Do Your Makeup Like A Professor, Not Your Students

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Caitlin L.
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Call it the curse of the baby face.

I’ve always looked a little younger than my actual age, but it was never much of a problem until I started teaching college classes at the age of 26. Almost every time I stepped on campus to teach, someone would mistake me for a student. 

It can be really difficult to be taken seriously as a young college professor--both by your students and your colleagues -- but you don’t need to start painting on wrinkle lines to succeed. Here are three fail-proof ways to look professional on campus.

Get Into A Routine You LOVE  

smashbox bb cream, mac lipstick and lorac eyeliner

My everyday essentials: Smashbox BB Cream, MAC Lipstick in Loverlorn, LORAC eyeliner.

Routine can be boring, but when you’re swamped with papers to grade, conferences to attend and classes to plan, a go-to look can be the only reliable part of your schedule. Luckily, you don’t have to trade your collection of lipsticks for a career in academia. Can’t live without eye shadow? Stick to a neutral palette and have fun blending colors together. Love red lips? Add some mascara and you’re ready to go.

Personally, I love a cat-eye. It always makes me feel put-together and confident. My favorite liner is Lorac Front of the Line Pro because the marker tip makes application easy, and it has a matte finish that won’t blind my students under fluorescent lighting.

black eyeliner applied to upper lash line

My everyday makeup is fun and still professional.

Drop The Top-Knot

There’s no need for a high-maintenance updo, but one of the best ways to look professorial is to style your hair. I keep it simple and wear my hair down with the sides clipped back to keep my long bangs off my face.

bangs clipped back out of the face

From the front and the side. Use a nice clip to hold it back.

If it’s raining or very humid outside, I’ll pull my hair into a proper bun to keep my freshly straightened hair from exploding into a curly nightmare.

high ponytail with bun

I gently backcomb my hair to give it more volume and shape before I twist it into a bun.

Both styles look great and professional, but are low maintenance enough that I can fix them in a pinch.

Keep Those Nails Manicured 

wearing opi ds extravagance nail polish

This polish is OPI’s DS Extravagance. Sparkly yet professional!

Chances are that at some point you’ll use a doc-cam in your class, and nothing is worse than seeing your chipped fingernails magnified to the size of a bus. To avoid this awkward professorial moment, always keep your nails clean and filed. And don’t think polish is off limits! I stick to solid colors for work and save the fancy nail art for summer break.

Being a teacher--and being a young woman in academia--doesn’t mean you have to blend into the wallpaper. You can have fun with your look on campus, as long as you keep in mind that you want your students to focus the most on the words coming out of your mouth, rather than how cute you look in front of the whiteboard.

wearing glasses and holding books

Ladies in academia, do you have a go-to look for campus? Students, do you admire any of your professors for both their style and brains? Did I miss any great tips? Tell me about it in the comments!