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The Five Minute Face

The Five Minute Face

You know the feeling - you wake up with 50 things on your to-do list and can't seem to figure out how to get it all done.  As you begin the process of prioritizing, you ditch those things that relate to your own well being and your own personal care first.  I'm guilty of this.  In the past I eliminated two things to save time: eating breakfast and putting on makeup.  Don't be alarmed - this is not another think-piece about the importance of eating breakfast (but seriously...eat breakfast). Instead, this is a topic about how to put your very best face forward when you have limited time.  I am generally comfortable going out into the world without a stitch of makeup on, but on days when my face is struggling, I like being able to throw on a little something to elevate my look.  

The "Five Minute Face" is a concept that I've dreamed of figuring out for years.  On average, it takes me about 8 minutes to put on a full face of everyday makeup.  For friends with more skills, I know it takes longer.  Fortunately, I know an expert who has helped me shave off those precious minutes and still walk outside looking pulled together.

Steven Coleman with ColeColors is a local makeup artist whose passion for enhancing the natural beauty of his clients shines through his work.  Steven initially worked as a microbiologist until he decided to follow his heart and enter the beauty industry. After working at MAC for some years, Steven's clientele grew to the point that he was able to open his own studio.  Steven services all types of clients including brides - present company included- (see below for some looks), prom attendees, and even those looking to make a more avant-garde statement like this Halloween look and this jaw-dropping Queen of Hearts look.  Not afraid to push the boundaries, he is inspired by the personality of the client sitting in his chair.  If the client is boisterous and fun, Steven "can use bold colors."  If the client is calm or soft spoken, he likes to "keep it nice and soft using neutral colors, but with a bit of sass to give them that complete professional look."

Steven didn't abandon his biology background completely, however.  In addition to his services, he has developed and sells his own line of lipstick, lip gloss, and skin care products (see below), all of which I am a fan of.  Now that's next level!

I had the great pleasure of spending an afternoon with Steven at his new studio in Houston, Texas to talk all about his journey. He also answered some of my burning makeup questions like whether it is OK to buy products from drugstores (for the record, he recognizes that "everyone has stepped up their game in cosmetics" and goes further to say, "there are some great products in the drugstores; although name brands are great, if it works for you go for it.").  We also dished about essentials that every woman should carry in her purse ("lipstick, mascara, and a blotting powder"), and he educated me about how maintaining a solid skin care regiment is the key to looking pulled together without applying a full face of makeup.  His suggestions for a good nighttime skin care regiment?  "Use a good face wash and a scrub or mask at least once a week. Sleeping in a heavy cream or vitamin E oil will also help replenish some nutrients your skin lost during the day."

The real fun came when he put me in the chair and showed me the steps to achieving the "Five Minute Face."  The keys to achieving this look are "having a nice lip color, mascara or eyeliner, and neatly kept brows."  Check out the transformation below as well as some other tips I learned during our session.

STEP ONE: Start with a clean face.  I'm guilty of not washing my face when I wake up unless I'm taking a shower.  Because the skin rests when you're sleeping, it's important to wash your face both before you go to bed and immediately after you wake up in order to reset your pH before you do anything else to your skin.  Steven recommends investing in a good cleanser, toner and moisturizer in order to effectively prep your skin for the day.  Other items such as masques, concentrates, eye creams, and exfoliators are extra, and although they can be helpful, they are not essential.  "Skipping the toner is problematic because it acts as the conditioner for your face, and it sets your skin's pH balance appropriately to help avoid exposure to pollutants in the air," says Steven. Great tip! Below is a progression of a clean face from me first waking up (yes, I wake up like this...) to the application of toner, and a cleansing water-based moisturizer.

STEP TWO:  Groom your eyebrows.  Steven considers the eyebrows to be the most important, but over-looked, feature on the face.  Maintaining an arched and groomed eyebrow "goes a long way for looking put together with only five minutes to spare."  Fun fact: we had to fill in my eyebrows with a pencil due to an unfortunate incident I had with a straight edged razor....note to self: do not do your own eyebrows!

STEP THREE: Apply mascara and/or eye liner.  Nothing makes an eye pop like the subtle hint of a well-applied eyeliner or mascara.  For an everyday makeup application, Steven suggests applying mascara and/or eyeliner.  If you are using eyeliner, line either your top or your bottom lid (but not both) to prevent looking too dramatic during the day.  On the topic of eyelash extensions, Steven - a fan of a stand-out lash - suggests that women should be cautious if they are not able to commit to routine maintenance.  

STEP FOUR: Apply Blotting powder or loose powder.  The use of blotting powder or loose powder directly onto a freshly moisturized face will give the effect of coverage without having to use heavy foundation which adds precious minutes to a makeup application.  Blotting powder comes in either translucent or color-based forms.  Try this brand.

STEP FIVE:  A poppin' lip color!  To fully pull together the look, Steven likes to use a striking matte lipstick.  If what you're aiming for is a look that has longevity, lipstick will always outlast a lip gloss which will need to be re-applied during the day.  Achieving a reliable stain on the lips early in the morning will help to keep your look set for hours on end.  For the spring and summer try using corals, reds, deep pinks and oranges, all of which are on trend.  

FINAL PRODUCT:  In five steps and five minutes, you have the Five Minute Face!  Prepare to save your time and your sanity with these wonderful tips from Steven Coleman.  Below are photos of the finished product immediately following the application and some photos from later that evening when the look was still doing its job.  I've also included some outdoor shots to show how this look can wear inside and outside with different lighting and still be just as effective. Even after the lip color wears off, I still have a little "something" hours later! Now mind you - the idea is not to look like you have on a full face of professionally-applied makeup or to cover up every imperfection, but instead the goal is to give you just enough to breathe a little life into your face.  I think we achieved that goal!


  • Use good makeup products and quality brushes.  It's crtical to have reliable makeup products when you're short on time.  Having a dull eyeliner pencil will often cause you to have to stop the makeup application and start over which is frustrating when you have to get out the door in a hurry.  It's also important to keep your brushes clean using a mild shampoo or even non-citrus-based dish soap.
  • Remove your makeup!  One thing you cannot do is fail to remove your makeup before bed.  Coleman considers it a personal preference whether to use makeup wipes or a cleanser but thinks both are effective.  If you don't wash your face before bed, your face will not have the full benefit of resting during the night which over time may cause the skin to age quicker or cause break outs.

Thank you to Steven for spending time with me on this fun collaboration!  It was truly an educational experience and I have already put his tips to good use!  Make sure to check out more looks from ColeColors on social media.  For inquiries about his services or to book an appointment, check out his website or contact Coleman at colecolors@gmail.com or in studio at (832) 598-5349. 

Photo Credit: Niki Benjamin for Mind of Meaux

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