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10 Makeup Mistakes Pros Wish You’d Stop Making

Experts want you to put an end to these common beauty blunders.

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Using the wrong color foundation

This is a common problem with a very simple solution: Go to a makeup counter and get matched up! “Foundation is one product that you must try before you buy,” says makeup artist Lori Hamlin Penske. A pro can help you find the right formulation for your skin type and the perfect shade. Complexion can have different depths and undertones. The same goes for foundations. Once you determine the tone of skin tone, you simply need to find the depth of color that matches best. The easiest way to find a match is to pick a few shades and apply a dab of each (in a row) along the jawline. “You must check the match in natural light. Don’t be afraid to go outside with a mirror before purchasing!” If natural light is not an option, try swatching the foundation in front of a lighted make up mirror to see the shade properly.


Using old, dirty makeup brushes

You use your brushes daily, but how often do you give them an all important cleaning? And when’s the last time you got a new set? Dirty brushes are riddled with breakout-causing bacteria—and that’s just one of the gross things that happens when you don’t wash your tools. Then there’s old, scratchy, dirty brushes, which can negatively affect your skin and your makeup application. “Try washing them in a nourishing soap. If that doesn’t work, buy some new ones,” says makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes.


Choosing shimmery bronzer

“Applying a shimmery bronzer can look fake, muddy, and messy,” says Hughes. (While you’re at it, be sure to avoid these other makeup mistakes that make you look sloppy.) A matte formula, like Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer or Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer, will warm up your complexion and give you a more natural-looking, sun-kissed glow sans sparkle.


Not matching your lip liner and lipstick

While the thought of lip liner probably conjures not-so-fond memories of nude lips and dark liner, a lip pencil—when used properly—can actually help define your pout and prevent feathering. As evidenced by the early 90s, wearing darker liner is a massive mistake that will make you look both dated and, well, tacky. “The trick is to use a pencil that matches your lip color,” says Penske. “Then apply it all over your lips. Not only will it make your lipstick appear more natural but it will also help it last longer.” This is what your favorite lipstick hue says about your personality.

makeupAfrica Studio/ShutterstockAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Applying too much powder

According to Hughes, using too much powder can enhance flaws and age your face really fast. “I often find that women with oily skin, in particular, tend to touch up their makeup with powder throughout the day,” says Penske. (Remember, controlling oil starts with your skin-care routine. These are the 11 beauty secrets women with oily skin should memorize.) Powder accumulates. So when you apply it to shiny areas it actually makes makeup look heavy and cakey and can give skin a grayish tone. She suggests using oil-absorbing sheets, like Shiseido Pureness Oil Control Blotting Paper or Boscia Black Charcoal Blotting Linens, to combat shine and freshen your makeup and only use your compact when you are looking to add more coverage.


Overdrawn brows

Well-shaped brows can enhance your facial features, open the eyes, and take years off your appearance. Whereas dark, heavy arches can make you look overly made-up, even theatrical. To fill in any sparse spots and give your brows that natural wow-factor, makeup artist JoAnn Solomon recommends a softer formula like Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz. Pro tip: Apply in light strokes and build as you go. A spooley or unused mascara wand is great for removing excess and blending. Once you’ve achieved your desired effect, set with a clear brow gel.


Using too light a shade of under-eye concealer

For most women, concealer is an everyday staple, but just because you use it on the reg doesn’t mean you’re doing it right. Many people choose a concealer that’s way too light in hopes that it will cancel out under-eye darkness, but the reality is that it just ends up looking heavy and chalky—giving you those dreaded raccoon eyes—and can exacerbate wrinkles and dark circles even more. According to Solomon, concealer should be one shade lighter than your skin to add a brightening effect. “Trying warming it up by applying it with your ring finger. It will blend easier and look very natural.”

makeupAfrica Studio/ShutterstockAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Skipping eye shadow primer

Shiny lids? Uneven, patchy shadow? These are the result of skipping primer and applying eye shadow directly on bare eyelids. “This leads to an unblended, streaky look that draws your attention to the actual makeup rather than your gorgeous eyes,” says makeup artist Erin Guth. She recommends prepping the eye area—from the lash line all the way to the brow—with a shadow primer, such as Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. This creates the perfect canvas for long-wearing, flawless color. “Next, when applying pigment, remember to blend, blend, blend and slowly build your color. Use brushes—no sponge applicators, please—so you create a polished look rather than a garish, smudgy appearance.” And to finish your peepers, try these ingenious mascara tricks for long, thick lashes. Or, if lash extensions are more your thing, check out these magnetic lashes.

makeupAndrii Kobryn/Shutterstock


Glow is good, but too much shimmer can make you look like a frosted cupcake. For a more subtle effect, Solomon recommends choosing a natural highlighter—without too much of a silver hue or big glitter flakes—and using a fan brush to apply it to tops of your cheekbones, inner corners of your eyes, and along the bridge of the nose for a lifted effect.


Using too dark a contour color

“I see women every day with brown streaks on their cheeks,” says Penske. That’s because too many women fall into the trap of using a contour that’s way too dark. The result is super harsh. What you really want is a product that’s two shades deeper than your natural skin color. And, of course, blending is key to a natural-looking contour. Need a crash course in contouring? Check out this pictorial how-to on using makeup to make you look thinner.

Lindsay Cohn
Lindsay is an avid traveler who has visited 45 countries across six continents. At, she covers both domestic and international travel. When she's not writing, you can find her doing yoga and adding to her ever-growing list of future adventures.