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Is There Such a Thing as ‘Work-Appropriate’ Makeup?


Most work dress codes boil down to common sense: if you know anything about the culture of your company, you pretty much know whether or not you can get away with flip-flops during the summer or jeans on Fridays. But once you get past clothing and on to things like makeup and hair, corporate grooming standards are harder to figure out.

“In my mind, a more conservative, ‘professional’ makeup look feels appropriate for most work settings,” writes Carrie Murphy at The Grindstone. “But the definitions of conservative and professional can vary widely, especially among fields, positions, even employers. …There’s a big difference between the kind and amount of makeup you’d wear to work at Sephora contrasted with the makeup you might wear on an archaeological dig.”

So how do you figure out what’s appropriate? Pretty much the same way you settle the flip-flops and jeans issue: observation. In other words, if no one else is wearing false eyelashes and a bold lip, you probably shouldn’t be either.

In general, you’re probably safe going with the old adage “less is more.” Ideally, your colleagues should never walk away from you thinking about your blush or eyeliner. Your makeup should be invisible, there to make you feel more confident, not to distract from your ideas.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Unless, again, you work at a cosmetics company. In that case, the path to the corner office might be paved in sequins and lip gloss.

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(Photo Credit: rognonton/Flickr)

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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