5 makeup tips that help nail a polished work look

Appropriate cosmetics to wear around the workplace is a tricky business. For many, it may feel like there’s a fine line between “natural” looking makeup application and no makeup at all. There’s also that delicate balance between “enough makeup application to look polished and professional” and “Saturday night makeup”. Here, makeup artist Carly Lim gives us her 5 makeup tips that will help you nail a polished work look.

1. Use a good Primer

Gone are the days of a heavy over-powdered base. A good primer, used together even just with tinted moisturiser or concealer, will give you a long lasting, healthy and polished base for work.

A quick note from LH Agenda…

Discover our 2024 Collection

LH Agenda 2024 Collection

Top 3 Primers

  1. Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer: Gives a silky smooth satiny feel, minimises shine and gives foundation longevity.
  2. Laura Mercier Radiance Primer: Has a lovely creamy gel like texture that is lightweight and feels soothing. Instantly feel radiant and fresh!
  3. Stila One Step Correct: This one colour corrects and brightens your complexion in one step. A weightless, serum-type primer


  • After cleansing and moisturising, wait about 5-10 minutes to let the moisturiser sink in. Take a tissue and split their layers, so you are left with one ply. Place this over your face and gently press and pat all over. Thich helps to remove any excess product
  • Apply primer, a pea size or less will be plenty for your face
  • Apply your foundation/tinted moisturiser/concealer. An efficient way to do this is to pat all over with fingers blending roughly and then using a clean brush to polish and perfect the blending
  • If you have dry skin, you can skip powder. Otherwise, set with translucent powder, but only on T-zone (forehead, nose, sides of nose, chin)

2. Take Care of your Brows

Invest the time and money in a good brow specialist. Nothing presents a polished look better than a good set of brows. If you are time-strapped, a good brush will help too.


Using a spoolie, brush all the brow hairs in the opposite direction and down. Then brush upwards and outwards at a 45 degree angle. Repeat this, brushing them back and forth a couple of times.

This is the standard guide for achieving your best brow shape.

This is the standard guide for achieving your best brow shape.

Top 3 Brow Products

  1. Tweezerman Tweezers: Pricey for something so basic, but the difference in quality and ease of use is astounding
  2. MAC Eye Brows: A great mechanical brow pencil: ultra thin, easy to use and good range of shades available
  3. Eyeko Brow Gel: For those blessed with naturally full brows, a quick swipe of this in the morning keeps them polished and neat. For those of us less blessed, this product helps ‘plump’ up the brow hairs

3. Use Mascara

Applying mascara is the quickest way to look awake and polished for work. You can forgo any eye shadow with a good application of mascara. Before applying, it is important to curl the lashes too.

Top 3 Mascaras

  1. Rimmel Wonder’full Mascara with Argan Oil: This formula is slightly wetter, and gives the effect of fluffy, separated lashes as a result
  2. L’Oreal Million Lashes: This has a formula which is creamy and black, providing lots of volume and length
  3. Lancôme Grandiose: The swan-neck shaped wand helps the shakiest hands get into every lash


  • Before jumping in and applying straight from the tube, it’s a good idea to remove excess product from the applicator. Scrape the applicator at the opening to do so
  • If you have good bottom lashes, apply mascara here first. If your eyelashes are sparse here, just skip this step
  • Always apply first to the roots and avoid pulling through, at first. Deposit as much product as you can at the roots to achieve the illusion of fuller lashes
  • Following this use a zig-zag motion while pulling through for your second coat of mascara

4. Use a good Highlighter

A good highlighter (also known as an Illuminator) makes accentuating your bone structure easy, and keeps you looking fresh and polished throughout the day. The most important thing to look for is a very fine pearl or shimmer. Anything with large particles of glitter might be okay for evening but is an overkill for the office. For the best, no-fuss results, use a fan brush to apply.

Top 3 Highlighters/Illuminators

  1. Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Powder Candlelight: Despite being a powder formula, this provides a gorgeous skin-like finish with the right amount of glow
  2. Benefit Watt’s Up: An easy-to-apply highlighter in stick form, with a handy built-in sponge applicator to help blend your product onto the skin
  3. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector (Pressed): This is available in four shades, and again it’s a great powder formula that offers a natural glow. A light hand is recommended, however

5. Invest in Lip/Eye/Cheek Palette Sets

A palette that offers coverage for your eyes, lips and cheeks is great to keep at your desk, or in your handbag for any important work events that crop up at the last minute.

Top 3 Lip, Eye and Cheek Palette Sets

  1. Charlotte Tilbury FilmStars on the Go: A luxurious two-step product in lovely satiny cream formulation
  2. Benefit Sugarlicious Kit: This provides coverage for cheeks, lips and eyes – all in one nifty set
  3. Too Faced Natural Eyes Collection: A collection of work-suitable eye shadow colours in a beautiful, portable tin


Featured image courtesy of Carly Lim.

A quick note from LH Agenda…
Discover our Make Your Mark planners and journals to help you create daily life habits to grow as a leader.

Make Your Mark Leadership Collection for Female Leaders


Carly-Lim-profile-img-Leaders-in-HeelsCarly Lim

Carly is a freelance makeup artist currently based in Brisbane, working primarily in fashion and advertising. Soon after finishing university she realised a career behind the scenes was what she craved most. Her regular clients include Universal Store, Beginning Boutique, Dissh and Style Keepers Boutique. For more of her work please visit www.carlylim.com or follow on Instagram @carlylim_makeup.