When it comes to wearing makeup at the office, women are often caught in such a double-standard of being expected to put ourselves together in a way that is pleasant for other people to see. Yet, if we are perceived as wearing too much makeup, others may assume that we are trying too hard to appear attractive. But on the flip side, if others think that we are not putting any effort into our appearance by wearing no makeup, we are considered lazy, or, ironically, workaholics who aren’t taking the time to take care of ourselves, or not feminine which is also looked down upon. This is in stark contrast to the social pressures of social and grooming expectations of men who are considered perfectly appropriate with no makeup much less any skincare or hair product to fix themselves up.
While it is not fair that there is such a high standard regarding our appearance at work, there is a happy medium and sure-fire ways to enhance our appearance while having more control over the way others perceive our efforts and image at the office.
Below are some highly recommended cruelty-free and eco-friendly beauty products that will not only get you recognized positively at work but will also impress people when you tell people about how much you support ethical cosmetic testing, safer ingredients, and the environment by purchasing and wearing them.
When it comes to the brows, this can be one of the easiest ways to create a sense of authority in your look. Some people only do their brows and put on a little lip balm, and they’re done. If you want to convey a sense of structure, organization, and having a definite direction in life, defining your brows with a slight arch will give you this kind of impact. Just be sure to brush through and blend the color with your brows so that the edges aren’t too sharp and color too dark. Otherwise, you’ll look like you’re ready to go on stage or possibly perpetually angry for the day. If you want to seem friendlier and lighthearted, you can use a lighter brow color and soften the arch to something more rounded than arched.
A great brow product for work is: DAB Herb Makeup’s Organic Eyebrow Grower with Tint $14.50
Mascara can be another product that can go too far too soon if you’re not careful. When choosing a mascara to wear to work, it’s best to stick with brown if you have lighter skin and black if you have tan to deeper skin. Concerning performance and formulation, a lengthening formula will appear less intimidating while still offering definition. Using a thickening formula can be more prone to clumping and looking sloppy or turn into the spidery-lash effect if you pile it on too much.
An awesome lengthening mascara is: Mineral Fusion Lengthening Mascara $18.99
Foundation is best left for work dinners, special events, and company headshots. For everyday work life, a buildable sheer to medium coverage foundations is best and healthiest for the skin. You don’t want to become so unrecognizable without it that your boss and co-workers think you look better with tons of makeup than you at your natural best. And you don’t want to appear like someone who is high-maintenance, requiring hours in the mirror to create the perfect face before getting to work. Plus, it is easier on the pores and keeps your skin breathing more which is healthier and a good prevention against acne from cosmetics.
A great buildable foundation is: Sappho Cosmetics Essential Foundation $54
Concealer can be helpful to neutralize dark circles and make you appear more awake and alert. This will make it more pleasant and inviting for people to look you in the eyes when you’re talking and not secretly feel sorry for your or wonder if you’re able to balance out your work with your personal life and getting enough sleep.
An effective and gentle concealer is: DAB Herb Makeup Petal Concealer $18
Blush & Contour
In general, blush and contour aren’t very necessary for work and are considered extra steps that may be more appreciated if you work in the beauty and fashion industries. Otherwise, it could be considered a little too vain to go to the efforts of applying these products in any other industry unless there is a special event or photo shoot happening. If you’d feel more comfortable wearing it, use a light hand and stick with neutral blush tones such as a natural peach.
To dab and go, try the Mineral Fusion 3-in-1 Color Sticks $19.99
Lipstick is probably the most tricky makeup item to wear to work because there are so many shades and finishes to choose from and it can be tempting to want to wear the most vibrant color to show off your personality or your taste in quality pigmented makeup. So, if you’re at a loss for what type or color of lipstick to wear or just want a starting point to jump off from, here are some general guidelines for work appropriate makeup across the board:
- Avoid grayish tones as they may give the effect of being too severe, serious, or gothic, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
- Unless it is for a holiday party or other thematic event, the most shimmery and vibrant colors of the rainbow might not give the most favorable impression. At work, it is important to appear responsible and down-to-earth and until people get to know you, they only know how you look. Then, perhaps after you’ve proved your merit and competency, you can start to venture out into a more colorful territory.
- Most shades of pink and mauve are appropriate, especially if they have a warmer and beige/brownish undertone.
- Here is a beautiful mauve/pink lipstick you can wear to work: Etherealle Matte Lipstick in Cherub $9.95
- All shades of brown and nude are appropriate. Though, if you’re going to wear a nude lipstick, it will be best served by framing it with a darker shade of a lip liner to keep the definition of your lips intact and avoid looking too ghost-like.
- If you’re going to wear a red to work, it’s best to choose a slightly muted, brownish shade of red. The earthier tone will still give you some drama and glamorous effect while still conveying a sense of authority and groundedness.
- A beautiful brownish red to convey power and authority in a grounded way without seeming seductive: Gabriel Cosmetics Lipstick in Currant $17.60
Hope these work-appropriate makeup tips have been insightful and help guide you on your next interview or promotion at work!
Terry Alabata is a 7-year experienced makeup artist and hairstylist and the Bay Area’s premiere beauty artist specializing in eco-friendly and cruelty-free makeovers. Her passion for makeup and hair grew from a desire to find safe, hypoallergenic options for people with sensitive skin and eczema, like her.