Playing With My Face: I Spend 172 Hours a Year Putting on Make Up and I'm Not Sorry

The study suggests that the time spent applying make-up is a waste of time. One that should be culled in order to spend more time doing other, more worthwhile activities, like, I don't know, fellating your partner more regularly or learning how to make soda bread.

Feb 21, 2013 at 2:00pm | Leave a comment


This is my everyday face. Yes, it will take me 172 hours a year. Sorry not sorry.

172 hours a year. That's 10,348 minutes, according to my calculations -- which for all intents and purposes are probably completely wrong considering I got an E in Maths and failed spectacularly -- but you get the picture, it's a long time. 

172 hours. That's a bit longer than the amount of time that James Franco or Aron Ralston spent wedged down a cave before sawing off his own arm with a blunt penknife and staggering around a desert and somehow not dying. It's over a week spent on holiday, or at work, or in a coma. It's a long time. That's the average amount of time that women -- in the UK at least, according to a Harley St company -- spend over the course of a year putting on make up.

Over the course of a woman's lifetime this same "average woman" will spend a year and three months in total preening and primping and applying beauty products, according to the study. Now, this got me thinking. Am I this average woman they speak of? Broken down, that equates to an average of 28 minutes per day, so yes, I suppose I am.

My daily routine is as follows:

  • Get on the train. Whip out make up bag (Cath Kidston).
  • Apply foundation. At the moment, this is Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum. Apply over face, eradicating all signs of ill health and eyebags in one fell swoop! God, I love foundation.
  • Apply blusher. NARS Orgasm. Instant flush.
  • Apply primer to my eyelids -- Benefit Stay Don't Stray. 
  • With my fingers, apply eyeshadow up to the crease. 
  • Go through the tunnel, put a new playlist on Spotify or something so that I don't keep putting make-up on in the dark and end up looking like a freak.
  • Exit tunnel, pull into first station. When the train stops, quickly paint some flicks on using my trusty Rimmel Exaggerate. 
  • Use Benefit Brow Zings to give my brows some shape and definition.
  • Choose a lipstick from the myriad of tubes littering the bottom of my handbag. Today, I chose NARS Niagara, which is a coral, pinky nudey colour that makes me look quite fresh and alive. I like.
  • Mascara. two coats, please.
  • Pull into destination station, final check over of all the slap and I'm ready to disembark and trudge up the hill to the office, looking a whole lot better than I did at the beginning of my journey.

The first article that ever bought me to xoJane was one about make-up habits, and whether you should apply make-up on public transport. I do this every day, so I obviously have no problem with it, but I am courteous in that I never take up more than my own space, and I am careful not to spill anything. As an aside, do you have a problem with people applying make-up in transit? Genuinely interested.

The simple pleasure of watching your face transform and become a little piece of art is something that I have written about before, when talking about the importance of make-up psychologically when you're feeling ill, or down. The 20 minutes or so a day can make a real difference.

My weekday face takes around 20 minutes, but I definitely spend longer at the weekend when time is on my side. At the weekend, I like to luxuriate, and get out all of my make up that I store on my dresser, sit on my bed and spread it all out and pick and choose carefully which shadow, which lipstick, which blush, which highlighter I want to use. It's a glorious ritual that I enjoy immensely.


Loads of lovely makeup to play with! 

I love the joy of seeing all the products in one place, comparing and contrasting shades, reminding myself which colours I have, which colours are missing from my collection -- any excuse to buy some more. 

The point of the study was to advertise the company's semi-permanent make-up services, with the comment 'Women lead such busy and full lives nowadays so anything that saves time is a bonus -- especially when you consider that most women lose a whole week every year to putting on make-up.'

This suggests that the time spent applying make-up is a waste of time. One that should be culled in order to spend more time doing other, more worthwhile activities, like, I don't know, fellating your partner more regularly or learning how to make soda bread (two things I need to work on). I disagree. Those precious 20 minutes or so are not a waste, they are a luxury!

Do you agree? Would you happily cut out the time it takes to beautify yourself if you could? Would semi-permanent makeup be your bag? How long is your daily routine? Am I wasting my time? 

I spend more than 172 hours a year on Twitter: @Natalie_KateM