My Experience Wearing Natural Hair, Make-Up at the Workplace

Renarda Joy April 21, 2015

Natural hair at work

Hey, ladies, recently a few of you have asked me a question that I faced many moons ago when I was still working in the corporate world: have I recently started wearing makeup or gone natural with my hair to work?

SEE ALSO: Want To Turn Your Style Up a Notch? Try Nail Tattoos!

A few years back before I started working the beauty industry full-time, I was employed by a housing group as a Director of Property Management in New York City.  The property management industry is predominantly made up of men and very demanding.

When I first started this position, I was rocking and maintaining my short pixie cut.  (Read my previous post on going natural entitled, “DARK AND LOVELY AU NATURALE PRODUCTS TAKE NATURAL HAIR OVER THE TOP!“)

As time went on — and not long after I did the big chop — I reconnected with make-up, and my direct supervisor became the biggest “beauty basher”!

She would stare at and criticize my new lookI can recall her showing a lack of respect for me; it was as if in her eyes, I had lost competence in my job.

The men, on the other hand, were showered me with compliments. Initially, I was more concerned about the affect my new look would have on my male colleagues.

Boy was I wrong!

The men were my biggest supporters and could clearly see how my boss hated on me — did I mention my boss always wore hair weave or braids?


Fast forward, I now work in an industry where any look goes. In fact, the more creative the looks, the more you show off your artistic side from wearing a thick eye liner to applying a few strokes of your favorite eye shadows to adding color to a few strands of your hair to test out color options (pictured).

I had an opportunity to sit down and talk with two ladies on this subject: I first talked with Sonya Clarke (pictured below) from Jamaica Queens, New York. I think she looks stunning and had to get her take.

Sonya Clarke


Face2Face Africa: Occupation and length of time?

Sonya Clarke: Department of Corrections, 10 years

F2FA: Do you wear make-up to work?

SC: Yes, all the time. I work with men mainly. I’ve been wearing make-up going on three years.

A few years prior to wearing make-up to work, I was uncomfortable about not being able to be myself, including wearing colored nail polish.

F2FA: What is your take on having natural hair at work?

SC: I grew up in an era where permed hair — or as I call it “crack cream” — was the norm, but as I got older, I found out the myths about [natural] hair were overrated.

F2FA: What words of wisdom would you have for someone transitioning to natural hair?

SC: Be yourself or it will show, or worse yet, you’ll regret it.  Never worry about what people say about you.

Suzette Simpson


Suzette Simpson (pictured above), a New York resident, also shared her experience with me.

Face2Face Africa: Occupation and length of time?

SS: Housekeeping, six years

F2FADo you wear make-up to work?

SS: Not really — only if I’m doing something special after work; however, I work with other females that wear it to get attention from men. I see the negative backlash my colleagues get for wearing it, so it has deterred me from wearing it on a regular basis.

F2FA: What words of wisdom would you have for someone who wants to wear make-up in the workplace?

SS: Only wear make-up to enhance your natural beauty, not as a motivation to pick up men.

There you have it: two different occupations and views on natural hair and make-up in the workforce. Next time you’re giving a presentation and you are looking for respect, don’t let others intimidate you on how much make-up you should wear or how natural or fake your hair should be, be you!

Looking back, I felt empowered going against what was accepted by my supervisor. Some of those lessons still resonate with me in a lot of areas of my life today. I try my best to step out of the norm or step away from what is expected of me and stand for what I believe.

I would love to hear your stories on wearing make-up and going natural in the workforce.  Please feel free to give me a shout-out on Facebook or send me a beauty note along with any other beauty questions to



SEE ALSO: Let Your Skin Blossom with These Tips for Spring


Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: September 15, 2018


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