Applying your makeup during your commute to work can be a bit of a divisive topic. For some, it's a standard part of their morning routine, but for others, it's the epitome of uncouth behaviour. For me, while I secretly love spotting the beauty products that women use while they're on the tube, I personally tend to apply my makeup before I leave the house (I'm far too cack-handed to apply products successfully on the move) or wait until I get to the office to slap a bit on.
However, there are certain occasions when a bit of en-route makeup application becomes essential. Usually it's on mornings when I've been a bit trigger happy with the snooze button and am heading straight to a breakfast meeting or a beauty launch—hence losing both my at-home makeup time and my opportunity to apply at the office. Sometimes it will be down to one of those rare times when I've decided to wash my hair before work (always a mistake) only to remember that the whole washing and drying process adds about half an hour to my usual routine—and I've only allocated 10 minutes to the task.
Luckily, on those mornings, I have an SOS makeup bag of seven products packed and ready to go and have fine-tuned a commuter beauty routine that can be easily applied while on the move.
The secret to this routine's success? Opting for multipurpose makeup products in stick formulations that can be applied directly to your skin and blended in with your fingers. Nobody has time to be faffing with brushes and beauty sponges when you're sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers and I've found that it's easier to avoid overapplying products when you're working with cream textures. Keep scrolling to shop the exact products I used on this morning's commuter makeup routine, along with some of my other favourites.
1. Foundation Stick
First up is foundation. When you're on the tube or the bus, you want to forget liquid or powder foundations since they need to be applied with brushes or sponges and are way messier than they're worth. Instead, I use a stick foundation. (I'm currently loving the new BareMinerals one that Rosie HW also swears by.) I just stripe it straight onto my face in a haphazard manner and blend it in with my fingertips. The good thing about this one is that it also contains SPF 25, so you're covered for sun protection if you didn't have time to apply that before you left the house either.
2. Brightening Concealer
Generally, concealers do one of two things well: brighten or cover up. Regardless of the spots I might be facing, I've come to the conclusion that opting for a radiance-boosting concealer is preferable to one that disguises breakouts. Mainly because if it's oversleeping that has caused you to be in a rush, then you're likely looking pretty shattered. Pen-style concealers like this one from Sensai can be painted on wherever you need to disguise signs of tiredness and blended straight in with your hands. Of course, you can apply to blemishes too and they'll alleviate some redness, but won't do the job of a really heavy-duty, high-coverage concealer.
3. Cream Blusher
Blusher has to be my favourite part of this commuter makeup routine, as it's the step which finally adds some colour to my complexion and makes me look a bit more alive. Again, I've dabbled with cream pots, powders and gel on the go, but a stick or crayon is the best way to go. Think of it like colour by numbers, but for your face. The best thing about cream blushers is that a lot of them work well patted onto lips and eyelids too. This one from Westman Atelier is lovely and sheer, so there's no risk of looking like a clown when you step off the tube at your destination.
4. Tinted Brow Gel
Disclaimer: As with mascara, I only attempt this step when I have a seat on the tube. There's no way I'm risking the application of any dark brown gel to my face when I don't have steady footing. I have a full fringe, so in a cinch, I could skip this step and brush my hair down to cover up any unruliness. However, there's something to be said for how much more pulled-together I feel after spending 30 seconds combing through and filling in my brows a little bit. I'm using the Milk Makeup one at the moment, but my top tip is to make sure you're bringing along a brow gel that has been open for a while. They're easier to handle on the move when they're a little dried out.
This step might differ depending on the type of makeup look you usually go for. For example, some people always wear bronzer, others opt for eye shadow, and I adore highlighter. Much like the girls on the tube who swear by the Nars The Multiple for their glow, there's something to be said for the way that a stick of highlighter can transform your skin. I apply this one from Surratt Beauty to the tops of my cheekbones, Cupid's bow and the corner of my eyes if I'm feeling fancy.
#6 Neutral lipstick
We're nearly there. If I'm skipping mascara, usually lipstick will be my final step. While I love a bold red, I keep a brown or nude-toned lippie in my commuter makeup kit, as you can be less precise when you apply it and you can also dab it onto your eyelids as a neutral eye shadow. (Glossier's cocoa-brown shade Leo—which I'm applying here—is perfect for this.)
Again, if I'm not sitting down, I won't even attempt this step. (Ladies who apply it standing up—I see you, and I admire you.) I'm not that fussed about mascara on the daily anyway, but sometimes it's nice to fake fluttery lashes, so I'll always have one in my kit just in case. For me, Glossier's Lash Slick is the best for easy, natural lashes I won't smudge everywhere. I tend to go for plastic brushes over bristle ones as I find them less messy, but each to their own. If you're on the tube or bus, my top tip is to wait until you've pulled into a stop before you get your application on.