Choosing the Wrong Shade of Foundation
This is probably the most common makeup mistake. If you are a drugstore makeup shopper, it’s likely that you’ve come out with a color too light, too dark or too orange for your natural skin tone. Finding the right shade when you can’t try it on your skin seems nearly impossible. The best solution is to go with a more quality makeup that you can find at the department store or a beauty store, where consultants will test out a number of choices to help you find the perfect shade and return policies for unsatisfied ladies are very accommodating. If Covergirl or Revlon are as far as your budget will stretch, try to stick to these guidelines:
- Determine if you are a “warm” or a “cool”: Look at the veins on your wrists. If they are greener, you are a “warm.” If they are bluer, you are “cool.” If they aren’t more of one color than the other, you are probably in the neutral middle. Many brands divide their shades into these categories, so this is a good start.
- Find sample swatches: Some makeup lines have a swatch chart for shoppers to gauge their tones, but I rarely see these in stores. Hop online before you buy, and check out the shades for the brand you want to try.
- Shop adjacent: To find the closest match possible, purchase the shade you think is correct, plus a shade darker and a shade lighter. This isn’t the most economical way to shop, but it will get you the best color. Try the shade you think fits best first, so if it is correct, you can return the other two (check with store cosmetics return policies before you buy!). If it’s not, carefully decide if you need the darker or the lighter shade so that you can at least return one of your three choices.
- Department store match: If you have the guts to have a makeup counter consultant at the department store match your color without actually purchasing the makeup (they don’t like this, as you might guess), then you can do a quick Google search of the exact brand and shade to find a drugstore match.
- Keep in mind that the correct foundation shade is one that will blend into your skin when applied, almost disappearing while covering imperfections.
Something that can ruin your perfectly-matched foundation and air you on the side of the Jersey Shore is misplaced or over-placed bronzer. Whatever you do, DO NOT go to town with an aerosol can of bronzer like Snookie and JWoww do. Also, don’t apply it on your entire face. Proper bronzer application should go a little something like this:
- First, choose a shade that is two shades darker than your natural skin tone.
- Use a fluffy bronzer brush (something with too dense or stiff bristles will deposit too much product).
- Apply bronzer where the sun naturally hits you, the parts of your face that protrude the most: the top of your forehead, your nose and your chin. For contouring, also apply a bit of bronzer on your temples and in the hollows of your cheeks (under where you apply blush). This contouring helps to slim and define the face.
- Blend! Do not apply stripes of bronzer. Apply a small amount at first, building up if necessary. Blend the bronzer into your skin for a soft finish and to avoid unnatural patches of color. You want to look like you just spent the afternoon outside, not like you painted on your face.
Neglecting or Over-Plucking Eyebrows
Your eyebrows are the frames of your eyes, which are the focal points of your face. The way you maintain (or don’t) your brows will drastically affect your appearance. Shaping your eyebrows the correct way for your particular face shape is tricky. The safest way to groom your brows is to go to a trusted specialist, whether that is an eyebrow waxer, threader, etc. But of course, if you are doing the deed on your own, there are some guidelines:
- Get quality tools. If you aren’t going to invest in a person to shape your face hair, then you need to invest in good tweezers or a quality home waxing kit. This will make the job easier, more efficient and less painful. If you are shaping brows for the first time or just get nervous about the job, stick to tweezers. Wax and other hair removal tools are easier to make mistakes with. I recommend diamond-tipped tweezers, which grab tiny hairs, like a pair from Tweezerman.
- To determine where eyebrows should start, hold a pencil parallel against the bridge of your nose. Follow it straight up to your eyebrows. This is where they should start.
- To determine where the arch of your eyebrows should be, hold the pencil straight up and down at the outside of your iris (the colored part of your eye). This is the where the middle of your arch should be.
- To determine where eyebrows should end, angle the pencil from your nostril to the outside corner of your eye and follow it outward. This is where your eyebrows should end.
- Always shape your eyebrow and arch from underneath the brow. Only pluck stray hairs and trim a bit of length (by brushing upward and snipping edges) from above your eyebrows; do not pluck from the top to shape them.
- To avoid over-plucking, start by removing only one row of hair at a time. Remove less hair to keep a natural look and to avoid botching the job.
Highlighter is a light shade of shadow used at the brow bone, and sometimes above cheekbones, to attract light. It can be a great way to brighten up the face, but many women use too much or too light a shade. Highlighter should NOT be pure white or totally opaque. It should be a light cream, a pale pink or a pale gold, with a bit of a shimmer if you like, and should be applied sparingly and blended.
If you are light-skinned and wearing eye makeup that is very dark (black or a deep smoky eye) the contrast between the dark shadow and your natural skin color creates a natural highlight. So you don’t really need to add more.
When you’ve mastered the brow highlight, take a bit of the light shadow and dab it at the inner corners of the eyes for a pretty widening effect. This works particularly well with a shimmery variety.
Putting Makeup on in Incorrect Lighting
The lighting in which you apply your makeup makes a huge difference in the final look. Strong fluorescents or a barely-lit bedroom may cause you to apply too much or too little makeup, giving you an unexpected look when you walk outside. Do makeup near a window so that you get a mix of natural and artificial light. If you do your makeup under strong bathroom lights, carry a makeup brush and some tissue with you to touch things up once you get in the car in case you have over-applied.
Emphasizing Too Many Features
You should choose one feature to emphasize each time you do your makeup. If you do a bold lip, do a more subtle eye. If you go for dramatic peepers, don’t pile on the blush and bronzer. Avoid makeup overdosing by featuring one part of your face and keeping the rest neutral and pretty.
Overcompensating with Eyeliner
Eyeliner is meant to define your eyes and make them pop. While a bit of a cat-eye flare at the outer corners can be retro and fun, you should not be redrawing your eyes with liquid or pencil. Instead, draw a thin line as close to the lash line as possible. If you’re using pencil, smudge it to blend and create a softer, more natural look. There are times when a dramatic wing can be appropriate, but generally, stick to this rule.
When lining the bottom of the eyes, stay right up on the lash line. You don’t want skin showing between your liner and your water line (the slick inner rim of the eye). For a more dramatic night look, go ahead and fill in your water line with liner, too. Some people are sensitive to this, so test it out and see if you can tolerate it.
Unnecessary Lip Liner
For the most part, lip liner is a thing of the past — at least a lip liner that isn’t the EXACT color of your lipstick. Overall, lip liner just isn’t necessary; however, it is allowed if you stay within these parameters:
- You can use a nude lip liner that matches your skin tone as a base for lipstick to prevent bleeding and increase wear. You can fill in lips with the liner or just do the outside to trap lip color.
- If you are doing a dramatic colored lip, like red, you can us a matching (I mean exactly matching) color lip liner to create a smooth edge and prevent bleeding and feathering.
Use shimmer as an emphasizer. This means, use it on only one part of the face at a time. If you want a bit of a glimmer on your cheeks, use a shimmery blush. If you want to draw attention to your eyes, do a shimmery shadow or highlight. If you want a dramatic sparkle, do a shimmery lip gloss. But never, ever do all three at once!
Be aware that most makeup, whether it’s blush or eyeshadow, has at least a tad bit of shimmer in it, unless it is specifically matte — which is a reason not to overdo any one part of the face, because you will automatically overdo the shimmer. What I am mostly referring to here, however, is additional shimmer or shadows and cheek colors with added light reflectors.
Not Washing It All Off
One of the biggest makeup mistakes women make is not washing it off at night. Even when you are staying over at your boyfriend’s house or are too tired (or drunk) to wash your face once you get home, you at least need to take a makeup wipe to your face and get some of the stuff off. Ideally, you want to remove eye makeup, wash with a gentle deep cleanser and apply a moisturizer before bed. Sleeping for hours, mashing your face into a pillow, is terrible for your skin, causing aging and breakouts.