Blogs & Comment

Essential office beauty products

Tips for stuff to keep at your desk for beauty emergencies.

(Photo: James Oliver)

Huddled over the fridge, I furtively grabbed the box of baking soda from the bottom shelf and walked to the bathroom. There, I entered a stall, removed my top, and sprinkled the white powder on my underarms. It was 30 degrees outside and I forgot to put my deodorant on that morning and baking soda was my only hope. But you know what would have helped more? If I was organized enough to keep a spare deodorant in my desk!

If you don’t want to perform these last-ditch emergency beauty emergency tips I outlined here,  then you better get organized and stock up on the following products. Keep these multi-purpose items in your desk at work, and you’ll be ready for most anything:

Lip balm

Dry cracked lips? Dry cracked cuticles? Unruly eyebrows? A cheap-o tube of dollarstore lipbalm will cure all of those hideous ailments I just mentioned.


Myself, I prefer Advil, but whatever works for you. Keep a giant bottle in case other people in the office need some. But don’t go all Nurse Jackie and start popping these too often since taking too many will actually cause you to get headaches, therefore making you swallow some more pills…and you can see where this vicious cycle is heading.


Eyeliner will change your look from “Banker” to “Woah, that Denise who works in accounting is cute”  in one swipe across your waterline. Another essential is blush, since it fades easily throughout the day. Fluff some over your cheekbones, nose, forehead and chin for a quick, rosy glow. And for the oily gals out there, let’s not forget blotting papers or face powder. If you want to go all out, I would also recommend bringing an eyelash curler and under-eye concealer.


I beg any men reading this article to please carry and frequently apply hand cream in the winter. No one wants to look at the cracked, white lines on your palm because you’re too “manly” to moisturize. Denise from accounting is never going to look at you with those ragged cuticles! Also, to look perky—whiten your eyeballs. Visine is important for when you’re hungover, been crying at work, or have a small child. If your hair tends to get greasy throughout the day, carry a small bottle of baby powder or your favourite dry shampoo.


These are all basic tools you’re going to want to keep in your beauty arsenal. A nail file. A needle and thread in case you pop a button—or in case you happen work in the jungle and cut yourself on a nail and have to stitch up a five-inch gash on your calf by yourself since the nearest hospital is a three-day walk (happened to my friend when she interned for WWF in Madagascar—see what we interns have to go through?). Dental floss to get those bagel seeds out of your teeth. Hair elastics, bobby pins and a comb for those days where your hair isn’t cooperating.


Food is important, without it we would die. Therefore, to prevent death and also that rumbling in your stomach that’s certain to annoy your cubicle neighbour, I suggest you keep in your desk certain non- perishable items. To get you through the 3 p.m. slump (if only we could just nap at that time, but this isn’t Greece people) I recommend you ditch the power bar for food with ingredients you can pronounce. Raw almonds, raisins, dried fruit, and a Ziploc baggie of oatmeal will keep you going. I’m a big fan of the just-add-water school of snack philosophy so also keep some tea bags around in case you need a caffeine kick (chai) or conversely, need to be soothed (chamomile). Gum is also important because you won’t get promoted if your breath smells. Obviously, sometimes you’re going to need chocolate so keep some Hershey Kisses or 100-calorie bar, to be used when you just need a little joy in your day.


True story (unlike the baking soda one above which is all false and I merely made up to illustrate why you need to have a beauty kit at work): A few weeks ago the elastic on my super-cute, super-comfy, black strappy wedges I got on sale at Winners last summer snapped. SNAPPED. At work. How embarrassing. Because I’m an intern and don’t need to look like I can’t afford shoes anymore than I probably already do, I did what any self-respecting Canadian girl would do: I weaved a rubber band through the loophole and then tied it to the back strap with a knot I learned from a navy official at summer camp in 1997. But you might not be as talented as me, so always have an extra pair of shoes in your desk! Heels can break, straps snap, leather cracks so buy a $20 pair of flats from H&M or Payless ShoeSource and keep them in your desk.