Makeup for job interview?
November 2, 2006 4:32 PM   Subscribe

I have a job interview next week. I haven't worn makeup in 3+ years. What should I do?

I am a 30-something woman. It's a marketing/technical type job. I'm fairly clueless about makeup; I was never much for it, and now I've forgotten what little I knew. And all I own is lip gloss.

I don't think that going to an interview all naked-faced is a great idea. Any books/sites/etc. that might help? Suggestions?

If nothing else, then when I go buy a spiffy new outfit, I'll hit a drug store and grab some foundation & mascara. Is that sufficient?
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (39 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'd dispute the idea that not wearing makeup is a bad idea. I think it's fine. I don't generally wear makeup to job interviews, and I can't see any reason to believe they'd hold it against you if you don't. Unless the interview is for a modeling job, I don't think it will matter. But if you really feel like you need to, concealer, mascara, and maybe some tinted lip gloss or light lipstick is plenty.
posted by decathecting at 4:42 PM on November 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

I am speaking as a guy who is fairly clueless about make-up, but when I walk through a store like Macy's, Origins, etc., I always see women sitting at those little stations they have in the perfume / make-up areas with stylists working on them. I am assuming these are free services that are designed to entice the women to try the make-up and buy it. What about swining by your local Macy's equivalent and throwing yourself at the mercy of the stylists before you head into the interview?
posted by Pontius Pilate at 4:58 PM on November 2, 2006

Oh, no. Do not put yourself at the mercy of the department store women. Some of them, I'm sure, are wonderful, but many of them cake ridiculous amounts and colors of make-up on people and you do NOT want to go into an interview looking like an 8th-grader.

If I were you, I wouldn't bother with foundation, which can look weird if you're unsure about how to choose or apply it. If you're comfortable with mascara and lip gloss or a really neutral lipstick, that's probably enough.
posted by occhiblu at 5:03 PM on November 2, 2006

The reviews at MakeupAlley cover a huge range of brands, so I'd check that out.

If you haven't worn makeup for so long and are "fairly clueless" as you say, I would not recommend buying at the drugstore. It can be hard picking out the right colors and knowing how to apply it properly. If you purchase from a department store makeup counter (like at Nordstrom), a good consultant will help you do everything from picking the right colors/products to showing you how to apply it. Of course, the downside here is that you'll probably end up forking out a small fortune for products and brushes. Sooo, on to plan B:

If this is the only time in the near future you plan to wear makeup (ie, you have no plans to wear makeup if you actually get the job), try calling makeup counters & stores to see if they offer makeup application. I think some M.A.C. stores offered this in the past, and I assume it's still done at various retailers out there. You may be required to buy an item, but you could always pick out a moisturizer or something if you decide not to invest in makeup.
posted by pricklypear at 5:03 PM on November 2, 2006

Get thee to an Origins counter at your local mall or department store. They're not as expensive as, say, Prescriptives or Clinique, and their makeup artists are specifically trained to give women a "natural" look. Tell them what you're looking for. You can call for an appointment for a makeover, which is basically just a woman putting the stuff on your face while telling you what to do for the same results.

Tell the artist you want the simplest of makeup: Basically, you're just looking for a foundation that matches your skin, a sheer powder, blusher that doesn't look too obvious and can double as eye shadow, and a light lipstick/gloss. All you need for a job-appropriate look.

The makeover is free, but you probably will want to buy the foundation and powder from Origins. The rest of it you can generally get away with buying from the drug store. And if you get the job, you might consider the cosmetics an investment for future use.

(This is if you decide you need to wear makeup to your interview. I'll leave the philosophizing up to others.)

PS. Makeup artists are not all the devil, and the Origins ones are generally pretty decent.
posted by brina at 5:05 PM on November 2, 2006

And if your skin tends to be oily, maybe just some powder (rather than the foundation). They sell it in "neutral" which, assuming you're white, should be fine for your skin tone. (I know there are drugstore brands geared toward darker skin tones, but I know nothing about them.)
posted by occhiblu at 5:05 PM on November 2, 2006

Makeup artists are not all the devil

I would certainly be willing to believe that, but I would not put my face at the mercy of any random one a half-hour before an interview, was my point.
posted by occhiblu at 5:07 PM on November 2, 2006

If you're not a makeup wearer, don't be a makeup wearer just for a job interview (I say this as a serious, devoted makeup wearer).

If you are a recovering/former makeup wearer who just feels she needs a little polish, I'd simply suggest a bit of concealer to blend any dark circles/blotches, and a nice neutral, sheer lip tint. The Neutrogena cosmetics section at the drug store should hook you up nicely.
posted by padraigin at 5:09 PM on November 2, 2006

I'm seconding decathecting. If you don't wear makeup usually, why do you feel the need now? You'll feel much more comfortable without it and that will come across in the interview. Plus, if you're really not used to wearing it, usually the tendency is to overdo it and that'll be no good at all. And this is from a woman who wears makeup every day - but I don't think there's anything wrong with not wearing makeup either.

But if you really feel like wearing makeup is the key to winning the job, skip the foundation (that has the most potential to go awry in terms of matching your skin and looking "off") and just use a little concealer where needed, maybe some loose translucent powder to deal with any shine and even out skin tone, mascara and a neutral lip sheer lip color. I bet the ladies at the Clinique counter could give you some good advice.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 5:10 PM on November 2, 2006

If you don't wear makeup often, skip the foundation. Stick with some light mascara, lip color (not too glossy) and some powder or light blush. Foundation can make or break your look and if you don't have a lot of experience applying and wearing it, I'd leave it out. You don't want to be sitting in a warm interview room worrying about your make up when you should be concentrating on the interview and getting the job.

Keep it simple. If you think you'd like to delve deeper into the make up thing, the above advice is great. Take your time, find your look that you're comfortable with.

Good luck with the interview!!
posted by NoraCharles at 5:13 PM on November 2, 2006

Tinted moisturiser is another option - I've never worn foundation but tinted moisturiser is kind of like foundation-lite - it's less thick and opaque, and feels like you've just got a tiny dash of covering on, so there's less need to match up the skin tone perfectly - makes you feel a little bit more made-up with less risk of being "that orange-faced woman" when they review the day's candidates.
posted by penguin pie at 5:21 PM on November 2, 2006

Do NOT let the department store ladies make you up. The last time I emerged from one of their sessions I looked like Tammy Faye Baker.

I actually think wearing a light foundation/concealer is essential to pulling together a look, unless you happen to have really even skintone (for which I would envy you!). Since you don't have a lot of practice, I would suggest a foundation stick like this one from L'Oreal -- it gives you light but even coverage and a powder finish, take about 30 seconds, and is almost impossible to screw up. (It's also a cheap way to get three things in one -- concealer, foundation, and powder -- rather than bothering with all three separately.)

Beyond that, a light neutral blush that you can sweep over the apples of your cheeks and across your eyelids, a little mascara, and a neutral lipgloss will give you a polished but very natural look that you can pull together in a few minutes.
posted by scody at 5:24 PM on November 2, 2006

Very good advice from everyone! :) I hardly ever wear makeup and I don't think I've worn any to my last couple interviews. But if I did feel like sprucing up because of dark under-eye circles or a zit or something, I use a little concealer for the circles and blemishes, a little skin-toned powder to even everything out and blot the shininess, maybe some bronzer (like blush except tan-colored) on the cheeks and a dusting across the forehead, nose, and chin if I'm feeling pale or sallow (it goes a long way towards making me look healthier!). Bonus points for mascara and or lip gloss, but I find chapstick does practically just as good a job as lipgloss.

Geez when I list it all out it seems like a lot, but I swear I barely wear any makeup!! Usually I only wear makeup when I'm looking especially unhealthy, lol!! :)
posted by thejrae at 5:29 PM on November 2, 2006

In my opinion I think you could get away with lipgloss, mascara, and a bit of well blended concealer if your skin is nice. No need for lots of make-up if that is not your style. A great haircut and nice skin should be your focus.

Some products that you can pick up at the drugstore to make you appear polished:

1. Aveeno Positively Radiant Mositrurizer. I love this stuff. I get compliments when I just wear this moisturizer and a little lipgloss. It gives you a healthy glow.

2. Neutrogena Sheer Highlighting Blush in Fresh. Put a little on a blush brush, tap, and apply to apple's of cheeks. It gives a very healthy glow, and works with just about every skin color. I use this just about every day.

3. Loreal mascara. Loreal makes quality mascaras at a great price.

If you need concealer to camaflouge some redness around your nose, or dark circles, pick a shade that suits your skin tone. I would apply it immediately after you put on your moisturizer. This makes blending easy. Some people may argue that you shouldn't apply concealer over moisturizer, but I think it eliminates mistakes, and looks more sheer and natural. You can blot your forehead or nose with a kleenex or tiny bit of pressed transclusent powder if you get shiny.

Tweeze stray eyebrow hairs, or have an eyebrow wax. Groomed eyebrows open up the face and eliminate the need for lots of makeup.

Good luck on your interview.
posted by LoriFLA at 5:39 PM on November 2, 2006 [2 favorites]

you want to be yourself in the interview. a polished and professional version of yourself, but no clothing or styling that would make you feel in any way uncomfortable. i vote for the slightly dressier version of your current lip gloss, whatever that is.
posted by judith at 5:41 PM on November 2, 2006

I say don't worry about wearing makeup. I speak as a non-makeup wearer who has never worn makeup to an interview, and I don't think it has hurt my chances any time! I work in a male-dominated technical industry, which helps I suspect.

You say you're going for a marketing/technical job, does it skew more marketing or more technical? If its more technical then I think there is nothign to worry about. If its more about marketing and meeting clients then I guess it might be expected? I'm not sure since I dont work in marketing or meet clients :) Ask yourself whether you are thinking of adding makeup because you think the interviewers will expect it, or because you are feeling anxious and want to make yourself feel special. If you think it will make you feel special, and boost your confidence then go for it.
posted by Joh at 5:52 PM on November 2, 2006

These threads might be helpful: going to a makeup counter for tips and instructions and pictures
posted by echo0720 at 5:56 PM on November 2, 2006

I was in this exact same situation a few weeks ago. Haven't worn any make-up in a few years, but re-entering the workforce at the age of 35 and my blemishes are showing. I polled my friends on what to do, but their recomendations of Sephora or MAC didn't help, since I live too far from their stores.

In the end, I'm keeping it simple. Lip Liner with a very light gloss. Pressed powder (ymmv depending on skin type). And a little mascara. I bought eye shadow, foundation, liner and rouge, but I'm slowly working my way up to it.

L'Oreal has something called Easy Expert on their website. It let's you upload your own photo and then try make-up on it. More of a game then a useful tool, but it has lot's of tips as well.
posted by saffry at 6:25 PM on November 2, 2006

You need to rent A Boy And His Dog and watch it before going to the interview; puts the bad and wrong idea that makeup is a Good Thing nicely into perspective.

Use your own face.
posted by flabdablet at 6:31 PM on November 2, 2006

I don't wear makeup and never have for an interview. I'm 34. I've never had a problem getting a job (advertising, which is about as superficial as you can get). Just a point of reference for you; if you have an appropriate outfit, spend more time fussing with your resume/portfolio. I mean, take a shower, wear deododorant. General hygiene & grooming apply. But if you're not planning on wearing makeup when you land this job, why bother with it when you're interviewing?
posted by macadamiaranch at 6:32 PM on November 2, 2006

Um, don't watch A Boy and His Dog without having a clear sense of what you're getting in for.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:59 PM on November 2, 2006

You don't need makeup. I never wear it to a job interview, except for perhaps a little lip gloss. More importantly: make sure your hair and outfit are neat. Nicely tailored pressed suit, polished shoes, hair that's under control. Those will make the better impression.

Seriously, don't bother with the makeup as long as you otherwise look professional.
posted by bibbit at 7:35 PM on November 2, 2006

Seconding saffry's comments here - keep it simple, and pressed powder (does wonders to even out skin tone) and a little mascara and liner and lip gloss. Things like Easy Expert (or Cosmo Virtual Makeover software etc.) are fun to play around with. By the way if you're near a Clinique makeup counter they generally know their stuff and their stuff is quite good.

As far as the 'to makeup or not to make up', I don't wear much at most times (liner, lipgloss - maybe mascara) and only put slightly more if I have an interview - emphasis on slightly (i.e. concelor etc.). You have to be true to yourself, but do know that the way you look will affect how you feel on interview day - and if you see a nicely made up classy woman looking back, chances are you'll feel classy too :) With that in mind, if you go off with a smashing resume, lovely outfit and a nice make up face all three help to give you a good dose of confidence. Above all, good luck, and knock 'em dead!
posted by rmm at 11:05 PM on November 2, 2006

The MAC stores will give you a sheet of paper with a face and label it as to what goes where when--and they're more accepting than the department stores.
posted by brujita at 11:22 PM on November 2, 2006

I don't think that going to an interview all naked-faced is a great idea.

A question: If you really think this place won't hire a woman unless she is wearing makeup (I assume the same isn't true of the fellas), why do you want to work there? Is a short skirt and pumps also necessary?

If the makeup makes a difference to them, that's not setting the bar too high for respecting you in the workplace. IMHO.

And besides if you're not comfortable with makeup, that will come across in the interview. Even if they can't pinpoint it exactly.
posted by poweredbybeard at 11:39 PM on November 2, 2006

I've never worn makeup1. And I've got every position I've interviewed for since 1992. I say don't bother. I'd imagine that I'd feel like I was in fancy dress if I wore it, and that would do more damage to my interview performance than the lack of slap would.

1This is technically a lie - there was an occasion, in my second year of senior school, when classmates convinced me to try it. I wasn't impressed.
posted by handee at 1:04 AM on November 3, 2006

A question: If you really think this place won't hire a woman unless she is wearing makeup (I assume the same isn't true of the fellas), why do you want to work there? Is a short skirt and pumps also necessary?

Marketing is a field where the superficial routinely makes or breaks things (or more importantly, is perceived to do so). It is reasonable to work as hard on your appearance as you can before going to an interview for such a job.
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 2:04 AM on November 3, 2006

I'm a guy, so maybe I have no business answering this question, but I feel if you do decide to wear make-up at all, do so sparingly. Heavy make-up jobs never look good on a woman anyway.

Good luck on the interview!
posted by dropkick at 3:58 AM on November 3, 2006

GAH! Stop telling her to try LIPGLOSS!!!! For a woman in her 30s, this is like the trickiest make-up to get used to: technique, application, and wear, so that you don't look like a clown or a teenager. For a woman who normally wears nothing on her lips, she's going to look like a fool with shiny, sparkly, pink shit smeared all over her face. Even worse is how distracted she'll be when it starts caking and sticking.

Anonymous, please don't experiment with lipgloss for the first time before an interview, or you'll come across as a 13-year-old girl who just spent her weekly allowance at MAC and was taken custody by the trannies.

Please just use something basic like burt's beeswax lip balm, chapstick, carmex, or blistex.
posted by naxosaxur at 6:43 AM on November 3, 2006

Go to a department store makeup counter.

Even if you don't like the results, you can still learn a lot of tips and techniques regarding application of the different products. Go a few days before the interview, so you have time to practice at home.
If you are very clear with the lady about what look you want ("natural"), she'll do the best she can, so you want to buy the product. At the least, ask about a sheer foundation; getting the right color can be tricky. Mascara and eyeliner you can get at any drugstore.

I suggest Origins or Clinique.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 7:20 AM on November 3, 2006

My standard basic makeup is mascara and blush, and I think that adds enough. I wouldn't wear makeup though if you don't wear it with some degree of frequency. Because it's not something you do all the time, it may cause you to be uncomfortable.
posted by frecklefaerie at 7:23 AM on November 3, 2006

naxo, she says in the question that she currently has lipgloss. That's why people are mentioning lipgloss.
posted by occhiblu at 7:56 AM on November 3, 2006

PS. If you do decide to go to a makeup counter, please do so before the day of your interview. This is not meant to be a pre-prom makeup job, but rather an educational experience during which you will learn how to apply whatever makeup you feel comfortable wearing.
posted by brina at 8:55 AM on November 3, 2006

If you really think this place won't hire a woman unless she is wearing makeup (I assume the same isn't true of the fellas), why do you want to work there?

I shave for interviews, but I usually like to have some stubble.

pick your battles, dude.
posted by fishfucker at 10:00 AM on November 3, 2006

Here's what I would recommend:
1. You should be wearing sunblock anyways, so why not get some pretty out of it too? I like Clinique's Almost Makeup. It is a titanium dioxide based sunblock with just enough tint to even out my red spots, and is an unusual sunblock in that it doesn't run in my eyes or sting anywhere. Really good.
2. Curl your eyelashes. It really wakes your eyes up, makes 'em look bigger, makes you look more alert.
3. Maybe if your feeling daring a little sheer blush? Not necessary, but fun.
4. A sheer lipcolor. Again Clinique, this time Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, which is not actually dark or honey like, but is simply the most universally flattering lipstick ever made. Seriously. Easy to wear and moisturizing too.
posted by Sara Anne at 12:16 PM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

If you don't wear makeup at all, I can't IMAGINE how awful and fake and uncomfortable you would feel wearing makeup - especially foundation! - just for an interview.

Do people really think the OP won't get hired if someone thinks she has "uneven skin tone" (!) or something? Or is the no-makeup look now supposed to translate into "too earthy-crunchy to hold a professional position" or maybe "possibly suspect and untrustworthy, much like a man with a beard"? WTF? I know that a lot of people in this world think that women look better with makeup on. I'm not one of them. I think they look silly and fake.
posted by melixxa600 at 4:57 PM on November 3, 2006

There have been studies showing that women who wear makeup in the workplace tend to be taken more seriously and advance faster than those who don't. I don't know if that's changing, though, as it seems to me that fewer women wear makeup now than a decade or two ago, which would presumably start to change unconscious perceptions.
posted by occhiblu at 6:39 PM on November 3, 2006

(That above comment was meant to say that the poster's idea of wearing makeup was nowhere near absurd or out of place, not to imply that the poster better wear makeup or else! Sorry, on rereading it I realized it wasn't all that clear. The poster should, of course, do what make her feel most comfortable, in control, and confident, whether that ends up involving makeup or not.)
posted by occhiblu at 10:16 AM on November 4, 2006

I don't know if anybody will see this, but I wanted to thank all of the people who had suggestions, rants, etc.

I'm anonymous, and I'm starting my new job next week!

In my interviews I just wore my usual lip gloss (bert's bees lip shimmer) and a bit of mascara. I also found that Aveeno moisturizer, and I love it.

More to the point, I had the benefit of a wide variety of points of view, and put the energy into other things, both visual (new shoes!) and mental (my list of questions!). I felt really prepared.

Thank you.
posted by epersonae at 11:54 AM on December 5, 2006

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