Tutorial: Easy office-friendly makeup for desk to dinner

For those who are just starting out with makeup, I’ve teamed up with Nordstrom Beauty Spot to share my easy everyday look for work, and how to quickly build on it for after-work activities. This look features products that I’ve relied on for years, as well as some updates and tips from my in-store visit with one of their beauty stylists. When it’s time to replenish these favorites, you can bet I’ll be taking advantage of their online free shipping (at any price).
nordstrom beauty coverphoto
For work, my focus is simply on even skin tone and opened-up eyes. I’d avoid colorful eyeshadow or bright cheeks and lips, and heavy makeup in general for professional settings.
nordstrombeautyspot makeup
1. Make sure to start and end each day with a clean, moisturized face. I used to have an issue with dry, flaky skin, which was exacerbated by makeup layered on top. I bought the Clarisonic Mia a few years back and have been using it 2-3 times a week (usually in the shower, for convenience). For me, it does a great job of removing makeup residue and keeping skin flake-free. During the winter when Bostonians are plagued with dryness, I may have caught Nick buzzing away with my Mia…(PS – buying replacement brush heads in bulk saves a little $, and also allows for hygienic sharing of one device). After cleansing I apply Eucerin lotion, which came recommended by my dermatologist for sensitive skin.
nordstrom beauty spot3
2. Many women have naturally good skin that doesn’t need to be covered by foundation – just a touch of concealer should suffice. MAC select cover-up (I use shade NC30) has been my go-to for years to help with redness and under-eye circles. I used to dab then smear, but was taught to dab then pat into your skin in small, light taps. Optional step: set the concealer with some powder (I use a light coat of powder foundation).

3. I went through a stage of amassing blushes in every color, then discovered this Stila “Sun” bronzer (I prefer Shade 1) and haven’t turned back. For my skin tone, it adds natural color without veering into the territories of oompa loompa orange or forgot-to-bathe brown. As with most products in this post, it’s on the pricey end but has lasted me for several years. Since bacteria can grow on makeup over time, I disinfect every so often by pouring rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle, spritzing onto the product and wiping the top layer off.
nordstrombeautyspot blush4. For Asian eyes, a little bit of liner goes a long way in playing up that feature. I tried a drugstore version of this Lorac Front of the Line PRO liner, but reverted back to the original for the better staying power and brush. I figured with so few products in my daily regimen, there’s no need to scrimp on something that works well. I start at the inside corner and use a light-handed continuous stroke, extending about a cm beyond the outer corner.
nordstrom beauty spot5
5. I’ve been a longtime user of Lancôme Définicils mascara (results in wonderfully well-separated and defined lashes), but it doesn’t do much volume-wise for my thin, sparse lashes. My beauty stylist suggested a few options, and mentioned that Clinique’s mascaras (starting at $16) were on the more affordable end of the range. After trying the testers, I purchased the Clinique High Impact Extreme Volume mascara. The below left shows my natural lashes after curling, and below right is after 2-3 coats of mascara. Resulting lashes are not as defined as with the Lancôme, but have noticeably more mass than my natural ones.
nordstrom beauty spot6split
Finished everyday look for the office – takes less than 5 minutes from start to finish:
To take this very natural look to something a touch more dramatic, simply build on the eyes and add a lip color. I received my first Laura Mercier caviar eye stick as a gift years ago, and have since hooked so many friends onto it. My go-to “Khaki” color is a silky dark taupe with a little shimmer (I’m not a shimmer person, but this just adds some depth). Unblended, this eye stick can serve as a creamy eyeliner. Blended, it fades into a smoky eyeshadow. If blending, I learned from my beauty stylist to apply one eye at a time then blend with short, quick finger strokes immediately after application, since the cream formula takes just a few moments to “set” and will not budge or crease afterwards.
nordstrom beauty spot7
I always keep this little stick in my purse, and take 30 seconds to apply it at my desk before heading out to dinner or drinks. No more having to pack large eyeshadow palettes with brushes and primer, or cleaning up messy shadow fallout from cheeks and clothes. This stick has excellent staying power on even my oily lids, and wipes off easily with my trusty Lancome Bi-Facil eye makeup remover (look for these in those nifty gift with purchase sets!).

Finished look, after a quick swipe of MAC lipstick in Charismatic: 
Nordstrom Beauty Spot1

For those of you with busy schedules, please share your time-saving beauty tips – I’d love to hear them!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Nordstrom Beauty Spot – visit for makeup tips, beauty DIYs & more.

86 thoughts on “Tutorial: Easy office-friendly makeup for desk to dinner

  • Hayattan Payetler September 17, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Nice post 🙂

  • ....... September 17, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    great makeup tutorial! the lorac line pro liquid liner is one of my all time favorites I love the thin tip for getting a good close to the lashline line. thanks for sharing this look! xx. gigi. http://www.gigikkitchen.blogspot.com

  • EMMA at best makeup brushes September 17, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    You look very professional. Congrats and tnx for the post.

    I have to ask you: does the lipstick from mac lasts long?

  • Anonymous September 17, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Can you do a youtube video to demonstrate the application…especially curious about the eyestick.


  • Anonymous September 17, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    Great tutorial, and thank you, Jean, for sharing your beauty routine with us.

    As an Asian, though, I have to say I'm not entirely comfortable with the use of the term "Asian eyes." May I ask what you mean exactly? Monolids, small eyes, or eyes with narrow creases? (Because, really, what are Asian eyes, anyway? The Asian Michelle Phan has large, lovely double-lidded eyes, and the Caucasian Bjork has beautiful small eyes.)

    Please forgive me if I'm being too sensitive here, which I probably am – it's just that as an Asian who has dealt with a lot of racial ignorance growing up, I'm very put off by the stereotype that still exists in mainstream American culture that Asians have a certain type of look (words like "squinty" and "flat-faced" come to mind), and I think as Asians we ought to be a little more careful not to condone this stereotype.

    Again, great tutorial, and love your blog. I truly don't mean to offend.

  • maria September 17, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    Forgot to bathe brown! Haha! Never heard that before.
    Your skin looks flawless and I am loving that eyeshadow stick.

  • Amanda September 17, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    love the top! where is it from?

  • Anonymous September 17, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Ahhhhhhh you really make me want to try the eye shadow stick… must. resist. 🙂 haha

  • Anonymous September 17, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    I know what you mean. I think she means she has hooded eyes.

  • Ann September 17, 2013 at 8:34 pm


  • Jen September 17, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    I concur! I'd love to know where it's from too.

  • Petite Hues September 17, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Thank you so much for the tips Jean! For me, I usually go with a tinted moisturizer for everyday wear since it's lighter than a foundation and still gives an even skin tone. I use the blotting papers when I'm done with my makeup to set the makeup and blot away the oils from the products. I really like the Amore Pacific Tinted Moisturizer. It's a little on the pricier side, but the tube lasted me over half a year and it is also very moisturizing during the colder seasons. I've also been a huge fan of Benefit's They're Real Mascara. I've never went back since. I think they do an amazing job at adding volume and curl to the lashes. For me, I like to curl my lashes then add a coat of mascara by wiggling it at the base of my lashes then brushing my lashes to the right then to the left side and lastly using the tip to separate it by brushing it upwards. I've gotten a lot of compliments to my lashes saying they look like falsies, but they weren't. I think the key is to really curl your lashes prior to application so the mascara doesn't weigh it down.

  • Anonymous September 17, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Thank you for the tips Jean. Could you please let us know where you purchased the orange box on your dresser? Thank you

  • Janice Lee September 17, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Thanks for sharing your tips Jean! I'm definitely a believer of the Clarisonic. I'm going to give the caviar sticks a try since they look amazing on you! Sadly I don't have close to flawless skin like you do so I need a foundation before applying my concealer :(.

    As usual you like very professional! I'm amazed that you can do your make up in 5 minutes and head out the door.

  • Anonymous September 17, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    it's not about the shape. asian eyes in general tend to have less heavy lashes, which is why eyeliner makes such a dramatic difference. it's kind of like why mascara is so dramatic on very fair blondes and redheads with light-colored lashes – defining the eyes is really important. asian eyes, regardless of shape, tend to see a dramatic effect from some liner definition

  • kileen September 17, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    i love the lipstick color on you, Jean! thanks so much for sharing your beauty tips.

  • Suzie Q September 17, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Great make-up tips, Jean! The eye stick sounds wonderful, I may have to try that out. I'm a firm believer of primer for eyeshadows. I use MAC paintpot. The extra minute it takes to put that on does wonders in maintaining staying power for the eyeshadow and gives the eyeshadow look a whole different dimension. Also, with the MAC paintpot worn by itself works as a "no make-up" kind of look 🙂

    Suzie Q

  • With Each Passing Day September 17, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    Thanks for the tips. Is that the lipstick I got you a for the Secret Santa? The color looks good on you.

  • Ann September 17, 2013 at 10:27 pm
  • Anonymous September 17, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    Yes I think you are being a bit too sensitive here. I am Asian too and have all the characteristics that you mentioned – monolids, small eyes etc, yet I am not offered by Jean called them Asian's eyes. It's just a generic term, like people will say African Americans tend to have colored skin even some of them are really fair skin.

  • Anonymous September 17, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    I was wondering what you use for your eye
    brow . Please share. Thanks Jean for this

  • Anonymous September 17, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    Hi Jean! For work I use:

    1. Japonesque eye curler
    2. Maybelline Rocket Volum' Express waterproof mascara
    3. Benefit Benetint

    Use each item twice.

    More important though are the hair and necklace 🙂

  • simplybeccablog September 17, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Jean! I'm so happy you did a lipstick post, since your make up always looks flawless in photos. I will be trying LM eye stick since I've heard so much about it, and now I'm ready to bite the bullet.

  • michelle September 17, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    Hi Jean,

    Just recently discovered your blog and am quite in love! I tend to hang in this odd limbo between petite and XS regular sizes in most stores and usually lean more toward the regular sizing, so I love looking at how you explore and strive to find the best fit. After reading your blog, I actually went and found a nearby tailor through Yelp to fix up a dress from H&M;!

    As someone who also sometimes struggles with feeling like a "kid" [I teach, so I'm surrounded by kids who are taller than me every day!], I love your tips on how to look more professional. I've also started a daily makeup routine, and I love seeing your tips because I'm not one to try 30 different products and cycle through them!

    I'm also using a Clinique mascara that I've fallen in love with recently–the Lash Power Long Wearing formula, which is one of those "tubey" mascaras. It's so awesome because for months I had trouble with smeary mascaras and raccoon eyes at the end of the day. That and an eyelash curler have done wonders for my straight and stubby Asian lashes! 🙂

    My biggest time-saving tip was so easy but so true: having a nice little organizer for my daily makeup stuff. I used to just throw everything into a little pencil bag-like pouch, but a trip to the Container Store has made mornings surprisingly so much smoother.

    Phew, that was long. Anyway, tl;dr love your blog, keep posting!

  • Anonymous September 17, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    With all ethnicities, each has similar physical features. It's a fact that many Asians have characteristic shaped eyes (whether monolid or double lid). I think "Asian eyes" is the most accurate (and most respectful) description I've heard. I'm sure every Asian here has heard far worse like almond, flat, squinty, slanted, chinky, etc.

  • Anonymous September 17, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    I totally agree eyeliner and mascara makes a difference to my looks (second to eyebrows, I love strong eyebrows). My time saving tip is I had my waterline tattooed when I went to Asia last year. I totally against bluish smeared tattoo look like on some older ladies but recent techniques make it look like real eyeliner. I just love how it looks when I don't need to put on any makeups.

  • MizzJ September 18, 2013 at 1:44 am

    Thanks for these tips Jean! I so want to try one of those Laura Mercier sticks now!

  • Monkey September 18, 2013 at 2:20 am

    Having some color to my lips makes a huge difference for me – I've recently gotten hooked on Revlon's Colorstay Lip Colors. I put it on in the morning and it doesn't budge at all throughout the day, despite eating and drinking as normal. I use just the color and don't bother with the gloss for a more natural look. Love it.

  • Le monde des petites September 18, 2013 at 2:31 am

    Thank you very much for your tips! Love your make up!

    Le monde des petites

  • Munira September 18, 2013 at 2:45 am

    Hi Jean! I love this blog and thanks for a great tips!

  • Bluechic Berry September 18, 2013 at 3:16 am

    Thank you for great inspiration! 🙂


  • Anonymous September 18, 2013 at 4:43 am

    Your face is flawless! Thanks for the great tips.

  • Anonymous September 18, 2013 at 5:00 am

    You're too sensitive

  • Linderella September 18, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Brilliant tutorial. I must get one of those eye sticks, they look fab! 🙂

  • Jackie September 18, 2013 at 8:39 am

    So chic and simple! Your skin looks great btw 🙂

  • Maria September 18, 2013 at 8:40 am

    Ohh I've never heard of the caviar eye stick before, but it looks awesome, I'd love it! Great tutorial, your skin is so perfect 🙂

  • Anonymous September 18, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I use the lancome bi-facil remover as well but don't understand what you meant by looking for those in niffy gifts – do advice! (:
    You have such amazing brows though without any touch ups!

  • Anonymous September 18, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Jean, you should try the Benefit They're Real mascara. I used Definicil for many years and recently started using Benefit. It's $23 dollars (recent package at Sephora has a travel size tube attached to the regular size at the same price). It gives volume and definition, also holds curl well.

  • jan September 18, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Hi Jean, thanks for the tutorial! You always make it look so effortless 🙂 For work I swear by Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer (sometimes layered over Smashbox BB cream), Chanel bronze rose blush, and Trish McEvoy lash curling mascara. I'll have to try the LM caviar stick you recommend! Do you have any recommendations for makeup brushes to use for applying blush/bronzer?

  • Anonymous September 18, 2013 at 10:55 am

    I love the Benefit They're Real! Too bad it's not waterproof, but I absolutely love it!!!
    Jean, I have super oily eyelids, so thanks for the eyestick tip! 🙂

  • Anonymous September 18, 2013 at 11:31 am

    I agree with Anonymous, there are alot of racial undertones in this pose i.e asian eyes, forgot to bathe brown??!?! It's like saying brown skin is dirty ��

  • Anonymous September 18, 2013 at 11:33 am


  • Christine September 18, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Love these tips! I've also been using the MAC select cover-up in NC30 for as long as I can remember! It's a good color for Asian skin I think. I've been wanting to pick up the eye sticks for awhile now and your post just inspires me to pull the trigger and try it out. I hear Bobbi Brown also has an amazing eye stick in several colors as well. I've always been terrible at trying the "smokey eye" – I usually end up looking like I got beat up – not cute, LOL. You make it look so easy, I think I have to give it another shot. Have a great day! You look beautiful! 🙂


  • Anonymous September 18, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    I acknowledge that many East Asians have eyes with similar features (monolids, small eyes, stubby eyelashes, etc). However I think the very first Anonymous poster makes a good point. As a Chinese American, the term "Asian eyes" does bother me a little because it is a bland, blanket categorization and not even descriptive of specific characteristics.

  • Anonymous September 18, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Oh please. Jean meant brown as in being outside all day, letting dirt accumulate like a construction worker type of brown, hence the "forgot the bathe" part, not a natural brown skin tone. -____-

  • Dice September 18, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Great make-up tutorial, Jean! Thanks for the tips.

  • Jean September 18, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Anon, thank you for sharing your concern in a respectful manner. I know where you're coming from in regard to racial ignorance and am sorry to hear you've had to deal with that as well. When using that term, I was trying to encompass multiple characteristics of my own eyes (almond-shaped, hooded, thin/straight/sparse lashes, small creases). I didn't mean to offend, and appreciate your feedback.

    In regard to the other comment about "forgot to bathe brown" – this was a lighthearted line specified to be relative to my own personal skin tone, and am disappointed that someone would misconstrue that as having racial undertones.

  • Abby September 18, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    I have been thinking about purchasing one of those LM sticks. I think you have sold me. It was nice to see that particular color actually ON a person as well. Thanks!

  • Anonymous September 18, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    btw, it's a daily regimen. a regiment is a group of soldiers. 🙂

Comments are closed.