By SERENA FRENCH
March 20, 2006 -- Frustrated husbands and boyfriends now have some ammunition. According to a recent survey, women spend two years of their lives getting ready to leave the house. Men, meanwhile, spend less than a year. That's a lot of tapping feet and staring at watches.
Women take an average of 90 minutes to get dolled up for a night out - compared to the half an hour that men said it takes them to look presentable.
It also takes an average of 54 minutes for women to get ready for work in the morning. That means spending nearly an hour on showering, doing hair and applying makeup sucks up almost 10 days a year from women's lives.
Women spend an average of five minutes on a brief breakfast, eight minutes showering, 15 minutes for face cleansing and makeup application, a whopping 18 minutes to style their hair and a mere eight minutes to get dressed.
"The biggest surprise was the spilt between styling your hair and getting dressed," says Lopo Champalimaud, the spokeswoman for lastminute.com, a travel site that conducted the online poll of 3,000 British women. "I would have thought they'd spend a lot more time getting dressed."
So how long does it really take New York women to get ready in the morning? We gave four women stopwatches and asked them to clock themselves, from bed to door, and break down exactly how many seconds each part of their routine takes. The result - pretty much the same. While individuals ranged from 20 minutes to more than two hours, the average was about an hour.
But no matter what your routine, you can cut down on the time, says Kristin van Ogtrop, managing editor of Real Simple magazine.
"Your No. 1 goal is to have a hair style where you're not fighting mother nature," she says. "If you're taking 18 minutes to style your hair, it probably isn't."
Add to that some other ways you waste your life. "We did a study a couple of years ago that told us women spend 55 minutes per day just looking for stuff," she says.
"Some of these are giant 'duh's,' but they really bear repeating."
Such as: Do as much as you can the night before.
Make the lunch, pack the bag, iron the shirt. "There are some things that women know intuitively they can do the night before, or they have read them so many times, such as lay out your clothes out the night before. Or check the weather the night before, so that when you're in the shower, you can be thinking of what to wear," van Ogtrop says.
But others are not as obvious. "Shower or wash your hair the night before. Or something as small as make sure you cleanse your face really well at night so in the morning you don't need to wash it again. You really don't need to wash your face two times a day." Just splash with water or use toner.
Sleep on a silk pillowcase because it tends to mess your hair up less than a cotton pillowcase.
Or if you have an action packed schedule, get really organized. "We did a story on time-management strategies and one woman had a book case by her door and she had a bin for every day of the week. On her yoga class day she would have the blocks and the pants in that bin and I thought that was so organized. It's like a calendar in 3-D."
Look at your morning routine and see if there is something you can eliminate or find clever two-in-ones.
Eliminate hair washing. "You don't need to wash your hair every day. In fact you are not supposed to wash your hair every day. So wash it every other. You also need one fall-back thing your hair can do when you're in a pinch," van Ogtrop says.
On those days that you don't wash your hair, do a touch-up. "Take a cotton ball and use a little facial toner and rub it along your hair line, because that's where your hair tends to look the greasiest." Or you can use dry shampoo.
Use two-in-one makeup products such as a tinted moisturizer with an SPF. "That's a three-in-one actually. You're getting the sunscreen, moisturizer, even skin tone and a little color. There are also products you can get that are lip and cheek. And that's one fewer thing to look for in the morning, too," van Ogtrop says.
But don't make breakfast the thing you skip to save time. "If you have certain things in your refrigerator, even if it's a yogurt drink that you can grab, it's better than not having anything." Van Ogtrop cites a story they did. "How can you modify the things you grab to make them healthier? If what is available to you is a doughnut, what can you do to make it better? A glass of milk and handful of almonds. And that's, like, a 45-second breakfast."
"I used to know this mother who had four kids and she used to set the table the night before, and at the time, when I was a 15-year-old self-centered high school girl, I thought it was just so queer. And now, I think she was way ahead of her time. So things that seem silly and over-planning, if they're going to save your mood in the morning because you're getting out the door with your life somewhat in control, it's worth being anal."
It may also be worth it for your family and significant others. Because no matter what the survey says, two years may be underestimating getting ready time.
"I think people have an image of what it actually takes them to get ready," says lastminute.com's Champalimaud. "But if they're really honest with themselves, or if you actually observed them, rather than ask for self-reported timing, I think you'd come up with a very different number."
Occupation: Executive assistant at Della Famina Rothschild Jeary and Partners, an advertising agency
"Since I don't usually wear makeup, style my hair or eat breakfast, the majority of my morning is spent in a shell-shocked state trying to wake up."
Make bed: 0:48 minutes
Straighten room: 1:15
Pack lunch: 2:30
"I wasted time dropping eggs on the floor and just walking across the apartment a million times. If I just buy an egg on a roll, it will save me almost half an hour."
JEN M.R. DOMAN
Occupation: Founder of Brooklyn-based Get It Together!, a home, office and estate organization company.
"I'm pretty quick: I have very short hair, I work for myself, so for me to get up, shower, do my hair put on what little makeup I wear and feed my cat, maybe we're talking 25 minutes."
Up: 8:11 a.m.
Washing face: 1 minute
Inserting contact lens drops: 0:12
Brushing teeth: 0:41
Taking vitamins: 1:23 "Typically I do not eat breakfast. It makes me sort of nauseous."
Shower: 5:17 "My mom used to tell me I took too long in the shower and it wasted water. I can take 10, 12 minutes, so I've tried to be a little faster about that."
Putting on makeup: 2:59
Styling/drying hair: 1:02
Getting dressed: 3:14
Feeding/caring of cat Zeek: 1:41
Putting on coat/getting bag: 1:00
Out the door: 8:30 a.m.
Total time: 19 minutes
"I don't have any hair. I put one product in my hair, that's it. Even when I was a corporate person, it took the same amount of time, the only difference was instead of casual clothes, I was throwing on a suit. It was like a uniform."
ELENA B. WEISS
Occupation: Yoga instructor, owner of Free To Be Yoga Inc.
"In high school, they would tell me to be ready at 8:30 when they wanted to leave at 9, because they knew, come 9 o'clock, I'd still be getting ready."
Up: 7:40 a.m.
Meditation: 20 minutes
Making coffee: 5:00 "I had to clean out the filter and everything."
Shower: 17:00 "Sometimes I run the water hot then cold then hot. It's supposed to wake up the spine."
Drinking coffee: 2:00
Checking e-mail: 23:00
Drying hair: 19:41 "It wavy so I have to put product in it, clip it and dry it in pieces and style it."
Breakfast: 12:00 "I prepared and ate breakfast and prepared a little bit of food to go."
Out the door: 9:52 a.m.
Total time: 2 hours, 12 minutes
"Some days I've been able to minimize the whole procedure. I can do the faster route of not blowing out my hair. Sometimes I won't check e-mail or not wear as much makeup, or not wash my hair and throw it in a bun. But usually if I'm doing the full morning routine, this is it."
Occupation: Senior manager for integrated marketing, People magazine
Up: 7:05 a.m.
Shower: 17 minutes "I use so many products, it's a joke. I have face products, I have bath gel, I have exfoliants, I have foot products, it's hysterical."
Hair styling: 3:00 - she has a whole routine to manage the frizzing of her curly hair.
Body lotion/etc.: 2:30 After the shower, she has three different body lotions: "firming, leg lotion and scented, for the upper body."
Breakfast/watch news: 14:00
Pick outfit/iron: 8:30
Brush teeth: 0:30
Makeup: 11:00 - also face lotions and gels.
Diffuse hair: 4:00 - dries her hair only in cold weather.
Out the door: 8:05 a.m.
Total time: 1 hour
"I don't think an hour is excessive. But I do a lot in that hour. I wish I could take more time in the morning. I think it starts your day off right."
There are many times in a day when I come across women who would otherwise look fantastic if they cut back on the amount of makeup that they used. Generally, the adage that well-done makeup is when people aren't aware there is makeup holds true.
However, there are certainly many makeup techniques or other things that women do that I think often makes them look better, depending on the circumstance. Cautious use of eyeliner, either on the outer 2/3 of their eye, or lightly applied around, can make a woman's eyes look larger and deeper than usual while not looking like a raccoon or unnatural if done properly. Similarly, judicious use of fairly neutral lipliner and lip gloss can accentuate a woman's features and add to the illusion of larger, plumper lips. Proper shades can accentuate cheek bones. Good use of foundation can smooth out skin, limit shine, minimize pores, and blend out blemishes.
Then there are more unnatural things that nevertheless look good in certain environments. I have to admit that a little bit of sparkle glitter looks nice around the eyes or on cheeks for formals or club nights, even if it gets on everything. Highlights that are colored in are decidedly unnatural, but when done well, they look damn good on people who would otherwise have monochromatic hair. Colored contact lenses can be a nice novelty to add more intense color to one's eyes.