Regardless of what happens on the mask front ― and even as workplaces return to physical offices — many women say they’re wary (and weary, after years of waking up so early) of putting on a full face of makeup before their workday begins.

Before the pandemic, Attaluri devoted a solid 30 minutes each morning to doing her makeup. Her routine was well-honed. First, there was skin care: cleanser, serums, moisturizer. Then foundation, concealer, powder, contour, eyeliner, mascara and a hint of highlighter, just to add a touch of dewiness to the skin.

“I learned how to do a killer contour and fashion a feline flick sharp enough to do some damage,” she joked. “Wearing a full face out and about and while working made me feel more put together and self-assured.”

“It’s so rude,” she said. “If someone looks tired, either something has happened that’s prevented them from getting enough rest or they’re just not meeting your standards of beauty. But saying something about it is the equivalent of telling someone they’re short, or their nose is wonky, or they’re not super slim.”

For Palmer, the decision to ditch her morning routine was part of a broader reevaluation of her life and priorities: It wasn’t just a full face of makeup she gave up on in 2020. She also left her job and started her PR agency.

“Unsurprisingly, when I went back to work fresh-faced, there weren’t any screams and it made me realize that the only person noticing the difference makeup made was me,” she said. “I unlearned the irrational thought process I’d had for years and decided my time could be more valuable elsewhere.”

“We found that makeup can signal how much effort a woman is willing to put in to meet gender presentation expectations, which may spill over into judgments about how much effort a worker will put into other aspects of work,” said Wong, co-author of the study and an assistant professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina.

“Research shows that when people are asked to rate women on their appearance, women wearing a moderate amount of makeup are rated the highest in competence,” said Well, who studies self-perception. “No makeup may imply that she doesn’t care, and too much makeup may imply that she is too focused on her appearance and less focused on her work.”

Long, the aforementioned makeup historian, thinks that traditional expectations around self-presentation at work will crop up again ― old grooming habits die hard ― but that women will play a bigger part in setting them.

“Throughout the pandemic, I think women have proven how much power and influence they have over the economy, especially the beauty industry,” she said. “When women stopped purchasing as many cosmetic products during the pandemic, the beauty industry began to panic.”

“It’s been four years now where I follow my daily a.m. and p.m. skin care routine, and I rarely break out anymore and my dark spots have greatly been reduced,” Orevba said. “I save doing my makeup for the special events or big meeting I have.”

This content was originally published here.


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