Makeup Missteps: The Dos and Don'ts of Basic Makeup Application

In our quest to apply our makeup in the most flattering, trendy or popular-celebrity way, we often commit tragic makeup missteps. Then, instead of looking our best, we end up looking clownish, tired, or uneven.

Some of the most common mistakes women make in their makeup routines include pulling on their under-eye area as they apply moisturizer or concealer, lining the inner eyelids, pumping their mascara wand as they apply mascara, choosing the wrong shade of foundation, not regularly cleaning their brushes or their makeup sponge, using their fingers to apply foundation, and over-lining their lips or eyebrows.

Are YOU doing any of these? If so, read on to find out how to avoid (or correct) these bad habits!

7 Makeup Application Don’ts

    1. Don’t start with dirty brushes and sponges. Look, you wouldn’t put makeup onto a dirty face, right? Everyone knows you have to wash your face before you apply makeup!

      Well, the same applies to using makeup brushes and makeup blending sponges. If you want to avoid a build-up of oils, debris and bacteria on your brushes that can lead to breakouts, uneven makeup application and infections, wash your brushes (and your makeup blending sponge) once a week with mild soap (or a brush cleanser) and let them  air dry. Then, make sure to replace your brushes and sponges once a month to ensure that sanitary, healthy brushes are touching your skin.

      1. Don’t pull or tug your under eye area. One of the first steps after you wash your face is applying moisturizer; unfortunately, as many of us apply our moisturizer (or concealer or foundation), we pull and drag it under our eyes with our fingers or a blending brush.  But that area under the eye has very thin skin, and it is easily damaged. Even rubbing your eyes when they itch can break the blood vessels in the eyelids, leading to those dark circles under the eyes. Instead, use your ring finger to gently dab and wipe your eye cream.
      2. Don’t choose the wrong shade of foundation or powder. We know this one is tough- it’s so hard to find the right shade!

      To avoid the “mask” look (with a hard line of foundation visible at the jawline), you’ll want to test foundation before you buy it, buy 2 shades (one slightly darker than your skin, the other right at your skin tone or just lighter), and BLEND: use the darker foundation around the outer areas of your face, and the lighter color in the center of your face. Blend them together and down your neck for natural-looking coverage.

      Bonus tip: the key, here, is testing before buying. When testing foundation, don’t test it on your hands - they tend to be pinker or darker than your facial skin. Instead, match foundation to your neck color or jawline area. These will give the most accurate approximations of your natural face color.

      1. Don’t apply eyeliner to the inner eyelids (waterlines). Just. Don’t. While some people may think it looks cool, or makes the eyes “pop,” what it’s really doing is introducing eyeliner particles (and any contaminants on the tip or brush of your eyelash wand/pencil) into your eye’s tear film. Here, the waxes, gums, silicons, oils and dyes in your eyeliner will float around your eye, causing irritation and disease...especially if you wear contact lenses or have dry eyes.
      1.  Don’t pump your mascara wand.  We know it seems like pumping the wand in and out will help you to get more mascara out of the container, but in truth, it just causes the mascara to dry out faster and it also introduces more bacteria (from the edge of the container) INTO the mascara.  Instead, swirl the brush around gently inside the bottle to gather more mascara onto the wand.

      1.  Don’t use your fingers to apply foundation. Now, there’s a lot of debate about this one and some people swear by applying liquid foundation with their fingertips. Just be warned: applying with your fingers requires you to start with washed hands; otherwise, you’re introducing the bacteria from your hands into your liquid foundation bottle, and onto your face. Ick.

      Using makeup brushes or a makeup blending sponge to apply your foundation can give you a more even or more full-coverage look. Start with your lighter-toned foundation in the center of your face and blend outwards (using makeup brushes) towards the darker foundation around the edges of your face (see #3, above, about choosing 2 shades of foundation).  Some people prefer a sponge or blender for this step, or for gently patting the foundation into the lines and creases once it’s been applied and buffed with a brush.

      1. Don’t overly line your lips and eyebrows. Both lip liner and eyebrow pencils/fillers can be great when used properly. But when not used properly, you can look a bit scary.

      Lipliner is a great way to define and amplify your lip line. But choosing a liner pencil darker than your lipstick or gloss looks highly unnatural AND makes your mouth look smaller (probably the opposite of the effect you were going for!). Choose liner that matches your lipstick exactly, or pick a liner color that matches your natural lip color. Either way, fully color in your lips between the outlines with that same lip pencil so that when your lipstick fades (and it inevitably will), your dark lip line won’t be exposed.

      Eyebrow pencil is another useful tool, but only if used in the right shade and lightly. Overly dark, boxy, or drawn-on brows simply don’t look authentic. Choose a brow filler (pencil or even better, shadow applied with a small, angled brush) that is the same shade as your eyebrows or just lighter. Your brows will still get a nicely filled-in and defined look without the harsh contrast of dark, drawn-on brows.