3 makeup no-no’s in the office

This one’s controversial I know but I bet we can all immediately think of someone at work who, through no fault of their own, just hasn’t quite got it right in the makeup department.

Know your audience

I attended a meeting last week at a corporate location in the city and as I listened to the various points of view coming from the people around the table I couldn’t help but notice certain things. For example, the lady who was dressed in something entirely inappropriate for her age (I could see what she was trying to do but to me it just looked unprofessional), or the lady who was wearing a bit of makeup (tick) but the wrong shades for her skin tone.

Granted, as a makeup artist, I’m bound to pick up on makeup mishaps more so than the average person. But it did get me thinking: Even if on a subconscious level, just how much of a distraction is a makeup mishap?

And when it comes to office makeup, what are the three ‘no no’s?



1. Excessive Shine

One woman in particular had lots of intelligent and insightful things to say but I. Could. Not. Stop. Staring. At. Her. Overly. Shiny. T-zone. *shocked emoji*

Excessive shine is not just the bane of those with oily skin. It has been known to afflict even the driest of skins after a long day in the office – or when too much makeup has been applied – but with the today’s formulas there’s absolutely zero excuse not to be able to keep shine at bay.

Blot Away

If you’re finding your t-zone is shiny mid-way through the day or just before an important meeting, a quick trip to the bathroom with some blot papers (like these) or a blot powder (such as this or this) will do the trick. Blot papers are brilliant because they absorb perspiration without upsetting your makeup and blot powder, well, it does what the name suggests.

Preparation Is Key

If you were born with naturally oily skin (lucky you! You will age BE-AUTIFULLY!) I’d recommend investing in an oil-free foundation for work*. Benefit’s Flawless Oxygen Wow foundation dries wonderfully matte, and whilst it is not strictly oil-free, I’ve seen YSL’s Fusion Ink Foundation work wonders on oily skin.

*I’m not suggesting here that you wear a medium coverage foundation to the office every single day (I so NEED to do my blog post on combining tinted moisturiser and foundation!!!) but on the important days of the working calendar (presentations, meeting clients, date night after work etc).

Layer Up

Remember too that what you wear under your foundation can make a big difference. Opting for a moisturising lotion instead of a cream, and/or an oil free primer before you apply your foundation, will help to keep your makeup fresh and matte.




2. Get Your Brows Right

In case you’ve been asleep under a rock the past five years, brows are big news. And not the sparse sixties brow our mothers, aunties (and depending how old you are, grandmothers) sported, but the big, bushy, eat-your-heart-out-Brooke-Shields kind of brow. Note here: Only Cara can get away with the above. Wearing brows that bold to the office won’t scream ‘Listen to me, I have such interesting thing to say!’ but will leave people wondering how you don’t name them when you look in the mirror every morning.

There are few things more distracting than an odd-shaped or over-grown brow. Think:

  • too thin – well, you can’t really go too thick these days. If you’re struggling to grow yours try castor oil.
  • monobrow – rare in women but occasionally it happens. Deal with it. I love Blink bars. They’ll be nice to you and they apply soothing anti-inflammatory lotions at the end.
  • brow makeup that’s too dark – see: Made In Essex. Probably one of the most common mistakes I see women making after over-plucking. Powder is much more subtle than pencil. Invest in a decent brow brush such as this one.

Ask any beauty editor worth their salt and they’ll tell you a groomed natural brow is instantly anti-ageing. Of course, wearing any kind of makeup is a balancing act and the moment we darken our lips or eyes we feel we need something in our brows, but less is always more.

I’m a huge fan of brow mascaras. Not only are they unbelievably convenient (a quick brush through and you’re done) but the shades are improving every year. If you’re blonde try this and if you’re brunette/dark try this.




3. ‘Young’ Eye Shadow Colour

My heart sinks whenever I see someone wearing bright eye-shadow to the office because it’s obvious they clearly enjoy wearing makeup. But any kind of brightly coloured eye-shadow is, I’m afraid, a big no-no. Unless of course you’re under the age of 25, have unbelievably clear skin, wear very little makeup other than a flash of bright eye shadow (see above) and work in a creative industry. For the over 30, mere mortals among us it’s simply a tricky nut to crack and one not worth attempting.

I’m not saying do not dabble with eye colour but be subtle. A wash of lilac eye shadow can look stunning on someone with green eyes, but unless you’re about to head off for lunch with the girls in a floaty summer dress and with very little other makeup on, I’d say stick to neutral eyes.

The best work-day eye for me is a wash of beige or ‘greige’ (depending on your skin tone) cream eye-shadow, a chocolate brown or grey liner and two quick coats of mascara. Save actual colour for your cheeks or lips (never both).

If you’re feeling decadent and it’s the season for brights try bringing a pop of colour into your look in other ways. A bright scarf or a pop of colour on the nails but be warned: bright nail varnish in a corporate office, especially on women ‘over a certain age’, can look cheap and untrustworthy.

The shape of your nails can also make a big difference. Bright colours work far better on shorter, square or squoval nails whilst nudes suit slightly more rounded, longer nails.

In love with the latest coloured eye liner? By all means, work a bit of it into your look but remember the mantra: less is most definitely more. Whenever I wear a coloured liner to a meeting I always soften it by smudging it with a little of my trusty brown eye shadow (MAC Omega if you must know).

The names of individuals mentioned herein, as well as the name of the company in the City, have been deliberately omitted to protect people’s privacy.

Image credits: 
Aly Hazelwood, My-Management
Renee Zellweger, Reuters
Cara Delevigne, Jason Wu Spring, 2013
Marc by Marc Jacobs, 2014

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