Skincare & Makeup Advice for Interviews (and beyond!)

Sep 12, 2018
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Hi! I wrote this up because while SDN was awesome for clothing advice re: the interview, there was very little about skincare or makeup beyond some general suggestions about keeping it simple. I really like when people provide specific recommendations and links to products they like, so that's what I'll do here to hopefully help the next round of interviewees! I wrote it to offer some practical advice for people like me who didn't know a whole lot about skincare or beauty products in school, but who would like to learn how to develop quick, easy, and beneficial routines that you can use to your advantage in interviews and in your early professional career (and beyond, maybe? I haven't proven this myself yet. Stay tuned.)

I also very much wrote this with pre-meds in mind-- everything is fast and easy.

Some disclaimers before I get into it:
  • I wrote this making no assumptions about how much or little people know about skincare/beauty, so sorry if any of it feels obvious or like I'm talking down to you!
  • I'm by no means an expert so please correct me if anything is glaringly wrong, or if you have suggestions that you like better than mine!
  • I'm writing this from a woman's perspective, but I sincerely believe all people should have some sort of skincare routine to keep themselves feeling confident. Even my boyfriend has been with me to Sephora to get some acne treatment advice. And no matter what, put sunscreen on everyday. If you take one thing from this thread, that should be it. Literally just do it
  • As with any product, try a little bit first on your hand or arm in the store, and then get a trial-sized amount to take home. That way if you react to it or truly hate it, you can stop using it and find another without feeling bad about spending $$!
  • If you don't normally wear makeup, don't feel like you have to, and definitely don't decide to do it the morning of an interview. You look your best when you're confident and comfortable, no matter what products you are or aren't using.
  • Any and all dermatologists, feel free to weigh in ;)
General Skincare
Applying makeup is useless if you're not already taking good care of your skin! (I learned this the hard way years ago after applying a powder foundation to my dry face-- I felt like a lizard shedding my skin).

  • Face wash brush. Step 1 in a great skincare routine is getting a face wash brush you like. I have a silicone one I really like because it opens up pores great and is cleaned/disinfected easily. I use a handheld one (found here in bulk, but I got mine individually for super cheap), but some of my friends swear by their electric ones.
  • Daily face wash. For a daily cleanser to use in the morning, after work, after the gym, etc., I really like Neutrogena's Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser, which runs about $12 at drugstores. To use, wet your face with warm water, rinse your face brush under warm water, put on about half a pump of the cleanser, rub into the brush, then use it on your face. Doing this in the shower is a great time saver. Then, rinse off (ideally with slightly cooler water-- this will close all the pores you've just opened and cleaned).
    • I have pretty dry skin, so this cleanser is meant to clean without drying out. However, if you have oilier or acne-prone skin, there are plenty of other formulas for your skin type!
  • Face masks. These are NOT what you're imagining (which I also imagined at first, and hated). A lot of things are called face masks these days but don't involve taking a weird papier-mâché thing with eye holes out of a bag and leaving it on until it clings to your face like a leech. It's just a name for cleansers that stay on longer than washes. I use Origins DrinkUp after showers and wear it to bed. It's really light, does not make you break out, and smells great. It also lasts a LONG time since you only use it once or twice a week, so don't be afraid of the price! The one I linked to is for hydrating, but they also have different versions for soaking up oil and retexturizing. Find your favorite!
  • Lotion. We're talking body AND face (but not the same one for both). I swear by Eucerin Advanced Repair for arms and legs, and keep a tiny travel-sized one at work for hands. Cetaphil Hydrating Night Cream is the best I've found for face, and I use it in the winter when my cheeks get really dry. Both are available at drugstores for reasonable prices!
  • Sunscreen! If you're going to be wearing any other type of face makeup, look for one with SPF included (we'll get to that later). However, if you're stopping your skincare routine after this section and don't plan to apply anything else, I recommend Neutrogena Sport Face. The "sport" part means that it's more resistant to sweat and has a higher SPF than other kinds. I tend to get sweaty even not exercising, so "sweat-proof" products are always a plus, lol.

Primer and Foundation
If general skincare is all you need to look swell, great! That is certainly not the case for me haha. I am usually always a bit pink and I have enlarged pores around my nose. If you're like me, this will be the section that will make you start to love the way your face looks.
  • Primer. The goal of these is to fill in your pores to make your skin as "flat" as possible before applying any other makeup. A lot of them also claim to have other benefits, but the jury is still out on those. I'm guilty of using a brand that overpromises like that, Philosophy's Line Correcting Primer, only because I love how light and smooth it is! A little goes a LONG way, again, so think of the pricetag as being divided over 3-4 months. I also keep a teeny-tiny bottle (I must have gotten it as a sample or travel size) of Make Up For Ever's Redness Correcting Primer because my cheeks sometimes get pretty red. It's also nice to put this on before concealer to hide any pimples that are particularly angry. Different people have different undertones they're looking to minimize, so look for one that works for you! Intuitively, they're based on the color wheel-- green products counterbalance redness, and so on.
  • Concealer. This is one beauty product that I am pretty indifferent about-- I've found it all pretty much works the same once you've found a good match for your skintone. I couldn't even tell you which brand I get, but I know it's from CVS and I know it's under $10, lol. I use it mostly for spot-treatment on pimples, but you can also get creative with it and use it as a base for eyeshadow or under eye cream (next).
  • Stuff for eye bags! Like most pre-meds and people in medicine, I am often tired (especially when I have to get up at 4am to drive to an interview). But I also have resting raccoon eyes thanks to genetics and to having super thin skin under my eyes, so I pretty much always look tired even if I'm not. The first thing in my arsenal against these old pals of mine is Cetaphil Hydrating Eye Gel-Cream which does a great job of reducing puff and is much cheaper than the other eye primers on the market. Next on the menu is Becca Under Eye Brightening Corrector. This stuff works like a literal eraser. I can't recommend it highly enough. If you add a layer of concealer between the cream and this stuff, it works twice as good. Also lasts a REALLY long time-- a fingerprint's worth per eye is all you need. I don't use the recommended setting powder with this because I like the bit of sparkle, but if you prefer a more matte look that will do the trick.
  • Foundation. This was the part of makeup that I absolutely hated the most. It turned out I was just using the wrong one. Clinique FITMakeup changed my mind! Not only is it silky-smooth, incredible at color-matching, and SPF 40, but it's also designed for workouts so it won't come off with sweat or on your clothes when you take them off (another reason I don't own setting powder). Since it acts as both a foundation and a face makeup, this is quite literally all I need. Could not recommend more!
    • PS- If you're unsure about what color works for you, ask someone in the beauty department! They're absolute wizards. Oh, and please always blend a little onto your neck so you don't look like POTUS.

For the Interview
Everything I've mentioned above can be easily thrown on in the morning or done in 2 minutes after the shower, but if you're interested in adding a little pop, this section's for you! This is also where you have to start paying attention (and having your makeup remover wipes at hand!). Once you're happy with your base, it's time to add some final touches to make you feel extra pretty and confident.

  • Eyeshadow. If you're going to put on eyeshadow, the best time to do it is after facial primers and before foundation. The logic there is that if you're using a sparkly powder small amounts of it will settle onto your face and blend in with the rest of the makeup. If you're not into that, though, put it on when you're done. I bought MAC's Solar Glow x9 palate a long time ago, and it's lasted me for years. For a interviews, I just used one tone (usually the light pink) on the whole lid, but since MAC coordinates their palates you can also use this for 3 or more-toned looks for special occasions.
  • Eyebrows. Besides owning a great pair of tweezers, the only thing I do for my eyebrows is to fill them in a little, since they're pretty light in places. However, I think eyebrow pencils and gels are a big scam and have adopted the method of using and eyeshadow in my palate that matches them. Elle has a nice guide to doing this.
  • Eyeliner. I've sworn by Urban Decay's black colors for years and will continue to buy them as they continue to change names. I don't like eyeliner pencils or crayons, but liquid eyeliners that are too liquid I tend to dislike. This is a happy medium that's easy to take off with makeup remover when you mess up a cat eye line (or both of them). For interviews, of course, I did something less intense than the cat and simply stopped the line at the end of my lash line on the top lid. (See: the "simple" here, but don't go too close to your inner eye). Do NOT put any eyeliner on your bottom lid for interviews… you'll look scary :)
  • Mascara. I've tried a bunch of different mascaras and I can almost never tell the difference in the quality of them because I wear it rarely and sparsely. So I continue to buy Maybelline's Falsies at CVS. Feel free to chime in if you're a more dedicated mascara user and have a favorite!
  • Brushes and Sponges. This is another place I tend to skimp money-wise because I really cannot detect the difference in quality between regular brands and luxury brands. My last set I got by looking up the top-reviewed sets on Amazon. Seriously. Sponge-wise, I use my hands and/or brushes for pretty much all of my facial makeup now that I have a really easy foundation to apply, but I got my current sponge at CVS in the dollar bin and it works just fine!
  • Nails. Let them be and keep them plain as day. This physically hurt me because I love having my nails done, but I didn't want to distract with a bold color or by having one chip. I did file them nicely beforehand, use my beloved whale nail brush, and used Glossier's Balm Dotcom (Neosporin also works just as well) for cracking cuticles. I also took off my nailpolish a week or so before any interviews, because it tends to discolor my nails a bit.
  • Scents. I actually defied traditional SDN wisdom and took a risk by wearing a teeny tiny amount of my favorite perfume, some Jo Malone I got as a gift. A simple spray, delay, walk away left me feeling dainty and elegant but was not overwhelming by any means. Oh, and don't forget deodorant and tooth brushing on your rush out the door :)

The Rest (a bonus section, for when you're feeling fancy)
Here we're veering into the category of I-never-wore-this-on-interview-days (and often don't have the time or patience to apply this stuff). That said, they're the most fun to experiment with, so get creative and try new things! (Just maybe not on your interview days).

  • Highlighter. I could never get into powder highlighters, so I've started using L'oreal Lumi "Glotion" and have never looked back. It's really nice for a little extra sparkle, especially if you'll be somewhere sunny.
  • Bronzer. I like Bareminerals, but have found cheaper options do pretty much the same thing. That said, I'm pretty pale, so almost anything would bronze me!
  • Blush. Same as bronzer, I'm also pretty easy to blush, so I chose a color I liked and have stuck with it for years. I use NARS.
  • Lipstick. MAC is again the winner here. I use this so little that I get the travel sizes, but they've lasted me forever and are nice to keep around for special occasions. I am also trash about knowing what color works for me, so I always have a nice chat with the salespeople and learn what they think would look nice. On interview days, I just carried around a good chapstick with me.

So, I think that's it for now! Again, feel free to weigh in with other products you love or strategies that worked well for your interview day. I hope this helps someone out there!
 
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907914

This may be a silly and biased question coming from a male who does not wear make up, but wouldnt the most professional look be without make up? Obviously good skin care for everyone, but why even wear make up to an interview?

Thank you for posting this and I do not want to devalue the information you’ve provided because it seems like something that would be valuable to those who need it, I am just curious for the reasoning.
 
Sep 12, 2018
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This may be a silly and biased question coming from a male who does not wear make up, but wouldnt the most professional look be without make up? Obviously good skin care for everyone, but why even wear make up to an interview?

Thank you for posting this and I do not want to devalue the information you’ve provided because it seems like something that would be valuable to those who need it, I am just curious for the reasoning.

Hey! Thanks for your question. In some cases, absolutely (usually if you were born blessed with already perfect skin :) ). I'm by no means advocating for a face full of clown makeup or a going-out-on-the-town look. However, some people like me have uneven skin tones, larger pores, or are simply used to wearing makeup and need advice for a subtle interview look. Additionally, there is a certain societal pressure on women that "looking their best" = wearing makeup to cover up even minor imperfections. That's unfortunate, but it means that a lot of women (myself included) feel most comfortable and sophisticated in at least light, natural-looking makeup. Also, it can just make you feel more confident which leads to seeming more professional in turn :)

So, I guess it's more advice for people who *want* to wear makeup for their interviews. Again, no pressure to do so if you're not into it!
 
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teenyfish

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Girl, I love this! I'm going add a few of my favorites in a spoiler below that way I don't take up too much space.

For skin, the biggest thing is eating well and drinking water! I know this process has been rough on all of us, and on my pity days I love to eat salty/sweet/cheesy foods and I definitely notice it a few days later when my skin starts disagreeing with me. It's not always feasible or fun to eat incredibly healthy, but drinking water can go a long way to making your skin look bright and healthy. If you're looking to get a little more serious into skincare, I'd also recommend The Ordinary and Cerave for cheap, quality skincare.

For make-up, not much else to add here. My FAVORITE lip product is the Bite beauty matte creme lip crayons - they wear really well, aren't sticky or drying and when they eventually wear off you still have a bit of even stain on your lips. When trying foundation, try to get samples from Sephora or only try a bit on your skin instead of going full force with it. I've had awful reactions to foundations, but if your skin isn't as sensitive you might make out better than I have.

When taking off make-up I like to use micellar water and a cotton pad or a wipe first. Then, I use whatever face wash I'm currently using for a "double cleanse" as while the wipes work, they don't always get everything off your skin. As long as you're using a gentle cleanser, this will be fine!
 
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907914

Yeah suuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrreeeeeeeee ya don't :rolleyes:

LOL this reminds me of the goth phase in high school when I was in a band when I wore eyeliner for a week xD
As OP mentioned in her reply, we can’t all be blessed with perfect skin. But my forehead is perfect and my beard covers the rest lol
 
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965978

As OP mentioned in her reply, we can’t all be blessed with perfect skin. But my forehead is perfect and my beard covers the rest lol

Hey I don't have perfect skin either!!

But my gorgeous green eyes pretty much take attention away from all that..... thank god for colored contacts amirite? ;)
 
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907914

Hey I don't have perfect skin either!!

But my gorgeous green eyes pretty much take attention away from all that..... thank god for colored contacts amirite? ;)
Who needs contacts?

To you makeup wearers and your perfect selfies and contour lines, I applaud you.
It took more effort to take a picture of my eye than I thought it would...
 

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965978

Who needs contacts?

To you makeup wearers and your perfect selfies and contour lines, I applaud you.
It took more effort to take a picture of my eye than I thought it would...

HELP IT'S THE GREEN EYED MONSTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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Feb 14, 2019
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Also to people asking about whether most professional = no makeup -

Most days I just wear mascara but there are definitely some members of the older generation (women specifically) who believe that light makeup and some lipstick is the most professional look so I try to keep in my mind the expectations of those who may be interviewing me regardless of whether I think it is necessary.

In general I think for women who wear makeup that natural looking makeup is the way to go to fit whatever standard of 'looking polished' people have come to expect but definitely wouldn't advise some of the bright colors and full caked on foundation that I've seen on the interview trail o_O

Great post OP
 
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DokterMom

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As noted, there are many (more than just 'some') members in the AdCom generation who will consider 'zero' makeup for women to be a bit too casual and 'unpolished'. Just a bit of visible make-up is a much more polished and professional look.

If you're young, have healthy skin, and are not a make-up pro, I'd definitely skip the foundation / concealer / contouring products. That's hard for even the skilled make-up artists to get exactly right, and it's potentially the area where the least-skilled will be least successful. If you're normally a no make-up gal, I'd suggest:
  1. A minimally-tinted lip stain (color won't rub off)
  2. Clear lip gloss that will work with the stain
  3. A very fine line of not-too-dark eye liner. A pencil liner is probably easiest to control and hardest to over-do.
  4. Add just a bit of blush if you tend to be 'pasty'
  5. If your brows are unruly, comb them with a tiny bit of lotion or Vaseline
 
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DoctorSnow

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*Just a male opinion but even I have noticed a few things at interviews this year*
  1. The black eyelash stuff should not be caked on so much that it smears below your eye every time you blink.
  2. The stuff that makes your eyes darker should not be caked on so you look like a raccoon (apparently that's the new trend?)
  3. Don't have your face look darker than your neck because you put so much of that cream stuff on.
  4. Don't get a spray tan coming in looking like a cheeto. (To quote Ross from Friends: "I'm an eight!!")
  5. Subtle = best
 
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smileyfacegirl27

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Some things I found-
1) tightline your eyelids instead of putting eyeliner on top of the lid itself - makes your eyes pop and looks a lot cleaner
2) stay away from face glitter and highlighting- while awesome and fun as a current make-up trend, it's not really timeless
3) try a nude or "your lip but better" color lipstick! Dark colors and reds may smear during lunch and end up looking awful
4) only wear what you are comfortable in! Don't try to be someone you're not
 
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capriccio

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My personal tips:
1. Lip balm or gloss! I think a natural glossy look lets your lips pop without seeming over the top, plus you don't need to worry too much when eating
2. I mostly went with liquid eyeliner with small wings to give my eyes a bit more definition and size (monolid asian eyes problems lol), but in retrospect I think a non-black pencil eyeliner (eg. brown) is better for staying subtle but not too casual. If you really want to do eyeshadow, I recommend a nude/skin-toned palette for the lightest of touches.
3. Not a big fan of foundation/contour myself as I think it's too heavy, I just went with some concealer for any acne-related blemishes.
4. Step into the bathroom once or twice to double check if anything has smudged!
 
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Sep 12, 2018
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My personal tips:
1. Lip balm or gloss! I think a natural glossy look lets your lips pop without seeming over the top, plus you don't need to worry too much when eating
2. I mostly went with liquid eyeliner with small wings to give my eyes a bit more definition and size (monolid asian eyes problems lol), but in retrospect I think a non-black pencil eyeliner (eg. brown) is better for staying subtle but not too casual. If you really want to do eyeshadow, I recommend a nude/skin-toned palette for the lightest of touches.
3. Not a big fan of foundation/contour myself as I think it's too heavy, I just went with some concealer for any acne-related blemishes.
4. Step into the bathroom once or twice to double check if anything has smudged!

emphasis on the bathroom! every time we walked past a reflective surface on the tours I would do a casual check too :laugh:
 
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deleted962973

This may be a silly and biased question coming from a male who does not wear make up, but wouldnt the most professional look be without make up? Obviously good skin care for everyone, but why even wear make up to an interview?

Thank you for posting this and I do not want to devalue the information you’ve provided because it seems like something that would be valuable to those who need it, I am just curious for the reasoning.
A lot of men don’t know what no makeup looks like. Some would stop the girl on the left to ask her “why she looks so tired” or “if she’s sick”. My SO says that she gets questions like that on days when she doesn’t wear makeup, even though when she does wear makeup, she has on red lipstick and black eyeliner. So it seems that people (mostly men lol) don’t seem to realize that’s not how her face naturally looks.

“No-makeup” makeup is an unwritten expectation for a lot of women in a professional setting.

256726
 
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907914

A lot of men don’t know what no makeup looks like. Some would stop the girl on the left to ask her “why she looks so tired” or “if she’s sick”. My SO says that she gets questions like that a lot on days she doesn’t wear makeup, even though when she does wear makeup, she wears red lipstick and black eyeliner. So it’s bizarre that people don’t seem to realize that’s not how her face naturally looks.

“No-makeup” makeup is an unwritten expectation for a lot of women in a professional setting.

View attachment 256726
Hmm, interesting. I guess my wife is either no-makeup at all or completely dolled up (for a date or what have you.) Didn’t think of the spectrum of makeup application.
 
9

965978

A lot of men don’t know what no makeup looks like. Some would stop the girl on the left to ask her “why she looks so tired” or “if she’s sick”. My SO says that she gets questions like that a lot on days she doesn’t wear makeup, even though when she does wear makeup, she wears red lipstick and black eyeliner. So it’s bizarre that people don’t seem to realize that’s not how her face naturally looks.

“No-makeup” makeup is an unwritten expectation for a lot of women in a professional setting.

View attachment 256726

You’re absolutely right and I actually have a theory behind this. Because so many women wear makeup, our eyes have become de-sensitized to it and we think that it’s natural. So when we see a woman without makeup we think she’s just tired or something.
 
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deleted962973

Hmm, interesting. I guess my wife is either no-makeup at all or completely dolled up (for a date or what have you.) Didn’t think of the spectrum of makeup application.
Yup! Just saying that having a light hand on makeup can convince a lot of people you’re not wearing any, but still make you look more polished and put together.
 
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deleted804295

I was wondering if anyone had tips for that weird crease that appears with on eyelids due to eyeshadow after a long day?

I stopped using eyeshadow lately because of that weird crease but I do like a little bit of eyeshadow when possible.

Is there a consensus on nude colored eyeshadow glimmer for interviews?
 

teenyfish

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I was wondering if anyone had tips for that weird crease that appears with on eyelids due to eyeshadow after a long day?

I stopped using eyeshadow lately because of that weird crease but I do like a little bit of eyeshadow when possible.

Is there a consensus on nude colored eyeshadow glimmer for interviews?
Do you use a primer? And yeah, I would say very very subtle color or a nude. I use a light bronze that I can get away with.
 
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Skittsie13

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One thing I'd add -- you mentioned that many foundations/tinted moisturizers have SPF, but it's important to know that the amount of foundation you'd need to use to have actual protection from the SPF is way more than someone would typically use. I would recommend using a makeup-friendly sunscreen beneath regardless of if your foundation has SPF. If you can get them off Amazon, Japanese sunscreens are usually the most cosmetically elegant and won't pill or leave a white cast (I use Biore Watery Essence).

Also second whoever said the Bite lip crayons! The shade Glace was the Sephora birthday gift last year and is a great subtle pink that would work well for interviews for those with lighter skin tones.
 
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I was wondering if anyone had tips for that weird crease that appears with on eyelids due to eyeshadow after a long day?

I stopped using eyeshadow lately because of that weird crease but I do like a little bit of eyeshadow when possible.

Is there a consensus on nude colored eyeshadow glimmer for interviews?

There is a foolproof solution: primer. I don’t ever put on eyeshadow without it anymore. Never had an issue with creases since. Urban decay’s anti aging primer is my go-to.
 
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All good points.
One thing I would add about lips: fill in your lips with your liner, before putting lipstick or gloss over it. That way, your liner won’t be different from you lipstick - and you won’t look like you belong in a 1990s music video.

Also, this is hands down the best video for avoiding common make-up errors I’ve ever seen. It has almost 10 million views for good reason.

 
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a5ie5lavida

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I was wondering if anyone had tips for that weird crease that appears with on eyelids due to eyeshadow after a long day?

I stopped using eyeshadow lately because of that weird crease but I do like a little bit of eyeshadow when possible.

Is there a consensus on nude colored eyeshadow glimmer for interviews?
1) eyeshadow primer will change your life
2) I tried to avoid anything that was not matte for interviews and will prob do the same in a few years for residency interviews. I think it looks better and like it more but I worry it looks unprofessional. Maybe a super subtle shimmer is fine but I would be judicious with it.

FWIW overall I think that I wore a BB cream, blush, brown mascara (I'm blonde so black can look kind of stark on its own especially since I didn't wear eyeliner), filled in my eyebrows (again, blonde...I've had them microbladed since then but at that time they were still not great at being eyebrows until I filled them in), and wore Carmex. I probably used a nude eyeshadow too just to even my skin tone. I love makeup but even when I have like, a full face on I rarely wear more than Carmex because I feel like it gets all over my face haha.
 
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deleted804295

Here's an update on my interview makeup:

I ended up using morphe 35F palette and I skipped on the shimmery eyeshadows and only used nude colors. For lips I used my goto Sephora pink lipstain and it stayed on the whole day. I ended up getting my eyebrows threaded before hand so that I wouldn't have too much makeup near my eye area. For foundation I used mac studio fix. And that was basically it.

I went light on my makeup because you get really hot on interview days and that could contribute to makeup smudging, becoming oily/cakey, etc.
 
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jsjocean

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Something I didn't see mentioned above, I highly recommend utilizing Urban Decay's makeup setting spray. It will keep your makeup on all day and help prevent smudges. Another necessity was blot powder. Throughout the interview day, it's super easy to throw on and freshen up your face. Lastly, if you are the type to bring makeup with you to the interview (I was), get a small cosmetic bag that you can easily grab out of your interview purse to take to the restroom with you. I had all of my makeup essentials in it, as well as advil, tide to go pens, etc... and it was often easier to grab that and run quickly to the restroom then lugging all of my stuff with me.
 
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deleted804295

This is unrelated to makeup but in your bags make sure to also carry extra sanitary products. Also don't be afraid to help a sister out!

Don't be that one girl who had extra pads but refused to let me borrow one due to competition! I promise your main competition is yourself and not every girl interviewing.
 
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