Little I see on my commute phases me after five years of living in New York City. As you can imagine, someone doing a full face of makeup on a crowded subway is one of the least offensive activities that comes to mind. Watching a woman drop her fluffy powder brush on the floor of the 6 train then pick it up and continue to use it, though, still makes me cringe.

Say it’s inevitable – you’re in the back of an Uber from a morning workout to the office or on the subway after hitting snooze too many times or you just like to make use of a long commute. No judgement here, just a few strategic product recommendations and application tips for doing makeup on-the-go.

Leave bulky brushes, dirty sponges and loose powders at home in favor of products that can be applied straight from the bullet or with fingertips – one less thing to carry and much easier to wield when in motion. First things first, though, start with hand sanitizer.

cushion foundation does double duty to quickly even out skin tone with an included applicator and provide a sizable mirror for the whole process. Follow with a stick concealer tapped on with fingertips for extra coverage where needed.

For color, use a multi-stick like Wander Beauty On-The-Glow Bronzer and Illuminator. Blend the creamy bronzer shade onto cheeks and temples then tap the illuminator onto eyelids and the tops of cheekbones. If you prefer a blush stick to bronzer, the blush shade can also be used as a lip tint.

Get a mini tube of a mascara that doesn’t need many coats to make an impact – Monsieur Big is my pick. A smaller wand makes it easier to apply quickly between sudden stops.

Finally, swipe on a lipstick. Trust me, this makes it look like you spent way more time on your makeup than you actually have. A spritz of beauty elixir once you get where you’re going won’t hurt, either.

Photo, Kendra Spears by Lachlan Bailey, Vogue Paris

Even those of us with the best intentions can wind up with an ill-timed spot now and then. It happens to me on occasion when I’ve tried a new beauty product that did not agree with my skin or it’s that time of the month (despite adhering stringently to my skincare routine). At the first sign, I pull out a few products that have proven to clear things up in record time.

After a thorough cleanse, I use a purifying face mask either all over or as a spot treatment. I love May Lindstrom The Problem Solver all over. I mix a tablespoon of the powder with a tablespoon of water and apply with a mask brush. Otherwise the Peter Thomas Roth Sulfur Mask works wonderfully as a spot treatment – it’s too harsh on my skin to use all over.

In the interest of not overdoing it with too many harsh treatments that can dry and stress out skin even worse, my next step is the Farmacy Honey Potion Mask. It gets a little warm upon application which is so soothing on irritated skin. It also nourishes, hydrates and reduces inflammation.

Next up is an overnight spot treatment. I use Kate Somerville EradiKate Acne Treatment if the spot hasn’t been popped or has just been popped – it helps bring the infection up and out and dry it up. The following night I’ll use Osmia Organics Spot Treatment to speed up the recovery process. I’ve found it reduces redness faster and helps avoid scarring.

Once a breakout is on its last leg, I use the Murad Lightening Gel as my serum for a few nights in a row. It has hydroquinone, willow bark, tea tree and AHAs to fade discoloration and even skin tone.

Photo, Ji Hye Park, Vogue China


Pixi Glow Tonic is another one of those products I’ve been through countless bottles of. I was ecstatic when the brand sent me a giant bottle with my name on the label last Christmas. Just last week it was running low so I bought a regular-size bottle and refilled.

This exfoliating toner contains glycolic acid to remove dead skin cells, witch hazel to smooth and aloe vera to soothe. I’ve found that daily chemical exfoliation, rather than physical, is much better for my sensitive skin, and this is the product that ticks that box. I use one pump on a cotton pad every morning after cleansing and before a serum.

The results are near immediate – serious glow and a smooth surface that better absorbs the serum that follows. I highly recommend it to anyone, no matter your skin type. Shop Glow Tonic and more of my Pixi favorites below.