The Simple Makeup Rule: Wear It!

2 Mar


Yves Saint Laurent 'Rouge Volupte' Lipstick, Sephora, $34

One rule for the chic, professional woman is (repeat after me) always wear makeup in the office.  I know, I know…Some of you may hate makeup and, if you have the glowing, flawless, blemish-free skin of a newborn babe, then perhaps you can get away with wearing no makeup (and if you are so blessed, please, please, please share your invaluable beauty secrets with us, the less fortunate beings that we are).  Most of us, however, were realistically (whether we want to face it or not) just not blessed with the ageless appearance of a goddess, so we must do a little extra to get that polished look that’s office-ready.   Also, keep in mind:  even if you are enjoying refreshment from a seemingly-eternal fountain of youth, younger-looking women often look intern-young when they go bare-faced to the office; makeup can add sophistication to your look.

Many women suffer from serious fatigue because we juggle so much – we’re not only professionals, but we take on countless other roles including volunteer, mom, wife/partner, community activist, faithful friend, and the list goes on.  Nevertheless, to remain successful in our careers, we have to summon up enough energy to drag our rear ends out of our beds and to our desks each morning (with the help of strong, caffeinated beverages, of course). 

While many of you definitely have legitimate reasons for being utterly exhausted (we know we do), appearances still matter in the workplace.  You do not want to bump into your boss first thing in the morning, looking like you just got hit by a freakin’ Mack truck; rather, you want to look excited to be arriving at the office (even if you’re not) and ready to take on the next high-profile  assignment (even if you’re not).  Thank goodness, makeup can help you in the looking-excited-and-ready-to-work department even on days when your mind has checked out and your body is longing to be lounging in Maui.

Now, ladies, don’t get us wrong.  We are by no means telling you to cake layer upon layer of brightly-hued makeup onto your faces; showing up at work looking like a clown is right up there with looking like you got hit by a Mack truck.  In our opinion, the best office look is a natural look (however, Forbes Woman says bold makeup can be office-appropriate if you know how to work it; we just don’t trust ourselves with the bold look for the office). 

If you’re not sure how to achieve the best natural look for you, get thee to your nearest department store where you can seek counsel from a consultant at your preferred makeup counter.  Also, once you’ve got the right makeup in your bag, please try to find time in your hectic day to touch up; smudged eyeliner, smeared lipstick and greasy skin do not convey energy and enthusiasm, my friends.

We are interested in knowing our readers’ and friends’ top five office makeup essentials.  Our top five office makeup must-haves are (1) a good concealer to hide those dark circles from getting five hours or less of sleep; (2) a foundation to give our skin a smooth, flawless finish; (3) a colorless blot powder to control shine throughout the day; (4) a lipstick that is not necessarily nude but that complements our skin tone without looking goth, vampish, or punk-rockish; and (5) mascara to give our eyelashes a lift and eyes a pop.

While taking inventory of our bulging makeup bags, we realized that we have contributed way too much of our income to MAC Cosmetics and need to broaden our horizons a little (while we’ve never actually tried the YSL lipstick pictured above, we feel compelled to because its packaging is oh-so-pretty).  Below, in order of preference, are the five pieces of makeup we’d choose (knowing what we know today) if we were stranded on an island with no other makeup (thank goodness we’re not because we’re major PJs (product junkies)):

MAC Select Sheer SPF15 Foundation,, $26

MAC Studio Finish SPF 35 Concealer,, $16.50

MAC Lipstick,, $14

Our favorite shade of MAC lipstick is ‘Fetish’ (a brown with a hint of shimmer) (not the color shown – we’re not bold enough to wear this red to the office). 

MAC Zoom Lash,, $13

 While we must admit that we also adore DiorShow Iconic Mascara, at $27 a pop, we’ve scaled down our taste to the $13 MAC Zoom Lash since, in our view, they give about the same effect (we tried one product on one set of lashes and one on the other and could hardly tell the difference, but we may need glasses). 

MAC Blot Pressed Powder,, $22

 We would love to hear about your office makeup essentials; perhaps you can provide a more diverse selection of product brands and convince us to venture away from MAC! 

And, last but not least, thanks to our dear friend Terri for inspiring us to write this post about office makeup!


9 Responses to “The Simple Makeup Rule: Wear It!”

  1. Terri March 2, 2010 at 5:42 pm #

    Hmm – my essentials for everyday:
    Loreal Voluminous Mascara
    MAC Blot Pressed Powder
    Black Opal Foundation (gave me the perfect match)
    MAC Patina eyeshadow (layered over MAC Groundwork Paint pot)
    MAC Viva Glam VI gloss

    I’d also recommend hiring the services of a trusted makeup artist to do a foundation match. They often have all of the foundations known to man in their wonderful kits and can introduce you to brands you may not have selected on your own. This has saved me lots of $ on bad foundation matches.

  2. Terri March 2, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    But what do you all keep in your makeup bag that you take to work? I’ll admit to not being adept at the touching up part 😦

  3. Megan March 2, 2010 at 7:49 pm #

    I’m generally don’t wear makeup to work, but I’m a 3L and should probably consider adding the extra step.

    However, on the occasions that I do wear makeup, Clinique is my favorite for concealer, foundation, and powder. For eyeshadow, I’ll go a little cheaper so I have more options–L’Oreal is usually pretty good. For lips, I usually use nude/peachy gloss (but not one that’s TOO glossy!); I’ve had success with Covergirl and Victoria’s Secret for those.

    Oh, and mascara — definitely Clinique! 🙂

  4. JD Chic March 2, 2010 at 8:29 pm #

    Terri, I have two makeup bags for work – a small one that I take in my purse to the office and a larger one that I leave in the car (just in case I have an after-work emergency and need to do more than just a touch-up). Truth be told, there are many mornings when I’m running late, don’t have time to do my makeup before leaving home, and end up using the larger bag to put on all my makeup after parking at my son’s daycare for drop-off. Let’s just say that the bag that stays behind in the car is packed to the max with both essentials and non-essentials. The smaller bag that I take in my purse to the office contains blot powder, 1 lipstick, 1 lip gloss, a lip pencil and my favorite eye shadow quad.

  5. cornerofficechic March 2, 2010 at 8:35 pm #

    Megan, we didn’t concern ourselves much with makeup in law school either (and while studying for the bar exam? Forget about it!). In fact, we broke every rule for being chic while in law school. We saved our best appearance for dates, moot court, Spring Break, etc.

  6. J March 2, 2010 at 11:27 pm #

    I have most of these, but never use them. I am a doctoral student who barely leaves the house these days. Glamour has gone far to the back-burner, for now. So I don’t really have a true make-up bag. The only make-up I carry in my purse is MAC lip moisturizer and at least 4 different MAC glosses. My favorite glosses are “Get Rich Quick” Dazzleglass, “Goldenspot” Lipgelee, and “Viva Glam VI. The only other make-up I do at the moment is an eyeliner from CVS (who knows what brand), MAC eyebrow gel (my brows are wild and the gel holds them in place all day–I love it!!), and sometimes I do MAC mascara. I want to do eyeshadow, but I haven’t quite figured out the technique. Since I don’t get much sleep these days, I probably should dig out my concealer. Thanks for the great tips ladies!!!

  7. dcm58 March 3, 2010 at 11:19 am #

    I discovered this blog through corporette and love it! thank you ladies for offering additional thoughts on looking professional at the office.

    I am in law and agree that makeup is essential. there is another lawyer here in her early 30s that really does have the beautiful face that doesn’t need makeup, but she always looks so young and internish. She needs eyemakeup and/or lipstick to make her look more confident — even though I am jealous of her flawless complexion!

    my top five:
    – Bobbi Brown’s cream concealer kit (has concealer and loose powder)
    – Bobbi Brown’s sheer finish pressed powder
    – Mary Kay Ultimate Mascara. my sister sells mary kay and I have found, as much as I don’t want to like it, the mascaras and eyeshadows are every bit as good as the department store brands I previously bought — and MUCH cheaper!
    – Paula Dorf “lip colour cream.” I found this lipstick when my work had a “spa day” for the summer associates and I seriously love it. I always had a problem with dry lips but feel I must wear lipstick every day. this is SO moisturizing and never clumpy and wears for a very, very long time. it is well worth the 25 dollar price tag.
    – good makeup brushes. this isn’t really a makeup product, but it is essential. For years I didn’t see the point and used my fingers or sponges. no more. I apply my under eye concealer with TWO different brushes (one to apply and the other to blend) and it has made all the difference.

    I think I have the makeup thing okay. I don’t wear a lot — I wear eyeliner and eyeshadow most days, but do see it as an absolute must — but I think I look polished. I have even gotten compliments from other women!

    I have a major problem, though. My hair. it is thin and wimpy. I try the short cut, but it looks flat. long is wrong! 🙂 It ends up in a low ponytail 4 out of 5 days. is that bad?

  8. dcm58 March 3, 2010 at 11:20 am #

    oops – I mean I do NOT see eyeshadow and eyeliner as an absolute must, unless I am in court or going to an event.

  9. cornerofficechic March 3, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    Dcm58, we agree that makeup brushes make a tremendous difference in makeup application. We use MAC brushes and looooove them!

    As for hair, as long as your hair looks well-groomed and professional, it should be fine. A low ponytail or bun can actually give you a very sophisticated look if done right; the super-high ponytails are what can make women look like girly interns.

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