Working from home is a major adjustment in almost every way. Some of those are positive (no pants required) and others are, well, a little more complicated (endless distractions). If you've recently transitioned to working from home, it can be hard to navigate — even without a pandemic to worry about. While you've probably read all the advice about making sure you get ready for the day, make your bed, and take breaks regularly in order to stay productive at home, there are some things that are a little less common to navigate. For example, do you adjust your appearance for a video call in the same way you would for a meeting in the office? In other words, if you would usually wear a business casual outfit and minimal makeup at work, should you do the same for a video call?
It can be hard to know exactly what's best, so I spoke to three experts. Austen Tosone is the beauty content director at Jumprope and a former freelancer, meaning that when it comes to WFH beauty, she's pretty much an expert.
"For me right now, I have a lot of Google Hangouts team meetings and virtual coffee dates — wearing makeup gives me that look good, feel good mentality that I think definitely makes me feel like I'm more 'on' than I would be if I chose to skip makeup," Tosone says over email, noting that because her job centers around beauty, she often has meetings with others in the beauty space where makeup serves as an important connection.
While Tosone says wearing makeup on video calls is definitely a personal preference, she notes that minimal makeup is a safe bet if you're looking to feel a little more polished, but still stay comfortable.
"For me personally, applying moisturizer, a CC cream, a tiny bit of bronzer/blush, brow gel, and mascara makes me feel good to go. I likely won't do my full-on every day routine but just something to make me feel confident and ready to go," Tosone says, recommending products like IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream, Glossier Boy Brow, and Wet N' Wild Mega Lash Mascara.
Taylor Dempsey, a makeup artist for SIIA Cosmetics, echoes Tosone's opinion that sometimes simpler is better when it comes to makeup for virtual meetings. Another benefit of a simple, consistent makeup application? It might make you feel calmer. Dempsey explains over email that, for her, sticking with a consistent beauty routine is a form of self-care.
"Just like wearing makeup to work helps in creating a polished look and conveys confidence and power, the same is true at home, especially over video calls," Dempsey says, suggesting SIIA’s Easy and Rich Brow Pencil, Silky Smooth Primer, and Seamless Fit Foundation Duo as a few key products.
Work in a slightly more formal business setting and trying to navigate dressing for video calls? Vicki Salemi, career expert for Monster, says to simply follow the same standards you would for a regular meeting in the office.
"Wear what you'd wear to a meeting [and] look professional and polished. For many, that includes makeup," Salemi says over email. "I've been told by makeup artists that in many instances yes, makeup can help some features pop more on video calls that may otherwise look washed out due to the nature of technology and poor lighting on the video call, etc."
The most important thing about wearing makeup — in any type of setting — is that you feel confident. Ultimately, that's what is important to keep in mind when getting ready for a video meeting or any event at all. Salemi also points out that you want to feel "professional, polished, and confident" during these calls, but more like yourself, too.
"If you've barely worn makeup to work and then suddenly feel like you need to wear false eyelashes so your eyes pop during the video call, you may not feel like yourself on the call, and may be distracted [or] concerned about your eyelashes rather than the focus of work itself," Salemi says.
If you're still finding it difficult to decide how little or much makeup to wear, Salemi and Tosone both suggest keeping thing things simple with basic mascara, blush, and concealer. Something that might be more important than makeup, though? Lighting.
"Lighting matters," Salemi says. "For instance, if a window is behind you, it could create a shadow over your face and makeup or not, it will be difficult for colleagues to see you. Try to sit opposite an open window and if the room is dimly lit, try adding floor or desk lamps to amplify lighting."
Dempsey agrees that lighting is key to video calls and also notes that making sure your eyes are visible (both by utilizing proper lighting and specific makeup) is key in virtual meetings.
"Most of us talk with our eyes, so if those are defined you’ll be able to convey your messages through the screen as well as you can in person," Dempsey says.
At the end of the day, working from home can be a a whole new world if you're not used to it — and that includes deciding how to look in meetings. If you're at a loss, simply try to emulate how you'd normally look for a day at the office or a big meeting. And if you're really stuck when it comes to makeup, just remember: Odds are your male colleagues haven't thought twice about this.