How to Do Your Makeup on a Moving Train—Without Poking Your Eye Out

Cady Lang

One of the best (and, in some cases, worst) parts of living in New York City is the subway. As someone who’s definitely not a morning person, I personally relish not having to drive to get to work every morning. My daily 40(ish)-minute commute from Brooklyn to the StyleCaster offices gives me ample time to wake up and greet the day—and, as I’ve discovered, it provides a nice pocket of time for me to apply my makeup, thus streamlining my morning routine.

My apartment is five stops away from the office on the Q train, so I’ve perfected the art of doing my face in that time frame—provided that I get a seat. Here’s my stop-by-stop plan of attack.

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 26: A subway map is hangs in a subway car October 26, 2004 in New York City. The New York City subway system opened 100 years ago on October 27 when the IRT line went from City Hall to upper Manhattan. In 1904, 150,000 people paid 5 cents each to ride New York's first subway and today 4.5 million riders a day utilize the city's 842 miles of subway lines. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

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Home to Stop #1: Face (5 minutes)

This is the shortest leg of the commute. In the five minutes it takes me to travel from Prospect Park to Park Slope, I slap Benefit’s The PORE-fessional face primer ($31) on my T-zone to keep my shine-prone skin matte, then apply NARS’s Laguna Bronzer ($39) to the apples of my cheeks. This is the easiest part of my in-transit makeup application because it’s not as precise (I usually don’t even need a mirror). This is also the part of the commute that I’m usually sleepiest, so it works out quite well.

Stop #1 to Stop #2: Brows and lower liner (10 minutes)

I brush out my brows with NARS’ Brow Gel in Kinshasa ($23), which is the strongest brow gel ever and perfect for whipping my droopy, unruly arches into shape. It also tints them slightly darker, which means I don’t have to fill them in—I am all about multitasking beauty products. (I like a multitasking device too: More often than not, I use my cell phone in selfie mode as my mirror because my pocket mirror is lost in the black hole that is my purse.)

After I finish my brows, I use the black Lancôme Le Crayon Kohl pencil ($26) that I’ve had since high school (don’t ask me how it’s lasted this long …) to lightly line my bottom lash line. Sometimes I wait until the train stops at Stop #2 to do this step—that 30-second pause means I’m less likely to poke my eye out. Most of the time, however, I take my chances as old ladies look on disapprovingly and small children stare.

Stop #2 to Stop #3: Liquid liner (10 to 15 minutes)

This is the longest section of the commute, which gives me more time to do my trickier makeup application, aka my liquid-liner cat-eye. It’s also when the train travels from Brooklyn to Manhattan, which usually means that the train a) moves a lot faster and b) tends to sway and shake a lot more. Well, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, because I now have creating a cat-eye with liquid liner while on a moving train down to a science.

Having the right liner definitely makes all the difference. My favorite liquid liner is Lancôme’s Art Liner in Noir ($30.50), which has a felt tip like a marker and feels like holding a pen.

First, I draw the initial line on my lid as close to the lash line as possible, from inner to outer corner; this is the easiest part of the cat-eye. Then I eyeball where a 45-degree eyeliner flick would hit if it was centered off my nose and draw a dot about half an inch away from the corner of my eye at that angle. I think this is what my geometry teacher meant when he said that the concepts we were learning would actually be useful during our everyday lives. As soon as the train feels steady, I connect the dot to the rest of my eyeliner and gradually thicken it at the base, until the flick looks triangular.

Stop #3 to Stop #4: Lashes (5 minutes)

Almost finished! I curl my lashes with my Shu Uemura eyelash curler ($20) because I have straight-ass lashes that refuse to curl with just mascara. I then add three coats of Too Faced’s Better Than Sex mascara ($23)—which totally lives up to its name, by the way—to both the top and bottom lashes because when it comes to lashes, I go big or go home.

Stop #4 to Stop #5: Set (5 minutes)

Before I reach my final stop, I dust on Makeup For Ever’s translucent HD Microfinish loose powder ($34) to keep everything in place.

Et voilà! My makeup is done before I reach work. It’s a truly satisfying use of my commute time.