What Makeup to Wear While Interviewing

The Best Interview Makeup | Corporette

2017 Update: Check out our latest discussion on the best interview makeup!

Today’s reader mail is another request for interview advice, this time in terms of makeup…

I have several on campus interviews for 1L summer jobs the first week in February. I have my conservative gray and black suits. I have my sensible Nine West pumps. I have worked on pulling my hair back off my face. The only piece of the puzzle I do not feel confident about is makeup. I have heard that minimal is the way to go, and I wasn’t planning on breaking out my extensive color palette for eyeshadow or lipstick. But how conservative should I go? Are we talking just foundation to cover flaws? Mascara and lip gloss? Neutral eyeliner and eyeshadow?

To be honest, we’ve never really thought much about what makeup to wear when we interview — but then, we tend to be somewhat boring in terms of daily makeup, to the tune of just varying the eye shadow color from day to day.  So we’re curious what the readers have to say on this one. (Pictured:  This is why you don’t give little girls makeup, originally uploaded to Flickr by Checkered and aMUSEd.) For our $.02, the makeup you wear should have two goals:

  1. Making you look awake and alive
  2. Not distracting the interviewer

For us, this translates as follows:

In terms of looking awake and alive:  every woman has her level of necessary makeup, which, if she leaves the house without, will inspire responses ranging from “Wow, are you feeling okay?” to “Get the shotgun, Pa, the zombies are attacking again.”  For us, this bare minimum is a) undereye concealer (we like Neutrogena 3-in-1 Concealer for Eyes), b) blush (lately we’ve liked Benefit Cosmetics Benetint 0.4 oz Benetint), c) curled eyelashes (we swear by shu uemura Eyelash Curler).  But that’s just us — other women feel naked without foundation; others feel naked without eyeliner.  Figure out what you need to look awake, well-rested, not ill, etc., and then be sure to wear those products.  (We’re not saying not to wear more — our own daily regimen, for what it’s worth, also includes brown or black eyeliner, neutral eye shadow, eyebrow powder, and mascara.  We wouldn’t interview without those things on.  However, the interview makeup tip we pass on in terms of requirements is that don’t-look-like-you-were-out-all-last-night-partying-or-possibly-have-an-alien-creature-living-inside-you one.

In terms of not distracting the interviewer, things you want to avoid include: a) anything sparkly, b) anything too stagey (hello, false eyelashes or blue eyeshadow), c) anything applied poorly (for example, we almost never wear foundation, so for us this would be a danger zone because we’d probably be walking around with it improperly blended), d) anything that fades unevenly.  With regards to (d), we’re primarily thinking of red lipstick, which we think can look amazing — but no matter how carefully we apply it, it always wears unevenly and starts to fade at the center of our lips more than at the outer line of our lips.  This is obviously not the rule — we were fascinated to note the number of speakers wearing red lipstick at a recent conference we attended — but for us, that’s the harsh truth.  We would also add the obvious thing — make sure your makeup flatters you. For example, if you never wear lipstick because it always turns an ugly coral shade on you, don’t feel obliged to wear lipstick to an interview.  No interviewer will sit there wondering, “God, why isn’t she wearing lipstick?”, but they mightsit there wondering, “God, her perception of reality must be OFF if she thinks that lipstick looks good on her.”

In fact, the only thing we might do differently for an interview would be to very carefully apply a long-lasting lipstick (we’re fans of L’Oreal’s Infallible LipColour) to last the interview, particularly if lunch is included in the day.

Readers, what are your thoughts on the matter?



  1. Quote: “foundation to cover flaws? Mascara and lip gloss? Neutral eyeliner and eyeshadow?”

    I’d go with all of the above because that is my daily make-up routine. As C suggested, don’t go with nothing because you certainly want to look your best. But don’t go with stage make-up either. So, I’d suggest tones that blend well with your skin, and look natural and beautiful on YOU.

    But of course, if you never wear a particular item, say, eyeliner, then don’t feel obliged to use it! As with clothes, it is best to look and feel as confident as possible. So if something is totally out of the norm for you, then it’s probably safe to avoid it.

    Good luck!

  2. Whatever makeup you wear on a daily basis – which can be anywhere from none at all to a full face – so long the overall look is work-appropriate (no glitter etc.).

  3. what if you never wear makeup? is it acceptable to not wear any if you feel more confident without it?

    • I think it is perfectly acceptable. The only makeup I wear is concealer (the only makeup I own, actually, unless you count Bert’s Bees chapstick).

      • Acceptable? probably. But if you want the job you shouldn’t be striving for the bare minimum. Its not all about you feeling confident – its about the interviewer liking you.

        Everyone (super models included) looks more put together with some makeup. Why put yourself at a disadvantage?

        • Because if you’re someone who doesn’t normally wear make-up, the time and effort involved in (a) shopping for appropriate make-up, (b) making sure it really does fit with your skin tone, eye color, etc. in an inconspicuous way, and (c) learning how to apply it inconspicuously can be considerable. And, after all this is done, until you get confident with it, you’re going to be worrying that your application and color selection were somehow lacking, which could have some effect on your demeanor. Add in the fact that bad make-up is always worse than no make-up and there’s a non-zero chance that you did poorly select or apply it, and I see why people skip it. Hell, I like and enjoy make-up and sometimes I find it overwhelming.

        • Not to mention that if you don’t often wear makeup, you’ll likely feel uncomfortable and self-conscious during the interview. All I ever wore to an interview was some light powder and mascara, and so far, everything has worked out perfectly.

          • I didn’t mean you need to plaster your face – but mascara/lip tint can go a long way. Its a superficial world and if you want the job its silly to not make the effort.

        • I have to agree with L and V. Don’t pretend to be someone/something you’re not.

          Telling someone who doesn’t routinely wear makeup to break from her comfort zone on the day of an interview is like the fashmag equivalent of breaking out new shoes on the day of a marathon. Rookie mistake.

    • Anonymous :

      I only wear makeup to work or work events, and I don’t wear much. I wear makeup not so much because I think I look better with it, but I look a little more polished with it. So, although I don’t think it’s a must, I would advise wearing makeup to an interview. My daily routine is a very little, light eyebrow powder (I have light brows), a eye shadow that is just a tad darker than my skin tone in a color that compliments my eyes, mascara and a touch of blush, sometimes I use a little eyeliner too. Also, I would use concealer as necessary. For an interview, I would add a little more – tinted moisturizer and undereye concealer. I normally just use chapstick, but I would wear either chapstick or a neutral lipstick.

    • I often don’t wear makeup, but I always wear it for an interview. I’ve been told by multiple career service people that some makeup is necessary to look polished. I do admit I look more ‘professional’ with a little eyeliner and mascara. Wearing some makeup I think is necessary to look polished, professional and also to show the interviewer you care about your appearance.

    • Yes, it’s totally fine not to wear makeup. Everyone on here gets way too worked up about interviews. Your resume and responses, not your lip gloss, are what will get you the job.

      Unless you are wearing something really inappropriate (a bright pink suit, heavy perfume, false eyelashes that fall halfway off and dangle on your cheekbone) no one is going to ding you because of your outfit or makeup.

      • Agree totally. I was conducting interviews this weekend; my husband and I were talking about what the candidates wore — I honestly couldn’t remember what color suit each of them wore because when they walked in, the overall image was polished and not too off the deep end. Similarly, I have no recollection of whether the woman wore makeup. I can tell you she was well groomed and pleasant looking. Whether she was wearing powder or mascara? No idea. Personally, I feel better if I put my game face on for an interview — tinted moisturizer, a tiny bit of bronzer, eyeshadow, mascara, tiny bit of eyeliner and a very neutral not too glossy lip gloss.

        Anecdotally, the only interview outfit I remember on someone else was a pink Chanel style tweed suit with a very short skirt and five inch platform white patent leather sandals and too much eye makeup with false eyelashes. Other than that, neutral is best. You basically want people to forget what you wore, in the nicest possible way.

  4. I think whatever you wear every day is appropriate for an interview, just a bit more polished. So if you wear concealer, maybe set it with a dusting of loose powder so you don’t get shiny if you’re doing several interviews. If you wear mascara, go for waterproof so if you accidentally wipe your eyes or tear up from sneezing or anything else it won’t smear. Otherwise, I would only go so far as you’re comfortable going. My daily makeup routine is very similar to C’s (except I always put on moisturizer and sunscreen!) before makeup and I normally just take a bit of extra care for interviews.

    • agreed — sunscreen/moisturizer is an absolute must. i consider it part of my shower routine (as in “getting out of the”) along with deodorant, though, not my makeup routine. (i’ve read your pores are more open for the moisturizer just after getting out of the shower.)

      • Yeah, I wear moisturizer and no makeup frequently. But mine isn’t tinted.

  5. If you read this blog, chances are that your make up selection is going to be within the accepted range of normal.

    I got an ad in the mail the other day from Bobbi Brown (my go-to) that had some really good office looks, IMO. I’m posting the link here for those interested.

  6. The bare minimum I would wear is (1) foundation / concealer (like your skin won’t be breaking out from the stress that week anyway) (2) blush (to avoid looking paler than you already are in winter) and (3) mascara (to give some definition to your eyes). Then again, I won’t leave the house without wearing all this unless I’m going to the gym.

    • Oh and I always wear long-wearing muted lipstick for interviews. I think it makes you look more polished.

  7. One other interview tip…bring an extra pair of nylons in your purse. The dreaded snag can happen at the most inopportune times, and hose are part of being polished (in the Winter, no matter what region of the country you’re in) if you elect to wear a skirt suit.

  8. Corporate Tool :

    I’ve actually recently switched from foundation to a little concealer and pressed powder. I find that I look more “finished” and natural, with fewer blending/fading/cracking issues. Also, it’s easier.

    I suggest Smashbox, which looks good not just in person, but in the photo that always seems necessary for building id’s. http://www.sephora.com/browse/product.jhtml?id=P188500&shouldPaginate=true&categoryId=3990

  9. First, I want to say that whenever I see a young woman with tons of thick, black eyeliner and/or very dark and heavy eye shadow, I always feel so sorry for her. I can’t help but assume that she uses harsh, dark lines around her eyes because she hates them that much. I love makeup and wear it practically EVERY DAY, but I agree that the key is keeping it simple, clean, and natural looking. Aside from blotchy foundation, one of my biggest pet-peeves is eyeliner that is visibly uneven or has been rubbed away and not retouched. I always look people in the eye when I’m conversing with them, so if she is wearing eyeliner, I can tell if it has been applied improperly. To me, improperly applied eyeliner (or any other makeup, for that matter) makes a woman appear disheveled. As a note, I love the Ulta brand eyeliner–I have it in so many shades. It stays on and IN PLACE all day long. (And no, I don’t work for the company…)

    If you are completely clueless but want to see what make up can do for you, I would recommend asking a sales person at a department store (someone who sells a familiar and reputable brand of make up) or a direct sales beauty consutlant (Mary Kay is great) to give you a color consultation. You might get to play around with products and see what looks good on you. I’ve done this a number of times and have always had fun with it–and I learned useful techniques for applying blush, eyeliner, foundation, mascara, etc. I am always experimenting with new looks on the weekends (but NEVER during the week). For me, makeup is just as fun as clothing!

    I also wanted to echo C.Z.’s comments regarding the importance of moisturizer and sunscreen. Beautiful skin is easy to lose when you’re young and very difficult to get back when you’re older. I’m only 29 and I have age spots already. As soon as I noticed them, I stopped sun bathing and tanning and started taking better care of my skin. I have heard other women (more *seasoned* than myself) tell me that I should use the best skin care that I can afford. I do now, and I always will, because people will NEVER stop looking at your face.

  10. Anyone have a recommendation for a great foundation? I have yet to find one that I love.

    • I’ve been really happy with Stila oil-free and Stila tinted moisturizer.

    • Liz, I alternate between two: MAC studio fix and Sally Hansen’s foundation inspired by Carmindy (which you can buy at any drugstore). The studio fix is like a powder foundation, which works well with my slightly oily skin. Some people find it heavy, but I use very little and it matches perfectly with my complexion.

      The Sally Hansen foundation is in liquid form – I squirt a bit of it into a sponge and dab it on a few spots on my face and blend. It has a very light texture and comes in a decent variety of colors.

      Good luck!

    • I use the mineral powder foundations from either Bare Minerals or Mary Kay. The Mary Kay formula is lighter, but the Bare Minerals formula has SPF.

    • I like all Laura Mercier products. I use the oil free foundation. I have a few freckles and slightly uneven skintone. My sister uses the tinted moisterizer b/c she has lots of freckles and it smoths and gives a nice look without looking like she is trying to cover up all those freckles. Both work well for our needs.

      • Clinique: the only foundation that fits my needs (price) and looks completely natural on my skin, plus it has SPF.

        • MidSouth Atty :

          Armani foundation is consistently ranked the best of the best, along with the LM Oil Free. I prefer the Armani, I’ve tried both (along with YSL, Clinique, Benefit, Chanel, Dior, Drugstore brands, Lancome, MAC, etc). The luminous silk foundation is awesome — not oily and doesn’t look like you’ve used a ton of makeup, you can still see your skin through it. Unless you have skin issues, I wouldn’t use MAC or Mary Kay, they tend to cause pancake face IMHO. Bobbie Brown does a great job with foundation too, and you can bet that if you use her products you’ll come out looking natural and fresh (everything is brown-brown-brown-pink). Finding the “right” foundation for your skin type and coloring can be hard, but once you find the right one I think you’ll be amazed at the difference. Everyone looks better with a little makeup, no matter what anyone on here might tell you. Clearly if you’re interviewing you want to put your best foot forward, and a little makeup will help with that. I’d also highly recommend taking a look at your eyebrows before interviewing… a lot of women neglect this essential feature and it shows. A well-groomed eyebrow will make a huge difference in looking “polished,” whether or not you have any makeup on.

  11. God bless those who don’t need to wear much make-up! I agree w/ the above advice, but I would have to wear everything mentioned to feel comfortable/like myself. One question – is that eyelash curler REALLY that good? I have never been able to use those w/o crunching my eyelid, and don’t really see much of a difference even when I can get it right (and still see). One thing I do like is the new eyelash “primers.” It’s like white mascara that you put on as a base coat, and then regular mascara on top. Clinique has a nice one sold alone. L’Oreal has one that is sold as a double tube – primer on one end; mascara on the other, except I NEVER use the mascara. It is horrid. But the primers really do make your lashes look longer.

    • I love the shu uemura eye curler! I didn’t see the point to curled eye lashes until I bought this several years ago. It is quick and easy and opens my eyes more to curl the lashes up.

      And as for interview makeup – I think you need to feel comfortable and wear what you normally wear but take a little bit more care in doing it. The only times I have ever noticed an interviewee’s makeup is when it looks bad – which usually means there is just too much of it. Too little is never a problem in my opinion, the distraction comes from women who layer it on.

    • Second the request about proper use of eyelash curlers. I bought one but its unused since I didnt see any effect. Am I using it wrong? Any tips?

      • I heat mine for 5-7 seconds with my blowdryer on medium heat. The heat really helps the curl hold. Also, do it in stages. Push all the way back to your lid and then step out, so you curl the base, the middle, and the tips. I find that this makes the curve look more natural than a harsh upward sweep from the base. Just make sure you test the metal against your wrist so you don’t burn yourself!

      • North Shore :

        With my scrawny blond eyelashes, I need the curler and mascara or I look like I have no eyelashes. I also use DHC eyelash tonic, but I’m not convinced it’s really doing anything. For curling, I just close it on my eyelashes, and hold for about 10 seconds. It makes a tremendous difference for me. I’m too worried about mishaps to try a heated eyelash curler.

      • Shu Uemura makes the best, IMHO. I learned from a pro that you should start at the base of your lashes–as far as you can go without pinching skin–then press and hold for 3 to 5 seconds. It helps if you direct your eyes away from the eyelash curler (so if you’re curling your right eye, look down and to the left; for the right, look down and to the right). This really helps to bend the lash for a more dramatic effect than just curling the tips.

        I’ve been really happy with Shu Uemura basic mascara, too. It’s flake-free but washes off easily.

    • Anonymous :

      Yes, the eyelash curler is really that good. It has a cult following. If you have the time, go to sephora.com and read up on the reviews.

    • I have the same experience, but I find my eyelashes are naturally curled compared to most people… maybe yours are also naturally curled? Some people have stick-straight lashes, or even lashes that point down… they would benefit more from a curler, I think. Then again, I’ve only tried drugstore curlers.

      • Thanks all. I am inspired to try my eyelash curler once again. I dont have Shu Uemura, have a Sephora brand I think. My eyelashes are not naturally curly, but when I use mascara I try to stroke upwards (with very little actual mascara) to get some definition and it works. My eyelashes usually point straight ahead and are not visible due to depth perception, but when I use mascara and stroke upwards, it is much more visible and shaped.

  12. I love makeup and tend to go more daring on my ‘free time.’ However, when I am at my internship at a mid-sized firm, I always aim for polished, but not too noticeable. For me, that means foundation, a touch of powder (my skin tends to be oily), neutral eyeshadow, dark plum eyeliner (it doesn’t look ‘purple’ and it brings out my green eyes) and mascara. My cheeks tend to flush, so I typically skip any cheek stains/blush. I also use a tinted chapstick because lipstick always fades on me. It takes about 5 minutes to do my makeup in the morning and I can leave the house feeling confident.

    For an interview I would follow the same routine because I know it makes me look and feel good. However, if someone never wears makeup, my whole regimen might be a bit much. At the least, I would recommend that a person took care of any crazy dark circles/blemishes, curled their eyelashes and applied a tinted balm.

    • I don’t think eyelash curling is an “at the very least” sort of thing.

      • I think it happens to be a great way to brighten the eyes without having to use any sort of eyeliner or shadow, which can be hard to apply/blend. I know I look a million times more awake when I even just curl my lashes. Then again, I have been using an eyelash curler since middle-school, so it doesn’t intimidate me the way it seem to scare other people. Some of my friends think it looks like a torture device! But once you have the hang of it, it takes less than 30 seconds.

  13. While I agree that to look polished a woman needs to wear a little make-up, it makes me cringe. Spending a lot of time applying make-up, doing our hair, shaving our legs, etc. is taking up time that we could be getting ahead at work/sleeping/cooking healthy meals for ourselves/etc.

    Just had to get that off my chest before saying that I would go with a conservative amount of make-up, especially if interviewing with men. Also, nothing overly glossy on the lips.

    • Any advice on how to go from never ever wearing makeup to wearing it at the office? I have been struggling with my image here in the office, and want to start looking more polished and put together, but don’t want to overdo it and look like I am trying too hard.

      • I tend to be pretty minimalist with the makeup myself. I do wear a light foundation with SPF every day because I have some uneven areas in the chin I’ve tried about everything to remedy with no success. When I am trying to ramp it up a bit, I tend to wear neutral colors- nothing too flashy on the eyes/lips. I tend to use brown/black eyeliner/mascara since I’m blonde and feel like the black is just too much for daytime.

      • I’d bring a professional friend with you (not just any friend, but one with a job like yours who will know what look is appropriate) and go to a makeup counter, probably the Clinique counter. Clinique’s good quality starter makeup. They’ll do your makeup for you and sell you the products. Keep it simple – powder, eyeshadow, mascara and lip gloss are enough. Don’t start poking eyeliner on your eyes if you’ve never worn makeup before.

        Aveda salons also often offer makeup lessons, if you like Aveda products.

      • divaliscious11 :

        I don’t wear foundation, or make-up really beyond gloss/mascara, but if its something where I need to give really fab face, I use this to give my face more finish….


        with a little powder. I used to have a MAC pressed powder the was a good match, but I can only do that in winter, because if I cross the street in the sun, I am darker, so my complexion changes from spring to fall… I tend to wear neutral colors on my lips, so they all tend work as my face changes….

      • newassociate :

        this was me a year ago… zero makeup use until i started working as an attorney. i now wear mascara, eyeliner, two shades of eyeshadow, brow gel& powder and it literally takes 5 minutes. the women in my office all wear some, and the secretaries generally seem to occupy the extremes of too much or none.

        imo, clinique is not the best idea for a couple of reasons. 1) see cosmeticscop.com – while some of their products are good, a lot of them are really not good, and 2) many unsafe color choices, including pastels and glitter. while the experienced makeup consumer may know what to do, i was clueless and to a large degree still am. the product line is geared to be for the younger consumer before she graduates (i don’t know if that’s the right word) into estee lauder (clinque is owned by estee lauder), so the color palettes are designed accordingly. that’s not to say there aren’t good products at clinique, but it takes a more experienced eye than mine.

        i suggest you go to bobbi brown. laura mercier would also work. there are virtually no bad color choices, and the products last all day. plus, i love that the compacts have click in/out pans (like avon’s mark) so i can make what i need for a business trip in one compact. i had them pick a 4 color eye palette for me which ended up being – ivory, woodrose, granite, and faintly plummy one i can’t remember. espresso gel eyeliner. i bought a brush set at target, the shu uemura eyelash curler, and the maybelline colossal mascara in black/brown.
        it started out taking about 15 minutes but within a couple months, it’s down to 5. also- the shu uemura eyelash curler seems to be the only one that works for my hapa (semi-asian shaped) eyes.

      • Mille,
        I suggest starting with makeup primer with SPF to very subtly brighten up and even out your skin; my favorite is NARS. It’s very light, smells great an makes me look like I just had brisk workout–glowing. Another good one which is thinner and lighter is Shiseido White Lucent with SPF.

        For my whole life I have hated the look of foundation on me (though I now wear it for work daily, albeit a barely a dab blended with primer, because, yes, it make me look a lot more polished and professional and at 35, my skin just is not as naturally glowing as it was ten years ago) Primer, on the other hand, is a miracle I wish I had discovered sooner.

  14. I agree that you probably need at least some minimal make-up to look polished. I had a co-worker who didn’t wear any, as far as I could tell. Even though she was a beautiful girl, there were times when she should have tried to look like she made some sort of effort (at oral arguments, for instance).

    A few months ago I switched to Bare Essentials (sp?). It took a few days to get the hang of it, but I love the products now because it is sooooo much easier to get a natural, blended look. For instance, I use an eyeliner brush and charcol-colored eyeshadow to line my eyes and I never get a harsh line like I used to with a pencil.

  15. I think interview makeup should give a pulled together look. Defined brows, colored lips, and a natural/flawless looking skin should be the goal. If you need assistance, and most of us do, go to a department store beauty counter for assistance. Go with a bare face and “shop” around until you find the right match. This type of shopping is a bit on the tedious side, but worth it in the end.

    • pinkrobot :

      I would also add that you should not buy anything until after youve tried on for two hours, test driving it if you will. I generally head the makeup counter first, try some one, and go about the rest of my shopping, and step out to see it in outdoor light, and see that it ‘ages’ (change color/rub off unevenly/gets itchy or uncomfortable/etc) well through out the day.

      If passes that test, then I go back and buy it. I find the piece of mind invaluable for interviews, which tend to be a daylong process.

  16. I’m looking for some suggestions here: I am an Asian American woman with no eyelid crease whatsoever. So I usually apply eyeline in a way that simulates a lid, id, gives some definition. While it’s probably heavier than what most caucasian women wear, I really feel bare without it. I’ve looked at my face in photos and it doesn’t appear outrageous (confirmed by friends) but I would love to hear any advice for eye makeup for Asian women.

    • I’m not Asian, but I notice a lot of Asian women wear their eyeliner this way, including some colleagues of mine. I don’t think it’s necessary, but I also think it looks fine and professional. Do what you feel most comfortable with.

    • legalicious07 :

      I think the blogger at petiteasiangirl.blogspot offers some make-up tips for Asian women. That said, I’m a firm believer in people of color not altering their natural ethnic features in professional settings. So, not everyone has eyelid creases. Big deal! Clearly, everyone isn’t meant to have them!

      • Thanks for the advice!
        Clearly, I realize that my desire to give my eyes some caucasian-like definition stems in part from some low level personal image issue, but my main complaint is that my lids push my lashes down so that they are damn near invisible (no, eyelash curlers don’t work on me – the lid just pushes them back down). So I’m always looking for ways to enhance my features (which is why anyone applies makeup) in a natural-looking way.

    • My advice (being asian american myself) – Line your top lid up to, but not beyond, your natural crease. I’m a big fan of MAC’s Technakohl liner in Graphblack. Despite your difficulties with a eyelash curler, you need to curl your lashes as Asians lashes grow downward naturally. Use the one from Shu Uemura. If you can do it, use false eyelashes. There are ones made especially for Asian eyes that have a criss-cross structure offering more support (you mentioned your lid pushing your lashes down) and an eye-opening effect. Your epicanthal fold will likely cover your liner line so if you can swing it, use liquid liner on top of the false lashes line and very slightly wing it at the end. If you want to give your lid more definition, that should be done with darker shadows, not liner. On the bottom, line 1/3 of the way from the outside in. If you have small eyes, stick to the lashline. If you have a larger eye, you can line your waterline as well. The top should be “clean” but the bottom should be slightly smudged.

  17. My question is, How bad is it to wear make up most days but not every day? Assuming people can tell, do they think anything of it (i.e., “Oh, she must be having a bad day” or “Hmm, since she bothers other days, she must not care about herself/her appearance/her job today”). I worry that it reflects on consistency in one way or another. Is it weird to worry about this?

    Disclosure: I hate wearing makeup. Especially on the mornings I have to apply it at the gym. But I’ll do it.

    • I know what you mean, the key is not to wear too heavy makeup on the days you do wear it. (Think thin eyeliner and light foundation) If you keep a natural look with your makeup *most* people won’t be able to tell you’re not wearing it, they’ll just think you don’t look as good as usual on those days

    • anon - chi :

      Huh. I’ve never even thought about this. I would think no one would notice unless you veer from one extreme to another. Personally, I wouldn’t jump to any negative conclusion about a coworker of mine who sometimes didn’t wear makeup but did on other days, unless she also looked ill/hungover/etc. on the “no makeup” days.

      • pinkrobot :

        I would say “it depends”. If I understand correctly, the fear would be that if you don’t wear makeup, you look ‘unprofessional’ and it is generally accepted wisdom that you should look professional every day, even if you are not ‘formal professional’ (court/full suit/etc) every day.

        Consider the following mitigating circumstances/personal sob story: I wear foundation/concealer every day because in college I got fed up with the constant “Are you feeling ok?” “Bad night last night?”. I have very fair skin, so the inevitable (and genetic) undereye circles are very pronounced, as are any marks or bruises. I am the youngest on my team, so I am very self conscious about my acne. If nothing like this applies to you, you may not need to worry.

        Suppose you worry about whether or not this applies to you, there is that nagging doubt. Let us turn this into a testable hypothesis.

        I suggest a weekend for this experiment. On saturday, do your normal thing (without makeup). Wear what you would wear to work. That’s very important to do.

        Snap 3 photos of yourself during the day, at times that correspond to start/middle/end of your workday. Repeat the same thing on sunday, but with makeup.

        Compare photos a couple of days later (dont do it right then, a couple days distance will help you look at it the way a stranger would ). If you feel a knee reaction like “ugh, she looks sloppy” or “wow she looks really unprofessional” or a real dissonance in your appearance (this is why you should work clothes. weekend wear exudes a different vibe), then you will know and you can determine how much you really need.

        If you cant really tell, great. You can not wear with confidence, knowing that you still look professional.

    • People always comment if I don’t have make up on. They don’t know that I don’t have make up on but they know I look different. I will get asked if I am sick or tired. But wearing no make up also usually corresponds with me wearing my glasses instead of my contacts as well. Now I try to wear my glasses once/week so it is less obvious that I am having a bad day when I do wear them.

    • One strategy that works well for me is to go without makeup if my clothes, jewellery etc. that day are more ‘special’. e.g. if I’m wearing my go-to grey sweater, black pants and clunky shoes outfit, I generally try to liven things up on my face so that it compensates for my otherwise blah outfit. On the other hand, if I’m wearing something new and bright (e.g. today – blue top, brown pants, brown shoes, beautiful black and brown bead necklace, black hoop earrings), I dont want to overdo it on the face in addition to all that. Sometimes in the latter situation, my makeup will consist only of my moisturizer (which contains sunscreen) and that’s it.

  18. Polished but comfortable is a good standard for your professional face. If there are glasses wearers reading, here’s a good tutorial on makeup for glasses which shows a nice work look when you’re accessorizing with specs, http://bit.ly/d7rPEI

  19. Thanks everyone! I appreciate the input. I have a day-to-day makeup routine that is nothing flashy that I will probably stick with (foundation, mascara, neutral shadow, etc.)

    First interview is Friday, so I’m hoping for the best!

    Thanks again.

  20. The only thing I really change for interviews is I tone down the lips and I tone down the eyeliner. My normal when-wearing-makeup routine involves slightly-smudgy eyeliner and/or a relatively glossy pink-y/coral-y/berry-red-ish lip. For interviews, I’ll usually just put eyeliner in between my lashes to pump up my lash line (or just mascara, which I don’t usually wear), and I’ll take the lip down to a matte or creamy-textured nude-pink.

  21. The only difference between my work and non-work looks is that I always wear eyeliner to work, and I rarely wear it outside. Why? It makes me look less tired, and if I’m at work, I’m tired.

    Otherwise it’s just powder (with sunscreen), blush, shadow, mascara, gloss. It takes 2 minutes. In the summer I also wear foundation to absorb oil.

  22. Interesting about the eyelash curler rather than mascara…I have relatively short lashes (although they have gotten longer and fuller since getting pregnant, yay for some positive benefits! :)) and always use mascara even if I put no other makeup on. I feel like I just look so tired otherwise.

    Will have to give the Shu Uemura curler a try, this isn’t the first I have heard of how great it is.

  23. I only wear eyebrow powder for definition (great way to cut down on rest of make up), neutral lipstick/gloss + loose powder over moisturiser+sunscreen combo. That said, my skin doesn’t need more. But it has never held me back from getting the job!

  24. Am I the only one who doesn’t like powder? I used to wear it when I was younger, but I have a few chronically dry areas that the powder seems to make stand out even more. I also don’t particularly like the feel of it and prefer a light liquid foundation instead. It may also be because I’m from FL and I feel like the lighter liquids tend to stay on better when it’s like 110 in my car.

  25. My eyelashes are stick straight and, for a long time, I loved my eyelash curler. Swore by the thing. One morning, however, I curled my lashes and noticed something was off. Imagine my horror when I discovered the stupid thing had lopped off half of my eyelashes on the right eye. I took a closer look and there was a tear in the rubber pad, turning the top metal part into a guillotine instead of a curler (it was a Lancome, for the record). I still can’t get back up on the pony, so to speak. So a word of warning, ladies: always check that rubber pad on your curlers!

  26. I’m evidently in the minority. My go-to makeup is foundation. I’m extremely fair with freckles, red spots, blue veins, chronic roseaca. In short, my skin reflects a lifetime of dings and insults. Foundation is critical for me to feel pulled together. Best for me: Bobby Brown stick foundation #4 and Kevyn Aucoin liquid 08.

    Also, as a fair person I have virtually invisible eyebrows and about twelve stumpy colorless eyelashes. I need eye shadow, eyeliner, eyebrow pencil. I lost half my left eyebrow to skin cancer, so I have to feather and create a fake brow.

    I am currently on our interview committee. The young women who come in without any makeup seem so young . . . and unpolished. . . and still growing up and not ready. Litigation is hard work and we want people ready for prime time.

  27. One more tip – Don’t wear colored contacts!! I interviewed a woman who wore them, and one of the contacts kept moving during the interview and was VERY distracting, and kind of creepy.

    • I find this so creepy too! Natural eye colors are all beautiful, no need to cover them up with floaty weird-colored contacts, which, to me, are always obviously fake.

    • Oh my god! I never thought of this but this is an EXCELLENT point. Especially asians wearing light hazel or something else clearly unnatural.

  28. I almost never wear makeup. I’ve worn it to be a friend’s bridesmaid (though I didn’t wear any to my own wedding), and a few times I’ve worn it in an extreme way to accessorize a funky non-work outfit, but I don’t wear it to work and I don’t wear it to interviews.

    For me, though, it’s more of a political statement than anything else. I’m still relatively young and attractive, and make-up wouldn’t do much if anything to improve my appearance. I know that wearing makeup would make me look (as others have said) more “polished”, but I find it profoundly disturbing, on a personal level, that we have a social expectation that women must paint their faces in order to be taken more seriously, even if it doesn’t improve their appearance except in some vague way that shows they’re playing the game.

    I wear hose, I’ve pierced my ears, I often wear high heels. My face is my “enough is enough” line.

    I know that not wearing makeup probably will impact my career someday, if it hasn’t already. But to me, it’s the equivalent of refusing to cover my hair.

    • Well said.

      If you aren’t going to play the game, be willing to accept the consequences. You are naive if you think there aren’t any.

      Too many times I’ve seen a younger woman who would look infinitely better with a little eye make up or foundation.

    • That’s a good attitude to have. I choose to wear a little makeup to interviews because that’s what I normally wear to work, but I refuse to wear a skirt for the reasons you stated. I accept that I might not get certain jobs because I choose to wear a pantsuit to an interview. However, I feel like if a job is contingent upon me wearing a skirt suit, it is not a job I wish to have.

      • Political statement? This whole blog is devoted to making ourselves more attractive and thus, more marketable in the work environment. Make-up and skirts were big issues 40 years ago. Thank God for the women who fought for equality but I do enjoy wearing make-up.

        • I see professional fashion as far more than just how to become “more marketable in the work environment.”

          Regardless, it’s absolutely ridiculous to say that by being interested in fashion we can’t have opinions about what should and should not be expected of women. I LIKE wearing skirt suits and prefer them to pant suits, but I’d be aghast at the idea that women look “unprofessional” in pant suits. Same thing with fine jewelry – I love fine jewelry, and I sometimes arrange outfits around what would look best with different pieces I own; but I also would not think a woman’s outfit looked “unfinished” or “unpolished” if she wasn’t wearing any. There are things which we MAY wear as women (which men cannot wear and be seen as professional) which I do not think we should HAVE to wear.

          Women are also expected to preface most of our comments with “I think” or “I’m not sure, but” in order to keep from being classified as too aggressive or domineering, and to downplay our accomplishments, which runs us headlong into problems in the interview process or in gaining promotions and payraises. This blog has mentioned those issues REPEATEDLY, so obviously critiquing the ridiculous gender issues which we have to deal with as women is a perfectly acceptible topic for this blog.

          If you like makeup, that’s great for you. Wear it. Enjoy it.

          But if you look down on other women for NOT wearing it, or think that if we don’t then we “don’t care about [our] appearance,” then congratulations, you’re reinforcing a patriarchy.

          • PurpleViolet :

            No, I don’t look down on any woman who chooses not to wear make-up because she does not want to wear make-up. But, a young woman who thought she was making a political statement by not wearing make-up? Immature.

          • No, I don’t look down on any woman who chooses not to wear make-up because she does not want to wear make-up. But, a young woman who thought she was making a political statement by not wearing make-up? Immature.

          • I agree. I am a youngish (32) professional woman, and I do not wear make up on a day to day basis. I do, however, wear tailored suits and tasteful jewelry, and keep may hair, nails, and skin in healthy, clean condition. Make up, for me, is something I may wear to court or for an evening out with the SO, but it is not a daily occurence. I’ve thought about whether my stance on make up might change as my skin ages, but I’m really not sure that it will. It bugs me that women are expected to paint their faces in order to be seen as professionally dressed, and it certainly smacks of reinforcing the partiarchy. I’ll wear makeup when my male counterparts do the same.

          • I see dressing/makeup for interviews like this. The person doing the hiring is looking for someone who will represent the company. Think about the Mac and PC guy interviewing for the same job…the company that would hire the Mac guy probably wouldn’t hire the PC guy and vice versa. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just the way it is.

  29. housecounsel :

    What Violet said.

    The Panasonic heated eyelash curler is AMAZING. I’ve never found a non-heated eyelash curler that works.

    P.S. Latisse works, too!

    • legalicious07 :

      I have barely existent eyelashes, but Latisse freaks me out. The part of the commercial that says there can be some irreversible darkening of the iris or something like that is enough to turn me off!

  30. How bad is it that this is the first time I’ve heard of eyebrow powder?

  31. Wearing make-up that gives you more definition and light/dark contrast is important. This is why we wear eye shadow, blush, lipstick, etc. It helps us to appear more authoritative during the interview. As an image management consultant, I definitely recommend darkening your eyebrows and wearing a darker lipstick as well.


  32. It won’t matter how you look! You won’t get the job anyhow. Ever since Affirmative Action got into the White House only minorities are getting the available jobs. This is because there is a mandate from Obama’s admin to the Atty. Generals office (Eric Holder) to only hire minorities at the present time.

    • You have no basis for these statements. I am WHT (along with a bunch of white colleagues), recently got employed in DC…. The truth is that over 80% of government employees are white. Feel free to look in to government statistics @ gao.gov.

  33. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something which I think I would
    never understand. It seems too complicated and
    very broad for me. I am looking forward for
    your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

  34. Great blog right here! Additionally your site quite a bit up very fast!
    What web host are you using? Can I get your associate link in your host?
    I wish my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

work fashion blog press mentions