Thursday, November 20, 2008

10 Most Common Makeup Mistakes

Despite Jessica's Simpson effort to prove me wrong, I still think most of us don't really need the regurgitated advice most magazines seem to favor. Instead, let's talk about the more subtle things that can make or break our look.

1. Not Using Primer-
Eye primer and face primer not only make your makeup last longer, but they provide a smooth, receptive canvas for other products. You can use less foundation and get a better coverage. And they prevent color migration. Yes, it is an extra step, but it only adds about 30 seconds to the process. It's worth it, I promise.

2. Concealer Before Foundation-
If you're applying concealer to problem areas (zits, spots, uneven patches) before foundation, chances are that you're using more product than needed. Start with your foundation and spread it evenly. It gives some coverage and evens out things. Then add just enough concealer and blend it into your foundation. The result is more natural looking and far less likely to look caked.

3. Too Dark Foundation-
And I'm not even talking about the dreaded oompa loompa look. Between the weird lighting in department stores and our own tendency to look for coverage, it's very easy to choose too dark a foundation. Next time you're at your favorite counter ask for a sample of a foundation that's one shade lighter than what you're wearing. Test it under normal conditions. Chances are you're not as dark as you thought.

4. Not Using a Lip Liner-
Seriously. If you're wearing a dark lipstick, be it a sexy red or this season's vampy browns, you need a matching lip liner to outline and keep your lip color in place. Not doing so results in a sloppy look and color bleeding. Also, a liner in a natural shade would do wonders for your neutral colored lipstick and would make it last longer if you use it to fill the lips. Take a look at the comments on yesterday's post for more fabulous suggestions.

5. Bright And Shimmery Blush-
A blush is supposed to give you a naturally flushed look. Do you know anyone who actually blushes in shimmery coral? Me neither. Consider a muted rose or a gentle plum. If you want extra shimmer add it subtly where and when appropriate (which is rarely over your cheeks).

6. Old Mascaras-
Yes, I know the tube isn't empty yet, but there's a good reason you're told to toss your mascara after three months. All the air that's getting pumped inside every time you dip the brush in to it doesn't just make it a breeding ground for bacteria, but also dries the mascara out and makes it clumpy. And despite what you've been telling yourself, it shows.

7. Black Eyeliner-
Don't get me wrong: I love black eyeliner. It's sexy. However, even someone with my coloring doesn't need a very contrasting color for daytime. It can look very harsh, and if you're fair skinned or blonde it might look overdone and garish. There are so many better options, from the almost-black-but-not-quite to caramel. they will give you the contouring and definition in a modern, non-Amy Winehouse way.

8. Skipping Powder-
Powder has somewhat of a bad rap that's not necessarily justified. Of course, you don't want to go overboard or to look ashy (the result of too many "translucent" powders that are actually more white than naturally colored). But for a truly polished and natural face, you need a good finishing product that would even things out even more than your foundation does and would keep things in place. Opt for a pressed powder (easier to handle, less likely to look ghostly, travels better) that has a color to match your undertone. Apply with a good, thick brush (let the cat play with those cute puffs).

9. Penciled Eyebrows-
A penciled eyebrow looks painted and weird, even if you found the perfect color. It always surprises me to see how many women (otherwise well-informed and makeup savvy) make this mistake. Choose an eye shadow color that matches your hair color and apply with a thin, stiff angled brush using tiny strokes.

10. Clinging To Discontinued Products-
I know you loved that perfect eyeliner/lip gloss/stick foundation the evil people at the marketing department decided to discontinue. You loved it so much you wrote the company and had them send you every last scrape of it they had in their warehouse and then you haunted eBay for months searching for more. I did it, too. But it's time to let go. There are new and better formulas, updated and subtler shades and lots of new awesome products. There are constant improvement in textures and modern pigments. Today you wouldn't touch even the most luxurious lipstick or concealer from 10 years ago. They just don't measure up to the ones currently on the market, so why get stuck with an outdated look?

Image: Modern Mechanix


  1. I liked your post and completely agree with you:-)

  2. Lots of really good information (and a great reminder to me to use that primer that just sits on the shelf). Re "who actually blushes in shimmery coral?" I don't think any blush ever looks like its really natural, no matter how carefully applied/
    blended - but it can give one a needed bit of color and glow. I think all blush should be applied lightly and blended well and that shimmer is just meant to be used as a highlight and is beautiful if added subtly as you suggested

  3. i agree with everything except--the black eye liner. i always wear black liner, because i feel that if i don't, then i look like I don't have any eyes. I usually wear dark eye shadow with a neutral blush, and natural lip gloss.
    I have tried brown liner and grey--but i always go back to black.

  4. I agree with everything except the blush to some extent. I agree that bright and glittery blush looks unnatural and weird but rose and plum aren't necessarily the only colors you can try. I know that at least for me and a lot of other pale girls, peachy colors end up looking more natural than pinks. A good muted rose is good for a "just in from the cold" look but peach looks a little more like my natural color, just not very much and very well blended.

  5. Great post! I kind of like shimmer blush on me - it adds depth and life to my face (esp. Nars Orgasm).
    Do you have any recommendations for relatively inexpensive primer or concealer?

  6. I agree with pretty much everything except the pencil eyerbows and the black eyeliner. I have very sparse, pale eyebrows, and the only color I've found that doesn't look Rocky Horror is one of the tiny-pointed MAC pencils. I do, however, pair it with a soft gel, and comb everything vigorously so that I don't have the harsh EYEBROWS that can happen.

    And black eyeliner, while not always appropriate for the daytime, is the only look I've found that doesn't look silly. Though if you can recommend a caramel color I'd be more than willing to try it.

    xx Alexandra

  7. Lots of good points there (and the 'TV makeup' thing is hilarious! Who knew?)

    I tend to use cheek & lip stains as blusher - Benetint is the expensive version, but The Body Shop do a reasonable one, too. They are not shiny or shimmery, and I find they look the most natural on me. I liked Tarte push-up blushes, until I realised that they leave a slightly shiny effect.

    My real bugbear is my brows. They are sparse, but coarse and dark. I lose one brow hair, I have a biggish gap! Altogether a weird combo, and hard to make up. After years of experimenting, I've found that a brow powder close to my hair colour (Elizabeth Arden do good ones) applied with a small slanted brush, and finished with brow gel, does the trick.

    But I've never understood the 'short strokes' thing - what, like drawing in fake hairs? How can that look ok? I certainly can't manage it, except with a sharp brow pencil, and that just looked weird. Am I misunderstanding?

  8. I agree with a number of your points, especially #6. So many people don't toss their mascara when it starts becoming flaky and germy.

    I'm sticking by my black eyeliner though -- carefully applied MAC Blacktrack with mascara, no eyeshadow, soft lips and cheeks is a chic look for day.

  9. Very informative and nice article. This could help a lot be aware using/applying make-ups and of course the proper ways of using it.

  10. Nelli, thank you! It's always nice to know I'm making sense :)

  11. Meryl, you're right- blush can be tricky and it's easy to do it wrong. But I find there some colors look better than others and can actually give a natural looking boost. It's all about finding the one(s) that are right for you.

  12. Anon, I'm not anti-black liner as much as I'm pro softer colors. It all depends on your personal coloring. If you've tried other options and black is the one you like best, then that's good enough for me :)

  13. Amanda, you're right, of course. even the best matched blush wouldn't work if overdone and not carefully blended. A light peach really does wonders for the pale amongst us, but unlike what some SAs would say, it is not a universally flattering color.

  14. Elizabeth, you'd have a good laugh if you ever saw me trying to pull of Nars Orgasm. It looks very very wrong.
    I'm not familiar with drugstore brands for primers and concealers, but I did get very good results with the Sephora brand. I think their primer is about $13.

  15. Alexandra, black eyeliner is my staple for night, I just prefer a less obvious look for day. Bobbi Brown has several brown options in gel form, which I absolutely love. I also saw pretty ones from Smashbox. And you can try almost any eyeshadow as a liner (used wet, with or without a sealing liquid).

  16. Tania, the short strokes thing is the opposite of drawing the whole eyebrow in one stroke, which results in that dreadful painted line (a good look for a drag queen, not so much for us).

    I wish I could use Benetint. It looks totaly wrong on me and I can never figure out why.

  17. Erin, I'm always surprised how many women keep using old mascaras long after they should have been tossed. And occasionally you can find "advice" on reviving an old mascara by warming it, putting in a drop of oil and other such atrocities. Hello, infection!

  18. Suzy, thank you very much! I hope this will, indeed, be helpful.

  19. Do people really try and pass off peach as universal? I mean I love peach on myself and a lot of other girls (especially us fair ladies) but it's a color that can go very, very wrong. I've definitely seen some orange cheeks that I think were supposed to be peach. Honestly, I don't think there's any such thing as universal blush. It's one makeup look that varies completely from person to person.

  20. this is actually very helpful especially for women who have no clue what they are doing. they are just slapping on make up. great post. :)


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