Beauty Wednesday: 5 Multipurpose Makeup Items to Keep at Your Desk

Multipurpose Makeup | Corporette For those necessary makeup fixes and touch-ups at work, you can avoid keeping a whole Sephora store in your desk drawer by having one or two of these multipurpose makeup items on hand. We’ve rounded up five beauty products with two, three, or more uses — do you have any to add to the list?

  1. NARS ‘The Multiple’ Stick: You can use the cream-to-powder Multiple Stick for eyes, cheeks, and lips — for color, contouring, highlights, and more. It’s highly reviewed at Sephora — 4.4 out of 5 stars with more than 2,000 (!) reviews — and customers say it’s easy to apply and looks natural. It’s available in 10-12 shades (which I would list here if they were a bit more self-explanatory — Puerto Vallarta, anyone?) for $39 at Nordstrom and Sephora.
  2. Ilia Multi Stick: This handy makeup stick works well on your lips, cheeks, and eyes — it gives a sheer, natural look, and it’s easy to blend. Ilia Multi Sticks contain 100% natural dye as well as Vitamin E and shea butter. They’re available at Net-a-Porter in four colors for $34 with free 3-day shipping (and directly from Ilia Beauty in six colors; shipping is $5.95).
  3. Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Color Balm: While this fragrance-free product is meant for lips, it’s also a good bet for eyes and cheeks — and it never needs sharpening. (Here’s a how-to video if you’re looking for tips.) The Chubby Stick rates a 4.4 out of 5 from 2,000+ (!) reviews and was recently named to Allure’s “Best of Beauty” list. It’s available at Sephora in 16 sheer shades, from warm beige to berry pink to plum brown, for $17.
  4. Stila Convertible Color: Use this versatile product for sheer color on both lips and cheeks — it’s garnered a 4.4 out of 5 at Sephora from about 1,000 reviews, and reviewers say the product has a creamy texture that lends a natural look. It’s available at Sephora (six shades) and Nordstrom (nine shades) for $25.
  5. Vaseline: Yes, don’t forget the humble petroleum jelly! Use it as a lip balm (either right from a jar or by using Lip Therapy Advanced Healing) or as a primer under lipstick, tame your brows, highlight your cheekbones, moisturize dry cuticles, define your lashes if you’re going sans mascara, and more. Pick it up at your local grocery store, or at Amazon for $3 for 2.5 oz.

multipurpose office makeup PIN


  1. I never understood the multi-use function touted for “eyes, lips and cheeks.” Presumably, something for your lips and cheeks is pink or red. Does anyone use pink or red on their eyes?

    • PamBeasley :

      Sure, a pale pink looks fantastic on a lot of skin tones.

    • Baconpancakes :

      Yes, I use a pink-coral eyeshadow and a mauve-brown eyeshadow. It makes my eyes look brighter.

      FWIW, I have very pale skin, with pink and blue undertones.

    • I use pink or mauve a lot–I have pale skin and green eyes, and it makes my eyes pop and flatters my very cool-toned skin

    • In the Pink :

      I’m dreadfully allergic to pink-toned eyeshadows … it’s the ground up crustacean shells used in it. So yes, I would avoid using an all-in-one preparation. It’s frustrating as so many of the makeup lines have an overabundance of pink colors and purples which also have red/pink in the formulations.

    • Anonymous :

      I’ve used a luminizing stick for cheeks and eyes, it’s more beige than pink and I mostly use it on my brow bone, but I sometimes wear it over blush or cheek stain if it doesn’t already have some luminizing stuff in it.

      I used to use a “lip and cheek” stain that was a nice berry color that really did look nice on both my lips and cheeks. Just . . . maybe not at the same time. I wouldn’t have put something like that on my eyelids though.

    • Agreed, but for a different reason: anything that should go on my dry lips will make my acne-prone skin break out.

  2. New Tampanian :

    Beauty related TJ:

    Lately my makeup has been getting patchy as the day goes on, almost like it’s peeling.
    I use a moisturizer (Fresh brand), a light bb cream from garnier, bronzer, and blush (both Nars). It happens on my chin area and near my nose on my cheeks.

    A couple months back, my derm put me on doxi (daily) and atralin (every other day) for my acne. I use a moisturizer after the atralin has dried fully.

    Do you think it’s my skin being too dry? Or is it a bad reaction with the makeup? I can’t figure it out. It doesn’t happen every day…

    • Wildkitten :

      Can you go a day without makeup and see what your skin does? Maybe a weekend-day?

      • Yay Kat! I swear by Vaseline for my lip’s, and carry it everywhere, just in case, especialy in Winter, but to answer Wildkitten’s question, Yes, I DO go all weekend w/o makeup b/c I do NOT need it and prefer NOT to wear any makeup. The manageing partner INSISTS I do wear light makeup when I go to court b/c the judge like’s to see peeople address the bench properly attired, and for women, he says this mean’s with makeup. So I wear VERY light mascara when I have to argue motion’s, but NOT if I am goeing in for a conference, b/c I usueally am dealing with his cleark, who does NOT like me to look better then her. But Rosa NEVER wears much make up b/c she is so much prettier then I am. I think it is b/c she does NOT have to work and sleep’s in b/c her housekeeper get’s the kid’s up and off to school or day care. All she has to do is to make sure and look good at night, when Ed come’s home. THAT is the life I want. I want to get MARRIED, wear no makeup and just look good when my husband come’s home from work. The rest is gravy. YAY!!

    • First Year Anon :

      Yes, I get this in the winter and it’s definitely from dryness. I use a Retin A product (oddly it usually shows up about 36 hours after I use it) that causes a lot of peeling (I got lazy with it for awhile so I need to re-build my tolerance).

      I found that using a vitamin C product at night helps slough off the skin so that i don’t have flakies in the morning- along with intense moisturization in the winter. I use the vichy thermal water overnight mask..

    • KateMiddletown :

      This happens to me, too, especially in winter. I use a retinol nightly (.025 or .05%) and I used to take spironolactone orally every day (stopped since my skin improved and forgot to refill.) My doctor told me to make sure I *actually* drink the recommended amount of water per day, and that helped a bit though I pee all the time. I don’t think there’s too much you can do externally to stop it, other than putting on lotion midway thru the day. I started using Caudelie’s Grape Water spray in the mornings before moisturizer right when i get out of the shower, and it’s helped, though I still get patchy. Trying to eat more veggie fats is helping, too – avocados and nuts, but it seems like it can’t be avoided.

      • KateMiddletown :

        Oh, and I also use the Garnier BB cream. I switched to Neutrogena Daily 30SPF moisturizer or I’ll use the Cerave daily w/ SPF and those unglam solutions do give me a good amount of moisture w/o greasiness.

    • New Tampanian :

      Is it possible that it’s my skin reacting to the hard water during winter for the first time? I moved down here at the end of winter last year.

      • Hard water can dry out your skin a little, but I would think it’s probably the atralin drying you out. I would look into a heavier moisturizer. But, you could try rinsing with bottled water (or get a filter for your shower) if you think it may be the water.

      • If you’re new to Tampa, it may be an adjustment. My skin went through a weird adjustment period when I moved from DC to Tampa. The water and weather here are just way different.

  3. I feel like this would be a lot more helpful if Kat or Assistant Kat (whose name I can’t remember) actually tried the products. I’m perfectly capable of googling multi-use products and seeing how many stars they have – there’s no value-add here.

    • I agree — although I suppose it’s similar to the way this s!te presents clothes?

      IMHO, one thing that really matters to me for work-drawer cosmetics is shelf life. I don’t touch up every day (maybe once or twice a week, if I have a Serious Meeting in the late afternoon) and as a result, keep only a powder compact, blotting papers, and my almost-used-up everyday blush and eyeshadow on hand. So, I’d be wary of wasting money on creamy products like these.

      I’ll carry my lipstick choice of the day with me in my tote, although rarely end up reapplying lip color as opposed to absentmindedly refreshing my Chapstick at my desk (I should really stop buying lipsticks…)

      • Also, I have a few of the Chubby Sticks lip colors and cannot imagine taking the time/effort to create natural-looking cheek color from them! Theoretically possible I suppose, but when I have 2 minutes to touch up, not going to happen.

  4. Wildkitten :

    What else do you like to keep at work besides a multi-stick? I always keep concealer and mascara on hand.

    • I’m a klutz, so keep that in mind-I can start out looking put together and by 9:30am look like a mess, so my list is a lil over the top:

      Hair brush, bobby pins, hair ties, travel hairspray, travel deoderant, concealer, powder, lipstick, mascara, eyeliner, mints, clear nail polish, mini sewing kit for popped buttons, a black blazer, black flats, a tide to go stick, a lint brush.

      And I have a mini-straightener, but I only pull that out if I’m going to be on TV and have to touch up my bangs

    • New Tampanian :

      I have a little bag in one of my drawers which has “extras” of my daily makeup — more like leftovers. When I’m starting to run low on a product, I will buy a new one and put the low one in my bag at the office. I’ll keep samples of products that I know I like for a quick day-to-night transition if needed as well.

    • I have usually always carry concealer, mascara, and tinted lip balm (it’s a sheer berry color that works really well on cheeks). My emergency draw always contains: lotion that I can apply to hands/face, an extra hair tie, mini brush, bobby pins, stick sunscreen, and travel hairspray. I use Jergens Ultra Healing Lotion on my face as a pick-me-up during the day, and to prevent my face from drying out when turning on the heat.

    • Anonymous :

      I have concealer too! And face powder, lip stain, and oil blotting sheets.

    • Nomdeplume :

      I have a full stash on hand, for PR/media reasons. Caudalie’s beauty elixir is something I reach for often. Very refreshing – better than mid afternoon caffeine, and perks me up. It also has a fabulous natural scent (almost Aveda-esque).

  5. It's Me Again... :


    I’m going on a much-needed vacation to Tulum and will be staying at an eco-friendly hotel without power outlets in the room. Can’t plug in a hair dryer or a curling iron – things I use on a daily basis (otherwise I look like a poodle in a headlock).

    Anyone know of any battery operated or rechargeable curling irons?

    I can air dry my hair but do need some heat to style. Thanks in advance!

    • Anonymous :

      What about a portable battery pack? Like the ones they make external for tablets and laptops? Do they make those that could plug in a flat iron?

      When in similar situations, I braid or bun my hair while wet and just roll with it.

      • It's Me Again... :

        Genius…. Let me look that up!

        I wish I could braid/bun… Just doesn’t work for me. Too much hair, too thick.

        • It looks like you can get travel flat irons that will work on USB power, so you shouldn’t need a special battery back, just one of the regular ones for smartphones/tablets.

    • Anonymous :

      Girl no. You’re staying at an Eco lodge. Let you hair air dry, tie it back. There is just no way you “need” a curling iron in order to function in life with you hair. The fact that you think you do is why it is good you are going to an Eco lodge.

      • Anonymama :

        Yes. Maybe bring a cute scarf or something to tie it back. Embrace the Eco lodge! (Also I’m curious why you chose this place to stay…)

        • It's Me Again... :

          It’s a fancy shmancy place… that also happens to be “eco-friendly”. This is something I didn’t know when we booked it. I like the scarf idea.

    • Senior Attorney :

      You may not be willing to go to this extreme, but I am traveling to Southeast Asia in May and plan to get my hair straightened before I go. Not willing to put up with uncertain power availability, deal with the humidity, or take the time to heat style my hair on vacation.

      • It's Me Again... :

        Oooof…. straightening forever is too much for me, but does seem like a good solution for intense humidity.

        Luckily, heat style only takes about 10 minutes for me, provided that I have electricity. :-)

    • I would not bring anything – enjoy your vacation and let your hair have a break from all that styling, if it doesn’t look perfect it won’t matter. If it’s really that important, I would switch the hotel instead.

      • I LOVE TULUM :

        Agreed! I went to Tulum a couple of years ago and just loved the way my hair looked when it air dried next to the ocean (and I use to straighten every day). At least give it a try the first day. It’s also not like you will need to be dressed up for anything there ever. It’s such a laid back place.

        Enjoy your trip!

  6. Anonymous :

    I lost my makeup bag recently – sob, seriously, sob – but one of my favorite products was the Naked face palette – blush, bronzer, and highlighter. I frequently used the highlighter + bronzer as my eyeshadow.

    • Cream Tea :

      I’m not being sarcastic here – that would be seriously devastating.

      • Anonymous :

        Sounds like you have an idea. My Benefit eyeliner and mascara, my powder, said Naked palette, Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer… all gone. I have no idea what I did with it but I’ve clawed through my car and apartment and desk and keep hoping it will pop up. Additionally, it was in a “Hello Arlington!” Kate Spade makeup bag from when they opened their Pentagon City store that wasn’t cheap, and was limited edition. “Luckily” it was my daily products and not EVERYTHING I use, but still. And it was as sucker punch the wallet to even get back to speed.

        Guess it’s possible it could have been stolen. Luckily most of my lipsticks were in my purse or at home – the two basics I carry, the rest I stash at my vanity.

    • No really, I would be heartbroken.

    • Baconpancakes :

      Also expensive! The Naked palette alone is $40-$50! I think my makeup bag (which is just the top of my dresser) is probably worth upwards of $400, not including lotions, serums, and perfumes, and I actually wear a decent amount of drugstore brand makeup.

      • Anonymous :

        It was the Naked Flushed palette, the face one, which was more like $30 (I don’t carry either my Naked palettes day to day – I actually had 3 at one point but thought the smoky eye one was a POS and returned it) but yeah :(

  7. If I had to have just one product, I’d go with Smashbox O-Gloss or the Dior ‘mood lipstick’ – both of those perk me up on lips/cheeks and are relatively idiot-proof as far as application in weird office lighting with a handheld mirror goes.

    Other things I like to keep in my desk: q-tips for under eye smudges; a face misting spray (Clinique has a good one, besides making me look less tired, it does a good job of actually waking me up); one of those gift with purchase mascaras for when I don’t have time to do my makeup at home in the morning.

    • Almay sells q-tips that are pre-loaded with makeup remover in the stick part, and they’re awesome for keeping at work. You just bend the stick to break the seal and the remover flows into the cotton tip. I love these things.

  8. Am I the only person who doesn’t keep makeup at work? I put it on sometimes before work and I have chapstick/lip gloss in my purse, but I don’t think I need to really touch anything up that badly – who cares if I my blush is slightly faded or if my lips aren’t pink enough? I’m pretty sure no one does.

    • Anonymous :

      Only if it’s a big day or if I have an interview. Normal day is CC cream (maybe, mostly for the sunscreen) and I have lip balm if I need it. Sometimes will do lipstick. :-)

    • Anonymous :

      I keep makeup at work because I often put on none in the morning. If a sudden meeting/lunch/after work thing comes up I like to have the option to put some on.

      • This is my reasoning too. Rarely about work, more about after work.

      • TO Lawyer :

        +1 – I don’t usually touch up my makeup for work. But sometimes I end up going out after work and either want to retouch my makeup or want more dramatic makeup and that’s why my makeup bag that lives in my desk drawer exists.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I don’t typically wear makeup to work so I don’t keep any at my desk. Just chapstick.

    • I actually do a quick spray of setting spray on my fave before I leave home, so the only thing I need is lipstick and powder.

    • Senior Attorney :

      I only keep emergency mascara at work because once in a blue moon I walk out of the house without remembering to put it on. Other than that, no touchups during the day.

    • I don’t keep any makeup at work, but I keep stuff in a little bag in my purse. That includes blotting paper, MAC Blot Powder and whatever lipstick/gloss I’m wearing that day. I find a good eyeshadow primer helps my eye make up stay put during the day.

    • Anonymous :

      I’m another one who usually goes to work wearing no makeup and keeps makeup at work for meetings and/or after work events. Or for a little post-lunch procrastination sometimes.

    • I don’t keep makeup at work. I keep tinted chapstick in my purse. If I have plans after work, I make sure to use my hourglass veil primer in the morning before I put the makeup on so it stays on well into the evening.

    • Midwest Mama :

      No, you’re not alone. I wear makeup every day but only keep hand lotion and chapstick in my purse and in my desk at work. I’m really surprised by how many commenters keep so much makeup at work!

    • Nomdeplume :

      Not an attorney, but a health care exec level administrator. I keep a full stash at work because I handle PR and often get calls from the press. Hard to show up looking camera ready without that kit ;).

  9. Am I the only one who has major problems with any lip balm other than 100% natural beeswax or natural oil-based stuff? I am really not an “organic only!” type of person at all – I use plenty of other types of department store makeup brands – but I find that the only lip moisturizing products that work for me are the types of stuff I can buy at Whole Foods (Desert Essence is my favorite, but some types of Burt’s Bees work too). I can wear lipstick over that stuff, but any other kind of product makes my lips super dry and chapped, even the EOS stuff that everyone seems to love. I don’t really get it – anyone else have this problem?

    • YES, its a struggle. My lips are super sensitive and chap really easily. I discovered Bite Beauty’s agave lip mask (it also works as an everyday lip balm and only sold at Sephora) and its a miracle worker. But it costs 26 F**KING DOLLARS (it does lasts me about 6 months but still…). It has shea butter, vanilla, and some other all natural ingredients. I tried going back to the EOS balm and the basic chapstick brand but i had to reapply every 30 mins and it didnt even work so i guess it makes sense to just go with what works ='(

  10. In the Pink :

    I actually keep a petite size of the Trish McEvoy zippered gizmo in my office. I put one or two “plates” in it to hold eye shadows, blush, and powder. In the side pockets go my eye liner pencil, mascara, a few makeup brushes (came with the zippered case on a sales special), and a little tube of other brushes (by Japonesque bought at Ulta … I travel with one because it’s robust and small sized). In the zippered part of the gizmo I put an eyeliner pencil sharpener, the eye shadow I use as a base, my concealer tube pen thing (also by Trish), and three lipsticks of different hues. So easy to just pull it out and touch up or ready for a desk to dinner evening. It was expensive to fill initially, but it’s so much better than a bunch of this stuff just rolling around my desk or file cabinet drawers … and easy to grab and go if need be.

  11. hold up – vaseline instead of mascara? Is that a thing? I’ve never heard of that but it sounds amazing (I hate wearing mascara every day but I have long, blonde eyelashes, so mascara makes a big difference). Has anyone done this? Does it work?

    • Anonymous :

      It works for me, but I have very dark lashes and don’t need the coloring effect of mascara, just the shine and lengthening effect.

    • I’m intrigued by this as well. I do recall using Vaseline as “sneaky” eyeshadow when I was a young tween because we had the book The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (the Herdman family, anyone?) and one of the characters uses it on her eyelids so it will shimmer in the candlelight of the pageant, I believe a girl cast as an angel who was jealous of not receiving the part of Mary… can you tell it was a favorite??

      • Totally not important to share, but I WAS that character in my grade school production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever! (Imogene Herdman, I think?!)

        • Ha! If I’m recalling the illustrations correctly, Imogene was rocking some pretty heavy boots with her outfit — which fit in perfectly with the grunge craze of my tweens/early teens :)

  12. This post was so clearly written by someone who doesn’t have acne. I would never ever put anything greasy like this on my cheeks. EVER. Chaos in the next two days would result, surely.

    • Right? I think its good in theory but my skin is so sensitive I would be scared to try something like that – especially if it also goes on my lips (hello bacteria!). It took so long to finally get my skin to a good place, something like that would ruin it..

    • Anonymous :

      My thoughts exactly. Just about everything on this list would turn my skin into a pizza. Powder doesn’t eff up my pores nearly as much as creams do, and even still I am religious about cleaning EVERYTHING off every night or all that gunk will rise up in rebellion.

      The closest I get to an “all in one” product is Benefit Benetint, because it’s a very watery formulation. Wouldn’t dream of putting it on my eyes (!!!!!!!!!) but it works nicely for coordinating lips and cheeks, and it’s lightweight enough that it doesn’t clog me up.