Watch: 5 minute make-up routine tips for busy mums on the go

It can be difficult for mums on the go to find time to do their makeup. But all that’s needed is five minutes, writes Carolyn Moore.

WHEN a Tokyo train company last year released a series of videos addressing “modern manners”, one in particular attracted the ire of women the world over.

Targeting female passengers who do their makeup on the train, the ad asked: ‘Why can’t you do that before leaving home?’

The move to ban women from applying makeup on the train sparked a worldwide conversation, not just about the etiquette involved, but also about whether women should feel pressured to fit a makeup routine into their busy mornings in the first place.

Closer to home, a British survey by Ipsos MORI last August found applying makeup on public transport was ‘socially unacceptable’ to 42% of women and 41% of men. 

But with the same survey revealing 90% of women and 80% of men think women are under greater pressure than men to look ‘well groomed’, can’t we cut each other some slack when it comes to making good use of that valuable commute time?

I don’t wear a huge amount of makeup — I haven’t worn fake eyelashes since my debs, and the words ‘contour palette’ bring me out in an anxiety rash. 

However, I count myself lucky to be in a position to quite literally put on my best face before I face the world.

Whether you leave your house groomed to perfection or find yourself lashing on mascara in the carpark, there’s no doubting most of us feel better when we look better. 

Some women may feel undue pressure to be well groomed at work, but for others, makeup is their war paint, a confidence building tool that helps them through the day.

Ciara Conlon from Kinsale is mum to eight-year-old Jessica and five-year-old Tom, is an IT project manager. 

“Makeup helps me feel more polished and professional,” she says. 

“I’m not in favour of an over done look, but a little goes a long way.

“In IT, the T-shirt is king and you could be as casual as you like, but I favour a smarter work wardrobe. It helps me get in the zone.”

On a good day, Ciara’s commute from home in Kinsale to work in Ballincollig, Co Cork, is 30 minutes, but her morning routine calls for an early start.

“I get up at 6.30 to shower, get dressed and have my hair and makeup done before the kids wake,” she says. 

“My hair can be a bit unruly, so if I have five minutes left for make-up, I’m doing well.”

Though she values the confidence a polished look instills, Ciara admits, “putting on make-up has moved down the priority list with each child”.

“More often than I would like, I’ll notice during the day that my make-up isn’t applied well. Not a good look!”

Makeup artist Martha Mulconry of MBM Beauty Bar, Blackrock, Cork, and model Ciara Conlon. Picture: Dan Linehan
Makeup artist Martha Mulconry of MBM Beauty Bar, Blackrock, Cork, and model Ciara Conlon. Picture: Dan Linehan

For Dublin mum-of-three Suzanne O’Meara, a consultant for Bluewave Technology, work is frequently on site with clients, with commutes of up to 50 minutes. 

“I do my base before I leave the house, as that can be messy,” she says, “but I do the rest of my makeup on the train.”

Though her office has a smart dress code, she says, “There is an expectation to look presentable for clients, but not necessarily to wear makeup. I wear it to look and feel better. 

"I would never go to work without it,” she says, adding that she spends more on time on her makeup now than before the children came along.

“I’m a little older, so I feel I need more to look better. Lashing on a bit of bronzer and lip gloss isn’t enough anymore. Besides, makeup is more of a ‘thing’ now. I use products that weren’t the norm 10 years ago, like highlighters and brow kits.”

With so many new products on the market, Glanmire-based makeup artist Martha Mulconry admits makeup can be daunting for women these days. 

Mum to three-year-old Thalie Rose and four-year-old Freya, she confesses that there are times when she might find herself stopped at traffic lights trying to get some makeup on, because “some mornings that’s all I have time for.”

However, with a little preparation and a few key products, she believes a pulled-together makeup look can be easily achieved.

“When you’re getting out in the morning for the school or crèche, look after your three basics: base, blush and brows,” she advises.

Makeup artist Martha Mulconry of MBM Beauty Bar, Blackrock, Cork, and model Ciara Conlon. Picture: Dan Linehan
Makeup artist Martha Mulconry of MBM Beauty Bar, Blackrock, Cork, and model Ciara Conlon. Picture: Dan Linehan

Ashbourne mum Aisling Ozdemir, a parenting blogger and weekend sales advisor, doesn’t feel pressure to be made up at the school gates.

“I have three boys to dress, schoolbags to get ready, all by 8.30am. I’m lucky if I’ve brushed my teeth,” she laughs.

For work it’s a different story — she “wouldn’t dream of going to work barefaced”.

“I love makeup,” she says, “and I feel great with a full face. I once wore a nude lipstick instead of my signature red, and everyone kept asking if I was sick.”

It’s a reaction Martha can relate to. 

“When people see me without makeup they’ll ask, ‘Are you OK? You look ill’

“That’s why I’ll always try to have a little bit of something on, just to add that freshness in the face.”

Morning makeup routine: Martha’s morning makeup routine starts with good skincare. She’s a fan of Declaré’s Power Duo Oil and Serum Multi-Vitamin Regenerating Care.

“You can use this as your moisturiser, and it has the added benefits of a serum,” she says. 

“It’s perfect for busy mornings because it dries so quickly.”

Eye cream too, is essential, “to depuff and rehydrate the eyes.”

To help foundation go on quickly and smoothly, Martha recommends a pea-sized amount of primer, like Smashbox’s Photo Finish, under a full coverage foundation like Lancôme’s Teint Idole.

For cheeks and eyes, the popular Pippa Palette is her go-to. 

“Don’t be intimidated, just use the elements you have time for,” she says.

Resist the temptation to skip your brows, as “a filled-in arch will help you look like you’ve had a good night’s sleep”.

Add a slick of mascara and line your lips with a nude pencil. 

“Combine the liner with a bit of gloss, or for a stronger lip, Bitch Perfect by Charlotte Tilbury is beautiful,” says Martha.

“Then you’re out the door, job done.”

Five top products for your makeup bag

1. Pippa Palette, €34.99, ( )

Pippa O’Connor knows the value of convenient, time- saving products, and makeup artist Martha Mulconry says this is a winner on both counts. 

“I love this because it has everything I need in it,” she says.

2. Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24H, €38

A no-budge, full coverage foundation Martha feels is worth the spend.

“It saw me though labour,” she says. 

“I put it on at 8 in the morning, went into labour with Freya, and still had it on at 8 that night.”

3. Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge, €7.99, Boots

Promising a “pixel perfect, flawless base”, this is a fabulous cheat for the cult ‘beauty blender’, shaped for perfect coverage and smooth, quick application.

4. Rimmel London Brow This Way, €5.49, Boots

If you’re pressed for time, you may not feel inclined to prioritise your brows, but Martha urges: “give it a try and you’ll see an instant difference. Brows immediately give you a lift on the eye.”

5. L’Oreal Telescopic Mascara, €16.99, Boots

With a special flat-sided brush, just one coat of this lengthening mascara has an instant effect and a dramatic impact.

* See for details


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