Happy smiling woman applying makeup

9 Office Makeup No-No’s

Getting your makeup just right for the office can be tricky…

After all, you want to be able to express your personality and highlight your favorite features, but this needs to be done in a way that looks professional and classy. 

Don’t worry, it doesn’t need to be difficult…

The next time you’re doing your face up for work, just make sure that you keep these nine office makeup no-no’s in mind.

Glitter and Shimmer

Let’s begin with what many would say is the biggest office makeup faux-pas – glitter and shimmer. 

While glitter and shimmer may be great for dazzling up your face for a night on the town, this isn’t a look that you should be wearing to work. 

It will only end up appearing extremely unprofessional, and many of your co-workers are likely to also find it distracting. Plus, you want to stand out for your own merits when it comes to your job, not because of your makeup. 

The same applies to makeup that has a shimmer finish too…

While just about every makeup product is now available in a shimmer version, try to stick to mattes when it comes to makeup for the office. 

Excessive Blush

Blush is great for giving your face a natural, rosy glow. However, applying your blush incorrectly will have the opposite effect, which you definitely don’t want for the office. 

Your blush should be a light wash of color, meaning that you need to blend it. One common mistake that people make is applying blush to the apples of their cheeks and then not blending it in, meaning that the blush just sits there looking so obvious. 

If you’re using a creamy blush, use a sponge to blend, whereas those using a powder blush would be best off with a brush. Blend your blush upwards and outwards from the apples of your cheeks, until you can’t see any lines. 

Makeup artist applying blush on model's cheeks

The shade of blush you use will make a huge difference too…

You don’t want too much of a contrast between your blush and your natural skin color. Instead, go for a shade that looks natural, opting for a sheerer formula. You can then slowly build up the color until you have achieved your wanted effect.

Bold Shadows

In the same way that glitters and shimmers are too dramatic and attention-grabbing for the office, so are bold eyeshadows.

Again, those shades are more suited for casual or evening occasions, and should be kept away from the office. 

Which eyeshadow shades should you go for instead? 

Neutral and subtle hues are best. 

Give some of the following a try: 

  • Beige
  • Caramel 
  • Champagne 
  • Copper 
  • Bronze

To save you from having to touch your shadow up during the day…

Make sure that you apply an eye primer first. 

This will not only enable your shadow to glide more smoothly over your lids, but it will also hold the pigment in place for so much longer. 

High-Shine Lips

As mentioned above, glitter and shimmer are big no-no’s for the office, and the same applies to excessive shine on your lips. 

While you may love rocking the wet, glossy look on the weekends, this is just too much for work. 

Woman applying bright pink lipstick

Instead, go for matte finishes. These will still give your lips some color, but without going overboard. 

Wondering which shade of lipstick would be best? 

This all depends on your skin tone:

  • Fair skin – while bold and deep reds can work well, avoid anything with a yellow undertone. Don’t go too light with your lipstick shade either, as this will only wash you out 
  • Olive skin – this skin tone tends to be quite neutral, meaning just about every shade will work well for you. It may be a good idea to choose a lipstick shade that works with the outfit you are wearing that day 
  • Dark skin – deep berries and reds will work well on you. Stay away from anything too pale or light

Now, while a more subtle shade is always best for everyday at the office, a power lip can also be useful. 

If you have a big presentation or meeting coming up, where you need all eyes to be on you, a power lip can really help. Go for a bold shade that exudes confidence, lining your lips with a matching lip liner to really enhance your pout. 

Clumpy Lashes

A couple of swipes of mascara is a great way to enhance your eyes for the office. 

However, the last thing you want to be dealing with at work is clumpy lashes…

Why does mascara clump?

It depends. It could be because: 

  • You applied multiple layers too quickly 
  • Your lashes weren’t properly prepped 
  • Using the wrong mascara formula

So, how do you prevent clumpy lashes? 

Begin by applying a lash primer. This is key when it comes to avoiding clumping altogether.

Then, make sure that you begin with a light coat of mascara. Applying too much too soon tends to lead to clumping. 

Try to use a slimmer mascara brush too, rather than a fat one. 


Because this will enable your mascara to be properly applied to each individual eyelash. 

Cakey Makeup

Have you noticed that your makeup seems to get cakey as the day goes on? 

While this may be a common problem, it’s another big office makeup no-no. 

Why does makeup get cakey to begin with? 

For a few different reasons…

It could be because your skin is quite rough with dead skin cells, meaning that your makeup can’t glide onto your skin smoothly. The same applies if your skin is dry or dehydrated. Using the wrong makeup formulas can lead to this too, as can incorrectly layering your makeup products and rushing to apply the next layer too quickly. 

Don’t worry, there are a few steps that you can take to ensure that you never have to deal with cakey makeup again: 

  • Prep your skin – you should always prep your skin before applying makeup. If your skin feels quite rough, make sure that you exfoliate all of those dead skin cells away, after cleansing first, of course. A serum and a moisturizer are also important, and try to make sure that your moisturizer is still a little damp when you move on to applying your foundation
  • Solid coverage – too many foundation layers can result in caking, so go for a foundation that gives you the amount of coverage you need with the minimum number of layers 
  • Set with a loose powder – do you use a powder to set your foundation? If so, go for a loose powder, rather than a pressed powder. Give your face a light dusting, taking care not to go too heavy with this

Ungroomed Brows

Grooming eyebrow with tweezer

Brows have been making the headlines quite a bit lately, with so many different brow styles becoming popular in recent years. 

Whether you want to go thin or thick, ensuring that your brows are always well-groomed is a must for the office. Well-groomed brows will beautifully frame your whole face, while also making you look so much younger, whereas untidy brows will only distract from your look. 

Wondering how to make sure that your brows look immaculate? 

To begin with, you need to ensure that you’ve got the shape right. Ideally, your brows should begin at the top of your nostrils. Take a pencil and hold this vertically over the top of a nostril, placing it against the bridge of your nose – this should be where your brows start. 

Then, move the pencil at an angle so that it lies over your eye, directly across your pupil. This is where your eyebrow arch should be. 

Then, move the pencil so that it’s lying against the end of your nose and the corner of your eye. This is where your brows should end. 

Now that you’ve determined the natural shape of your brows, you can tweeze away any stray hairs. 

If your brows are too thin or you’ve over-tweezed…

It’s time to fill those sparse spaces in. You will need an eyebrow pencil for this, making sure that the color matches your natural brow color as closely as possible. 

When it comes to actually filling those brows in…

Keep the pressure light, going for small, feathery strokes rather than a thick bold line. This will keep your brows looking natural, especially if you keep the pencil light at the ends but darker around your arch. 

Once you’re done, you can then top this off with an eyebrow gel to lock the pencil in place. 

Want to really enhance your brows? 

Try applying some highlighter or concealer underneath the arch and tail of your brows. This will help to give them a more lifted appearance, enabling them to really stand out.

Faux Lashes

Faux lashes can be so much fun to wear, as they really give the eyes an added touch of drama. 

However, drama isn’t something you need for the office, which is why your faux lashes should be kept away for weekend use only. 

If you feel naked when you don’t enhance your lashes, you can simply use a mascara to do this instead. 

Of course, the mascara you pick should depend on your lash type and shape: 

  • Long lashes – look for a formula that has a curling effect, as this will give your lashes a slight lift. You can also try combing your lashes to the side as you apply your mascara, as this will give you a subtle cat-eye effect 
  • Short lashes – look for a mascara wand that has dense bristles but is still quite skinny. This will make it much easier to apply the mascara evenly over each lash, while giving your lashes some extra length and definition 
  • Varying lash length – if your lashes are short at one end but long at the other, this can be a sign of damage. Look for a mascara that contains plenty of nourishing botanical extracts, along with panthenol and phyto-keratin to encourage growth. A large, tapered brush is ideal, especially if you flick your mascara towards your shorter lashes to even out the effect 
Young woman curling eyelashes with curler

An eyelash curler is another great tool to use when trying to enhance your lashes. Use this before applying your mascara, and then use your fingers to gently push your lashes back even more while your mascara is still damp.

Mismatched Foundation

Foundation is meant to look subtle and natural, giving your face flawless coverage without making it look as though you are wearing layer upon layer of makeup. 

This is why it is so important to ensure that your foundation properly matches up with your skin tone. 

How do you pick the perfect shade? 

Well, when many people test a foundation out, they do this on their hands or arms. While this may make for a great Instagram photo, this won’t give you a true color match. 

Instead, you should be testing foundation out on your jawline. Pick three shades to do this with, and apply each one to the skin on your jawline. Whichever shade disappears seamlessly into your skin is the one to go for.

Don’t forget, your skin tone will change through the year. Your go-to foundation for the winter months will likely be too light for you to wear in the summer, meaning that you will need to keep checking that your foundation matches your skin tone. 

Something else that makes foundation look mismatched is a lack of blending…

While your face may look picture-perfect, having a neck that is a completely different color just gives the game away immediately. 

Use a blending sponge or a foundation brush to fully blend your foundation over and under your jawbone, taking this all the way down to your neck. This makes it much harder for others to be able to tell where your foundation begins and ends, giving your whole look a much more natural appearance.

Choosing a makeup look for the office can definitely seem tricky, at least until you get the hang of it. The key is to keep things subtle and toned down, so that you look well-groomed and classy, without appearing unprofessional. 

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