Makeup: Five Minute Face

This year and last, I had to get up and out the door in less than 40 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays. Saturday mornings were particularly brutal, with what I refer to as a ‘Clopen’ shift (a term from my days in a London bar, where you close the bar at night and then open it in the morning). I regularly got about five hours’ sleep.

But makeup, although not indispensable, is a big part of my routine. It makes me feel professional and put-together, even when I didn’t sleep. It’s my “War Paint.”

Especially as a stressed-out ESL teacher, I needed to put time into my face. I just didn’t have much to allocate to it.

Hence, I got really, really good at doing my hair and makeup in about ten minutes flat. That gave me time to put the kettle on for coffee, make the coffee with my POS funnel and cloth filter system (DIY), get dressed, have a shower, gripe about getting up so early to my sleepy husband…not necessarily in that order.

I regularly do my makeup in five minutes or less. Full face. I even do winged eyeliner. The keys have been repetition and repetition. And repetition. Once I become practiced at a new technique, I am able to incorporate it into the routine and speed up its use for busy mornings.

To prove it, here’s m five minute face from today. I’m giving a talk at a local high school about travel, and I need to look put together. The video is poorly framed and unedited, but this captures best how I actually do my makeup every day.

The formula is: 

  1. Cover giant black circles under eyes with foundation and blend. Optionally add foundation to the rest of the face. 
  2. Bright blush with a kabuki brush. 
  3. Eyeshadow, blending from darkest color to lightest in layers. 
  4. NYX Milk on the inside corners of the eyes. 
  5. Darker eyeliner in the crease and blend. 
  6. Big, fat, sharp wings in liquid liner. 
  7. Two coats of mascara. 


And Ta-Da! Ready for action. If I have more time, I add filling in my brows with powder or brow mascara. Most of the time, I’m just fine with them being invisibly blonde.

How much time do you spend on your makeup? Do you think makeup is essential to a professional look in 2016? 

Makeup: “No Makeup”

I’m on vacation at home in Colorado, and I have a lot of time on my hands for the next few weeks. Expect many makeup posts!

Today, I went for the opposite of yesterday’s heavy-duty vintage look. The “No Makeup” look is very popular, even though I have a lot of makeup on to achieve this style.


The most important thing is to be able to look put-together in about five minutes. I have practiced enough that it’s pretty easy now (barring some kind of mascara-in-the-eyeball-oh-dear-god-why moment). Maybe I’ll post my makeup that I wore for work this year tomorrow, with a timer and video to prove it is in fact only five minutes.

Due to having more time on my hands, I should be able to crank out the rest of the TEFL for Newbs series this week. Let me know if you have topics that you want to see covered, especially for new teachers living abroad.

How long does your makeup routine take? What do you prefer between the more natural look and the heavier eyeliner? 

Makeup: Old School

I fell in love with the vintage look while living in London, and it just keeps getting more refined as I go on.


Winged eyeliner is my every day look now, along with bright blush and defined eyebrows. I finally was able to purchase some more makeup after a year of living in China and not buying much because it’s too expensive.

I’m managing to put the makeup on blind, too! I had an eye problem and cannot wear my contact lenses at the moment, and with -7.50 myopia in both eyes it’s hard to get close enough to the mirror to see clearly.

Do you like the vintage look? What makeup tricks do you recommend to me? 

Give us this day our daily routine

This is how I get ready most days, at the start of 2016. At 28 years old, I am in possession of some pretty good skills at hair and makeup. I wear this look almost every day in one incarnation or another. Braids. Winged eyeliner. Blush. Here’s a before and after for you!


Before and After 

The lighting isn’t changed and both photos have the same filter. Makeup and hair makes a huge difference in my opinion. I don’t do them for anyone else, especially since my husband finds me to be a beautiful person overall and not just physically! I like the way makeup and hairdos make me *feel*.

It’s really important to me that as I get older, I continue to have this time to make myself feel pretty. It’s part of taking care of myself.

Today, my hair style is quite complicated. This is because I didn’t have to work on New Years Day, and I had a little time on my hands. Check out the process!


Shanghai-Proof, 12 hour teaching hairstyle:

  1. Start with brushed hair, with a little lemon juice in it to try to brighten it.
  2. Using a rat tail comb, section the hair into three parts on your head with parts running parallel to your face. Put the two sections at the back up, and comb the front one forward.
  3. Now, begin a Dutch braid (tutorial here) starting at your ear. Pull the braid up and over your head to the other side, gathering hair as you go. Braid the remainder when all of this section has been added, and secure with an elastic.
  4. Let the second section down and brush it out to get rid of tangles. Do the same type of braid (or a different one for more texture)  on the other side, starting at the other ear. Secure with an elastic.
  5. Tug on the braids to make them bigger. You can find a tutorial for this awesome trick that I recently adopted here.
  6. Braid everything into a single, large braid. Secure with an elastic, and pin it under to make a chignon. Pin the living crap out of that bun, to make it secure. Criss-cross the pins so that they lock together.


With a little practice, this hairstyle could be done in ten minutes or less. I wear braids precisely because they are some much quicker than blow drying or straightening. Braids are feminine and secure for a long day of work, too.

Take a break for some tea.



Next is makeup. Follow these steps.


  1. Moisturise. Dot some foundation under your eyes and on the chin. Don’t put it on your whole face, because this can look cakey. You want as much of your natural skin to show through as possible.
  2. Add some peachy blush. Sweep it all on your cheekbones and up to the edge of your hair. Focus on the area just below your temples for a vintage look (tutorial here from 1948).
  3. Add some shimmer with a few dots of highlight. Put them on the top part of the cheekbone and just under the eyebrows. I use Benefit’s High Beam, which I bought for my wedding and is only about half gone more than a year later.
  4. I swear by NYX Milk as an eyelid primer. Smear it all over the eyelid and in the corner of the eyes to brighten. Blend it really really well, or you will look as silly as my picture up there.
  5. Blend some light brown eye shadow on the outer parts only of the eyes. Blend with a brush. Blend. Blend. Blend again. Think you’re finished? Blend again!
  6. Using a liquid liner in a dark brown, draw on a wing. Use it carefully and incrementally. It’s easier to add more than to remove the liner once it’s on. I only draw my eyeliner to the middle of my eye or just beyond the midline on the lid, because I want the white corners to stay as white as possible.
  7. Two to three coats of black mascara. Check for stray bits of anything that inevitably fall onto the cheeks.



Winter look! 

How do you like to do your makeup and hair? What are the tricks you use to make it faster/easier?

Blue Wings

Had to put it on immediately!

Had to put it on immediately!

Ok, so I may or may not have gotten bored today and bought an electric blue liquid eyeliner when I was supposed to be shopping for groceries.



It’s from Kiko Makeup Milano, a favourite of mine since moving to the UK. Many happy returns on your birthday, blue wings!

Decidedly not vintage.

Decidedly not vintage.

Bonus derpface: