Good Morning, Beautiful

Face it, your morning beauty routine's a drag. So we enlisted four experts — morning-show anchors Carole Chandler, Danita Harris, Tracy McCool and Allison Alexander — who reveal their tips for looking good, their remedies for beauty emergencies and what t

Imagine dragging yourself out of bed during the wee hours of every workday morning and transforming yourself, without the help of a professional stylist or makeup artist, into a picture-perfect vision of beauty: bright-eyed, smiling, fashionably dressed, ready to go on the air and greet thousands of Clevelanders before the sun even rises.

To those of us who have more bad-hair days than good, it sounds like a physical impossibility — or, at the very least, a dicey task no sane woman would want to undertake. But the female anchors on Cleveland's local morning shows call it a job. And they do it with surprising ease.

Let's find out exactly how they manage to do it.

Alison Alexander

Wake up: 2:30 a.m.
Commute: 20 minutes
At the station: 3:30 a.m.("I don't have to be there until 4, but I go in early.")
On the air: 5 a.m.

What she really looks like in the morning: "My husband always says I look beautiful. Of course, we've been married seven years. He's been practicing that line for a while."

Time needed to style hair (dry): 5 minutes at station. "My hair is naturally curly. I only have to do it a couple of times a week — and it stays. But if it's humid, watch out. I look like Medusa."

Hairstyling tools/products: Kerastase Oleo-Relax Anti-Frizz Serum, ceramic flatiron, curling iron, Joico Brilliantine Finishing Pomade (on extremely humid days), ARTec Texture Spray

Time needed to do makeup: 10 minutes at the station

In the makeup bag: Dermablend Cover Creme SPF 30 (color: Honey Beige); MAC Studio Fix pressed powder (color: NW30); MAC Bronzing Powder (color: Golden) ("I often wear bronzer on my cheeks instead of blush"); Lancôme Définicils High-Definition Mascara (color: Black); MAC eyeliner pencil (color: Gray Utility); MAC powder eye shadows (colors: Blackberry and Quarry); Cover Girl powder eye shadow (color: Midnight Jazz)

Must-have(s): Cherry-flavored Chapstick, MAC lipliner (color: Spice). "It doesn't necessarily look like I have lipstick on, but my lips have color."

Puffy-eye remedy: Under-eye application of Oil of Olay Age-Defying Gel, a few drops of Visine and a blast of water from a spray bottle — all straight from the refrigerator. "By the time I get to work — no more bags!"

In the closet: Size-2 suits, jackets and pants from Georgiou, Petite Sophisticate, Tahari, Ann Taylor and Banana Republic

"Fat" clothes: "When I wear that perfect suit, it makes me feel like I look good."

Caffeine fix: A can of Diet Pepsi before she goes on the desk, but only if she's really tired. "I am so hyper. Who knows what I'd be like if I drank coffee before the show?"

Breakfast: A continuous snack — perhaps a granola bar, a bowl of oatmeal, an apple, an orange, handfuls of almonds — that begins after she gets to the station

Worst morning ever: "Twice I have gone to work and forgotten my makeup. When I did it here [at Channel 19], one of the producers had some makeup I could borrow. I looked like a totally different person — bright blue eyeliner, hot-pink blush. It was a mess, but I had something on. When I did it at a station in Texas, viewers saw me au naturel because nobody had anything. There was nothing else I could do."

Carole Chandler

Wake up: 1:45 a.m.
Commute: 16 to 17 minutes
At the station: 3 a.m.
On the air: 5 a.m.

Back-up alarm: Lionel train clock, complete with train that no longer goes round-and-round on a landscaped track and conductor's voice that bellows, "Good morning. All aboard!" when she hits the "Off" button.

What she really looks like in the morning: "Our old executive producer used to say I looked like a 14-year-old boy. I would come in in a fleece top, hair pulled back, little to no makeup on."

Time needed to style hair (wet): 7 minutes at home. "I try to make sure that the roots are dry. That'll give your hair a little lift."

Hairstyling tools/products: Blow dryer, round brush, Sebastian Shaper Plus hairspray. "I used to use Rave, but it broke my hair off."

Time needed to do makeup: 10 minutes at the station

In the makeup bag: MAC Select Tint tinted moisturizer (color: NC40) ("I don't like feeling like I have makeup on — it drives me crazy."); MAC Studio Finish loose powder (color: W10); Maybelline Great Lash mascara (color: Blackest Black); Bobbi Brown and MAC powder eye shadows in various shades of brown; Cover Girl powder eye shadow (color: Snow Blossom); Blistex lip balm; Bobbi Brown lipstick (color: Raspberry Shimmer); Bobbi Brown lip gloss (color: Lilac)

Must-have(s): Bobbi Brown powder blush (color: Pale Pink), Physicians Formula concealer (color: Yellow)

Hydrating ritual: Before bed, she slathers on Burt's Bees Original Royal Jelly Eye Cream and Burt's Bees Moisturizing Night Cream or The Carrot Nutritive Night Cream. "They make me look so much better than I feel."

In the closet: Shoes from Designer Shoe Warehouse; size-4 petite pants from BCBG; size-2 shirts from Banana Republic, The Gap and Ann Taylor

"Fat" clothes: Black pants purchased at Limited Express. "They're cheap, they look fine and they have a little give."

Caffeine fix: Four to six cans of Diet Coke a day, the first after she gets to the station. "Tell your readers not to write me any letters about how Diet Coke is bad for you. It's my own gullet!"

Breakfast: Bowl of Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats and a glass of orange juice after she showers

Most "interesting" morning commute: "I tend to see the drinking crowd heading home later in the week. One day, I picked up two drunk girls and drove them home. It was freezing out and they were walking in the middle of the street, coming from the area pubs. Right as I went to go drop them off, the one girl said, 'Are you on the news?' "

Danita Harris

Wake up: 2:30 a.m. (2:45 a.m. after hitting the "snooze" button twice)
Commute: 15 to 20 minutes
At the station: 4 a.m.
On the air: 5 a.m.

What she really looks like in the morning: "Chief meteorologist Mark Johnson [who once pulled the early shift] used to say I looked like Marlon Wayans from the Wayans Brothers when I would walk in here in the mornings. Marlon Wayans has this really wild hair — it's kind of all over the place. Sometimes, I wake up and my hair looks quite special."

Time needed to style hair (dry): 10 minutes at the station

Hairstyling tools/products: Two curling irons, one with a larger barrel and one with a smaller barrel; Mizani Hair Sheen; Paul Mitchell light-hold hairspray

Time needed to do makeup: 10 minutes at the station

In the makeup bag: Black Opal stick foundation (color: Nutmeg), MAC powder eye shadows (colors: Mulch, Honesty and Rice Paper), MAC and Cover Girl eyebrow pencils, Prestige lipsticks, L'Oreal lip glosses

Must-have(s): Black Opal loose powder (color: Medium). "I wouldn't want to ever be on television looking shiny."

Dark under-eye circle remedy: Brush of Black Opal loose powder (color: Light) under the eyes right after applying foundation. "It soaks in by the time I'm finished doing my makeup and lightens [the area] up a little bit."

In the closet: Size-8 suits by Tahari, Kasper, Jones New York and Valerie Stevens ("She's good if you have hips and a little extra in your rear end.") purchased at Kaufmann's, Dillard's and K&G Warehouse in North Olmsted

What to wear? "I'm a mood dresser. If I'm having a real low-energy day, I may wear something bright, something that I really like, to pick my energy up a little bit."

"Fat" clothes: Pants with an elastic waistband

Caffeine fix: Three cups of coffee with cream and sugar, the first on the set during the 5 a.m. hour. "I only can usually drink one cup during the show," she says. "It's really tough to use the ladies' room."

Breakfast: Quaker Express Golden Brown Sugar oatmeal from the vending machine after the show. "I cut back on the Cheez-Its and adopted the oatmeal because it wasn't working for my hips and thighs."

Worst morning ever: "One time, I woke up and it was 4:20. I was like, Oh, my God! I had to literally jump up, get myself together, get out of the house and make airtime at 5 a.m. When you are on the air, the one thing you never want to do is miss your airtime."

Tracy McCool

Wake up: 2 a.m.
Commute: 28 minutes
At the station: 4 a.m.
On the air: 5 a.m.

What she really looks like in the morning: "I've got the Kramer look going on."

Time needed to style hair (wet): 15 to 20 minutes at home

Hairstyling tools/products: Infusium 23 Leave-in Conditioner (to combat frizz), Aquage Fortifying Ultra Gel (to add volume to her baby-fine hair), blow dryer and round vent brush, Aquage Transforming Spray

Time needed to do makeup: 15 minutes at home

Beauty nemesis: Her monthly zit. "You tell yourself, Don't pick at it! But I do. I just can't help it. And before I know it, I've got this big, red blob on my chin."

In the makeup bag: MAC stick foundation (color: NC20), Lusso Professional Dual Active Powder Foundation (color: Dune), MAC and Lusso Professional eye shadows, Lusso Professional mascara (color: Lush Black), MAC lip pencil (color: Half Red), MAC cream lipstick (color: Sentimental) MAC Lip Glass (color: Oyster Girl)

Must-have(s): Oil of Olay Active Hydrating Beauty Fluid ("I have very, very dry skin."), MAC Studio Finish concealer (color: NW25) ("It'll cover up anything.")

Puffy-eye prevention: "I stay away from salty foods. I try to stay away from eating right before I go to bed. And I make sure that I always have at least one glass of water before I go to bed."

In the closet: Size-4 and -6 suits, jackets, skirts and pants by Kasper, Anne Klein, Ann Taylor, Nine West, Jones New York and Valerie Stevens

What to wear? "The day before, [co-anchor] Wayne Dawson and I will talk about what color we're wearing. Wayne has every color of tie under the sun."

"Fat" clothes: Black jacket and black pants. "I also have this really pretty chocolate-brown silk suit. It kind of stretches with you."

Caffeine fix: Two to three cups of coffee — "half decaf, half regular" — with cream on the set. "I used to go through a pot of coffee a day. But I started cutting down ever since I started the morning shift. It just makes you too jittery."

Breakfast: Thirty-two ounces of water before she gets into work; a bologna-and-cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread and an apple or celery/carrot sticks after the show. "I can't stomach anything at 2 o'clock in the morning."

Worst morning ever: "I did have one really, really bad morning last winter. I was running late to begin with — I was putting my makeup on in the car — and it took me over an hour to get into work. There was so much snow. Finally, a snowplow got on the highway and I just stayed right behind it all the way to work. I got there 10 minutes before air."

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