Saturday, December 17, 2016

FOTD: Game Face

The annual Academic Job Conference of Doom fast approaches (this is my second year preparing for it), and yesterday I had a dress-rehearsal practice interview with my advisor and another professor. This gave me an opportunity to test my interview makeup as well as my answers to questions like "But Machiavelli and Polydore Vergil are very different historians; why did you mention them in the same sentence?" I've written before about makeup in academia, and I still think there's a widespread prejudice against women who put obvious effort into their appearance. I know about the studies showing that women who wear neutral makeup come off as more competent in the workplace than women who wear no makeup at all, but I'm not sure that rule applies in academia, where both men and women often assume a negative correlation between femininity and intellectual seriousness.

But I also don't see the point in angsting over this until I get a job, you know? This isn't exactly the hill I want to die on, at least not yet. The job market in the humanities is horrible and I'd like to maximize my chances of making a living wage next year, thx. I'm not going to show up barefaced to an interview, but I'm not going to wear purple lipstick and my most metallic highlighter, either. I actually enjoy the challenge of making myself up for a specific role: in this case, the role of unimpeachably professional and competent young scholar. When putting on my job-market game face, I have three major concerns:
  • Appearance. I don't want my makeup to distract my interviewers from my answers, so I'm going for an overall effect instead of spotlighting one feature or product. However, I have high-contrast, cool-toned coloring that doesn't do well with toned-down shades all over. (See Kate's great post on "the workplace conundrum" for more on this issue.) A pale pink-brown lipstick will make me look washed-out and mousy; I need eye and lip colors that are neutral but saturated. (I realize, by the way, that many academics are completely oblivious to visual cues and won't notice any makeup short of glittery teal eyeshadow and black lipstick. Still.)
  • Comfort. I'd advise anyone preparing for an academic interview to stick to their usual level of made-up-ness. If you never wear makeup, the morning of your interview is not the time to start experimenting with eyeliner. Likewise, if you wear a full face every day, stripping it down for the interview will make you feel exposed and uneasy. I'd recommend tweaking the colors and finishes of your makeup instead of the amount. I'd also err on the side of simplicity: last year, my hands were shaking so badly before my interview that I could barely blend my eyeshadow. The look below contains three eyeshadows and an eyeliner, but I recognize that this may be ambitious.
  • Performance. This applies to lipstick more than anything else. An interview lipstick needs to stand up to an hour of talking. If it fades, it should fade gracefully, without leaving that awful ring around the lips. A liquid matte lipstick might seem like the obvious solution, but I suspect that the ultra-flat texture, even in a neutral color, could read as odd or unprofessional to some old-fashioned types. I wouldn't recommend a shiny or glossy finish, either. A matte or semi-matte bullet lipstick strikes me as the best choice.
For yesterday's look, I used my everyday base makeup, eyebrow goo, and mascara, plus this color makeup:

Clockwise from top left: Urban Decay Naked2 Basics palette, UD 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Whiskey, Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry, Seventeen Eyeshadow Mono in Statuesque, ColourPop Super Shock Cheek in Lunch Money, UD Afterglow Blush in Rapture.

After putting down a layer of Urban Decay Primer Potion, I applied Seventeen Statuesque to the inner 2/3 of my upper lids and Urban Decay Primal to the outer third, then blended Urban Decay Cover into the crease, up to the browbone, and along the lower lashline, and tightlined with UD Whiskey eyeliner. I applied a very small amount of ColourPop Lunch Money highlighter, but might not use it at all for the actual interview. My interview lipstick last year was Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Rapture, but this year I went for Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry, which is more matte (hence longer-lasting) and a bit darker. The final look wasn't much different from my usual makeup, honestly:

Ignore the Bernie-esque lint on my dress.

I feel weird about wearing warm eyeshadow with silver earrings, but that's just a brain problem, right?


I was happy with how this turned out (less happy with my performance at the practice interview, but I guess that's why you practice), but let me know if you have any suggestions!

Also! My boyfriend's parents were kind enough to give me a $35 Sephora gift card as a holiday present. I'm thinking of using it toward the Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance palette, which I've been coveting on and off for months, but I'm not sure I can trust myself to use a 14-shadow palette when most of my eye "looks" feature one or two shadows. And I worry that the color scheme might be too warm for my complexion and/or go out of style within a year. Thoughts?

21 comments:

  1. Sultry is such a perfect lipstick for this type of occasion! It doesn't wash you out but it's still neutral. I really like this look in general - the eyeshadow is super pretty and looks great with Sultry. You look very put-together but still like you.

    I've been coveting the MR palette since it came out, but I haven't been able to find it in stock. I know I'll end up buying it, though, because it's been a good six months since I started wanting it. I do think the colours are a bit on the trendy side, but that's not going to stop me. I think you CAN do complicated looks with the palette, but you can be simple with it too, even when it comes to some of the more interesting colours. I think you could put together some nice three-shadow looks with the reds and oranges. (I'm picturing a lighter shade all over the lid, a neutral matte brown blown out in the crease, and a more precise application of one of the reds through the crease. I do a similar look with a magenta blush sometimes and it's nice and easy!)

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    1. I don't know why I didn't wear Sultry for my interview last year! I think I was hung up on the idea of buying a lipstick specifically for the occasion.

      I like that not all of the MR colors are trendy: some are just solid warm neutrals that I don't have already. My main qualm is that I find large palettes visually overwhelming. Too many choices!

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  2. I'm not a huge fan of the colours in the MR palette, though that velvet-covered cardboard is my real issue with it. Impossible to keep from looking like crap.

    I'm in a "try me" mood with my work makeup lately, since I'm now a permanent employee and can ever so slightly relax. I also have the unique joy of not actually reporting to anyone in my physical workplace, and mostly seeing my boss via Skype a few times a week, since she's base 120km away. So I've been getting a little more experimental and bold with my lipsticks, though I do tone it down for meetings with other people. But if someone were to tell me to stop with the bright lipstick, I would do so. Not really the hill to die on at all.

    You do look wonderfully professional. Sultry is a really good colour for that.

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    1. Ugh, WHY did they use that velvety material? In such a light color, too! I don't anticipate traveling with the palette (I prefer singles or smaller palettes for travel), but even so, I'm messy and clumsy and I doubt the packaging will stay pristine for longer than a week.

      Congratulations on having more job stability! The looks you've posted on Instagram have all seemed work-appropriate to me, for what it's worth. I don't mind wearing more neutral makeup for work; what I do mind is the assumption that wearing any makeup at all brands me as "unserious" or whatever, but I doubt the majority of academics hold that opinion.

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    2. Healthcare is very conservative, probably in a slightly less high-brow way that academia is, but it amounts to the same thing in terms of what I feel I can put on my face: colours are not wanted here. On your face or in your wardrobe. I attribute this to the fact that mostly everyone is wearing scrubs, which are second cousins to pyjamas and are there for 12 hour shifts.

      I think my real worry stems from having generally small features and full lips, so any lipstick will take over my face and look very dramatic if it's at all bright.

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  3. You look lovely! Perfect interview makeup. I usually go fairly conservative for interviews, but last year I wore bright red lipstick to meet with a recruitment agent, and she ended up getting me a job!

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    1. I agree that there's a lot to be gained from making a strong visual impression. From what I've seen at conferences, young female scholars tend to dress drably (dark colors, severe cuts, minimal or no makeup) in the hopes of being taken seriously, but I wonder if this approach doesn't backfire sometimes. One of my boyfriend's advisors wore a teal suit to her interview for her current job!

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  4. I love this look! It is perfect for "an unimpeachably professional and competent young scholar". Plus you look like you know more than what you say. "Looking the part" is very important in any profession, in my opinion. Totally different from the academic world, but even in classical music scenes if your look doesn't go with your Fach, you're not likely going to be hired (unless you sound like Callas or Sutherland).

    Wish you lots of good luck!

    (Oh, I think the palette would be a great choice. My friend swears by it (the reddish shades are amazing, she says) and she usually prefers cool toned colors for her complexion.

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    1. It does seem like female singers and musicians are judged pretty harshly on their looks and style. And thanks for the vote of confidence! You always look so elegant, so your approval means a lot. :)

      I've been liking reddish and coppery eyeshadows recently; I think they make my eyes pop, even if they're quite a bit warmer than my skintone.

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  5. Well, if you want the palette for that long then go for it! I usually wear cooler tones as default neutral but I found copper/red much flattering than straight up brown. If you want something less overwhelming, viseart minx palette has a really pretty orange-copper and plum that can be sheered out. I will try to wear that to work (not to make a statement, more to actually use those palettes...I don't think people in science/research care aboutmakeup at all) if I can find time after my already long winter routine (mainly slathering on four layers of moisturizers and waiting for sunscreen to dry).

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    1. Haha, but I've wanted a lot of things for that long! The Viseart Minx palette does look pretty, but I'm really attracted to the pinkish shades (Buon Fresco and Love Letter) in the MR palette.

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  6. This is a beautiful look! That red-plum lip really suits you and suits the situation. I always struggle with how to present myself in professional context, where I want to look put together, but not "made up". I'm definitely taking inspiration from this the next time I have to do it.

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    1. Glad I could help! Professional makeup is so hard because makeup seems to signify something different to literally everyone who doesn't wear it.

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  7. I agree with your thought process and like the look you put together. And thank you for pointing me to Kate's post -- I agree with her 100%! I think the best thing to do is to wear your best colors, to use the makeup to look your personal best.

    I think that silver earrings with warm eyeshadow is fine. Your overall coloring is cool, so keeping the jewelry silver is great; but warmer colors, with some orange or red in them, bring out your green eyes better than cool ones do. I have a similar issue with my dark hazel eyes, wanting to use purple/pink/red/orange/peach tones to bring out the green in them, but my undertones are really, really, cool, and there's a lot of rosacea redness on my face that I work to disguise, or for whatever reason, oranges and reds (like in the Modern Renaissance palette) do not make me look good when placed near my eyes. Peaches and oranges don't work well on my cheeks, either, and even coral lipsticks have to have A LOT of pink or red in them to work on me at all. But, I think the reads and oranges in the Modern Renaissance palette would complement your eyes really well, and that you should try it, because yes, those colors will be less available in a couple of years, but, if they look great on you, you want to have them, whether or not they're in style, right? Just make sure you are willing and able to return it if it turns out not to be flattering for you.

    It might be better to leave off the highlighter, unless it looks really subtle (not shiny) under all lighting conditions. One thing I've noticed is that highlighter that looks good/natural to younger people looks startling to older eyes, probably because we're not as used to it. And I'm assuming that some of the interviewers will be older, and that you don't want them to notice your makeup to the point of being distracted by it.

    I admire you for tackling the academic job market. It is really tough. And I recognize that "if you wear makeup/pay attention to your appearance you must not be a serious professional" vibe, which has to be really tough to navigate, because of course interviewers are still responding on a subconscious level to how the interviewees look. It's impossible to figure out if it's better to have them respond (unconsciously) negatively because we look drab and mousy or have a conscious negative reaction because they noticed that they like the way we look, and they think there's something wrong with that? How twisted is that? That we have to find a narrow space where we don't look bad, but we don't look good enough for them to be aware that they think we look good? And how could anyone possibly find that narrow space for all possible interviewers? It's completely ridiculous. I think it's great that you came up with a look that's close to what you wear on a daily basis, because you will feel like yourself, and know you got hired looking like yourself.

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    1. Thanks for the tip about highlighter. I can't predict what sort of lighting the room will have, so it's probably best to leave it off. I did buy the MR palette, and I love the colors so far! It's possible to do a bold blown-out Instagram eye with the shades, but there are enough subtle neutrals that I think the palette can outlive current trends.

      "How twisted is that? That we have to find a narrow space where we don't look bad, but we don't look good enough for them to be aware that they think we look good?" So true. It's almost impossible to consciously affect others on a subconscious level, unless you're some kind of emotional genius. A college friend who was perpetually behind on her work would dress and make herself up in order to have one effect or another on the professor she had displeased that day: "I want to look serious, so I'm wearing a black top." I don't think it ever worked.

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  8. Every time I see swatches of Revlon Sultry or see a beauty blogger wear it, I become convinced that it would be the perfect MLBB for my pigmented lips and warm complexion (And I’m usually pretty good at selecting colors that would suit me based on online swatches).

    Sultry floored me, though. I looked washed out when I tried it on at the Revlon counter (Yep, Revlon has department store counters where I live). I was so sure Sultry would flatter me and sometimes I’m tempted to try the color on again. I try to fight the impulse though; I should trust past experience more than irrational desire.

    I read morelikespace’s lipstick recs thanks to your links and I’m now 85% sure I’m a dark/deep autumn. Well, that explains why Sultry makes me a bit pale while something as dark and plummy as NARS Audrey is oddly work-appropriate.

    Anyway….

    I love the Game Face look! Really inspired me to try out the colors and placement soon. The eye transitions well from work to dinner party. You just need to switch out for a bolder lipstick at night. Now, to improve my eyeshadow blending skills from ugh to competent…

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    1. I had exactly the same experience with NYX Soft Spoken, which gets touted as "the perfect MLBB for all complexions" or whatever. It turns out that I just can't pull off an MLBB with that much brown. I can do a statement brown, like MAC Antique Velvet or even Revlon Fierce, but my neutrals need to have a lot more pink.

      Audrey was the very first Audacious lipstick I ever tried on, but it was a really dark plum on me, not the deep rose I'd hoped for. Alas!

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  9. Good luck for interviews and the job hunt! Almost every sector is terrible right now, so don't be too disheartened. I really hope you manage to secure something! Your passion really shows through all your blog posts. I could only hope to be half as intellectual as you are!

    Re. Modern Renaissance: I don't own it, but I loooooove the colour scheme. I have a cheap alternative (Makeup Revolution Newtrals vs Neutrals) and I do feel the rusty reddish tones quite a bit. But definitely if you're into hazy or simple eyeshadow looks it might not be for you, because everything is pretty pigmented. Some youtubers said the only looks you can get out of it are full blown smoky looks.

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    1. Aww, that's so sweet! I do have a lot of passion for what I do. I hope that if academia doesn't work out, I can find a job that I find equally fulfilling.

      Having used Modern Renaissance for all of one day, I take your point: smoky looks are almost dangerously easy to achieve with it, especially if you're as pale as I am. But I do think some of the shades, like Buon Fresco and the light warm browns, will lend themselves well to subtler looks.

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  10. Best of luck in your interview(s)! Simply meeting with a professor has the potential to reduce me to tears, so I couldn't imagine...

    Regarding Modern Renaissance, I wholeheartedly support you getting it! I buy considerably less eyeshadow than lipstick, so I want what I do have to be good and it's fantastic. The quality is so obvious and the colors are so beautiful. I usually do 1-3 colors and they blend into each other wonderfully and look great.

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    1. My goal is to be a professor who doesn't reduce my students to tears...unless they deserve it (j/k j/k). And having done just one look with MR, I see what people mean when they say that the shades blend themselves. I just used the brush that came with the palette and was surprised at what a professional-looking result I got. ("Professional-looking" by my very low standards, that is.)

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