Speed Beauty

There are never enough hours in the day, and with today's hectic schedules, that means something's got to give - and more often than not it's your beauty routine. Whether you've overslept or have a last-minute party to attend, fast beauty moves with a big impact are essential. The secret: Always be prepared. With the right products and tools already on hand, you'll never be left scrambling while the clock's ticking. Make those precious minutes count with these simple tips, tools and techniques.

BEAUTY DILEMMA You're racing the clock to get to work on time - and you still haven't put on any makeup.

Fast fix "When you're running late you want products that you can apply in minutes and on the go, if necessary," says New York City-based makeup artist Paula Dorf. Spend your time wisely by focusing on just a few key cosmetics to be used in all the right places. First up, a concealer, applied anywhere that redness or discoloration needs to be camouflaged. Next, curl your lashes with an eyelash curler to perk up tired lids, Dorf says. Add one swipe of no-run mascara to upper lashes only and finish with cream blush, rubbed with your fingers onto the apples of your cheeks and then dabbed onto your lips for a hint of color.

Speed tools you Need Concealers: Clarins Instant Light Perfecting Touch ($24.50; gloss.com) or NARS Concealer ($18.50; nars cosmetics.com); mascara: Maybelline New York Great Lash Waterproof ($6.16; at drugstores); cream blush: Stila Rouge Pot ($20; sephora.com).

BEAUTY DILEMMA Your hair looks a bit worse for wear - and you've got no time to wash it.

Fast fix You don't have to be stuck with less-than-stellar locks if you're short on time. Instead of washing and blow-drying it, use a little hair powder (even baby powder) on dry strands. Apply close to the scalp or sprinkle on a brush and comb through. The powder will absorb your hair's excess oil and make it look less greasy.

Getting hair up and off your face can instantly make you look more pulled together. "If your hair is long, twist the back up and pin it to hold," suggests Allison Luongo, a stylist for Bumble and bumble salon in New York City. And don't overlook the ponytail, pulled up high or in a low chignon; it's easy and lends polish. Just make sure to smooth the ends with no more than a dime-sized drop of styling cream or glossing serum. For shorter hair, part it on the side and tuck behind the ears. Clip on a stylish barrette or pull on a colorful headband for a fun and fast hair fix.

Speed tools you need Hair powder: Bumble and bumble Hair Powder ($27; bumbleandbumble.com for salon locations); styling creams: John Frieda Frizz-Ease Secret Weapon Flawless Finishing Creme ($6; at drugstores) or Herbal Essences Aloe Smoothing Crème ($3; at drugstores); hair accessories: Scünci No-Damage Elastic Polybands, ($3; at drugstores), and headbands, hair clips and ponytail holders from Frédéric Fekkai ($28-$75; fredericfekkai.com).

BEAUTY DILEMMA A very noticeable pimple has erupted - just in time for a big event.

Fast fix Face it - there's no right time for a skin flare-up. "For a blemish, the ideal remedy is a color corrector that will help neutralize the red," Dorf says. Use the corrective concealer sparingly just over the red areas to even out the color; then, using a brush, lightly pat a regular concealer (in a shade similar to your skin color) on top of that. "These two products combined will offset and help correct the color of any problem spots," Dorf says. For staying power, finish with a light dusting of loose powder tapped over the area.

Speed tools you need Corrective concealer: Physicians Formula Concealer 101 Perfecting Concealer Duo ($7; at drugstores), which contains both a corrective color plus concealer in one kit; loose powder: T. LeClerc Loose Powder in Translucide ($45; 800-788-4731).

BEAUTY DILEMMA You made it to that lunch-hour Spinning class, but it left you with little time to beautify before heading back to the office.

Fast fix Start by washing your face with a pre-moistened cleansing cloth to get rid of pore-clogging dirt, oil and sweat. Then apply a tinted moisturizer. "This complements your natural, after-gym flush, giving you an even healthier glow," Dorf says. Use a concealer under the eyes to brighten and finish with a swipe of glossy lip color.

Speed tools you need Pre-moistened cleansing cloths: Olay Daily Facials Express Wet Cleansing Cloths ($5; at drugstores); tinted moisturizer: Paula Dorf Face Tint SPF15 in Jet Set Glo ($34; sephora.com); concealer: Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage ($28; lauramercier .com), which comes in a two-tone kit in six different shades; lip color: Lancôme Juicy Rouge Lasting Juicy Shine Lip- Colour in Brownie ($20; lancome.com) to give lips shine with a touch of color.

BEAUTY DILEMMA You just got a call to confirm your attendance at an after-work party - you know, the one you'd completely forgotten about.

Fast fix "For a last-minute soiré'e, there's nothing that creates a sultry look quicker than the smoky eye," Dorf says. All you need is a blending brush and a dark eye shadow in a shade like deep brown, navy or steel. "Smudge the shadow onto your upper and lower lash line and flare out around the corners for a dramatic evening look," Dorf adds. Add a dusting of allover radiance-boosting powder and a swipe of dramatic lipstick with a touch of sparkle.

Speed tools you need Eye brush and shadow: Sonia Kashuk Small Eyeshadow Brush ($4; at Target stores) and Cargo Eye Shadow in Bavaria ($16; sephora.com); allover powder: Prescriptives Magic Liquid Powder ($35; gloss.com); lipstick: Clinique Colour Surge Lipstick in Real Pink, a frosted shade ($13.50; clinique.com).

BEAUTY DILEMMA You have no time to get your nails done - but need them to look manicured ASAP.

Fast fix You can pull off groomed nails in no time; the key is to use sheer, light and fast-drying products. First, remove any old chipped polish with polish-remover wipes (keep these stashed in your purse or desk drawer). Then paint on just one layer of sheer polish (colors like champagne, beige and pale pink work best) and, if you have time, one layer of topcoat - both of the fast- drying variety, recommends Ji Baek, owner of Rescue Beauty Lounge in New York City. Some products even have the color and the topcoat in one.

Speed tools you Need Polish-remover wipes: Cutex Essential Care Advanced Nail Polish Remover Pads ($3 for six; at drugstores); polishes to try: O.P.I. RapiDry Top Coat ($10; ulta.com); Maybelline New York Express Finish Fast- Dry Nail Enamel in Sheer Ivory and Show Me the Honey! ($4.12 each) and Revlon ColorStay Always On Nail Enamel in Endless Pink and Invincible Bronze ($6; all at drugstores).

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