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How to Apply Your Makeup on the Subway

How to touch up your makeup on the subway
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DNAinfo/Serena Solomon

NEW YORK CITY — It begins with hitting snooze too many times in the morning, leads to a fumbling of brushes and compacts, and ends with a jittery streak of eyeliner and a near-stab of the mascara wand.

Whether you think it's unrefined or not, a woman putting on makeup on the subway is a common sight.

"You're going to encounter some bad lighting, maybe a bumpy ride and sort of a judgy audience," said Amanda Thesen, a makeup artist with Top 5 Management.

Thesen doesn't advocate for painting a full face of makeup on the subway. "It gets messy," she said. But if you can manage to apply your foundation and concealer before you leave the house, the rest of your makeup application — or touch-ups later in the day — can be easily done on the train with the right tools.

Here are six tips for an issue-free makeup application on the subway:

Use Hand Sanitizer

"Who knows what's on that subway pole," said Thesen, while sitting on a rickety northbound B train.

Before starting on a basic makeup retouch, Thesen used a simple hand sanitizer she said would help minimize breakouts on the skin and reduce exposure to infection-causing germs.

Carry an All-in-One Palette

Even if you're not down a hand from gripping a subway pole, juggling a tiny eye shadow pot with blush and brushes makes for unwanted chaos. A palette that contains it all — eye shadow in various colors, blush and bronzer — is one solution, Thesen said.  

"It has everything I need for my eyes and everything I need for my cheeks, and it has a great mirror," she said, of the "Rainforest After Dark" palette by makeup brand Tarte.

Use a Compact Mirror with Lights

If you're on an older subway car, its aging lights will cover your face in a harsh, unflattering yellow hue.

This is not helpful for applying makeup, according to Thesen.

To solve the problem, a compact mirror with lights is "going to be a great asset to you," she said.

To Avoid Too Much Smudging, Use Dark Shadow as Eyeliner

A jolty subway car is no place to be closing in on your eye with a sharpened pencil. Instead, use a thin brush to dab a dark eye shadow along your upper lash line "to give you that idea of eyeliner," Thesen explained.

"Powder is much more forgiving and for an unpredictable train ride that is something that you want."

Use Lipstick In Lieu of Messy Powder Blush

When you're on a crowded subway car and working on a deadline — your stop — the less fumbling in you're black hole of a handbag, the better. Instead of pulling out a blush, most lipsticks will do the job, according to Thesen.

"[Y]ou can make your lipstick do double duty," she said while dabbing a rich pink shade on her cheeks and blending it with a blush brush.

Q-Tips for Cleanup

Makeup mistakes are certain even in the sturdiest scenarios, so makeup done in the subway can need a fix, according to Thesen.   

"If you do make any mistakes, then a Q-Tip is the best way to clean it up without using your fingers," she said.