Groomed for Success: Natural Makeup for Work
Somewhere between bold and bare is a natural makeup sweet spot that can help advance your career. We show you how to harness the power of primping.
Published: October 3, 2011 | By Kimberly Goad
LITTLE BRAINTEASER FOR YOU: Two equally qualified women walk in for a job interview.
One’s hot, and the other’s, well, not.
Who gets the position?
While conventional wisdom—not to mention decades’ worth of research—would have you guess the sexier woman, the answer is neither.
The gig goes to a third candidate, someone who strikes the right balance between Pam Anderson and Pam from The Office.
A recent study from the University of British Columbia sheds light on why: Researchers were curious as to whether a person’s appearance (their clothes, hair, makeup, and overall presentation) affects other people’s abilities to discern five personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism).
What they discovered was not just a tendency to attribute positive qualities to attractive people but also a knack for identifying the personality traits of attractive participants more accurately than those of the less attractive ones.
In other words, people listen to and observe attractive people more closely, so they’re better able to form accurate opinions of them. And this, of course, is a boon if you’re trying to sell yourself during a job interview or pitch your product to a client.
“Previous studies focused on the link between classic beauty and success. We took a slightly different approach and looked at how your overall appearance or attractiveness figured into success,” says study author Jeremy Biesanz, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. “And we found that it plays a significant role.”
Laws of attraction Fortunately, you don’t need bone structure like Angelina Jolie’s to be considered attractive. “An attractive woman is comfortable in her own skin. She is confident, has a positive attitude, and looks stylish and polished from her hair to her makeup to her clothes,” says self-esteem and relationship expert Catherine Cardinal, Ph.D., author of A Cure for the Common Life: The Cardinal Rules of Self-Esteem. “It has nothing to do with whether she won the gene pool.”
In fact, attractive types may even have a leg up on gene-pool winners. Not only does research show that people are more comfortable with polished women than they are with naturally stunning ones, but there’s also an assumption that a woman who is fastidious about her appearance will be equally fastidious about her work.
“There’s definitely a ‘look’ of success,” says executive coach Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D., author of Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. Like it or not, the thinking is “if you pay attention to your clothes, accessories, hair, and makeup, you likely pay attention to details at work as well.”
The makeup sweet spot Research suggests that wearing the right amount of makeup is perhaps the most important part of the attractiveness package. In fact, researchers found that a fair amount of primping can actually boost earning potential (silly, but true). “The key may be to appear as if you’ve put in some effort but didn’t go overboard,” says Don Osborn, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Bellarmine University, in Kentucky.
“Heavy makeup may suggest misplaced priorities: You care more about looking good than working hard.” So you want to keep everything subtle, but at the same time substantial enough to hide blemishes and highlight your features.
Here’s the plan:
Apply a sheer foundation or tinted moisturizer to even out your skin tone—an essential part of creating a well-groomed look.
“Match your face color to your chest, not your neck, which is always paler,” advises makeup artist Brett Freedman. (And speaking of your neck, rub a bit of foundation under your jaw and down the middle of your neck to avoid a tacky line of demarcation.) Dab concealer over any remaining dark or red areas.
Blush should be a natural-looking pink or berry shade. A study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that people equate a healthy glow with high self-esteem and emotional stability.
Now, for the star players: your eyes. “From a psychological point of view, your eyes are the most important feature,” says Cardinal. “Pretty eyes trigger something in sincerity and honesty.” And since they also reveal how much you’ve been partying lately,
And while smoky eyes are seductive at night, they’re repellent at work. Keep it pretty and PG with a subtle shimmery or matte eye shadow in a color close to your skin tone, and sweep the shadow from your lash lines to your creases.
Then smudge a dark liner along the top lash lines from inner to outer corners
and use a taupe shadow as a liner to define the bottom lash lines. Remember, you don’t want to see the actual liner. “Its purpose is to darken the base of your lashes, which makes your eyes look bigger, brighter, and more alert,” says Freedman. And for an instant eye lift, curl your lashes
You may be tempted to use a full-coverage lipstick for instant polish, but lips should look as natural as the rest of your face. Opt for a sheer lip stain or tinted lip balm; either will deposit a hint of color and show you’re wearing something without distracting from what you’re saying.
As for that tube of shiny gloss, save it for happy hour, suggests makeup artist Jenna Anton. Lacquered lips say “kiss me,” not “hire or promote me.”