Those who know me personally would be aware of the fact that I’m seemingly constantly going into job interviews. It seems like a never ending job hunt, even if I’m currently employed in a regular job outside of my freelancing. The reason? I take life advice from rockstar and business mogul Gene Simmons who states that you should always be looking for work so that you’re never out of work.
The thing that baffles me is that many people in their teens, 20s and 30s seem to have only a vague concept on etiquette for job interviews. This is one of those times when first impressions mean everything, yet I’ve seen people look surprised and hurt after interviewers have commented on their wearing leggings to interviews or with way too much makeup on for a professional environment (the sort of stuff you’d wear out clubbing on a saturday night). Even if you’re applying for roles in the fashion or beauty industry. Hell, even if you’re applying for jobs in fast food, it is general courtesy to look neat, professional and put your best self forward. Turning up looking like you’ve wandered in from a music festival is rude as you’re literally telling the interviewer they weren’t worth the effort it would take to put on something a little more chic when they are most likely wearing corporate wear.
Makeup is one of those factors that can make or break a professional image. Women are generally expected to wear cosmetics in the workplace (the sexism apparent in this is another topic for another day), yet most employers have no clear guidelines as to what that actually entails until you turn up one day and are told you look unprofessional. Prospective employers (again, fashion industry or not) still expect a corporate edge to your presentation as this is a more formal setting than being in your normal work environment. They’re designed to be intimidating to see how you perform under pressure. Here’s a list of a few makeup looks that will suit almost any job interview.
1. 60s revamp
The 60s style nod we’ve been seeing on runways and in the streets alike is a great way to look polished very quickly whilst still looking fresh, young and stylish.
– A clean, dewy base is essential for this look, so pay extra attention to colour matching your foundation correctly and buffing it in with a duo fibre brush, beauty blender or your favourite foundation brush.
– Conceal carefully under the eyes and over any blemishes, then powder lightly to eliminate any shine. A very light touch of dusty pink or peach coloured blush will give a nice glow, try to avoid over contouring unless you simply can’t leave the house without contouring. If so, keep it light and well blended so it looks natural. Minimalism is the key here.
– Eye shadows should be left to light, neutral colours and a shadow 1-3 shades darker than your base colour can be swept through the socket with a fluffy blending brush to accentuate the eye more.
– Next, a flick of black liner (note: for those with an unsteady hand, an eyeliner pen will be your best friend here) for a cat like look. Try to keep it close to the lashline and the wing should end fairly close the the outer corner of the eye to avoid the Amy Winehouse look, which is great, but doesn’t scream “hire me” to prospective employers.
– Leave the lower lashline clear of any colour to keep the liner from being overpowering and apply lashings of mascara to both upper and lower lashes.
– Keep your brows neat and avoid over filling them: once you’ve balanced out the shape, you’re done. No gradient shaded looks or waxy cartoon brows here. Better still, play it safe and use a shadow and angle brush to fill them in to avoid going overboard.
– Finish the look with a nude or natural lip colour, like a dusty pink, peach or a light coral colour to keep it fresh and youthful.
2. Completely neutral
This is the ultimate safe option for a job where you’re unable to figure out how conservative your prospective employer will be. Natural makeup suits everyone so it’s the best bet if you’re not confident enough (or you have a more androgynous style) for a 60s look or a red lip. A clean, fresh base is essential and special attention needs to be paid to the smaller details so it looks classy and neat instead of like your makeup has rubbed off on the way there.
– A sheer to medium coverage foundation (or BB cream if you’re blessed with clear skin) is going to make this look a lot more eye catching; full coverage foundations can come across as mask-like unless they’re balanced with the same amount of makeup everywhere else. Pick your favourite foundation, ensuring a correct colour match, and buff into the skin like a crazy person.
– Conceal very carefully under the eyes to eliminate darkness without creasing up underneath and adding ten years to your life. Blend thoroughly before concealing any blemishes, pigmentation, etc.
– Apply a light dusting of powder to the entire face to set your foundation without looking cakey or too matte- it will make you look dull and pasty.
– Next, lightly sculpt the face with a matte contouring powder or bronzer (or powder foundation) 1-3 shades darker than your foundation under the cheekbones (the hollow of your cheek, suck them in to find them), sweeping from the temples to the side of the forehead and against the jawline. Use a small fluffy brush for more control if you’re new to this, otherwise a chisel-shaped blush brush (or contour brush, fan brush, etc) will do just fine. You must blend the contouring out correctly- watch your hairline for any pooling bits of colour that haven’t blended in properly. Always contour slightly less than you think you need to so you avoid looking freakish. Matte powders are important for neutral looks as any pearlescent colours will bring light back to these areas, rendering your hard work pointless…. plus it looks completely obvious, which will clash with this look.
– With a medium sized powder brush, apply a natural shade of blush that suits your skintone working from the apples of your cheeks and sweeping up toward the temple. Blend well to avoid the 80s stripes. Even if you can rock them, this isn’t the time to get your Pat Benatar fix.
– Highlight the tops of your cheekbones, under the brow bone and up the centre of your face using a highlighting powder, powder foundation 1-3 shades lighter than your base or even an eyeshadow a few shades lighter than your foundation. Like the contouring, use a small fluffy brush if you need the extra control, otherwise a soft medium powder brush will work just great. Unlike the contouring, you can be a little bit more heavy handed so long as your chosen highlighting product doesn’t shine like a beacon (this will make you look oily instead of glowy and fresh) as it will continue to lift your best features and give a healthy glow to your skin. Can you tell I love highlighting?
– Using the same product you used as a highlighter (or an eyeshadow 1-3 shades lighter than your skin), fill in the centre of your eye using a flat eyeshadow brush, blending lightly at the corners of your eye and socketline.
– Using the same product you used to contour (or an eyeshadow 1-3 shades darker than your skin), create a darker socket/crease line, being sure to stick close to your actual eye socket and blend in well. Use a fluffy brush for this if, like me, you have a tendency towards heavy handed application.
– Invest in a brown eyeliner. Seriously. It will be your best friend on days when you’re hung over, tired, have cried all night or when black liner will look too over done. A gel liner has the added benefit of being near permanent until you decide to remove it yourself.
– Carefully trace this genius shade of eyeliner around your lashline. Be careful not to make the lines too thick, but rest assured that it will still look amazing if you make a slightly bolder line than what you intended to. If it looks too dark, blend with a cotton tip or a bullet brush by lightly buffing over the line in tiny circles until it becomes a soft line. Notice how big your eyes look right now. Much bigger than when you use black eyeliner. Gloat a little and praise your good sense to buy a brown liner. Repeat this process of admiration until you need to move on to the next step.
– Curl your lashes to add more lift to your eyes before finishing with a generous amount of mascara. Comb through any clumps.
– Do not finish with a nude lip. You will probably look washed out like that ridiculously good looking zombie in “Warm Bodies’. Instead, use a soft natural pink or peach which is close to your natural lip colour. Using a lip pencil, fill in your lips before applying lipstick and then trace and perfect the outline after applying lipstick for a perfect shape that won’t bleed.
3. Classic red lipstick
This look can be made in conjunction with either of the two above looks so long as:
a) The eye makeup is played down so it doesn’t compete with the lips for attention
b) You can line lips easily and will remember to bring a lip pencil, emergency concealer and the lipstick with you for a touch up pre interview
c) You don’t eat or drink anything between applying it and the interview if you’re not 100% certain it won’t end up all over your chin, teeth, cheeks, nose etc.
Red lipstick is only job interview appropriate if the rest of your face is soft and understated. If you want to mix it up with the 60s style makeup, make sure your liner is thinner than normal to keep it balanced.
If you have a warm skintone, stick to orange based reds such as NARS heatwave (my old faithful) or Limecrime’s Suedeberry Velvetine. If you have a cool skintone, stick to blue based reds such as MAC Ruby Woo or Limecrime’s Red Velvet Velvetine. If you have dark skin, stick to coral or pink toned reds.
– Your base needs to be flawless regardless of the style you’re going for
– Cartoon eyebrows are bad news and do not belong in the workplace.
– Soft neutral colours are your best friends
– Keep black liner to a minimum
– Keep one key focal point
– Minimalism is key
– You really need brown eyeliner.
Any other soft, smoky looks in neutral colours like soft greys, browns and copper will work out great. Dark lipsticks are not recommended for 99.99% of all job interviews, trust me.
This post is part of a series, so please look forward to more beauty tips for job seekers.