335 Hours a Year Primping? Here's How to Speed Up Your Morning Ritual

Photo: Trunk ArchiveHere’s a wakeup call for you: Women spend an average of 55 minutes getting ready every morning — frittering away the equivalent of 6.4 hours a week, or 335 hours a year, on looks alone, a new survey finds. Men, by comparison, spend 4.5 hours a week working on their appearance, while teenage girls, the worst offenders, use up 7.7 hours a week on the task. And much of that time, note experts, is spent battling the negative voices in our heads.

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“Beauty isn’t about being perfect,” says Ann Kearney-Cooke, a Cincinnati-based psychologist and eating disorder expert who helped develop the Today/AOL Ideal to Real Body Image Survey, the results of which were released on Monday. What it’s about, she tells Yahoo Shine, is “doing the best with what you have and focusing on your signature strengths.”

The survey of 2,059 adults and 200 teens also found that 60 percent of women have negative thoughts about themselves weekly; adult women worry more regularly about their appearance than they do about finances, relationships, or professional success; and moms seem to be more plagued by appearance worries than women without children are, with 73 percent of mothers regularly worrying about how they look, compared with 65 percent of women who don't have kids.

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Finally, regarding the near-hour a day spent on getting ready, 78 percent of women said they do it to “feel better about themselves.” Additionally, 62 percent of people ages 16 to 34 worry that people are judging their appearance.

While it’s hard to say exactly how many mirror-focused minutes is healthy or unhealthy for each individual, Kearney-Cooke says that one way to figure out if you’re spending too much time on your looks is if you’re getting “too perfectionistic” in the process — "if you're trying on clothes over and over, redoing your hair, redoing your eyeliner," for example. She warns that getting mired in a beauty routine that’s fueled by negativity (“I look fat, I look old”) can even go so far as to rewire your brain. “And it really takes too much of your time and affects your mood [each morning], and then you head out into the world," says Kearney-Cooke. “It’s a very destructive ritual.”

So how do you counteract that pull to obsess? Shine spoke with experts offering advice on how to cut down on your prep time each day, culling tips both practical and psychological:

Makeup: Your getting-ready-quick mantra here should be “Fewer brushes, fewer products,” professional makeup artist Susan Posnick tells Yahoo Shine. She notes that using multipurpose products  — such as ColorFlo, the self-dispensing mineral foundation containing SPF that’s part of her eponymous product line — will cut down on the product pileup. Posnick also suggests blending makeup with your fingers rather than brushes, which “cuts your time in half.” Also to that end: Choose creamier rather than powdery eye shadows, and stick to just a couple of colors, especially for daytime purposes. “That’s when it’s not so much about precision, but about defining your eye,” she says.

•Hair: “Lots of women aren’t pre-drying their hair — waiting until it’s half dry before blowing it,” Mizu New York stylist Judy McGuinness tells Yahoo Shine. Save time by letting your air dry while you do your makeup, then use an ionic blow dryer to finish the job. Also helpful, she notes: using products like Oribe Royal Blowout or Living Proof Satin Hair Serum, which cut drying time in half. As for washing, do it only every two or three days, especially if you have color-treated hair that’s prone to drying out. On the off days, McGuinness suggests, use a dry shampoo — and, if you have bangs, give just those a quick wash in the sink. No one will be the wiser.

•Clothing: Assess the state of your emotions each day before even opening up your closet, suggests New York–based fashion psychologist Dawnn Karen. Then, she tells Yahoo Shine, “Decide if you’ll dress for ‘mood enhancement’— dressing to optimize your mood — or for ‘mood illustration,’ which is dressing to perpetuate your mood.” In other words, figure out if you want to coddle your rainy-day blues by wearing head-to-toe black or counteract those feelings by reaching for that fuchsia dress.

•Mindset: Jeff Szymanski, director of the International OCD Foundation, tells Yahoo Shine that being flexible in your routine — spending more time primping before a big presentation, for example, and less on other days — can be helpful, as can a bit of self-reflection. “Ask yourself, ‘Is this worth my time?’” he suggests. “At the end of your life, what do you want to be known for? Is it that you always looked beautiful and had your makeup done perfectly?” Finally, Kearney-Cooke suggests coming up with some ground rules for yourself and sticking to them. “Choose one goal, like ‘I want my eyes to pop,’” she advises. “Or make a rule that you can only try on two outfits and then walk away and switch your focus — even if it’s simply by walking out of the room.”

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