For me, mascara is all about getting a pretty, natural look, in as little time as possible. As a toddler-mom, everything is about time. Mascara is one of the few types of makeup that can make a huge impact, without looking over-the-top, in seconds flat. In this stage of life, as ridiculous as it may seem, the seconds count.

The thought required counts as well.

I need a makeup routine that eats up as little of my brainpower as possible, improving my chances of avoiding decision fatigue later in the day. Here, mascara is an easy choice. There is no color to choose. There is no concern over clashing with clothing, or over or under-doing it. Mascara goes with everything. Done.

Below, I’ll outline how to maximize your mascara routine, something I’ve tested, and talked about with experts.

It may seem crazy, but I put on makeup every day. Even if I only spend five minutes, that adds up to about 30 hours a year. Almost a full workweek! Just thinking about that kind of time being wasted when I could be hanging with my family, or sleeping underlines how important it is to me to optimize that time.

Maximizing Your Routine

Let’s start on the back end, the removal. I have sensitive skin, including an especially tricky patch of eczema that pops up on my left eyelid when I least want it to. My dermatologist has made me swear off eye makeup remover because it’s too harsh for my overactive face.

How I Remove Mascara

For mascara removal, I use vaseline. I plop it copiously onto my eyelids and lashes, and wipe it clean with a cotton ball; a trick I learned from a friend. It works great, but I’ve noticed that expensive mascaras tend have better staying power.

Now in a lot of cases, that is what you want. You want your mascara to last all day.

I, personally, just don’t want it to take forever to remove. I also don’t want it to “last” as a grayish sheen on my lower eyelid for days after I attempt to take it off. I have my own all-natural, very dark undereye circles, thankyouverymuch.

This is where being conscious about the formula I’m using comes in.

My $5 Mascara Brand

After years of trial and error, I’ve found that the much less expensive drugstore mascara Maybelline Great Lash ($4) is a perfect performer. It lasts all day without smudging (unless I accidentally wipe or scratch my eye) and it comes off at night without too much fuss.

This mascara is no secret. Most beauty magazines recommend it as their budget workhorse.

Performance-wise it does a good job thickening and lengthening, but I’ve definitely seen more noticeable results with some of the pricier brands that claim to coat each lash, creating a false lash-like “tube” around each one…until, that is, I remembered a secret I learned in my 20’s—the business card trick. It takes about 20 seconds and makes any brand mascara look flawless.

How the 20-Second Business Card Trick Works

  1. Use your non-dominant hand to hold a business card up vertically behind your lashes.
  2. Use your dominant hand to swipe the mascara over those lashes, pressing them up against the business card as you coat.
  3. Make two or three swipes per section of lashes, swirling the brush back-and-forth as you pull up.

This allows the brush to coat each lash fully, without the lashes being able to escape!

With that kind of access to every lash, even a drugstore superstar delivers dramatic results with very little time invested.

This story originally appeared on the author’s site PowerSuiting.com.