In days gone by, as soon as you had kids, you could stop bothering about the way you looked. By the time you were thirty-five, it was fine to look middle-aged, let the weight pile on and get a Mrs Merton perm. These days, however, we mums are expected be every bit as glamorous as we were before we had the kids – but without the luxury of hours in the day to do it. Not surprisingly, in a recent survey of mums, more than 70% said they felt their appearance had suffered as a result of having children. But making yourself feel good can also make you a happier, better mother. So here are author Tanith Carey’s rules to looking just as good as you did before kids came along – but in half the time!

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The Fast Mummy’s Face:  The Rules

Go for shades as close as possible to your natural colours:
When you are trying to look good in the minimum time, don’t experiment. Bright tones will only underline the fact that you could do with some more sleep or a facial. Applying a statement shade of deep scarlet lipstick is going to take an awful lot more time and concentration than a subtle lip gloss close to your own lip colour. Steer clear of orange or toffee- coloured lipsticks too, which can be ageing.

Buy make-up that does more than one job: Look for products that do two, or even three, things at the same time. For example, buy mascara that both curls and lengthens to avoid having to fiddle around with an eyelash curler. Or try gels that double as lip glosses, and combined foundation and powder compacts.

Cut out the middleman: Once upon a time, you probably had a vast array of make-up brushes for 136 every conceivable job. Now you don’t have the time to find them, let alone wash them. So choose make-up with built-in applicators like lip gloss and concealer pens. Or easier still, plump for make-up you can put on with your fingers, like tinted moisturizers and gel blushes, which are more natural looking anyway.

Use a make-up primer: It may sound strange to add one extra step before you’ve even started, but use a primer. It’s quick, fills in surface imperfections like large pores and lines, and you can apply it without looking in the mirror (always a good test of a mummy-friendly make-up technique). Primers also help make-up to last longer – so you will have fewer of those depressing ‘God, I look a state, don’t I?’ moments later in the day.

If in doubt, chuck it out: Life is so much simpler when you edit out the stuff you don’t need. It doesn’t matter what make it is, having make-up you don’t use hanging around is a waste of space. Apply the wardrobe rule: if you haven’t worn it for a year, bin it.

Keep two sets of make-up – and never, ever mix them up: Put one set in your handbag in a clear bag so you can see what’s in there and get to it fast. Then leave it there – never to be removed. At the very least, make sure you keep a combination rouge/lip gloss in your wallet to revive you in times of need.

Do your make-up on the move: Get a professional make-up artist’s make-up box to help keep it all beautifully organized. Take it wherever your kids are. If they are happy playing with blocks in the playroom, take your kit there too – and you may get to mascara a few extra lashes.

Save the bigger grooming jobs for night time: The mornings are hectic enough, so just use them for putting on make-up. When the kids have gone to bed, take time to bleach your moustache, paint your nails or pluck your eyebrows. Or take advantage of bath time with the kids and put on a mud mask for a Shrek impersonation.

Buy make-up that looks after itself: Wind-up pencil applicators aren’t great value for money, because there’s not much product in there. But there is nothing more irritating than not being able to find a liner with a sharp tip at the bottom of your make-up bag. So on this occasion, take convenience over price!

Think about packaging: When you are looking for moisturizers and foundations, search out products that are easily dispensable, either by pumps or aerosols rather than jars or tubes. That way, it won’t be quite such a disaster if you can’t find the top, and they are less likely to dry up or spill.

Choose a tinted moisturizer over foundation: Tinted moisturizer is another of those beauty aids that passes the big test of mummy-friendly make-up. It does three things at once: gives coverage, moisturizes and offers sun protection. Look for a product with light-defusing particles to brighten up your skin.

Keep it tidy: To keep your dressing table functioning as efficiently as possible, stick a large magnet on the wall to hold must-haves like tweezers, nail scissors and safety pins, plus a needle and thread for emergency clothes repairs. Keep a bin close too for old Q-tips, packaging and make-up wipes.

Get some eye-whitener/red-eye drops: Trust me – after working late or a sleepless night, this is the ultimate beauty secret for the hassled mum. You will look fresh as a daisy – even before you’ve applied a scrap of make-up.

Nail short cuts: For many a manic mummy, manicured and long polished nails are a distant memory. Still, if you want polished nails for a special occasion, try the new nail pens in a neutral colour. They should dry in seconds. But as with make-up, try to stick to a colour close to your natural shade, so your nails don’t look so bad when they get chipped.

Taken from “How to be An Amazing Mum – When You Just Don’t Have the Time – the Ultimate Handbook for Hassled Mother, “  by Tanith Carey,  (on Amazon)