JAANUU » Wearing Makeup in Your Nursing Job Isn’t Impossible!

Wearing Makeup in Your Nursing Job Isn’t Impossible!

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Picture this: You’ve put on your best scrubs, your most comfortable (but chic) nursing shoes and your hip nursing bag. All you need to finish the look is the right hair and makeup. 

But hospitals and other healthcare environments can have strict rules about what you as a staff member can wear—whether that be a dress code that limits you to specific colors of shoes and scrubs or a mandate on what hand lotions you can use. So, your first question may be: can nurses wear makeup?

The short answer is “yes,” and we’ll go into more detail below. We’ll also give you some tips on applying makeup for work, even if your employer recommends subtle looks. 

Read on to learn about easy nurse makeup and the products that will hold up even on a long shift. 

Can a nurse wear makeup?

While nurses can wear makeup, there is debate around whether they should (or, more accurately, how much). While some healthcare environments may have limits and specific rules, opinions about makeup—and more specifically, how to wear makeup—are usually just that. Opinions. Because of safety and sanitization requirements established by law, certain places where medical professionals work, like operating rooms, prohibit makeup. So, to the question, “Can surgeons wear makeup,” the answer is most likely a solid “no.” 

In a nursing career, you’re in contact with patients all day. Whether or not you share their point of view, some patients may find heavy makeup or loud colors distracting. Opinions diverge, but many consider “professional” makeup standards more soft and reserved. 

When it comes to makeup, what does “understated” mean? It’s about what you feel comfortable working in, and that’s what we’re all about. We’ll show some practical, laid-back makeup styles that work well for nurses. We believe in self-expression, so if you feel comfortable and your workplace allows it, go ahead and get creative with your makeup routine. 

Nurse wearing pleated tunic royal blue top scrubs

Six great types of makeup for nurses

We’ll leave the aesthetic choices up to you, but no matter what your style, here are a few types of functional makeup for healthcare workers: 

Long-wearing everything 

Nursing shifts often tend to be long and strenuous. That means that you’re going to sweat. We recommend a long-wearing foundation and makeup in general. When it comes to the best makeup for 12-hour shifts, waterproof mascara is among the items at the top of the list, which is excellent for counteracting stressful (or semi-athletic) moments at the hospital. And if you want to go bold and add a pop of color to your lips, try a long-lasting lipstick that you won’t have to reapply constantly.

After all, you probably won’t have time to during your shift (and we recommend using your breaks to rehydrate and clear your mind anyways). Look for a lipstick that stays on all day and is moisturizing. That’s what we call the best of both worlds.


After working long shifts, you’re likely to have dark bags under your eyes. So if you want to look more bright-eyed before heading back to the office, use concealer to refresh your appearance. In extreme cases, you can try using an orange pencil or color cream to counteract the greenish tone of dark circles. Even when you’re exhausted, your look will instill confidence among patients and peers.

Lip balm 

Hospitals can often be on the dry side, and healthcare professionals may suffer from a lack of hydration while on the job. So just as you hydrate your skin with lotion, you should also give your lips some love. Plus, lip balm gives a nice sheen without providing much (or any) color. Using balm is one of our top beauty tips for nurses because it’s not just about looking good; it’s also about feeling good. 

Man wearing v-neck 3 pocket top scrubs

Eyeliner, mascara and neutral eyeshadow

Perfect the natural look with these three eye products. Use a touch of smoky eyeliner under your eyes to make them look rounder and mascara to give a lifting effect to your lashes that will help you look more awake. A neutral matte shadow on your eyelid will serve that no-makeup look, and a product with some shimmer can help your skin look more hydrated and healthy. 


This hot-ticket item combines shadow and highlights to enhance your bone structure. Whether or not you’re deepening shadows on your face with contour sticks or bronzer, you can highlight strategic areas for some added glow, like your forehead, the upper edge of your cheekbones and the bridge of your nose. You can also apply it to the space above your eyebrows and the brow bone itself. When used correctly, a highlighter creates a lifting effect that will make you look a touch perkier as you sail through the night shift. 

Setting powder

When running around the office or hospital, you want to make sure your makeup sticks. We recommend brushing a fine powder over your makeup look to keep it all in place. If you want to take it further, you can start with a primer as a base for better results.  

At Jaanuu, we dedicated ourselves to helping you look and feel great in and outside of work. For some, being able to put on makeup in the morning boosts mood and confidence, which is something we can get behind. Stick with us for tips on everything you need to know as a nurse—from earning certifications to what hairstyles and foundation to wear on the job. 

And never forget, makeup or no makeup, we think you’re gorgeous.

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