Forget everything we've told you in the past about finding the perfect foundation for your skin tone. Well, between the hours of nine and five, at least. Fluorescent office lighting tends to lend a greenish cast to your complexion, but you can beat it by wearing a foundation shade that's a half shade darker than your skin, says makeup artist Susan Giordano. Crazy? Yes. But it works—so say three of our best-complected staffers. Choose a medium-coverage formula (we like Maybelline New York Fit Me! Foundation), since it evens out skin without looking streaky or cakey.
It doesn't matter if you're going on a date or to a 9 A.M. status meeting: A washed-out complexion won't do you any favors. That's where peach blush comes in. It keeps you skin from looking sallow and goes great with warm metallic eye shadow, like bronze, copper, rose-gold, or champagne. We love Nars Blush in Sex Appeal. Its matte finish is subtle, natural-looking, and nearly impossible to overdo.
It's a myth that you can't pull off bright makeup at work. A punchy coral blush (try Laura Mercier Crème Cheek Colour in Blaze) gives fair complexions a lively flush any day of the week. We know it looks loud in the pan, but choose a cream formula, tread lightly, and blend like crazy to avoid clown cheeks.
Dark complexions should add this saturated hue to their weekly agenda: The deep poppy-red imparts a gorgeous rosy glow that leaves skin looking fresh and healthy. Try Mary Kay Cream Blush in Cranberry; its creamy formula won't quit all day.
Beige eye shadow is a snoozefest. You know what's not? Rose-gold. It's still a neutral, but a pink tinge and hint of shimmer boosts the most conservative office uniforms. Try brushing one of the shades from the Urban Decay Naked 3 eye-shadow palette (it's one of our favorites) over your lids, and finish with a dark brown pencil and black mascara.
Remember how wide-eyed you were on your first day on the job? Classic and subtle, champagne makes re-creating that look a cinch. Seriously: A dab of the glistening shade—CoverGirl Eye Enhancers in Champagne is a good one—makes eyes look bigger and younger (bonus!), says makeup artist Chrisanne Davis.
We're not suggesting you toss your staple black liner, but try working a new but still subdued shade, like espresso or slate, into the rotation to lighten things up during the week. Two shades that mean business: M.A.C. Eye Pencil in Coffee and Chanel Le Crayon Khôl in Graphite. Both give eyes gorgeous definition without looking harsh.
A quick way to look polished: Add a jolt of bright red and keep the rest of your makeup simple. Wet n Wild Lip Color in Stoplight Red is one of our go-tos—it's creamy and matte, and because it's a blue-based red, it flatters even the fairest complexions. It's vibrant but not shocking, so it won't look radioactive under those unflattering fluorescent bulbs.
Medium complexions can pull off orangey pinks, like M.A.C. Lustre Lipstick in Lustering. Skip the glossy finish, but not only because supershiny lips are too much for coffee with your boss: Reapplication will pretty much become your full-time job.
Vivid orange hues are standouts against dark skin (we like Rimmel London Lasting Finish Matte Lipstick in 110). The key to making it office-appropriate is precise application: To keep color from bleeding, paint it on with a brush, pat on translucent powder, and top with another layer of lipstick. Keep a mirror on standby for checks and touch-ups throughout the day, too. When you're going bright, you have to commit.
For days you'd rather not go bold, get out the door fast with a rosy stain. Pat it on with your fingers, pair it with just a little liner and mascara, and you'll quickly look pulled together. We like Vincent Longo Lip and Cheek Stain in Liquid Kiss.
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Dramatic smoky eyes and glossy purple lips don't really have a place at the office (well, unless your office is a nightclub). Here's what does: flushed cheeks, rose-gold eyes, and bright lips. So loosen up, lean in a little, and discover 12 new unexpected shades to get you through the daily grind.