Why do I always look like hell by the end of the day?
October 8, 2013 7:27 PM   Subscribe

I start the day looking and feeling bright and bushy-tailed-- I put on my makeup in my well-lit bathroom, and feel pretty perky and great in the morning. At some point mid or late-aftenroon, when I check the mirror in the bathroom at work, I leap back in horror. Somehow, over the course of the day, I have gone from looking gorgeous and fresh to tired, droopy, and ICK. What happened? It could be partially that my eye makeup has started to bleed into my under-eye area... but is that all? How can I make this not happen?
posted by airguitar2 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (32 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
I think this is pretty normal.

You could try:
1. Don't wear eyeliner or mascara on your lower lashline & lashes.
2. Bring a little touch-up kit (concealer, lipstick, blush, a little hairbrush) to freshen up at lunch.
posted by amaire at 7:34 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do you use eyeshadow primer? Urban Decay's Eyeshadow Primer Potion is the gold standard and keeps my eye makeup on all day. I also use Blinc mascara, which doesn't run or raccoon, but that's another story...

Also, water. Lots of water.
posted by mynameisluka at 7:35 PM on October 8, 2013 [10 favorites]

This happens to me unless I wear waterproof eyeliner (I use this one) and make sure that any undereye concealer I'm wearing is "dry," meaning well-blended and no longer tacky. I brush powder over it just to be sure.

I don't usually use eyeshadow but have used the Primer Potion with success.

Also, undereye concealer can crease during the day, which highlights undereye wrinkles/bags rather than hiding them. Primer may help with that, or just getting better quality concealer. I think that liquid tends to crease less than powder.
posted by quiet coyote at 7:41 PM on October 8, 2013

What is the lighting like in your office bathroom? It could be making everyone look terrible.

Also yes, try to touch up during the day.
posted by sweetkid at 7:41 PM on October 8, 2013 [14 favorites]

Seconding the Urban Decay Primer Potion. I can't live without that stuff. I also use a Lancome brand eyelash primer pre-mascara which helps that stay on. You might also try a waterproof mascara.

For face freshening, I prefer blotting papers to pressed powder as blotting papers don't give a cakey look.

Make sure you are well hydrated (that means lots of water, not coffee). If you get hungry, have some string cheese or a handful of almonds - something with fat and protein, which will keep you going a lot longer than sugar and flour will.

And, if you can, take a few stretch breaks throughout the day to get up, move around and get your circulation going. It's hard not to look and feel droopy and blah when you have to sit still at a desk all day.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:42 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Another vote for the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion, which I've been using for years - however, I haven't found the new version in the squeeze tube to be as effective as the original. The original one in the genie bottle is a miracle worker.

I have really oily skin, so I touch up my foundation and blush throughout the day. I use a mineral powder foundation and blush so this just means brushing on a bit more powder to keep the shininess at bay. If I didn't do this, I'd look like an oily mess by lunchtime.

I also touch up my lipstick after eating - well, usually I wipe it all off at lunchtime and do my lips again afterwards.

All of this makes a big difference! Try to get into the habit of touching up a couple of times a day when you use the bathroom.
posted by RubyScarlet at 7:44 PM on October 8, 2013

Addendum to my previous comment- I just don't bother with mascara anymore because it's hard to put on with the eyeliner I use and it all ends up below my eyes. I do cat-eye eyeliner most days so it's hard to tell that I'm not wearing mascara. So you might consider that.
posted by quiet coyote at 7:46 PM on October 8, 2013

Also, I'm not sure if you're only talking about your makeup here but I try to keep an eye on my clothes for lint and hair and brush these off with a lint brush if necessary.

Same with shoes - you can stash a shoe brush or shoe shine wipes in your desk for if you get dirt or mud on them on the way to work.

Keep a spare pair of stockings/tights in your desk drawer in case you get a snag.

Keep a small container of hair product and/or bobby pins in your handbag for bad hair days.
posted by RubyScarlet at 7:51 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Use serious waterproof liquid eyeliner that won't (really, can't) move. There are a few, basically all dupes of each other: MUFE aqua liner; MAC liquidlast; and Milani makes one too if you want a cheap drugstore one.

More importantly, realize that the lighting at work is probably fluorescent, which makes everyone look like a rotting corpse.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:53 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, there are certain bathroom mirrors at work and school I simply DO NOT LOOK IN. Because sad face uggo. Consider a mirror in your office? Near natural lighting in addition to the primer, touch up, etc
posted by atomicstone at 8:00 PM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]

Does your foundation or concealer oxidize on your skin (going slightly yellow-orange and making you look sallow or just plain wrong) and/or settle into lines and pores? I had that problem, which made me look absolutely terrible by 3PM, especially under office lighting. Over the past few years I've figured out how to solve it for myself: Switching to a BB cream (Clinique works best for me but that's totally a personal chemistry thing so YMMV) instead of foundation, NARS concealer for undereye darkness (that stuff does not budge or settle on me), and a light dusting of Smashbox Halo powder.
posted by erst at 8:16 PM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

Primer is good, but what's MUCH more effective for me is makeup fixer. That stuff is incredible. I don't use it regularly because it's kind of outside my budget, but for nice events or costume makeup it's incredible — even really fragile eye makeup will hold through dancing and sweating.
posted by you're a kitty! at 8:29 PM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

Primer is your friend. I use the NARS eyelid primer and the smashbox photo finish foundation primer. Both are spendy as hell but the difference they make is unreal. Also if you're finding that your eye makeup is looking too dark, you can add a highlight eyeliner (pale) to the inner corner of your eye, either initially or partway through the day to give it some pop. But really, man, primer.
posted by KathrynT at 8:42 PM on October 8, 2013

Oh man, seconding makeup fixer. But you know what works just as well and is like a 5th as expensive? A water mister, like the kind Evian makes. Way cool as a setting spray in the morning (also helps you blend foundation again), excellent to revive dull or caked makeup in the afternoon. $6 a pop at my local grocery store.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:45 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

The other thing, in addition to the things everyone else has mentioned, is that by the afternoon your skin has probably reverted to its natural state of either dryness or greasyness. Either keep some moisturizer or some blotting papers/powder around to restore your skin to it's morning state.

I've also had good luck with using Make Up Forever HD powder and their Full Cover concealer in the morning; they've been better than anything else at keeping everything looking good all day long.
posted by Kololo at 8:56 PM on October 8, 2013

Seconding Nars eye primer! It is so much better than the Urban Decay primer. Even the legendary Lisa Eldridge favours it!
posted by figaro at 8:56 PM on October 8, 2013

People generally re-touch their makeup at the end of lunch. Scooping panda eyes is a significant part of that effort.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:09 PM on October 8, 2013

Nth-ing primer. Not just eye primer, but full face primer as KathrynT mentioned above. Whatever your skin type - dry, sensitive, oily, sallow, red - there is a primer for you. For the longest time I thought primer was a scam designed to get us to need yet another newly invented makeup product, but it really does make an incredible difference in keeping your makeup fresh, fade-free, and in place, for the entire day.

Nothing beats Smashbox, but for everyday use, in order to cut out some steps in the morning, L'Oreal Miracleblur acts as a moisturizer, sunscreen and primer. It's my new favorite thing.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 9:27 PM on October 8, 2013

NARS eye primer is way better than UD Primer Potion. And NYX's HD eyeshadow base is almost as good.

I'm going to echo what everyone said about the lighting in the bathroom probably being awful.

Definitely use a good concealer under your eyes and maybe take a luminizer pen like YSL Touche Eclat with you to brighten up in the middle of the day. It's a highlighter, not a concealer, so try applying on the top of your cheekbones and the inner corners of your eyes.

And if you're into touching up your powder in the middle of the day to de-shine, maybe a light reflecting HD-type powder or a lavender tinted one to brighten.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:37 PM on October 8, 2013 [7 favorites]

Nthing full face primer, eye primer, and the waterproof varietiea of mascara and eyeliner. I find that a combination of a silicone based primer (I used photofinish by smashbox) and any silicone based foundation don't have as much of a tendancy to move around and creep into fine lines/creases.

I'd also like to add that powdering (by pressing the powder into your face with a puff - simply using a powder brush to dust it over the foundation won't set it) helps makeup stay put and stay fresh looking for much longer and keeps shine away.
posted by rideunicorns at 9:54 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

While there's some good tips in the comments above, the main culprit is going to be fluorescent lighting. You can confirm this by looking at yourself in the mirror as soon as you get home from work. I bet you won't look nearly as bad as you did in your office bathroom mirror several hours earlier.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:42 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

How about some yoga or a brisk walk to boost circulation and give you a glow?
posted by 3491again at 10:44 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

E.L.F's Mist and Set is amazing and only $3 for 2oz (vs $29 for 4oz for the Urban Decay version). I've never used the Urban Decay one so I can't compare but its hard to imagine how the ELF one could be better - it keeps my makeup flawless all through roller derby practice (pretty much sweat pouring down my face for a couple of hours)
posted by missmagenta at 2:05 AM on October 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

What happens on days where you don't wear makeup?
posted by gjc at 2:55 AM on October 9, 2013

Nthing the lighting. I don't wear makeup, yet the difference between my bathroom, with its bright, natural light wavelength bulbs, and our office bathroom, with its directly-overhead, weak yellow lighting, is astonishing. I go from looking fresh to ghastly in the space of my commuting hour. Except it's not me, it's the light.

You can test for this pretty easily if you have a pocket mirror. Check how you look outside, in natural light. Remember how you held your mirror (position can also make a big difference). Once you get to work, hold the mirror in the same position and look at yourself. Make allowances for expressions of shock crossing your face. And if you can, go outside during a break to get a third look in daylight, just to reassure yourself.
posted by fraula at 2:58 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm pretty sure that the lighting in work bathrooms is universally terrible!

I use NYX eyeshadow primer, it's good and less expensive than Urban Decay, but if you feel like splurging...do!

I don't wear mascara. I just curl my eyelashes when I need a wide-eyed look.

Reapplying lipstick really helps.

But seriously, the light in the bathroom, probably TERRIBLE!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:16 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing shadow and face primer. Also, if you're having oily cheeks/t-zone (Wherever you get oil, I guess), get some blotting papers.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:34 AM on October 9, 2013

the main culprit is going to be fluorescent lighting. You can confirm this by looking at yourself in the mirror as soon as you get home from work.

You can also check by looking in the mirror at work as soon as you get there.
posted by CathyG at 7:03 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Everytime i go to the bathroom (about 3 or 4 times a day cause i drink a lot of water all day) after washing my hands, i wet them and wipe my face with my wet hands to get rid of gunk and the coolness of the water is a litle pick me up. I don't wear foundation though, sometimes I go bare skinned and sometimes i use a little bit of a powder and highlighter gently patted on with a foundation sponge and would re-pat after wetting my face. For eye makeup, I swipe my under-eye with a wet finder to remove fallout (but I don't wear concealer under my eyes because it's always noticable and pasty YMMV).
posted by WeekendJen at 7:10 AM on October 9, 2013

I'm not big into make up beyond the basics (foundation, mascara, eyeliner, etc), so I may not have the expertise of others here, but for me it makes a big difference to wear waterproof mascara. The non-waterproof kind gives me very subtle raccoon eyes that I think contribute to the tired look.
posted by mermily at 7:42 AM on October 9, 2013

It's also possible you have mild facial edema (swelling), making your face a little smoother (puffier) in the morning than later in the day. My boyfriend says this is why I look so pretty in the morning (I do actually have very mild, occasional edema). My boyfriend is a lovely individual. Anyway, here's a photographic representation, it's not graphic
posted by tyrantkitty at 3:10 PM on October 9, 2013

Another coat of mascara, refresh your blush, and you'll look refreshed and rested. Laughing at your leap back in horror... Who hasn't done that!
posted by Lornalulu at 5:54 PM on October 9, 2013

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