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Advice / Job Search / Interviewing

Put Your Best Face Forward: Makeup for Your Job Interview

You’ve picked out a fantastic suit, polished your favorite black pumps, and slid a few pristine copies of your resume into a sleek briefcase.

But there’s something else to consider when you’re putting together your interview look—something that many people overlook until the morning of: your makeup.

Think about it: While your outfit definitely matters, the interviewer will spend the majority of her time looking at your face. So, just as you dress well, you’ll want to make sure that you’re giving the right impression, by wearing makeup that shows you’re professional, polished, and confident.

Whether you’re a mascara-only kind of girl or own every lipstick color imaginable, here’s the run-down of what to look for in each product when putting together an interview-ready look.

1. Foundation

The first step is evening out your skin tone with foundation. Make sure that you wear a color that disappears into your skin—most women pick a darker foundation to look tanner, but that never looks good close up or in daylight.

You can choose any kind of formula (liquid, powder, or tinted moisturizer) that works best for your skin type and the amount of coverage you need. That said, if don’t usually wear foundation, don’t start on the day of the interview. Instead, try a tinted moisturizer that will give you a very light coverage but not feel any different than what you’re used to.

Try: Laura Mercier Oil Free Supreme Foundation $42 or a drug-store alternative L’Oreal True Match Foundation $8.99.

2. Concealer or Corrector

Concealer is an interviewer’s best friend (you know, because huge zits tend to invite themselves onto your chin exactly when they’re least welcome).

If you wake up the morning of the interview with a blemish, don’t fret—but don’t touch it. Grab a Q-tip and a concealer that matches your skin tone (ideally a stick or pot formula). Lightly dab it on, then, use a powder to set it in place.

You can also use concealer to banish tired eyes (you definitely don’t want to look exhausted!). Choose a corrector in the peach family, which will brighten your eyes as well as counteract any dark circles.

Try: Giorgio Armani Master Corrector #1 $36 or a cheaper alternative Coastal Scents Bright Eyed Eye Brightener in Light $9.95.

3. Blush

Even if you don’t typically wear blush, consider swiping some on for the interview—it instantly adds a healthy glow to your skin and helps you look bright and awake. Look for a color that matches your cheeks when they’re flushed, which is usually a pinky-coral type color.

Not sure whether to use a powder or a cream blush? Think cream on cream, powder on powder: If you use a liquid or cream foundation, use a cream blush, or combine a powder foundation with powder blush.

Try: Nars Deep Throat Blush $28.00 or Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Cream Blush in Nectar $24. Or, for a drug-store alternative, try Elf Blush in Candid Coral $3.

4. Eye Shadow

When it comes to your eyes, keep your look simple and natural—you want to keep the focus on what you’re saying, not what’s on your eyelids! Skip the shimmer or glitter, which can be distracting, and stick to neutral colors.

A great way to create a simple-yet-professional look is to use three complementary colors. Choose a base color that matches your skin tone like bone, champagne, or toast to apply all over; a medium-toned color like taupe, soft brown, or light grey to wear in your crease; and a darker color like chocolate brown, charcoal, or navy for a final, subtle swipe in your outer crease. (And if you’re trying out new eye shadow, do a trial run before the big day!)

Try: Smashbox Photo Op Eye Shadow Trio in Screenshot $28 or a drugstore alternative Revlon Colorstay 12-Hour Eyeshadow Quad in In the Buff $7.99.

5. Eyeliner

Eyeliner will really make your eyes stand out. But to make sure it looks professional, not overkill, use a pencil eyeliner in dark brown or charcoal to thicken your upper and lower lash lines, then smudge it with a brush for a softer appearance. Avoid using liquid eyeliner—it usually creates a harsh line and might come across as unprofessional.

Try: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Demolition $19 or a drugstore alternative Revlon Colorstay Eyeliner Pencil in Black Brown $7.99.

6. Mascara

Mascara is the key to looking finished and fabulous in seconds. Anyone can wear black mascara—just don’t overdo it, and remember to use a lash comb or a spoolie to remove any unwanted clumps.

The best way to stay smudge-free on interview day? Before applying, remove any excess product from the wand with a tissue or the top of the mascara tube. Start wiggling the wand at the base of your lashes, then move it upwards. Also, let your top lashes completely dry before you apply mascara to your lower lashes.

Try: Benefit Bad Gal Lash Mascara $19 or L’oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara $7.49.

7. Lipstick

Finally, finish your look off with a perfect pout! The best type of lip color is one that you can put on without using a mirror—think a shade that’s “your lips, only better.” Neutral colors with a hint of pink, brown, or coral look great on most people—but don’t go too light, or it will wash you out.

And definitely opt for a lipstick over a lip gloss: For one, you can blot your lipstick so that it doesn’t end up all over your teeth, and nothing looks worse when someone is talking (which you’ll be doing a lot of) than sticky or goopy lips.

Try: Nars Dolce Vita Lipstick $24 or a drugstore alternative Maybelline Color Sensational Lipcolor in Warm Me Up $7.49. For a pop of color, also try Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra Lipstick in Watermelon $22.50.

With your interview-day makeup, your main goal is to come across looking professional and feeling confident—so the perfect combination is going to be a bit different for everyone. And if you don’t typically wear a ton of makeup, try just using a few products. You’ll create a neutral and polished look that still makes you feel like yourself, while still showing your interviewer that you take pride in your appearance. And if you’re used to wearing a lot of makeup, make sure your day-of look is natural and yet professional—and save the smoky eyes and glossy lips for your celebratory dinner with your friends after you get the job!

Photo of woman courtesy of Shutterstock.