Workplace beauty essentials

I’m making a career change this week, from professional communicator (journalist) to professional communicator (PR firm associate), and today is my first official day on my new job. New job equals new office, new desk, new clothes (the dress code in a newsroom is quite different from the dress code at an agency) — and in this case, since I’ve been doing contract work for a few months and haven’t been full-time in an office, it means reassembling my workplace beauty kit.

In a perfect world, makeup would last all day and plans would always be made in advance, and the phrase “touch up” wouldn’t be in any of our vocabularies. Since the world isn’t perfect, though, I like to keep some basics on hand so I can adjust/correct/troubleshoot as necessary. (I learned this the hard way at my last job, when it seemed as though the days someone would call and ask me to film an interview were always the days I’d overslept and shown up to work in a hoodie with my hair in a two-day-old ponytail.) I gathered up my office beauty basics for work over the weekend and thought I’d share them here.

I wasn’t going to buy a new makeup bag, but I did need some new brushes, and I ended up buying this EcoTools by Alicia Silverstone brush/bag set at Target:

The bag is the perfect size to hold my workplace essentials, and I like that the separate compartment keeps brushes tidy. I also really like EcoTools’ products and philosophy. The kit includes a blush brush, mini foundation brush, mini powder brush, detailed eye shading brush and spoolie. It was $18.99 at Target in Anchorage, which means it’s probably $1-$2 cheaper at Lower 48 Target stores. Check inside the large zippered compartment before you buy; mine had a $1 off coupon inside.

What I put inside:



1. Some essential tools: A mirror (rediscovered in my garage cleanup haul); hair ties; nail clippers. These have the little file that flips out so I don’t also have to keep a nail file in the bag.


2. Foundation. This is Korres Ginger & Vitamins Foundation, which I actually don’t like very much at all (it smells like old milk), but it was too expensive to justify throwing out, so it’ll do in a pinch.

3. Concealer. This Redpoint concealer palette came in a BeautyFix shipment a while back (before I got tired of BeautyFix’s technical glitches, ineffective customer service and mind-numbing repetition and switched to the vastly superior Birchbox). It’s not my top choice concealer and I won’t repurchase when it’s gone, but like the Korres foundation, it’ll do in a pinch, and it works well for this touch-up kit because it has several colors of concealer together in one compact.

4. Palladio Rice Paper Blotting Tissues. I use one of these in the afternoon to eliminate oil and shine.

5. Garnier Skin Renew Anti-Dark Circle Eye Roller. This is a new one for me; I picked one up a few weeks ago to see if I would like it in place of my more expensive old standby, Benefit Ooh La Lift. I have very pale skin and I always seem to have dark circles, even if I’m getting enough sleep. I haven’t been using this long enough to know if it actually makes a long-term difference, but I like the way it looks and feels, and I think it will be a good mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

6. Fragrance. Because you never know when you’re going to realize you smell. I included a coffret of Prada Infusion d’Iris and a couple of L’Occitane samples.

7. Clear nail polish — a must for triaging stocking runs and chipping nails. This is a teeny tiny bottle of OPI RapiDry Top Coat that came with a mini sampler set.

Touch-Up Color

8. Mascara. This is a sample-size Laura Mercier mascara that came in the Sephora V.I.B. sample hatbox. I always hold on to my samples to use for travel and touch-up kits.

9. Lip product. I like products that provide moisture and color so I don’t have to pack a lip balm and a lipstick. My current favorite is Maybelline Shine Sensational Pop Sticks (this is Raspberry Ice; I also have one in Fruit Punch) because they’re moisturizing, provide a nice wash of color, and smell great.

10. Benefit High Beam. Best highlighter in the whole world. I have a few of these tiny-sized ones that have come in various kits and samplers; perfect for a little bag like this one.

11. Eyeliner. This double-ended one from Ulta has black on one side and brown on the other. When I’m doing my makeup for real at home, I generally use gel or powder eyeliner, but for this bag I like the portability of a pencil.

12. Eye shadow. I bought this little baked palette at Sally Beauty a couple of Christmases ago, but I see it everywhere. (In fact, you can have it printed with your own brand and shipped from China!) This will come in handy if I end up going straight from work to an evening event and want to add some color to my look.

If I add anything else to this bag, it will probably be a Benetint Pocket Pal, a blush, and a powder compact. I use Benefit Dandelion, and the box is just too square to fit in this bag, so I’m on the lookout for a more compact compact (so to speak) to tuck in here. I might also pick up another set of Goody Spin Pins, which I love for putting my hair into an easy, polished-looking chignon. I’ll also bring a couple of moisturizers to keep in my desk to get me through the dry Alaska winter; my favorites are the Body Shop’s body butters (I have a couple of travel sized containers sitting around that will fit nicely in a desk drawer) and my beloved Bliss High Intensity Hand Cream.

Now all I need is a kit to keep me from spilling coffee on myself and I’ll be all set…

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