How Much Makeup Do You Wear to Work?

daily makeup for workHow much makeup do you wear on a daily basis to work?  How often do you change it up?  I saw a recent quote in the Huffington Post about how the editor of Elle Magazine says that makeup for work isn’t as necessary as you think, and it’s better to wear less when you’re young. We’ve talked before about what makeup to wear for interviewing, whether makeup makes you look more competent, and in this blog’s early days we had a really poorly constructed poll about what makeup you wear daily. So I thought today might be a fun open thread: what makeup do you wear on a daily basis? Are there days when you step it up at work — for example, will you wear more makeup if you’re giving a presentation or have a big meeting? Do you change your makeup on a daily basis, such as to better match your outfits? Do you change your makeup for the seasons? On the flip side, have you ever judged a coworker for her makeup choices?

For my $.02, I always consider my bare essentials to be curled eyelashes, blush, and concealer under my eyes — it’s a rare day when I leave the house without those on. For a daily makeup look, I usually wear (in addition to blush and concealer and curled eyelashes):
– eyebrow pencil
– eyeliner
– mascara
– lipliner
– lipstick

As for changing it up on a daily basis, I almost never change it, at least intentionally — I may grab a different blush in the morning, or end up with a smokier eye than intended because I screwed up my eyeliner, but the concept of matching my makeup to my outfit isn’t really something I do. I do change products over time as things run out or I fall into different ruts, and I do change products with the seasons (for example, right now switching from the powdered NARS Orgasm back to Benetint, and from liquid eyeliner back to a pencil). For a big meeting, or when I was working on a trial, the biggest change I’ll make to my makeup is to make it more long lasting — I’ll use a waterproof eyeliner or an extended wear lipstick like Infallible — but it’s my way of removing makeup from the list of things to worry about so I can focus better on the meeting or whatever.

As for judging coworkers… yeah, I’ll admit I’ve done it, at least in terms of first impressions. Some people (with very made-up faces) just seemed vain, like they prioritized makeup and their appearance over other things… other people (with horrible lipstick colors, repeated day after day) seemed lacking a certain level of judgment. Like I said, though, these were just first impressions — but I do think makeup matters in the workplace.

Readers, your turn — how much makeup do you wear to work? Do you change it up? How does makeup affect your views of your coworkers?

(Pictured above: a few of my current lipstick choices: NARS Shrinagar, Clinique Lovely Honey, Infallible Barely Nude, Revlon Colorstay Supermodel, L’oreal Infallible Nutmeg.)



  1. Usually just lipstick (actually I use a lipstain – Revlon Just Bitten) and mascara.

    • Me too. NO makeup execept when I go into court when the manageing partner MAKES me wear red lipstick and red nail polish that matche’s.

      The manageing partner says that the JUDGE like’s it when I have red, b/c it is very contrasteing with my blond hair and his first wife had blond hair. I said why does he care if he is NOT married to her any more, and the manageing partner say’s he STILL hold’s out a TORCH for her.

      What does a torch have to do with me? I asked and the manageing partner says just wear the red lipstick and nailpolish. It is the onley makeup that he reimburese’s me for so I wear it. YAY!!!!

    • Lady Harriet :

      I use the same lipstain, and usually nothing else. I love that the color stays put and feels just like lip balm. If I have something big I might put on a bit of powder foundation as well to minimize the appearance of blemishes. I have freckles, so anything heavy looks really unnatural on me, and I’ve never found a concealer that really matches my skin and actually covers pimples. I like the look of eye makeup on others, but not on myself except for some very occasional light brown shadow. Makeup is just one of those things I never really got the hang of.

      • Lady Harriet :

        Forgot to add, I use three colors of the lipstain–red, dark pink, and hot pink. I have a few other lipsticks that I wear every once in a blue moon too.

      • I have Dawn (a coral-y pink) and Forbidden (a deeper shade). I like that it doesn’t rub off on my coffee cup. I wouldn’t say it lasts me all day, if I’m being diligent I touch up after lunch, but it’s definitely better then most other lipsticks I’ve tried.
        I’m just not good at applying eyeliner, and find none looks better than a poorly done job!

      • anon in-house :

        Any good lipstain recommendations? All the ones I’ve tried (including Tarte and Revlon Bitten) just dry my lips out and/or create way too obvious and matte of a color. I prefer a glossier finish.

        • Korres lip butter, it’s not really a stain but they have multiple shades that last hours on your lips and they feel SO good!

    • I am 51 and I wear it all everyday. I wear foundation, loose powder, concealer, eyeshadow, blush, eyeliner, mascara and lip gloss. It makes me feel more confident, makes me feel better about myself and plus it’s still fun for me! It lets me be creative. I have been reading some forums lately and I see that a lot of women don’t wear makeup or they wear just a little. I don’t understand that ladies. Have some fun in your life. You don’t have to be serious all the time. I don’t wear makeup to look like a clown or to look whorish either. That’s not my style. I get many compliments on my makeup especially my eyes.

      • …and I don’t understand wanting to wear a full face of makeup every day. Wearing makeup makes me uncomfortable. I don’t like feeling like I am wearing a mask and my eyes get irritated. I’ve rarely gotten comments or compliments on my makeup, other than a few clueless [male] coworkers telling me I look tired or sick when I don’t wear it. Yes, I look “better” when I wear it, but I only wear it *for me* on special occasions. Every other day is just being professional and I dislike that standard, but I have to live in the real world, unfortunately.

        You do you, and I’ll do me!

      • It might be a generation thing, and not until I read Lori’s comment did I realize why some girls were so excited about some NoMakeUpMay facebook movement (you post pictures of you not wearing makeup to show your natural beauty, for the month of May). It is unfortunate that some think people not wearing makeup is not fun, and that you have to wear makeup daily esp a full-blown appearance altering, rather than enhancing one.

        I work in accounting firm as a tax lawyer and I am new, so maybe I will eat my words later. But on a normal day, I wear concealer, BB cream, mascara, blush, and eyebrown things to look awake, on a meeting day I wear some eyeliner to look MORE awake, and on a lazy friday when I am facing computer all day, I’d rather let my face breath without any cover-up.

  2. Random Threadjack. My friend and I were debating which personality types are attracted to different areas of the law. Have any of you all taken the MBTI personality test? What practice area do you work in? (e.g. INTJ in intellectual property). Are you happy with your work?

    • I’m an INTJ, and I’m a litigator. I do enjoy it. I much prefer it to more advisory/regulatory-type work. I like the researching and writing aspect of it more than managing others and having calls, large meetings, etc. I love analyzing legal issues and strategy with a small team, however.

      • This is basically me, except I was a litigator and left private practice because the managing others/having calls/large meetings was too much and the research and writing/analyzing legal issues was too little. I now am a staff attorney for a judge and spend all of my time on research/writing/analysis and am very happy.

      • I’m also an INTJ! Which is cool b/c we’re apparently the rarest of the MBTI types?

        But I’m not in law.

        • INTJ too – prosecutions, in a small, very self-directed office.

          • another INTJ :

            INTJ in transactional real estate. I loved clerking and thought it fit my personality to a T. I miss researching and persuasive writing as my primary focus.

        • anon in-house :

          INTJ in in-house regulatory work. It bores me to be honest, but it is a good field at the moment and pays the bills well enough so I can’t complain.

    • We’ve wiled away the odd slow afternoon at my office sorting our co-workers into Meyers-Briggs categories (and Harry Potter houses). We’re in a federal regulatory practice, and we’re mostly INTJs.

    • ENTJ here – practice in corporate/transactional where there’s a lot of collaboration on projects.

    • ENTP with a very high N

      I feel like I am at the flaky / conceptual end of the spectrum, which may be good because I deal with a lot of abstractions (tax / transactional practice; formerly litigation, which I loved because of the story-ness of cases).

    • momentsofabsurdity :

      I’m an ENFP and I work in marketing. I definitely am very passionate and enthusiastic, but tend to lose interest in things reasonably quickly.

      • momentsofabsurdity :

        Oh oops, didn’t realize this question was specifically about law.

      • I’m an INTJ and I work in marketing too. Kind of a weird fit, really. But I do a lot of writing, researching, editing and project managing. It’s a much less sales-y, social position than most marketing gigs.

    • I’m an ENFP and I fled litigation after 4 years. Now I’m a Fed and basically a law clerk to an Administrative Law Judge and I am much happier.

      • Good to know! ENFP looking to leave litigation and that sounds like a sweet gig.

        • Alaskalaw :

          Strange. I’m an ENFP and I just got back into litigation because I missed it so much. Was doing mostly admin law with the government; now I’m a prosecutor and I’m so much happier.

    • Alanna of Trebond :

      ENTJ–litigator, primarily Antitrust, IP

      • Solo Practitioner :

        ENTJ. I do criminal defense and family law, solo practice. A lot of counseling clients who are going through crises. And running my business.

    • ISTJ. Civil litigation.

    • INFP — nonprofit/legal aid attorney. probably not a big surprise there.

    • INFP = trying to be either a nonprofit attorney or in a small boutique private practice (i.e. underemployed, but actively looking)

      I once went to a workshop on MBTI and lawyer job searches. Apparently, 75% of all attorneys in the US have the T (as opposed to the F that I have) in their personality type.

    • I am an INTJ working at a microscopic commercial litigation firm. Although I used to think litigation was not for me (being that I prefer to think before I speak, if I must speak at all), it has turned out to be a great fit. However, I think this has more to do with the dynamic of my firm, which allows me to concentrate on the things INTJs generally prefer to do. I spend the vast majority of my time sitting in my quiet office writing, researching, thinking about strategy, gathering/analyzing/organizing information about the case, and generally plotting the other side’s demise, whereas my boss handles 98% of the oral arguments and communications with clients/opposing counsel. I do go to court and client meetings, but usually as wing-woman, which is fine by me. I think I could do just about anything in these conditions.

    • ENTJ — formerly a commercial litigator, and loved the research and analysis, but grew to hate discovery and the constant adversarial battle. Now I’m a trusts and estates/tax planning/probate administration lawyer, and I love what I do. (I also love school, so enjoyed getting my LL.M. in tax to make the switch.)

    • INFJ litigator. The stress and having to be “on” a lot are pretty hard on me, but I love the analytical aspects, and the times (too rare, but just enough to keep me going) when it feeds my idealism.

    • ENFJ here, which is funny seeing so many T’s who love law practice. I attribute my F-ness in large part to my decision to leave law practice and go into higher ed administration, which I LOVE. More people focused rather than data/bottom line focused.

    • MBTI Unreliable :

      OK, I’m going to be the buzzkiller here. I am a psychologist who specializes in measurement issues and the MBTI is fairly widely panned in professional circles for its lack of reliability. Studies suggest that up to 40% of people will change at least one of their categories in 6 months (note these are large studies, yes, maybe you haven’t changed but you don’t know if you will or won’t when taking it). There are measurement problems with the instrument that make it something you don’t want to use for serious career planning.

      If you just use it as a springboard to talk about job requirements and start conversations about fit, that is fine. Just take it with a couple grains of salt.

      • Are there reliable personality trait tests?

        • How do you mean reliable?

          Consistency of results is hard when day-to-day variations in mood/skill/outlook can affect elements, and when we all evolve over longer periods of time based on other experiences and practices. To that end, no test is going to be “reliable”.

  3. I wear concealer when necessary, lipstick, mascara, and sometimes eye shadow.

  4. I don’t usually change my makeup for work v. other occasions. I’ve always kept my make-up pretty toned down, with the goal of looking awake and put together, even if I might not be. I stick with a light foundation and concealer, natural-tone blush and eye shadow with a little eyeliner. I rarely ever wear lipstick or mascara, but for client meetings, I’ll change my normal chapstick for lipstick.

    Most of the other ladies in the agency I work for wear minimal make up as well.

  5. I always wear eye liner and under eye concealer. My under eye bags are terrifying.

    I’m very pale, so I’ll put bronzer on if I’m looking sickly or if I do have a big meeting

  6. BB cream and mascara for every day. I’ll use liquid or pencil eyeliner and a light swipe of shadow for days when I’m speaking or presenting to a group (or an interview).

  7. I look like the world’s most tired 10-year old without mascara and concealer, so I always wear those. Generally, I also wear a bb cream or Supernatural powder, a neutral eyeshadow, and eyeliner. I don’t really vary my look for work.

  8. I rarely wear makeup to work (it’s just not the culture of my female-owned, public interest, west-coast firm), unless it’s a day where I’m really tired and/or not feeling great. I find that “dressing up” more in those scenarios can help me feel more professional and alert.

    I do wear makeup in court and to important client meetings, meaning foundation, blush, eyeliner, brow pencil and mascara.

    However, Keihl’s clear lip gloss is a daily must.

    • How do you think the firm would react to someone wearing much more makeup than usual? Not necessarily the stagey examples of blue eyeshadow or false eyelashes, but full foundation and mascara etc.

  9. I think the amount of make up one wears can depend a lot on the person’s skin. I have very blotchy skin, so going without foundation is not an option for me, even on the weekends. So, to work I wear:

    concealer (one kind for redness and one kind for under my eyes)
    transluscent powder
    brow pencil
    eye liner
    lip stain

    • Going without foundation is always an option. Maybe it’s not your preference, but I don’t think we should banish people who don’t want to wear it.

      • Nobody’s banishing anyone for their makeup choices. L was just saying that *for her* it is not an option to go without foundation because *she* has blotchy skin. Read her first sentence to find out that she actually agrees with you that amount/types of makeup should be based on individual preference and skin qualities.

    • You are my makeup twin (minus the lip-stain). I can’t find one that actually stays. I’m an apply and forget it girl and nothing holds up after a few hours.

    • naijamodel :

      I know what you mean, L.
      I have moderate to severe adult acne, foundation is not an option for me.
      I wear – primer, foundation, concealer, eyebrow pencil, powder, mascara, blush, and some lip product – usually lipliner and lipstick.

    • I, too, have blotchy skin. I almost always wear foundation to work and a tinted moisturizer or BB cream on the weekends. On the rare occasions that I don’t wear foundation to work I tend to get comments from people who think I got sun over the weekend or something.

      I routinely wear foundation, mascara, a sweep of neutral eyeshadow and a thin line of black eyeliner. I add lip gloss that tends to wear off without replacement; if I’m heading to a meeting I may reapply a neutral gloss without looking. When I have a big meeting or event for work I typically add powder, blush (light) and a more defined eye. I also spend more time on my hair. I do feel more put together with makeup.

    • I wear exactly the same things that L wears minus the primer. It made my face feel sticky so I only wear it on my eyes. I have okay skin (not great, just okay) so I’m not trying to cover anything up. I’m just trying to make myself look better – “look good, feel good”. Besides, I love make-up. I love watching all the make-up videos online and trying it on myself. Who says you can’t hold a doctorate and secretly want to live in Sephora!

      • Try Porefessional primer from Benefit. I didn’t like primers either, but this one seems to really work.

        Also, if any of you have good recommendations for a full coverage foundation that won’t slide right off my face in a Southern summer, I would be much obliged.

        • Thanks for the tip! I’ll try that!

          As for full coverage…I’m looking for one myself. I would love to find a full coverage foundation that feels light but covers everything (or most things). I’ve bought the Korean brand BB creams from Amazon and they are great but not full coverage.

        • Student4life :

          I live in hot, humid South FL and have oily, acne-prone skin. I swear by MAC’s Pro Longwear Foundation. It’s the best foundation I’ve used that actually stays on all day, and I’m a makeup junkie who’s tried them all! Revlon Colorstay comes in a close second as a drugstore option (shade range isn’t great for those with cool or yellow undertones though) and Estee Lauder’s Double Wear is my third recommendation, but the texture is not quite as nice as MAC’s . The MAC Pro Longwear coverage is moderate to full and if you use a damp beauty blender sponge to apply, your face will look airbrushed and absolutely flawless (better than any MAC foundation brush).

  10. I wear eyeshadow/mascara and blush every day without fail. When I have a little more time or have a big meeting at work or plans afterwards, I’ll add a light foundation (love the Armani line!) and eyeliner.

    If I have a little more time in the morning, sometimes I’ll get more creative but I generally keep it pretty much the same for work most days. If I’m going out or have a date or something, I’ll get a little more creative with smoky eyes or a statement lip or something but generally my makeup is simple.

  11. I am naturally really blonde, so my eyebrows and eyelashes are completely white and invisible. I wear eyebrow pencil and mascara pretty much at all times because of that. How much other makeup I wear depends on my degree of laziness on a given day, but the max I put on in addition to those is eyeliner, eyeshadow, and a very light lipstick. I work at a small firm with all women, and no one else wears much makeup either, if they wear any. When I had summer jobs in big law though it seemed like (almost) all of the women wore a ton of makeup all the time. I’m not sure why there’s such a difference, but I definitely noticed it.

  12. Day to day, I usually do a BB cream, peachy cream blush, and neutral eye shadow/mascara. I only started doingc the BB cream recently and I like that it basically takes care of sunscreen and moisturizer for me, and helps my face just look a bit more polished than it would otherwise.

    I add eyeliner for days when I want to “step it up” and I usually put on lip gloss in the morning but tend to forget to reapply throughout the day. I do have lip balm sitting my desk so I tend to just refresh with that as the day wears on.

    As for judging others, not usually. Once in a while, if someone’s make up just looks horrible I guess I might think, “what was this person thinking?” but I don’t think that it’s the kind of thing I have ever given more thought to than that.

  13. For work I wear concealer under my eyes, bare minerals foundation, a light application of blush, eyeliner, mascara and chapstick. My skin tone is pretty uneven so I never go to work without makeup.

    I almost never change up my M-F routine, since it’s quick (10 minutes) and easy for me to do on autopilot in the mornings. In the winter when I’m a bit paler, I switch out my blush for a lighter color.

  14. Blair Waldorf :

    I wear makeup every day. I wear undereye concealer, a very light foundation powder (either bare minerals or MakeUp forever), light bronzer, blush, very neutral eyeshadow, light eyeliner, and mascara. For lips, I will use normal chapstick or chapstick with a tint.

    My routine is basically the same every day. When I look at myself closely in the mirror, I can barely tell I’m wearing makeup, which is my goal. I just look smoother and more awake. I have coworkers who do not use as much makeup on a day to day basis, and coworkers who go for a more dramatic take on makeup (like a noticeable lip color).

  15. I wear the same makeup every day (except on weekends I sometimes skip the eyeliner). I think it looks pretty natural, but it looks like a lot in list form:

    Brow pencil (to fill in weird sparse spots)
    Light tan/taupe eyeshadow
    Dark brown eyeliner, top lid only
    Curled lashes + black mascara
    Foundation primer
    Concealer where needed
    Translucent powder

    I sometimes wear blush, but my skin can be blotchy and I’m always hesitant to add extra redness. And I have a zillion lipsticks/lipglosses and will sometimes grab one in the morning, but I never reapply during the day because I am lazy and also drink a ton of water at my desk.

  16. Pretty much the same every day – takes less than 10 mins:

    Foundation or BB cream depending on the day – doubles as eyeshadow base
    Eyeliner, shadow, brow gel, mascara
    Swipe of chapstick – I rarely wear lipstick because my lips are naturally fairly pink and I hate wasting brain space on whether I need to reapply.

    If I’m running late, it’s concealer, brow gel, mascara and blush only.

  17. I wear:

    Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer

    So… sort of the whole nine yards, minus lipstick. I choose pretty neutral colors though.

    • I wear exactly the same as you do, but with Bare Minerals instead of tinted moisturizer. Only because it’s faster.

  18. CrimsonClover :

    I don’t really know why, but I feel so “strongly” about this topic: You’re entitled to wear/not wear whatever you want on your face, but I feel the unless you’re incredibly blessed with perfectly smooth and tone corrected skin and features that stand out on their own just the perfect amount, most women (and some men ;-) ) can use a little help in highlighting the good and de-emphasizing the maybe not so aesthetically pleasing. And in my opinion, that’s really what it comes down to; not necessarily comfort in your own skin, but comfort with knowing you’re putting your absolute best foot forward every day in how you present yourself (and confronting your “flaws” is a definite part of that). As Kat has attested, there’s judgment involved (I personally think there is no matter how you slice it), and for all those things out there we can’t “control”, better to use this one to your advantage.

    I think the KEY thing is not HOW MUCH makeup you wear, but how it’s applied and used… the best makeup jobs might involve 40 minutes and 40 products, but in the end 95% of people you encounter in a day if polled would say you wear minimal to no makeup typically. To me, that’s always the goal when it comes to work-related makeup: you, in the best light possible!

    FWIW, I wear a full face (concealer, foundation, bronzer contouring, blush, highlight, mascara (curled), eye shadow (and base), eyebrows, and usually bolder than not lips) EVERY SINGLE DAY (I have my mother to thank for the instillation of this daily ritual when I was just 12), yet anytime I’ve ever referenced off-handedly “putting on my makeup” or what have you I ALWAYS get a “But, you don’t really wear any makeup?!?!” or a “What are you talking about?”.

    …Granted, the same people would probably run away screaming if they saw me bare-faced, but hey, can’t fear what you don’t know!

    • Anonymous :

      totally agree that it is up to each person to decide and be happy with how much/how little they want to wear. I just find it really hard to believe that you use that much makeup and people think you don’t wear makeup though. I mean, eye shadow, mascara, and lipstick are all pretty obvious give aways.

      • CrimsonClover :

        Don’t wear MUCH makeup; as I’ve pointed out elsewhere things like mascara are obvious, yes, but compared to the actual amount of makeup I wear (especially when it’s easily 10+ more products than what I listed) most peole I’ve encountered, including family members and total strangers, are under the impression that I have INCREDIBLE SKIN, and not a skilled hand at applying makeup. I immediately inform them it’s the latter, and on numerous occasions I’ve been told they’d never have been the wiser had I not said anything.

        I actually recall one time in college washing my face in the dorm bathroom and a visiting girl not based on our floor commenting that she hadn’t a clue I wore any makeup when she saw me washing it away down the sink (it was obvious from the washcloth covered in color that something was coming off).

        If I didn’t do lipstick/lipgloss and mascara, I’d probably look totally bare-faced to most people except the most discerning of eyes…

        Also, this is in no way picking on anyone in particular, but this whole “eyeshadow” thing has come up more than once and it’s so… bizarre, to me. I assume people must think I mean like cakey blue pearlized shadow or something, but in some cases (and mine in particular), based on the shade and finish of the shadow it can be used to create or deepen a crease that isn’t there naturally and essentially form a more “normal” looking (casted) shadow on a puffy/droopy lid.

        So, in theory, if I or someone else did this all the time in the presence of the same group of people, there really wouldn’t be any indicator that it was makeup and rather just hte contouring of my face/eye……. unless of course I take a drink to the face and then “I’mmmmm Meltingggggggggg”, haha.

    • I have equally strong feelings in the other direction. I wear makeup sometimes, and think it’s fun to play around with. But I strongly believe it’s not something any woman is or should feel obligated to do, and that nobody is under any obligation to “put their best foot forward” appearance wise, or to tie that into their confidence levels if they don’t wish to. (You are obligated to adhere to professional dress norms; I don’t think makeup is part of that).

      The reason I think that is because making makeup a professional requirement is putting a tax on professional women’s time, attention, energy, and money that doesn’t exist for men. Especially given that women, as a group, already shoulder more than their share of responsibilities at home and that we also deal with double binds in the office that men don’t (“Am I acting too assertive or not assertive enough?”), I’m not willing to blindly accept that this is another one.

      And to be honest, in my experience, it isn’t. I know plenty of successful women who spend no time on makeup and minimal time worrying about their clothing. If you’re in certain fields, that may not be possible, but in some it is. Convincing ourselves that it isn’t does us no favors.

      • “making makeup a professional requirement is putting a tax on professional women’s time, attention, energy, and money that doesn’t exist for men” <– amen, sister!

        • You don’t owe anyone pretty.

        • CrimsonClover :

          I totally agree; it shouldn’t be a requirement. But then I guess that’s the difference between being an optimist and realist for me…

          • So realistically, it is a requirement?

            Realistically, do you also look like a bikini model? Because if not, then I’m worried you aren’t putting your best foot forward. Perhaps diet/exercise/plastic surgery?

            I recognize that was very snarky of me, but come on – where does it end? If you said that you love wearing makeup, it makes you look better and feel better, and you won’t apologize for it, then I’d absolutely be in your corner (and I don’t even wear makeup!). But it isn’t a “requirement” for anyone. Aesthetic “requirements” are a very slippery slope.

          • CrimsonClover :

            To the Anon directly below (for some reason I can’t find a REPLY button with your post)

            That is snarky. I’d just like to REITERATE the “for me” at the end of my post.

            Also, maybe you’re more realistic than you think; I thought it was established that EVERY BODY is a BIKINI BODY a while ago… :-)

          • So every body is a bikini body, but most faces “can use a little help in highlighting the good and de-emphasizing the maybe not so aesthetically pleasing”?


          • CrimsonClover :

            Note: Sarcasm.

            My point is (was) that you’re feeding into the “reality” you claim doesn’t exist with your comment about me being a bikini model. Many people today feel strongly that every body is a bikini body, yet you meant to use it as an example of unnattainability for most people in the work-place. The REALITY is that everyone’s got a different opinion and everyone (more or less) is judging everything they encounter, whether they want to admit it or not; non-use, use, over use of makeup and bikini-body readiness included.

          • CrimsonClover, regardless of whether or not an individual believes that “every body is a bikini body,” (which I certainly do), you can acknowledge that women are still told that a bikini body is a certain thing, which they are. Talking about the existence of a societal standard doesn’t equal endorsing it.

      • hellskitchen :

        I am with Em. Makeup may or may not be part of someone’s arsenal of things that help them “put their best foot forward” but it is not an absolute requirement. There are days when all the makeup in the world won’t help your confidence levels. I do wear some makeup but I also deliberately go without makeup frequently because I don’t want people to associate me with a full face of makeup all the time and I want to be able to feel confident even without makeup.

      • CrimsonClover :

        Also, in an effort to alleviate some of the tension it appears I’ve created, this too is apparently reality:

        Sometimes it ain’t pretty, no matter how much you try to cover it up!!!

      • To be fair, I put make-up in the grooming category. For example, a man may need to shave his face everyday to look “presentable” for business categories. I may need to cover the bags under my eyes for the same reason. Being presentable for work may take different things for different people.

        • Except that plenty of men do wear beards in the business world and do just fine, much as they have bags under their eyes and do just fine. A woman with facial hair, on the other hand, absolutely has to shave it (or else face enormous social pressure), and is also told that covering bags is part of “good grooming.”

          I mean, don’t get me wrong, I spend plenty of time adhering to these social conventions, just like most people. But I really don’t think we should pretend the requirements placed on women aren’t much higher than on men, or that that doesn’t basically suck.

          • I would argue that plenty of people participate in some form of ‘business necessary’ grooming. For certain professions, you have to look a certain way. My point was that men and women have to abide by that rule. Men may have less time invested (shaving was an example, but beard maintenance, etc). You can take it as far as you as an individual want to. If I don’t want to cover the bags under my eyes, I don’t. If I feel like it, I do. The requirement is that you show up and are clean and presentable for whatever profession you work in.

          • Sure, everyone has to look professional. My whole point was that the requirements are more stringent for women then for men, and this is a bad thing.

          • Anonymous :

            I had a male roommate. He wore makeup – just a little foundation here and there. Bet he isn’t the only man who wears makeup either.

          • Anonymous :

            Men have to wear a jacket and tie no matter how hot it is outside. I can wear a dress to court if I want.

          • Women with facial hair….my boss’s boss’s boss’s (president of my workplace) is an older but very accomplish woman. When I last talked to her, I couldn’t help but to notice that she had a lot of hair under her chin (almost like a beard). Do you guys see anything wrong with this? I do but can’t explain why.

        • I strongly disagree that a make up requirement for women is sexist. Look, makeup is supposed to reflect health and youth. Glowing skin, flushed cheeks, bright eyes etc. A lot of the men in the office have that too. They get it through shaving, going to the gym and spa, buying expensive moisturizers, and running marathons and eating well.

          Women have the option of doing these things OR putting makeup on to simulate these qualities.

          • Jessica Glitter :

            Yeah…I run marathons. And I still wear make up. Being doesn’t guarantee a perfect healthy glow and complexion. Come to think of it, I wear makeup WHILE running marathons. Because I like makeup.

        • Yeah, I’m going to call BS on the idea that it’s a professional requirement that men eat well, buy expensive moisturizers, go to the spa, or run marathons in order to be successful. I’m sure there are specific industries where that’s the case, but on the whole? Not so much.

      • Couldn’t have said it better myself. I work in the machinery industry, and appearance is always secondary to competence (I have never met someone before corresponding with them by email and phone for ages, so meeting someone is usually mostly about putting a face to a name). Since it’s a male-dominated industry (and all of the women I work with are either junior to me or in support departments, like accounting), I try to convert the male standard of appearance to female in terms of daily and weekly effort.

        I personally don’t wear makeup (but do apply moisturizer/sunscreen each morning), and my wardrobe is based on “grab a pair of pants, a shirt, and a sweater/blazer” (which puts me at a step more formal than most of my office). I’m fortunate that my hair is pretty low-maintenance – brushing and pulling it back into a ponytail, braid, or bun takes about 3 minutes. I wash it twice a week, which adds an extra 10 minutes to the morning routine for wash/condition/brush/”style”.

        I tend to question the priorities of people who have overly polished appearances (specifically hands and faces), male or female. Wouldn’t you rather be doing something interesting with your time?

      • I work in Corporate Finance and wore no or minimal makeup. When I got promoted the partner asked that I look more sofisticated, wearing more makeup. I already dressed formally, and have good skin and coloring. I like to feel natural and am not a fan of a more heavy made up face, so this comment by my boss upset me. I don’t know why I have to “put on a face” to look professional. I’m considering increasing my daily makeup routine to include liner and foundation, so my appearance is not something they can complain about, but I can honestly say that this pressure to be made up is something that really got on my nerves.

    • East Cost Anon :

      I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum. I put my absolute best foot forward every day without a stitch of makeup, just some Blistex for dry lips.

    • I can see your makeup :

      No, those people are being polite. It is the same as when a co-worker mentions a diet and you say “But you don’t need to lose weight!” – because what else DO you say?

      It’s your face. It’s your choice whether (or not) to wear makeup. But even very natural, neutral makeup looks like makeup. It isn’t bad, or good – it just is.

      • Some people are also just really unobservant. Also, I think people who wear makeup are more likely to notice it than people who don’t. If you wear makeup on a regular basis it’s pretty obvious who has evened out their skin tone, covered up spots and circles, etc. because they’re used to doing the same thing on their own face.

      • CrimsonClover :

        As I stated at the very beginning of my post, you’re (meaning women { and men } ) entitled to wear/not wear whatever you want: I ‘m not looking to incite controversey and am simply stating my opinion on that matter.

        And no, they’re not necessarily being polite. If you really know what you’re doing and take the time and energy to find the right products/colors, you can look like you’re not really wearing much (besides the obvious things like mascara that’s signifcantly darker/textured than regular lashes and lip colors that are unnatural). …People I’m talking about don’t hold back for s*it, so I doubt they were placating me unnecessarily.

      • Anonymous :

        Yeah. Totally your choice and I love the way some women do their make up, but everyone knows you wear makeup. I do too- no judgment or anything. But it’s very obviously when people are wearing eye shadow or mascara, etc

      • Nah, not always – like Jill says, it’s probably those who wear makeup who totally notice when others are wearing makeup, even “natural.” But for many people (often men), a natural face is believed to be a no-makeup face. There was an article recently about Jennifer Lawrence’s “almost no makeup face” at some awards show, and then another article pointed out that actually she was wearing foundation, highlighter, under-eye concealer, lip gloss, brow powder, and a couple other things. And I’ve heard plenty of stories from women who one day dressed up their usual makeup routine and had men say “You look better with no makeup!” when actually the other look the guys are referencing does include makeup. What this sadly means is that for women, it’s pretty time and money consuming just to hit the “bare natural” acceptable look.

        • So as someone who usually doesn’t wear makeup, my experience has been it’s less that you have to wear makeup to have the “bare natural” acceptable look and more that people get used to how they normally see you. (And trust me, it’s not that I’m somehow more naturally gorgeous than other people at all.) If you normally wear subtle makeup, people will assume that’s your natural look; if you don’t, they won’t think you’re a heinous troll – they’ll just get used to the way you look without makeup. Yeah, I’m sure there are differences and yadda yadda yadda, but it is not actually that drastic in the end to not wear makeup on a day-to-day basis.

    • I don’t wear makeup to work anymore (mainly out of laziness), but I don’t disagree. People absolutely judge you on your appearance and I do think my appearance would be improved if I went back to my old workday routine of foundation, concealer, bronzer, powder, and mascara. Obviously I am comfortable in my own skin and think I look fine since I rarely wear makeup, but I won’t say that putting on some foundation doesn’t disguise my flaws (acne) and highlight my best features (eyes/freckles).

    • Student4life :

      Wow, it’s interesting to see the spirited responses to the seemingly banal topic of makeup. I’m similar to CrimsonClover in that I truly enjoy the art of makeup and devote 15-20 minutes each morning to making my face look polished. I enjoy trying new products and tools and can’t go to a mall without a stop at Sephora. Many of my female colleagues don’t wear a full face of makeup as I do and I think they still look great- to each their own. Not everyone exercises or wears heels, etc. These differences make us unique. Last year a colleague asked me to do her daughter’s makeup for prom which caught me by surprise. I have zero formal training in makeup artistry! I did it to save her the cost of a “real” makeup artist. I loved being able to help her and strengthen bond with mother and daughter through the experience. I also find that my morning skincare and makeup routine is the perfect quiet time to think about the day ahead. On days I’m feeling extra adventurous, I will deviate from neutral eye/lip palettes and play with colors (never on days I have presentations or big client meetings though).

  19. The makeup counter lady loves me :

    Every day: concealer under eyes, tinted moisturizer and/or powder, eyeshadow in beige which is nude for me to cover my lovely naturally bruised colored eye sockets, eye liner, mascara, blush, lipstick and/or gloss and a dab of eyeshadow the color of my brows applied with a little brush to fill in the sparse bits of my brows
    Yes, I’m in the south.
    No, it doesn’t look all that made up. All is done with a very light hand and in colors that do not stand out on me. Lipstick/gloss is usually a fairly natural color, but sometes I use a stand out color if I’m going to be photographed, feel horrible and look it, or if I have need of looking like a lady who lunches. The colors change with the seasons if I happen to spend time in the sun and acquire a little bit of a tan. My natural, un-sunned skin color is yellow toned ghost – think Caspar with jaundice.

    • Casper with jaundice! Love it, because I know exactly what you mean. I inherited my mother’s Irish-fair and freckled skin, but with an ivory instead of pink undertone. Has made finding a correct foundation a very arduous process. Every day, I wear Givenchy foundation (thinned out with moisturizer if my skin is behaving, as is if I’m breaking out), blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, and usually a neutral lip liner under lip balm. Sometimes I fill in my eyebrows, sometimes not.
      I fall in the camp of “do whatever makes you feel comfortable.” I like makeup and think it’s fun, and I stick to neutral tones for my work makeup. Plus, I tend to think I look better with some color and definition to my face; otherwise I look completely washed out.

  20. Anon in NYC :

    Day-to-day I wear mascara, lipstick, a smidge of concealer (mostly undereye), a bit of brow/eye highlighting stuff (technical term), and I fill in my eyebrows.

    For bigger things (court, interviews), I’ll put on more: tinted moisturizer, eyeshadow, eyeliner, and blush.

  21. I’ve never been a big makeup girl. I’ve always had good skin and didn’t feel I needed anything extra on a day-to-day basis. So I don’t wear makeup to work, aside from chapstick. That being said, I do wear makeup on days when I know I have a meeting, presentation, or I’ll be seeing a high-level boss. I’m a clerk, so those days don’t come often.

  22. I wear primer, bb cream, blush, powder, eyeshadow, mascara, lip liner, and lipstick just about every workday. Eyeliner about 75% percent of the time, upper lid only. I think light makeup gives polish to my more dressed up business look. I usually change my blush in the warmer weather to a bronzy shade and wear pink/rose blush in the cooler seasons. Lipstick, eyeshadow and liner shades change daily depending on mood/outfit. I don’t match my makeup to my clothing but rather wear cool shades with cool outfit colors and warm with warm. I don’t get too judgy about what other women do with makeup. I had one manager who never wore a stich of makeup and I think it worked for her. I also worked with a young woman who wore a lot of makeup and I think that worked for her. Both looked good in their own way.

  23. Sydney Bristow :

    I rarely wear makeup even though I like it and tend to buy the more expensive stuff. So most days I don’t wear any, but when I do wear some I’ll do tinted moisturizer, Benefit’s big beautiful eyes shadow pallet, and mascara. Sometimes I’ll add lip stain too, but that happens even less often.

    I think the only time I’ve judged people for their makeup is when it’s obviously way over the top (extreme Jersey Shore or Mimi from the Drew Carey Show kind of over the top).

  24. M-F

    Moisturizer mixed with a small dab of BB cream to even things out
    Curled eyelashes
    Light coat of Clump Crusher Mascara
    NARS cream blush
    Aquaphor for lip gloss

    I am 30, but this is my first experience with makeup. I feel fresh and pretty!

  25. I’m inconsistent with my makeup – I usually don’t put any on if I plan on working out at lunch, because it’s a pain to wash my face before I workout. So I guess I change it based on my routine? I will generally put on a makeup if I have a meeting with very high-ups (C-levels or directors), but otherwise, I don’t put on extra for meetings.

    On days when I do wear makeup, I usually go with a smidge of blush, some highlighter on my cheekbones and just under my eyebrows, and mascara and an quick eyebrow pencil. I don’t love putting stuff all over my skin, and I don’t usually wear anything on my lips.

    I don’t think I’ve ever judged coworkers (maybe I’ve just worked with relatively reasonable people…or I really don’t care if you do or don’t wear makeup), but I do think it’s icky when I go to spin class and women are wiping all their makeup off with their sweat and their towels get foundation, powder, mascara, etc. all over them. Generally full-makeup at the gym is bizarre to me.

    • “Generally full-makeup at the gym is bizarre to me.”


      I once competed in an athletic event against a woman who was wearing a full face of makeup (bold! everything!), including false eyelashes. And it was 7am, so it’s not like she just got to the end of the day and neglected to wash it off. Too weird.

      And it was not ballroom dancing :) which is really the only way it might have made sense.

    • Orangerie :

      Ugh, yeah.. makeup at the gym icks me out. I wear makeup to work every day, and just keep a pack of makeup remover wipes in my gym bag to clean my face off when I change in the locker room. Takes less than 15 seconds.

      • Student4life :

        I go to the gym with the fully made up face worn to work, but by the time I finish Spin class or Body Pump it’s all gone! I call these classes my “makeup removers.” I sweat a little more than most and have to wipe my face off with a towel constantly. If I go to the gym on weekends, I will put on concealer, mascara and lip gloss because I typically run errands right afterwards and want to look a little better than just-rolled-out-of-bed.

    • Anonymous :

      I run in the morning, so no make up then, but after work yoga, I’m usually one of those women sweating off make-up. I don’t know why it’s never occurred to me to simply wash it off. I change into my yoga clothes in the bathroom at work, so it would be super simple to wash my face.

      To work, I wear:

      Foundation, sometimes

      For going out somewhere nice I add:

      Weekend days I usually skip the foundation. Mostly to make the pricey YSL stuff last longer!

      • Anonymous :

        * I’m 35 and this is more than I used to wear. I have nice coloring and olive skin, but as I’ve gotten older, I really think I look better with a minimum of primer, blush and mascara. Foundation helps even out the tone.

        • Anonymous :

          ** geez, I’m bad at commenting. I also fill my brows in daily. That changes my whole look, I believe.

    • SoCalAtty :

      That is pretty strange to me too. I get wanting to look nice for events – so maybe a little tinted sunscreen / moisturizer or something – but full face? I sweat too much I’d look like a big puddle by the end of my event!

    • I’m one of those spin people. I mean, I don’t wear tons of makeup to begin with (BB cream, blush, concealer when necessary, eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick/gloss – but the latter’s always gone by the time I get to spin), but I go to spin at the end of the day after work and am too lazy to clean my face beforehand. (Mostly, I figure, they’re going to launder the towels I use anyway.) If I’m going to the gym first thing in the morning I certainly don’t put any makeup on, but if I have makeup on already I don’t always bother taking it off.

      • Oh, and I totally change my makeup colors depending on what I’m wearing. I usually match my eyeliner to the closest dominant shade of my clothes (black, gray, blue, purple, and occasionally brown), and coordinate my lipstick (I have more purply, more pink, and more brown variations).

  26. I wear the same makeup every day.

    I wear
    * BB Cream
    * Translucent Powder
    * Lipstick
    * Eye shadow
    * Eyeliner (bottom only)

    • You and I are very similar! I add gloss over the lipstick, liner on the top lid (although a lighter shade), and black/brown mascara.

  27. I never wore makeup in high school or college, aside from lip gloss. Law school was mascara, sometimes. Now, it’s brow gel (Maybelline), three subtle colors of powder shadow (Bobbi Brown), gel eyeliner (Laura Mercier), and mascara (L’Oreal). If I’m feeling slightly ambitious or wearing way too much black, I add a nude-for-me lipliner (L’Oreal) and a lipstain (the L’Oreal version of the YSL lipstain). It takes about 10 minutes. I bought Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer based on many raves, but I haven’t tried it yet. I probably need to use concealer but I don’t know how, tbh.

  28. I don’t wear any. Maybe I’ll put some lipstick on if I’m feeling fancy. For me, makeup is for fun and going out, or for events where I know people will be taking pictures – a little more contrast around the features is good for that.

    5 days a week, I’d rather spend those extra minutes asleep.

  29. Daily I wear:

    – Antioxident serum
    – In the summer, CC cream with SPF (I have a glut of freckles which make me look even younger than I am, so I try to tone them down as much as possible)
    – In the winter, moisturizer (SPF) then foundation
    – Blush & bronzer
    – Slight eyeliner
    – Light eyeshadow
    – Brow pencil (So necessary. I started using it a year ago and it makes such a difference in how polished I look)

    I put mascara on my bottom lashes because I get eyelash extensions on my upper lashes – my natural lashes are too light so in order for it to look as natural as possible I have to balance it out.

  30. Every day: concealer under the eyes to even out tone, powder foundation, eye shadow, mascara, and lip gloss. Takes less than five minutes. I’ll switch up the eye shadow day to day, but I have a bunch of palettes I like to play with. I only have one shade of lip gloss, so that keeps it simple. Don’t even own lipstick.

  31. I have pretty clear skin, but some discolouration beneath my eyes, and am very pale. On work days, I wear:

    Foundation (but not everywhere, just under my eyes, on and beside my nose, and on my chin)
    YSL Touche Éclat
    Blush (only added this about 2 years ago, but it makes a world of difference)
    Brow pencil (I do this even on weekends – it really helps me feel put together)
    Primer on my eyelids
    Neutral eyeshadow, two shades

    This takes me 4 minutes.

    I like to wear liquid eyeliner as well, but recently I find it’s been taking me longer to get ready in the mornings (thanks, pregnancy energy levels), so that has fallen off the list most mornings these days.

    I love lipstick and have a variety of colours that I keep in my purse. I put it on when I get to work.

  32. Daily makeup is undereye concealer, a dab of tinted moisturizer around my nose (to deal with any early morning redness/dryness), liquid eyeliner, sheer/neutral eyeshadow (very light pinks/golds), and MAC blotting powder. It takes 5 minutes and makes me feel much better and look more bright and awake. If I’m feeling very pale, I might sweep on some bronzer. And I carry the Fresh Sugar lip balms in my purse – one untinted and one sheer pinky red.

  33. Anne Shirley :

    Daily no matter what: lipgloss

    Most days: add under-eye concealor

    Important days/going out after work: add BB cream, mascara, eyeshadow, blush

    Every day used to be at “important” level, but I’ve really toned it down. I’ve become more accepting of how my face naturally looks, so I’m not pushing for day to day flawlessness.

  34. Famouscait :

    My routine takes me approx. 5 minutes in the morning:

    BB cream (Almay) in summer / Bobbi Brown foundation in the winter (only where I need it)
    Neutral long-wear eye shadow
    Eye liner
    Soft lips chapstick

    I’ll add lip gloss if I’m headed to a meeting, or maybe a different color eye liner or shadow if I’m feeling frisky and have enough time in the morning.

  35. IDoNotLikeTheConeofShame :

    I have a ~2-3 minute routine on work days:
    – undereye concealer (Bobbi Brown has a great texture)
    – foundation stick on red spots
    – use sponge wedge to blend both in
    – dab of cream blush to apples of cheeks
    – creamy eye makeup base in a pinky/beige color. I experimented a lot with this to find a product that lasts all day. For now, I am loving the MAC paint pots in Painterly. Apply with your finger. If I have time, add some medium brown shadow on the crease/lid and lid and pale under the brow.
    – curl eyelashes
    – mascara

    I am fortunate that I don’t need to do my brows (yet) and eyeliner looks weird on me.

    Lipstick done in the car – that’s the only thing I retouch all day.

    • We’re almost make-up twins in both product and time spent…

      I wear:
      sunscreen/moisturizer mixed together
      foundation blended with a sponge
      light blush
      cream shadow in a light beige; ocassionally a darker brown on the crease

      Usually it’s just chapstick during the workday; Sometimes on the weekends I toss on a bit of lipstick or stain.

  36. Every Day: mascara, blush, and lip gloss/tinted chapstick. What I try to add when I want to feel put together: tightlining eyes with pencil liner, eyeshadow in a light/neutral beige, translucent powder or bare minerals, concealer as needed, and occasional lip color. Sounds like a lot, but still takes me less than a minute on basic days and 5-8 minutes on “full face” days.

  37. I’m fairly minimalist, I think. To work, I generally wear a light foundation over my nose and jawline where I tend to be red, concealer under eyes and around nose, a chubby eyeshadow in a stick that just swipes on, and mascara. When I get to work, I put on Bert’s Bees tinted lipgloss.

    I do less on weekends. Either nothing or just concealer and mascara.

    More for special occasions. Bump up to primer, more eyeshadow/eyeliner, curled lashes, lipstick.

  38. Paralegal :

    Daily: Eyeliner and eyeshadow (usually one color – I don’t bother with the different colors for highlights, creases, etc). I have small, light eyes, and without a little bit of eyeliner it feels like my eyes just sink into my face and I look super tired.

    Otherwise, nothing else (unless it is concealer for a particularly nasty zit or bug bite). I’ve never been good with foundation – I hate the feeling of make up all over my face. I’m probably doing something wrong, but no matter how carefully I try to apply foundation I feel like it is so obvious that there is a layer of something all over my face.

  39. I agree with this.

    Yes, it is absolutely your choice how you want to wear your makeup. And you can absolutely be successful in life no matter how little or how much makeup you wear.

    However, you might come across judgment or hurdles because you wear no make up (and might look not put together) or because you wear too much makeup (and might look too high maintenance…etc.). If I can avoid these hurdles/judgment by putting on a small amount of makeup, I certainly will.

    I know that my skin is good, so I don’t wear foundation. But I also know that I look odd/unfinished without eyeliner, so if I had to pick only one makeup item to wear, that would be it.

    • Naturally Blonde :


      It’s not fair that women are judged for not having sleek hair, either, and it’s totally their choice to let their frizz flag fly, but people do judge for it, and a little bit of makeup (or a well-applied heavier amount of makeup) does make most women look the current standard definition of professional.

  40. (Long-time reader/occasional commenter, figuring I might as well finally put a name to the comments!)

    On a daily basis, I usually wear primer, bb cream mixed with a drop of foundation, cheek highlighter and cheek stain, brow powder, and lipgloss. I have oily skin so I also just added Urban Decay’s de-slick makeup-setting spray to my routine. If I feel like getting a little fancier, I curl my lashes, add mascara, and a highlighting eyeshadow.

    As for judging folks… I don’t “judge” in the sense of thinking less of them or their competence but I sometimes notice, usually only if it’s badly applied — for example, at my last job I had a fair-skinned co-worker who wore deep pink blush all over her cheeks. Otherwise, in my eyes, women deserve to make whatever choices they want about make-up, whatever makes them feel their best. I don’t support the idea that make-up is *required* to look professional.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I like your name choice!

    • I don’t think it’s required (I mean this is silly, who will enforce this the makeup police?) but I think any woman over 21 should be wearing some form of makeup otherwise you give the impression that you don’t care. Every woman looks better with makeup, even if it’s just mascara and lipstick. When I see a woman without a stitch of makeup at work I think she doesn’t care about how she looks. Just being honest.

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