8 Makeup Mistakes We All Make—and How to Fix Them, According to Makeup Artists
From too much bronzer to too little blush, there's a good chance you're making one of these mistakes right now.
From the time we start applying makeup as teenagers, we develop habits for our morning routines. But that same blue eyeliner you rocked in middle school? It’s probably not as hip today. What about your foundation? Have you used the same one throughout your 20s? That isn’t the best choice for your skin. For a polished, glowy look, it’s important to ensure your rituals are healthy, age-appropriate, and leave you feeling beautiful. Here, makeup artists dish on the mistakes they see all too often—and how to fix them.
Once you pull out your cosmetics bag, the first step is to apply foundation, right? Wrong. When beginning your routine, it's important to prep skin first in order to ensure a flawless makeup application. This will look different for everyone, but makeup artist Julia Dalton-Brush recommends cleansing, toning, using a facial oil if appropriate, and a moisturizer. “Unfortunately, many people see applying makeup as the only thing they need to do, and when they do not get the flawless look they are searching for, they blame the products,” she says. “A fully hydrated and prepped face will do wonders, not only for your skin under the makeup, but also for the end result.”
A drugstore brand may have been ideal when you were in college and on a limited budget, and perhaps your mid-20s didn’t call for much foundation at all, thanks to young, supple skin. As you age, however, your makeup should evolve as well, says makeup artist Annie Tevelin. As women mature, the skin on our face and neck becomes dry, resulting in the loss of radiance. Tevelin recommends trading in powders and matte foundations for a creamy foundation, and paying extra attention to your pre-skincare routine.
“Make sure to moisturize appropriately before makeup application to allow the skin to create a smoother surface so that makeup can glide on evenly,” she says. “I love wetting my makeup sponge and foundation brush to apply my moisturizer. It doesn't leave the skin as red and warm as it does when applying moisturizer with my fingers. The cool water on the sponge or brush calms the skin and boosts radiance.”
If you’ve ever attempted to apply makeup in a room that lacks light, you know how scary it can be to walk outside, hoping you didn’t miss a spot. The same is true if you are dotting foundation and swiping eyeshadow in a fluorescent-lit room. Everything looks different depending on the light, so it's best to use natural light as much as possible. “Natural sunlight provides the most accurate reflection of your face in a mirror," says Shira Aaron, a celebrity makeup artist based in New York. "It is by far the most flattering light.” If natural light isn’t an option, she says to choose a warm white LED light, which most closely resembles the outside.
Blame it on your newborn baby who refuses to sleep, or that urgent deadline your boss put on your plate at 6 p.m. last night, or even your latest Netflix show addiction. Whatever the case, you’re exhausted—and you look it. Most people will reach for their concealer stick or brush and go to town, doing their best to hide dark circles. If you aren’t using the right shade or a product that’s good for your skin, however, you could end up unintentionally highlighting wrinkles or lines, or end up with a heavy, cakey look. “To avoid this, steer clear of thick foundations or concealers," says celebrity makeup artist Noreen Taylor. "Instead, choose fluid ones containing luminous particles, which will make your skin look healthy and natural without overloading, so it doesn't look like you're wearing a mask of makeup."
Pretty in pink, red, or purple if that’s your jam, lips are a key focus of our facial appearance. But as we age, our upper lip slowly thins and loses color. This makes it important to care for the health of our lips as much as we would any other part of our body. Tevelin suggests exfoliating with a gentle scrub once a week, and then applying a hydrating lip balm. “Use brown sugar or oatmeal to naturally exfoliate,” she says. “Applying a lipstick or gloss with color and a lip liner creates the appearance of fuller and more youthful lips. Stick to colors that are your natural lip color to give the look of fuller lips.”
When you swipe your mascara wand, do you give the same TLC to the top lashes as you do the bottom? If so, take it easier on the lower set, since Taylor says a heavy application will bring everyone’s attention to the wrinkles below your eyes. “Using mascara to accentuate the edges of the eyes can give your gaze extra expressiveness,” she says. “But no matter how small those wrinkles are, thick mascara will make them stand out. Just slightly add one coat to stay safe.”
Your grandmother’s definition of blush is probably different than your mother’s, but these days, blush is often left out of the routine. Aaron says this is a missed opportunity, as blush can instantly make you look younger, since its purpose is to mimic a youthful flush. “Choose a natural rosy color that most closely resembles your actual flushed cheeks," she recommends. "Stay away from blushes that are too bright, too shimmery, or too powdery. Make sure to blend it into your skin for a more natural appearance."
With highlighters, illuminators, and radiance powders, bronzing often gets lost somewhere in the chaos of powders. And sometimes inexperienced at-home makeup artists use far too much of this sun-kissed blend, and end up looking more orange than tan. “When adding bronzer to your makeup routine, think about where the sun naturally hits your skin the most: the tops of your cheekbones, gently around your hairline, and possibly around the jaw line,” Dalton-Brush says. For best results, she suggests using a cream blush so it can easily blend in with your other makeup products for a natural finish.