Should You Wear Makeup to a Job Interview?

woman applying makeup

Question: I'm transitioning from the Air Force in 60 days. During my eight years in service, I never wore makeup. I'll be pursuing work in human resources for a technology company. Is it necessary to wear makeup to the interview and then on the job? Where can I learn how to apply it correctly?

Answer: During your military career, you were focused on accomplishing goals necessary to completing your mission. I understand that wearing makeup is not typically an important component of flying a fighter jet.

From one woman to another, let me help you understand what makeup can do for you, and what it should not. Makeup can help you present a polished appearance and give you an extra boost of confidence if you apply it correctly and appropriately to the situation. Makeup should not be used to cover up who you are, make you feel like someone you're not or be applied to the distraction of your abilities and values.

My recommendations for proper makeup application:

  1. Find a look that requires minimal makeup, but evens out your skin and highlights your features. If you love your eyes, play them up. Have full lips? Apply a light-toned lipstick to accentuate them. The goal is to use the least makeup possible to smooth out your features and make you feel polished and confident.
  2. Avoid heavy eyeliner, dark eye shadows, intense blush (rouge) and bright lipsticks. They are distracting and unflattering to many women. Unless you are skilled at applying vivid colors (and the industry and company you are pursuing embraces boldness), stay with neutrals.
  3. To learn about makeup and receive application tips, visit the cosmetics counter at a local department store. These employees are skilled in the newest products and how to use them. They typically will give you a full makeup application and instruction for no cost, although they appreciate it if you purchase something you like that they used. You can also receive instructions and tips, and find similar products at a drugstore for less money.

Do you have to wear makeup? No, not at all. I know many women who don't wear a stitch of makeup, and their careers are thriving. Makeup is not a requirement. I happen to enjoy makeup; when I apply my morning "face," I feel creative and it relaxes me. I enjoy trying new techniques and colors, and I often read magazines or look at websites like Pinterest for new techniques and ideas. If makeup makes you feel happy, enjoy it.

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