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Simple Ways to Streamline Your AM Routine

These ideas are especially welcome when you're running late  -- whether you've overslept or have a cranky toddler who needs a cuddle.

Shorten Your Shower

On average, women spend almost 12 minutes showering, notes a survey by Just5 Haircolor. To speed things up:

  • Switch to a double-duty cleanser that also moisturizes (such as Oil of Olay 2-In-1 Body Wash). Or use a head-to-toe cleanser, like Aussie All Over hair and body shampoo.

  • Wash only odor-prone groin and underarms, suggests New York City dermatologist Diane Berson, M.D. "Everything else just needs a rinse."

  • Apply shampoo only once. Then, if you use conditioner, rinse just until hair doesn't feel coated, no longer than one to two minutes. A shampoo-conditioner combo is fine in a pinch too, or use leave-in conditioner.

Hurry Your Hair Along

Most women spend 9 to 14 minutes styling their hair, says a Procter & Gamble study. To trim that time:

  • Vigorously towel-dry hair first (unless it's curly; then squeeze or blot, to prevent frizz). "You're doing no more damage than you would with a blow-dryer," says Gordon Nelson, international creative director for Regis Salons, a worldwide chain.

  • Go turbo with a blow-dryer of at least 1,600 watts. Don't hold it too long on one spot or closer than about six inches to hair.

  • Don't style wet hair  -- it won't hold a shape. Dry it almost completely before applying gel or mousse.

  • Focus on the front of your hair when you style it. "That's where people are looking," says Kieran McKenna, a stylist at New York City's John Frieda Salon.

  • If you're really on the run, pull your hair back with a pretty barrette, band, or scarf.

Make Up in Minutes

Women spend an average of 12 minutes putting on their makeup, according to a recent survey conducted by Multi-Sponsor Surveys, Inc., with the Gallup Organization. But you can look polished in two minutes flat if you concentrate on just three features from the following list, says Lea Siegel, a New York City makeup artist and mom of 7-year-old Sean.

  • Eyelashes Use a curler or apply mascara, wiping the brush with a tissue first to prevent clumps. New One Coat Mascara from Almay claims to stay clump-free.

  • Eyebrows Brush them smooth; pencil in or powder skimpy brows or patchy spots.

  • Skin Apply concealer or spot foundation if you have dark circles, blemishes, or uneven skin tone. Estee Lauder's new oil-free Minute Makeup Creme Stick Foundation is designed to glide on swiftly.

  • Cheeks Smooth on blush, especially if skin is pale. Small brushes tend to overload color in one spot; a big, fluffy brush speeds application and prevents obvious color "blocks." Lightly tap the brush to make sure you don't apply too much.

  • Lips A creamy lipstick goes on faster than a matte. Gloss is even faster: You can slick it on with your finger and don't need to be so precise.

Muted colors require less blending, notes Robin Haney, owner of Apropos Advanced Skin Care & Cosmetics, in Nashville. And jack-of-all-trades products also save time; the Body Shop's Complete Colour sticks come in neutral shades to use on eyes, cheeks, and lips.

Dress on the Double

The average woman takes ten and a half minutes to dress, from underpinnings to accessories, the Just5 poll reveals. To pick up the pace:

  • Get in the habit of laying out your clothes  -- or at least planning what you'll wear  -- the night before.

  • If you must iron, press only what will show: collar, cuffs, and front.

  • Minimize maintenance with machine-washable, no-iron knits, and pieces that you can dry-clean.

  • Limit your options. "I have a few garments I wear regularly; I even have two of some things in different colors," says fashion designer Eileen Fisher, mother of a 4-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy.

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