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When it comes to makeup for work, it’s best to stick to the basics — a good nude lipstick, matte eyeshadow, a brush of mascara, and a sweep of bronzer and you’re done.
This isn’t to say there isn’t a time and place for glitter eyeshadow and a bold red lip — but for those of us who want a quick, streamlined makeup routine, we need products that hide the dark circles from our Netflix binges and make us look ready to take on the world. Here are the makeup essentials you need to get you through 9-5 and on to happy hour.
This is hands-down the most moisturizing “lipstick” ever. Black honey, which is a serious cult favorite, is also the most natural-looking shade of lipstick I’ve ever seen. It’s a sheer finish, so it goes on lightly — but you can layer it on if you want to build more color. I literally never leave the house without it.
It’s perfect for: Those who want a little color without the fuss of “real” lipstick. Or the girl-on-the go who wants to swipe something on before a big meeting.
Real talk, I thought I lost my tube of this lipstick today and I almost cried. It’s my favorite lipstick of all time and my go-to for pretty much every occasion. It’s Lancome’s “creamy” formula, so it never dries my lips out. It’s also the perfect balance of a nude shade and a dark, vampy shade. I feel like a true HBIC when I wear it.
It’s perfect for: Those who want a lipstick shade somewhere between a boring nude and a loud red.
Liquid lipstick, similarly to liquid eyeliner, is not for the makeup newbie. For those who are serious about their lip color choices, you absolutely cannot go wrong with Stila. They have a million different shades, although our personal favorite at ESL is Patina. (Fun fact, I saw Meleah wearing Stila Liquid Lipstick in Patina, so I bought Stila Liquid Lipstick in Patina.) It’s a nice, subtle rose color, and it lasts literally all day. I also have the shade Caramello, and although it’s a little too neutral for my taste (it’s almost literally flesh-colored), it works for those who want a true nude.
It’s perfect for: Those who want a liquid lipstick that lasts throughout the workday.
Christine and I both received a sample of this lip gloss in our February Sephora Play bags — and we instantly fell in love. It’s somewhere in-between a lip gloss that eventually wears off and a drying lip stain — it’s super moisturizing but the color lasts throughout the workday. I usually only have to reapply once or twice, and it’s a way easier process than dealing with lipstick. Plus, Bound is a pretty, soft, rosey shade.
It’s perfect for: Those who want long-lasting color without the drying effects of most lipsticks or liquid lipsticks.
I have a bit of an addiction to Too Faced’s Melted Liquid Lipstick collection. I have several different colors, but my all-time fav shade is Chihuahua. It’s just the perfect shade (slightly nude, slightly brown, slightly red) to bring out your inner boss bitch. It was also my first liquid lipstick, and it goes on lightly enough for liquid lipstick newbs to apply without freaking out.
It’s perfect for: Those who want to literally look like they woke up like this. And stay like this all day.
If You Love the Urban Decay Naked palettes, you’ll be obsessed with their new Naked Basics Palette. My biggest issue with the original palettes is all the sparkle. I’m a grown adult, so I want to look like one — especially when it comes to choosing my makeup for work, I just want a nice, natural, matte shade. And now I have a whole palette! The soft browns and pinks are perfect for the office (and for happy hour).
It’s perfect for: Not looking like you just rolled around in glitter before coming to the office.
I swear by this mascara. (And so does Christine, BTW.) It’s the most natural-looking mascara I’ve ever tried — but it also delivers dramatic results. Lashes are lifted and lengthened, yet separated and light. To say I’m obsessed would be an understatement. It’s the perfect mascara for work.
It’s perfect for: Those who care as much about their lash length as they do about their morning coffee.
If you’re not willing to shell out $30 on mascara, L’Oreal Luminous Butterfly Mascara is the perfect drugstore dupe for Urban Decay Perversion Mascara. The wand is differently shaped, but you still get long, un-clumpy lashes for a lot cheaper.
It’s perfect for: Those who want Kardashian lashes without spending the money or getting extensions or glue-ons. Because same.
There are two types of eyeliner wearers in this world: Liquid eyeliner users and gel eyeliner users. If you’re part of the latter category, then you need Benefit’s They’re Real! Push-Up Liner. It’s quick, easy, and it’s much more manageable than gel eyeliner from a pot.
It’s perfect for: Those who want a bold line without the fuss.
There’s a reason this foundation is on every single article you’ve ever read about miracle drugstore finds: It’s legit. I have super oily skin, so it’s nearly impossible to find a foundation that doesn’t make me super cakey. Maybelline Fit Me Foundation Matte + Poreless has a natural-looking matte finish — without totally drying skin out.
It’s perfect for: Those who want to achieve the no-makeup makeup for work look. Or those with oily skin who don’t have time to fuss with touch-ups throughout the workday.
I struggled to find the perfect under-eye concealer, until I tried this under-eye brightener — and now I’m never going back to cakey under-eyes again. For those of us who have dark under-eye circles, Maybelline’s Instant Age Rewind Under Eye Brightener is the perfect way to look more alert throughout the workday.
It’s perfect for: Those who look to their makeup for work to look alert than just coffee.
I dropped my first-ever Too Faced Leopard Blushing Bronzer on the ground a few months ago and literally cried when it shattered. I threw a literal bitch fit. Why? One, because it’s amazing — it’s the perfect blend of bronzer and blush and I’ve never found ANYTHING like it. And two, because it lasts forever — if you don’t drop it, of course.
It’s perfect for: Those who want a natural-looking (aka not too pink or peachy) blush to accentuate cheekbones.