Sun-kissed skin, playful hairstyles and eye-popping shadows might ordinarily belong on the beach, but don’t be afraid to blend a bit of this style in with your office look. From pastel polishes to berry-licious lipsticks, here are tips for letting your vibrant personality shine in a professional way, without looking like you wore a rainbow to work.
Bring a little sunshine into the office with hair and makeup that’s inspired by summer’s latest beauty trends. Find new ways to keep cool with updos that are fashion-forward and office appropriate. You’ll learn how to tone down summer’s brightest shades and blend them into your makeup and nails – and even your hair – for an impressive appearance that doesn’t draw too much attention. You’ll radiate from head to toe with a subtle, summery shimmer that’s perfectly professional.
Updos for the office
Temperatures inside the office are never reliable – if the air conditioner is on full blast you might even need a jacket. But when it’s hot outside, wearing your hair down can be unbearable. If an ordinary ponytail feels too juvenile, try one of these professional and slightly beachy styles to keep you cool during the workday.
- High bun: Keep your neck cool with this classic style. First, collect all your hair into a high ponytail and anchor it at the at the back of your head. You might need to flip your head over to achieve more ponytail height. Next, twirl the ponytail and twist your tresses into a bun, tucking the ends underneath the wrapped hair to keep them out of sight. Secure with bobby pins.
- Low knots: If a high bun seems a bit fussy for your liking, then try its more laidback relative, the low knot. Instead of a slicked-back look, experiment by parting your hair down either side. Then, gather your locks into a ponytail and twist the ends around an elastic band. Finish by pulling the ends through the center of the bun to form a knot. Lastly, tuck the ends around the perimeter of the bun and secure with bobby pins.
- Side braid: For a little more casual – and less prim – look, draw all of your hair to one shoulder. Tease your tresses at the roots to build volume, then begin a regular braid starting just behind the ear. Keep the pieces loose; if a few strands rebel, let them stay where they fall. Fasten with an elastic band or barrette.
Colors for your cubicle
If sunny, golden locks seem too cliché, then you’ll be happy to know that blond no longer holds a monopoly as the go-to color this summer. Strands in richer, darker tones are all the rage. The good news is that they’re perfectly office-friendly. Pick one of the following shades for your summer tint to add a splash of much-needed color to those plain white workplace walls.
- Red: Don’t gasp yet. While summer’s popular electric red and crimson maroon shades might be more in line with the runway, they’re not quite subdued enough for meetings and presentations. The trick to getting red locks to look professional lies in picking a shade that’s similar to your natural shade. Color expert Lorri Goddard-Clark explains to Elle, “If you’re a dark blond, golden copper is good because there are undertones of that in your hair already; if you’re a light brunette, opt for copper; if you’re a medium brunette, think auburn.” Also, colorists agree that it’s better to avoid a single shade. Have your stylist layer multiple colors in a way that complements your skin tone.
- Chocolate brown: If red turns you off, go for a classic, more sophisticated color like dark brown. Rich hues, like chestnut and chocolate brown, are wildly popular this summer. Wear them without highlights for an even look that reflects the light just right. Want to shimmer even more? Add a little shine mist to your strands, like Frederic Fekkai Advanced Brilliant Glossing Sheer Shine Mist.
Makeup with a pop
Who says your face can’t look just as good at work as it does during a night on the town? The only difference is that your office makeup should reflect a less dramatic, more daytime feel. Strive for a look that’s fresh and sunny for work, rather than sultry and smoky.
- Green: If you opted for red-tinged strands, you’ll find that few shadows compliment your new color better than green – a shade that’s swept the summer scene. Keep the color office-appropriate by going with a pastel variety – like Jane Iredale PurePressed Eye Shadow in Emerald – rather than a bright jade or dark hunter green.
- Aquamarine: Bring a little poolside shimmer into the office with a bluish-green eye shadow. Just keep it light, or you might look more like a mermaid than a manager. Try BareMinerals Glimmer Eyeshadow in Azure. To tone down aquamarine shadows that go on a tad too bright, sweep some brown eye shadow, like Stila Eye Shadow Matte Pan in Coco, into the creases of your eyelids.
- Bronzer: If you’re in the office all day, chances are you haven’t gotten much opportunity to tan. But instead of shelling out for a fake bake or slathering tanning lotion all over your face and neck, try a more subtle approach. This summer, gentle bronzing highlights are all the rage. Lightly draw the bronzer in a “C” shape around your eyebrows and right on top of your cheekbones for a sun-kissed appearance, skipping your T-zone. Try a sheer bronzer, like Elizabeth Arden Pure Finish Mineral Bronzing Powder.
- Barely-there blush: If you’ve already applied bronzer in all the right places, chances are you don’t need much in the blush department. Apply just enough to give your cheeks a splash of life, rather than a crimson flush. Your blush should look like pale cotton candy or a peachy pink. And don’t blend it all over your cheeks; sweep it gently up your cheekbones without filling it in heavily. Think of wearing an airy hue, like BareMinerals Blush in Sorbet.
- Subdued shades: Some of this summer’s hottest lip stains don’t exactly have an office feel. For instance, your boss might not appreciate it if you show up wearing bright fuchsia, a popular summer shade. So skip the shocking brights and, instead, hit the office in slightly darker than nude or light pink tones. If you opt for that chocolate-colored shade in your hair, you can get away with a deep shade of maroon or red, as long as you don’t layer it on thick. Consider Jane Iredale PureGloss for Lips in Mulberry or Jane Iredale PureGloss for Lips in SoftPeach.
Manis and pedis
Perfectly manicured nails look delightful while typing on a keyboard. This summer’s nail colors closely mimic those on the lips, meaning many women are wearing some pretty loud shades. But just like lipstick, you’ll have to wear the toned-down cousins of the bright colors, or it might be a bit too much for the office.
- Mint green: Look cool as a cucumber in light green tones. Mint green nails give off a fresh vibe that’s perfect for summer. Try SpaRitual Nail Lacquer in Eye of the Beholder.
- Pretty pinks: So hot pink isn’t your first choice when it comes to coordinating your work outfit. But it’s perfectly acceptable to wear pale or deep pinks that don’t give off a neon glow under the fluorescent lights. Try Butter London 3 Free Nail Lacquer in Pink Ribbon.
- Light peach: This tone gives off a professional touch on several levels. It takes away the potentially “little girlish” tone that the pink polish delivers but gives the nails more than a neutral tone. Think about SpaRitual Nail Lacquer in Inner Sanctum.
Company policy likely won’t prohibit you from lighting up the office with a breezy updo, a sunny face of makeup and frosty nails. Just exercise discretion in choosing shades. Keep them subtle enough that they don’t shout, but bright enough to leave you feeling summery even within the office environment.
It boils down to your comfort level as well. If you feel like a peacock in bright blue eye shadow and pink lipstick, trust your intuition. If you go bold with the eyes, pick a more subdued tone for your lips, and vice versa. This way, you’ll ensure that your look remains professional and doesn’t appear out of place.
Learn everything you need to know about workplace beauty and skincare for a professional lifestyle in our Office Beauty Handbook.