A Bullshit-Free Working Mom Makeup Routine


Thanks to your comments and clicks on a 40-something voice here at ITG, the bullshit-free working mom is back! This time, instead of collagen and sheet masks and collagen sheet masks, I want to talk about makeup. Specifically, working mom makeup: the key products I use as a time-starved parent, day in, day out. A highly informal poll of my fellow mom friends supports a theory I have—that we basically all do the same thing. My friends—who look great!—on average each said they rely on a three- to five-product regimen daily, suggesting that go-to ease and lack of complication are essential. The products? Moisturizer, sunscreen, mascara, lip color and, if they haven't slept, a BB cream. AKA "shiny stuff," as my friend, an IP attorney and mom of two grade-schoolers, puts it. Another friend, a luminous mom of two young girls, is an outlier, using seven products. By far the most out of anyone who responded to my request to open their makeup bags to scrutiny. "It seems like a lot," she says, "but I can put it all on in under three minutes." Her list included Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream, Clinique City Block SPF 40 or Glossier Invisible Shield, Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Light 2 Vanilla, Glossier Cloud Paint in Puff, Diorshow mascara, Glossier Boy Brow in Brown and Glossier Cherry Balm Dotcom...averaging about 26 seconds per product. On the other end of the pared-back spectrum is an ad sales exec and mother of three kids under the age of five. She simply "can't live without Vaseline." Really, that's all: "I have a tube in every room of the house and one in every bag I carry."

I land somewhere in the middle of this group. My own mornings usually go a little something like this:

Between 5:45AM, when my alarm goes off and 7:45AM, when I leave for the office, I spend roughly an hour exercising, 25 minutes eating/having coffee/taking vitamins/chatting/talking about the day's To-Dos with my kids and my husband, and 35 minutes "getting ready." That's showering, dressing, dealing with hair, applying makeup, brushing teeth... My mother gave me this awesome, professional grade steam straightener that gets rid of all my wave and leaves my hair sleek in under five minutes. Off topic for this column, but a must-buy! So, I budget about 4.35 minutes for my makeup. (As I type this at my kitchen counter my daughter is doing her 30 minutes of mandatory recorder practice. WHY are they still working on Jingle Bells? It's April! Pure parental torture.)

My makeup bag is small, more like a pencil case—actually, I just looked it up and it IS a pencil case—and I operate within its constraints. I throw it in my bag when I have an event after work and into my carry-on luggage when I travel. Here's what's inside now:

Light "Foundation"

I've found as I've gotten older that evening out my skin tone makes a huge difference in my overall appearance. BB creams and tinted moisturizers are too thick and give my skin a "made up" look that I don't like. Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint is super sheer and does just what I need it to. (I'm not just saying that because I work here; I wore it long before I joined the company.) A little goes a very long way, which I also appreciate. I'd also recommend Dr. Jart Premium BB Cream—heavier, but makes up for the difference with SPF 45.


Trends may come and trends may go but I'm a fan of the dewy skin look for life. I cannot get enough of Glossier Haloscope in Quartz. I will say, however, that after a recent small surgical procedure left me needing to cover some minor bruising on my face I cheated on Haloscope with Peter Thomas Roth's 24 Karat Gold, which was truly terrific for some extra coverage + glow.


I've been using Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Dim Infusion for a couple of years now. It's a nice neutral with a subtle sheen. Nothing too sparkly or reflective, and it goes well with just about every lipstick. (I tried paring back the blush to simplify the routine, but I have a somewhat sallow complexion and find I need a little color to look alive.)


I've settled on Covergirl's LashBlast mascara for now, though I'm open to alternatives if anyone has any great recommendations. I like a fuzzy, but not spindly, lash. Also I wear contacts, so I'm susceptible to mascara facial ash. (Is there a technical term for this?) Lashblast provides good coverage, doesn't flake, and washes off comprehensively at the end of the day with my makeup remover. All good things.

Glossier Boy Brow

I can't even look at myself without it on anymore. Period.

A great shade of red lipstick

I'm currently loving Le Metier de Beauté in In The Know Bordeaux and Ilia's Strike It Up. There is no such thing as too many red lipsticks because really, they are all SO DIFFERENT. And that's it. Now it's time to get out and do things!

—MZ Goodman

Photographed by Tom Newton.

Read more from MZ here.