Five Minute Face - Makeup for a Conservative Professional Environment

**Updated everyday makeup video posted here**

This has nothing to do with being petite, but I believe a key part to looking polished and professional is a fresh, work-appropriate face. Although this may seem like a gimme, I've nevertheless seen so many extremes in the workplace.

In a business formal environment, I think it's safe to say: avoid bright blushes, bright lip color, thick eyeliner / mascara, heavy foundations, and any eyeshadow. A number of conservative professional industries are dominated by men, so I don't think it would behoove a woman to get all dolled up and look hot at work when she can prove her abilities in other ways. However, do not misinterpret this to mean no makeup! I think it's very important to use makeup to help look clean, healthy, refreshed, and of course, pretty. This means taking care of your skin, concealing blemishes, and adding a little bit of life to an overworked, tired face using bronzer and clear gloss.

I am far from being a makeup expert, so this isn't really a tutorial. There are some really helpful tutorials on YouTube made by talented and beautiful ladies who really know their makeup, my favorite being Michelle Phan. This, on the other hand, is just me sharing a routine using products that I love. For work, I try to use minimal products (only 5 makeup items). Here is a preview of the stuff I will be using:



and Tools:

Click "Read More" for the steps...

As mentioned previously, the goal of this face is to look blemish-free and awake, yet natural. This is achieved via lighter colored concealer around the eyes, a dusting of mineral makeup, moisturized lips, and neat brows. I'm not into all those "awakening" tips where you put white eyeliner in the corners and waterline of your never looks natural when I see it on people. Here is a before-and-after:
Ahhaha, hopefully my friends won't see this : ) Forgive the poor quality of my built-in laptop camera...for some reason the before and after skin almost looks exactly the same. You'll just have to trust me that a few steps made a heck of a difference!

Again, an updated video has been posted here. Steps, in detail:1. Apply scent-free moisturizer to face and neck.

What I Use: Up&Up (Target brand) scent-free Original Moisturizing Lotion for dry, sensitive skin, $8, or Eucerin Original Moisturizing Lotion, $12, the true original.
Never skip moisturizer in the winter! I have both dry and sensitive skin so I'm big on scent-free products. Eucerin is a brand that makes a whole line of moisturizing and skin-healing products for sensitive skin, which I discovered via my dermatologist several years ago. I used it exclusively for years, then one day on a whim I tried the Target ("Up&Up" brand) knockoff. The knockoff well exceeded my expectations, and I have yet to go back to the real thing! I love the Original lotion for both face and body - it is very moisturizing yet not sticky at all.

2. Apply eye cream around the eye area to mediate morning puffiness and shadows.

What I Use: Clinique All About Eyes, $28.50 for .5 oz, winner of many reader's choice awards.
They make this in gel version and a "rich" cream version supposedly for drier skin. I tried both at Macy's and ended up choosing the gel for its smoother application. This is not a preventative cream, it is just supposed to "diminish the look of circles, shadows, puffs, and lines." Who knows if it actually works?

3. Dabble on liquid concealer in areas with shadows or uneven skin tone (ie: chin, both sides of nose, under the eyes).

What I Use: MAC Select Cover-Up concealer, $16.50, in shade NC42.
Glamour magazine's beauty editor says to apply concealer after foundation, but I beg to differ. I like to dabble on the concealer roughly, then use mineral makeup to buff it in. Afterwards, a few touch-ups may be made in problematic areas.

Liquid concealer works well for "everyday" work looks because it applies thinly and provides only light to medium coverage. Have a shade matched for both summer and winter skin tones, in a color slightly lighter than your foundation color. I consulted with 3 MAC makeup artists asking them for an independent assessment of my skin tone, and was surprised/discouraged that each one picked a different shade for me!

I like this MAC formula and use it for everything from dark circles to zits. Although it cost a little more than drugstore brands, you only need a few tiny dabbles each time. This little tube has lasted me nearly two years! I keep telling myself to replace it anyways for sanitation reasons, but have yet to do so. For work, I prefer this concealer to MAC Studio Finish concealer (a little more pigmented) and MAC Studio Stick concealer (too cakey for me).

4. Dust on a few coats of mineral foundation and bronzer.

What I Use: Bare Escentuals bareMinerals Foundation in Tan, $25, and BE bareMinerals Warmth bronzer, $18. Retractable foundation brush is also by BE, $30 (got it on eBay for less).
I love bareMinerals for everyday wear! The time saved over applying liquid foundation has been invaluable for me in the mornings. I've also tried several other brands of mineral makeup like Everyday Minerals and drugstore brands, but I don't think they compare to the silky smooth finish of BE bareMinerals. BE looks so natural in person -never cakey- and it photographs beautifully.

The BE instructions DVD shows the model using only a tiny bit of powder. For me, this is simply not enough to provide any coverage for my spotty and translucent skin. I use a more generous amount, yet a .07 oz container still lasts me a good 6 months. For foundation, I apply in a circular buffing motion starting under both eyes where the most coverage is required. I layer on Warmth at the top of and along my cheekbones, but use only a light dusting for the top of my nose bridge, forehead, and neck.

The $48 deal shown above is amazing! The "get started" kit is their classic kit which my friends and I each bought years ago. It comes with 2 foundation shades (you choose amongst fair, tan, dark, and more), Warmth bronzer, finishing powder, primer, brushes, plus more. This deal has always been offered for $60 online and in infomercials, but Nordstroms has it on sale for only $48. As a reference, foundation, bronzer, or powder by themselves are sold for $18-$25 each.

5. Curl lashes with a good curler.

What I Use: Shu Uemura eyelash curler, $19. Also available in limited edition gold for $24 : )
This is a must-have tool for all women. I used drugstore-brand curlers for years and always wondered why my eyelashes looked crimped and bent instead of curled. I don't know how, but this curler was made for Asian eyelid shapes. I can get right up against my eyelid for maximum curl and it really opens up the eyes.

6. Apply a thin line of eyeliner along the entire upper lid, and the outer corners of the lower lid. Use a smudger tip to soften the entire line (Asians can try tapering off the line in a small upwards tail at each corner).

What I Use: Lancome Le Stylo Waterproof Long Lasting Eyeliner with smudger tip in Black/Noir, $23.50.
I'm not loyal to eyeliner brands, but I do love this Lancome one with a built-in smudger tip. Smudging is key for a soft, natural look. Liquid eyeliner is great for precision, but it is opaque so I reserve that only for evening looks. $23.50 is steep for me for one pencil, so I sometimes use the $3 NYC drugstore automatic pencils and then use the Lancome tip to smudge. I've also purchased the Lancome pencils in bulk via eBay, but make sure it from a seller with high volume or else it may not be fresh.

7. Apply a coat or 2 of mascara.

What I Use: Lancome Definicils high definition mascara in Black/Noir, $24.50.
This is my HG mascara! On days when I don't even have 5 minutes, I will opt to put on only concealer and mascara. But mascara is useless unless you curl your lashes (although some ladies have beautiful, long and natural curls, Asian women are usually not so fortunate).

I buy these 3 at a time on eBay in trial sizes, usually for under $12 total. Trial size is .09 oz versus full size which is .23 oz, so three trial tubes well exceeds one full size tube. Buying in trial sizes not only provides cost savings, but I've found that the mascara stays fresher than in a full size tube. Mascara lasts me for a long time, so a full size tube would dry out on me long before it was used up. Also, trial sizes have a shorter wand, allowing your hand more control over the application process.

8. Finish off by moisturizing lips and taming brows.

What I Use: Aquaphor Healing Ointment for cracked or dry skin, from the makers of Eucerin lotions. $8.49 for a 3.5oz tub which will last for ages.
Although Vaseline may seem like a much cheaper substitute, I recommend not skimping! The composition of Vaseline is quite different - it is made from mostly petroleum and does not absorb into the skin as well. It also looks shiny and greasy instead of moisturized. I apply Aquaphor on my lips before bed and again in the morning, and it keeps them looking healthy, smooth, vibrant, and moisturized 24/7. I also use a little as a gel to put stray eyebrow hairs into place.

Annnd that's it! 5 minutes is up : )


  1. great video! Def. agree with the minerals step-but I prefer prescriptives...maybe it's time to give BE a try again since prescriptives will be closed down in Jan!
    Love your hair btw-what do you use?

  2. Hi Natalie! I've never tried Prescriptives but have meant to several times. How sad that they are going away.

    As for the hair - thank you, but looks must be deceiving because my hair is quite unhealthy. It's gone through lots of abuse (highlighting, dying, straightening, perms...) I use Aussie or Pantene shampoo/conditioner, but really need to start treating it better. My hairstylist "prescribed" a number of DIY treatments which I'll be attempting soon : )

  3. Great video :) Good to know someone out there is simple in the morning too.

    I personally isn't a All About Eye Rich cream fan. They didn't do anything for me but made my skin soft and smooth. I would suggest Lancomes High Resolution Collaser -5x. They do more than just soften and smooth.

    Btw, what is your name anyways? I don't think you've mentioned it in your blog.

  4. Hi Kathleen - thanks for the tip! It's so hard to judge whether an eye cream is working or not. The skin around my eye definitely feels softer, but I don't see less puffiness nor lines. I will def put High Resolution Collaser on my to-try list. I like how it is preventative care, which the Clinique sales girl made clear to me that All About Eyes is NOT.

    As for my name, I would just like to keep it off this blog since I have my face and other info on here. Hope you understand : )

  5. Great, great job on this video, and your blog overall. I'm not Asian or petite, but your blog has captivated me. Someone should hire you to do this! Your prose is really precise and descriptive... I wonder if you're an engineer? Teehee

  6. Lawgirl,
    You are too kind! There's so many great blogs out there - I am flattered that you've taken the time to stop by and comment, being out of my target audience and all. No engineer here ... just a regular blogger : )

  7. thank you for this blog! i have almost the exact same obsessed with shopping because i have such a hard time finding things that fit so this blog is really helpful.

  8. Thanks Anon! I'm constantly looking for tips and suggestions myself. Be sure to shoot me an email if you know of any great brands / styles for petites to try : )

  9. I currently use Clinique's Line Smoothing Concealer with a BE's Max Coverage Concealer brush because the concealer's application tip is a lip gloss puff on a stick (gross). I should use concealer daily but I generally only use it when I break out or am scarring.

    I have never tried BE stuff because I've seen what a mess other people make when dealing with loose powder. I use Clinique's Almost Powder makeup and apply with a brush that provides me a natural sheer to moderate coverage.

    Then Too Faced's bronzer (a two toned palate) and then Smashbox's blush (not too sure about the color).

    People have commented how they don't think I'm wearing any makeup since it looks so natural. horray!

  10. I tried to watch this video today, but when I clicked on the "play" button I got a message saying "This video is private." How can I watch it? Thank you!

  11. What type of cleanser do you find effective at taking off bare minerals foundation?

  12. @Emily S.

    I second wanting to watch this video esp as an asian who's wondering what to do with makeup since I'm entering the workforce!

  13. Diana and Emily - I've posted an updated video at the top of this post : )

    Anonymous - I use Cetaphil gentle cleanser for sensitive skin and a Clarisonic brush.

  14. Is there still a link to the old video? The old video (with no eyeshadow and pencil eyeliner) is a better fit for me than the new one, and I'd love to watch it again as a refresher.

  15. I've been hearing about this eyelash curler for ages... I'm definitely going to order one.

    You should try the Prestige Waterproof eyeliners:
    I used to use the NYC ones too but I hated how they tugged at my eyes. The prestige eyeliners are my favorite. I get them at my local CVS/Walgreens. They're about $6.

    Love your blog. It's been an inspiration during my wardrobe rehaul. I'm transitioning into having more professional attire. Thank you for all the tips!

  16. Hi,
    I thought Aquaphor was also petroleum based? If it isn't, what's it made of? I haven't seen many differences in the ingredients list..

  17. Love makeup tips! There are makeovers from celebrity stylist that I would looove to know about here

  18. Just recently discovered your blog- love it! I also use bare minerals.. really solves the problem of finding an exact liquid foundation to match skin! Also, I realize this was from two years ago, but the first comment about finding solutions for hair caught my eye. I switched last october to Moroccan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner- so worth the expense.

  19. Thank you for the make up tips! It's really great to learn and get some knowledge on this. I always put on lip gloss or lip balm everyday which doesn't really help much with looks, especially in the morning with tired eyes and dull face. I'm really excited to try this! thank you (:
    ps. is it ok to wear make up everyday as a teen? Like at age 15? Or better to do this once in a while? I want to have experience with using make up but I don't want to overdo it

  20. I adore your blog and style.

    Re: applying concealer after foundation. That's only if one is using liquid foundation. For mineral makeup, I always applying my concealer before buffing it in myself. Otherwise, it would be streaky :)

  21. Thank you SO MUCH for the tip on the Shu Uemura eyelash curler. I too tried to curl my eyelashes with drugstore curlers but had no luck. I never thought that the problem could be eyelid shape. I'm not really Asian, but I do have trouble with a lot of eye makeup. It's like my eyelids/ brow bones are all wrong for it. I'll start looking in to some Asian eye makeup tutorials - maybe I'll have better luck!

  22. Hi Jean,

    I am a longtime follower of your blog and first time poster. This post actually inspired me to get a bare minerals get started kit yesterday. I had trouble picking out the shade though. The sales associate at Sephora first tried Light on me. I didn't really like it especially with summer coming. She would only go as dark as medium beige on me and that's what I ended up buying. I told her that a blogger that I follow has very similar complexion to me (I'm originally from China too!) and she got a Tan kit. She wouldn't believe me and insisted that I am only a medium beige even if I want to look darker.

    So Jean, here is my question for you. Did you really need the Tan kit? I mean it looked great on you and I don't feel you looked dark or anything. But several sales associates at Sephora all agreed that I should no way go up to Tan.

    1. Hi Claire! I haven't used Bare Minerals in a while (switched to the Make Up For Ever foundation powder in my updated makeup post), but I did use the Tan kit when I was a lot darker in past years (even if the photos here don't indicate as such). I've been staying out of the sun more to protect my skin and would definitely not use the tan kit now. So I'd say it depends on your own skin tone, and I would suggest getting a second opinion from a different SA if you don't feel completely comfortable. When I was phasing out of Bare Minerals, I also remember mixing colors from different shade kits for winter and summer when skin tones can change several shades. Good luck!

  23. Wow you are so gorgeous! Though I am not petite in the slightest, I thoroughly enjoy your blog. Your skin is flawless and so I would like to know what you are doing for your skincare or are you blessed with good genetics?


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