Work Makeup for the No-Makeup Girl


Fledglings, I’m not a fan of makeup. Mainly because I’m a fan of sleeping. When I discovered Korean skin care, I knew I’d found a home, because their philosophy is ‘more skin care, less makeup.’ As someone who’s had acne since she was eleven, this speaks to my soul. I couldn’t get on board with putting on makeup to hide my acne, but having the makeup cause more acne, then having to wear more makeup to cover the extra acne…where does it end, guys?

Well, for me, it ended with a realization that there’s no moral or career-based requirement to wear makeup, and that like any other fashion choice, I should be intentional with what I do to myself and make sure I feel happy with how I look. That feeling of empowerment and self-ownership is way more impressive than presenting a face that’s not yours to the world.

So am I here to tell you that you have to wear makeup to the office? This isn’t an episode of Mad Men, so no, I’m not. Makeup is a tool, and if you want to use that tool to get a specific result, then you should learn how to do it properly and how to care for your skin while you use it, and then you should use the crap out of it and feel great about yourself while you do. And if you’re sitting at work without a bit of makeup on your face (like me), and you feel like your most beautiful self, then I hope you just crush it today, because there’s no reason you shouldn’t.

But where, oh where, does a no-makeup girl get advice on how to rock juuuuust a little makeup when the mood strikes her? I went on that journey myself, and here’s where I got good information:

  • YouTube – there are approximately a floppity-jillion makeup tutorials out there, and I highly recommend you watch some of them to learn how to make your makeup work for you. There is everything from basics to crazy-advanced techniques, and you can easily blow a weekend watching them if the mood strikes you.
  • Sephora Sales Associates – this one is how I learned to fill in my eyebrows. Go to Sephora, or any makeup counter, but Sephora really is packed with great people who’ll help you out and they have a great return policy. Tell them what you’re wanting to learn how to do, whether it’s ‘apply mascara’ or ‘find and apply foundation that actually matches my skin.’ They’ll sit you down with some samples and walk you through what they’re using on you and how to do it, and then you can buy what they used and take it home to try it on your own! You might balk at their prices, but if you wear makeup once in a blue moon (like me), a lot of the stuff you buy can last forever (just don’t keep mascara for too long or it gets all germy – more on that later).
  • Friends in the Know – Do you have a friend who works at a makeup counter, or is a professional stylist? Or is she just That One Friend whose makeup always looks perfect and stunning? Either way, she had to learn how to do makeup, which means she can probably teach you too. Meet up for a wine and makeup party, and get your bestie to show you how she does her face so you can pick up tips on technique. Even if you only wear makeup once a year, you want to get it right once a year, especially since you’re probably getting your picture taken if it’s a special enough occasion for makeup.

Great, you know things! Now, how do you keep your skin healthy during those times you decide to wear some makeup? This is crucial, because you don’t want to get into that spiral of acne/makeup/more acne/more makeup. You also don’t want to accidentally give yourself a skin or eye infection from dirty makeup tools – yes, that happens, and it’s super gross and I don’t recommend. Let’s discuss skin care as it applies to makeup.

  • Invest in Good Makeup Remover – What goes on, must come off, and the Korean philosophy is that you should spend as much time caring for your skin as you spent applying your makeup. It’s astounding how much makeup can stay in your pores, even after you’ve washed with soap. I prefer to use oil-based makeup remover to get rid of eye makeup and lipstick, and then use the Korean double-cleanse method to get all that gunk off my face for good. The trick here is to allow yourself enough time before bed to really get in there and remove all of your makeup and do your full routine before you go to sleep. If you’re already into a good skin care routine, you should be set, but if you’re not, this is a good time to start. Don’t go to sleep with makeup on your face; you’ll regret it so hard in the morning.
  • Wear Sunscreen, No Excuses – When my dad was diagnosed with skin cancer, I went to the dermatologist for a skin checkup. I asked her if I was at risk for skin cancer too, and she said, “I would expect someone with the type of cancer your dad had removed, to have a LOT more sun damage than you have. So keep protecting your skin from the sun, and you should be low-risk.” That’s all the encouragement I needed! Whether you work indoors, or it’s cloudy, or whatever, you need sunscreen every single day. Shop around to find one that works for your skin, or if you like wearing tinted moisturizer or foundation, get a brand with sunscreen in it already and save some time. Don’t skip this; the scars my dad has from skin cancer treatment are truly gnarly, and I would hate for any of you to have to go through that when dabbing on some lotion in the morning is the best way to prevent it. If you do nothing else to your face at all, you should still wear sunscreen.
  • Wash Your Brushes – Your skin makes a LOT of oil, and your makeup brushes pick up that oil, even if you’re applying makeup to a clean face. Wash them with mild soap and water occasionally, marvel at all the gunk running out of them, and let them air dry. If you don’t wear a ton of makeup, you probably don’t have a million brushes either, so it’s a quick thing you can do on a Saturday to save your face from breaking out. Bonus: it also keeps your makeup looking fresh, as dirty brushes can make your makeup look muddy.
  • Protect Your Eyes – If I’m putting on any makeup at all, it’s probably just lips, lashes, and brows. Eyeliner and mascara go right on your eyelids, meaning you definitely don’t want those tools to be dirty – pink-eye is gross and painful, and it is definitely caused by dirty mascara applicators. Since I don’t wear it very often, I buy the travel-sized mascara tubes, so that I go through them quicker and they don’t have time to sit around marinating in eye-germs, or just drying out and being a waste of money. Be careful with your eyeliner pencils too – I use a cream liner and a tiny brush, because I’m afraid of scraping my eyelid with the wood of a pencil, but if you keep a good sharpener around and make sure the pencil is in good shape before you draw, you should be fine.

Professionalism Note: I mentioned public speaking in my previous post on work hair, and your makeup can help your public speaking as well. Put a little something on your lips and your eyes, even if it’s just some lip gloss and a single coat of mascara, to draw attention to your face when you’re addressing a group of people. It helps keep your audience’s attention, making them more engaged in what you’re saying. Again, makeup is a tool that you can use to your advantage, and you should utilize it in those times that it would help you out.

There you have it: an intro to makeup and skin care that will keep your wallet and your face happy. Remember, take care of yourself, and present an honest face to the world, no matter what that face looks like or has on it. I’ll talk more about my journey of adopting my skin care routine next weekend – caring for my skin has made me way happier than I anticipated, and I recommend good skin care to everyone, makeup or no-makeup.


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