Makeup is designed to embellish the girl to emphasize her strengths and hide weaknesses. But some girls manage to do so with accuracy on the contrary.
Is your makeup working for you—or aging you? We’ll tell you which blunders to avoid and walk you through the right techniques to achieve a fresh, youthful glow. In theory beauty editors shouldn’t be making makeup mistakes.
Video: How NOT To Do Your Makeup
Using Too Much Foundation
A foundation that’s too thick will settle into fine lines and sap the luminosity from your skin. “Only use foundation where you need it to even out discoloration,” says makeup artist Frances Hathaway. “You don’t have to cover every inch of your skin.” When buying a foundation, avoid those described as “matte,” “velvet,” and “long-wearing”; look for sheer liquid formulas with light-diffusing pigments..
Over-Concealing Your Under-Eye Circles
A thick concealer that comes in a stick or pot will eradicate the shadows under your eyes, but it will also draw attention to the crepiness and fine lines that usually show up in that area first (because the skin there is thin). A better option: A brush-on highlighter pen
Wearing Deep, Dark Lip Colors
A dark color makes any surface look smaller—a welcome illusion perhaps on your hips but not your lips. To make your mouth look fuller (one hallmark of a youthful face), choose bright lipsticks and glosses (peaches, pinks, vibrant reds) over deep shades (burgundies, wines, browns). Makeup artists use another trick to create the illusion of luscious lips: Before applying color, trace a highlighter pencil along your upper lip line, then buff it out with your finger.
Finishing with Powder
Youthful skin reflects light. Powders prevent light reflection and tend to magnify lines in the skin. If powder has been the final step of your makeup routine since high school, it can be difficult to quit cold-turkey.
Wearing Black Eyeliner
Don’t skip eyeliner altogether—it’s a great way to make your eyes look more open—but choose brown over black, which can be harsh. And keep the color diffuse. “You want to define the eyes with softness and blending, not strict lines,” says makeup artist Troy Surratt. “A thick liner can leave the upper lids looking heavier than they are.” The best technique: Trace a brown pencil liner along the upper lash line (into the roots of the lashes), focusing on the outer corners; smudge it with a Q-tip.
Going Overboard with Lip Liner
A lip liner can define your lips and prevent color from feathering into any lines around the mouth—but choose one very carefully. If you line your lips too heavily, or with a color that’s too dark, they’ll look tight and pursed. For the most natural effect, your lip liner should match the color of your lips, not the color of your lipstick. Choose a creamy formula that won’t adhere to any dry patches, and use it to fill in your lips entirely, so it wears evenly.
Using Liner and Mascara on Your Lower Lashes
Playing up your lower lashes can make your eyes look droopy and draw attention to dark circles. Instead, curl your upper lashes and wiggle a volumizing mascara into their roots and slowly through the ends for the most uplifting effect.
A rosy flush on your cheeks brings instant life to your face. And, if applied correctly, blush can offer a little lift. Smile, find the fleshiest part of your cheek and apply color just slightly above it. Blend the color out toward your temples in circles, not a line, using a big fluffy brush.
Applying Lipstick Straight from the Tube
The borders of the lips soften with age, and any extra lipstick migrates easily. To avoid bleeding color, use your finger or a lip brush so that you don’t deposit too much pigment. Concentrate the lipstick in the center of your mouth, and blend it out with a finger. Top it with a moisturizing balm or light gloss.
Choosing a Too-Dark Eyebrow Pencil
“Your brow color fades as you age, so the brow pencil that you were using at 25 will look too stark against your complexion at 50,” says makeup artist Denise Markey. She recommends Maybelline Define-a-Brow Eyebrow Pencils ($6.95; drugstores), which come in four shades. Choose the one that’s a shade or two lighter than your natural brow color. If your brows are starting to get a little wiry, run a clear brow gel over them as well, brushing them up and out toward your temples.
Wearing the wrong foundation shade
“Foundation isn’t supposed to give your skin a bit of a tan,” Patel says. After all, that’s what bronzers are for. Instead, “it’s supposed to create a perfect, smooth complexion and cover-up any imperfections. This is why you should always use a foundation which blends in with your skin.” Patel recommends testing on your jawline (not your hand!) before buying, and when possible, ask for a sample first. That way you can try it at home — and look at your skin in various lighting situations — to make sure the shade you choose looks natural.
We confess: “Being naturally light-skinned, I’m always trying to look more tanned,” says assistant editor Jane. “So sometimes I pick a foundation that’s a bit darker than my skin tone, which (of course) leads to my face and neck being two totally different colors. I think it’s time to embrace my natural coloring. Who wants to look like Snooki anyway, right?”
Patel describes the results of slathering on foundation over chapped skin as “horrific,” and we have to agree. Foundation will only emphasize the flakes by sitting on top of them instead of blending in with your skin. Fix the dryness by exfoliating regularly (to get rid of flakes) and following that up with a rich moisturizer. Smoother skin means a much smoother application and finished look.
We confess: “I’m in my 30s, and I don’t exfoliate as much as I should,” says executive editor Meghan. “While most experts recommend I do it at least once a week, preferably twice, I’m probably more in the exfoliate-twice-a-month category. As a result, I’ve fallen prey to putting makeup on too-dry skin — and I end up looking less than cute. Note to self: Take an extra couple minutes to exfoliate twice a week before bed. It takes more time to fix makeup that looks awful after it’s been put on parched, flaky skin.”
Wearing blue eyeshadow
“Blue eyeshadow works for some people,” Patel says. “Little girls in dance recitals. Guests at 1970s-themed parties. Ethereal looking supermodels. If you aren’t one of the aforementioned people, don’t wear it. Enough said.” Harsh, but truer words have never been spoken.
We confess: “In middle school, I had a friend who was born with dark brown/black hair and light blue eyes that I was super jealous of,” says intern Stephanie. “She wore electric blue eyeliner and managed to make it look so edgy that I wanted to give blue a try too. I tried a bright blue shadow instead, but as a girl with black hair and brown eyes, the color is all kinds of wrong on me. Luckily, my mom was quick to point out that I looked like a clown before I headed off to school that day, and I haven’t touched a pale blue palette since.”