. Shop drugstore for your basic products. Look, I’m sure Anastasia or Urban Decay has some really incredible eyeliner or mascara. But how big is that difference from, let’s say Maybelline, that it’s worth spending those extra, precious dollars? Dollars that add up over time, mind you. Drop the money on foundation, concealer, eyeshadows, whatever. But for mascara, eyeliner, basic tools? Do yourself a favor and check out your local drug store. You’ll surprise yourself with how little of a difference there is, sometimes. And oftentimes, drug stores are closer to where you live than a Sephora or an Ulta. Perhaps it’s not saving you time in the morning, but this tip helps you save time and money in the long run.

  3. Don’t have time to contour? Nontour. Sometimes, taking the time to make sure that your contour is in the right spot and that you blend it out completely and correctly can be too much. I have found that skipping the bronzer and instead focusing on putting highlight on my cheekbone, bridge of my nose, tear duct, and under the brow gives my face a brighter look that still serves some of the purpose of contouring. It simply doesn’t require a lot of blending and will never look bad (unless you really overdo it with your highlighter or you use a tone that isn’t compatible with your skin tone).

  4. Lip color. Unlike both of my sisters, I have what feels like chronic dry lips. I won’t go into detail, but what it means is that I have a tense and trying relationship with lipstick. It’ll look great once it goes on, but then 20 minutes later it’s flaking and peeling, no longer the beautiful silky color it was. Not to mention, it’s extremely frustrating and time-consuming to be worrying about how often I need to re-apply my lipstick, or furiously scrubbing my lips with a paper towel to remove the flaky skin and lipstick. What am I to do when I want lip color but can’t wear lipstick? Well, dear reader, let me tell you. Nyx has a lipgloss line called butter gloss. Basically, they have a whole range of colors of this lip gloss that, as far as I’ve experienced, has helped to hydrate my lips and not flake off. It has a shine, it has rich color, and throughout the day, obviously it comes off but it comes off in a very natural way. If I reapply, it’s because I want the color back, not because the center of my lips are bare while the outsides are vibrant with color. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s not very expensive and it’s honestly one of my favorite products.

College is notoriously the time for self-exploration and self-expression, which may make my previous statement a bit confusing. You may be wondering, “Well, Anna, if you’re in college, shouldn’t expressing yourself through makeup be easier and more accepted than in high school?” And I would tell you, well yes! That is true. But the problem came from the tiny realization that I did not and do not have the same kind of time that I did in high school. When I do have the time, I’m often so exhausted that I don’t even want to bother with it. That change helped me a lot with accepting and loving my bare face as a professional and publicly acceptable appearance, but it also forced me to come up with quick little ways to do makeup on those days when I still want a little oomf to my look. Ultimately, the makeup experience is personalized to every individual, but hopefully if you’re in the same boat I am, these tips help.