The 9 Most Common Makeup Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them)

By Hannah Leah
·  7 min read
shutterstock 1260153292 (1)

Makeup is an art of its own kind. And every face shape and color is a different type of canvas. But there are some common makeup mistakes across the board that we can all learn to avoid for the best makeup results.

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What's interesting about makeup is you can use the same products on two different people and it can look completely different. It all depends on how you are applying the makeup and who is wearing it. Each of our faces have different structures and features that can alter the way makeup looks. So if you're looking to improve your technique and elevate your beauty routine, consider these common mistakes before doing your makeup. 

1. Not Prepping Your Skin Before Application

We all feel rushed sometimes, and we tend to think that the best option is whatever is quick. But when applying your makeup, prepping your face is so important (arguably, the most important). Using creams and primers before applying foundation smoothes out your face, evens your complexion, and allows the product to last longer. 

Some types of prepping include moisturizer, eye cream, primer, and lip balm. A primer can decrease the appearance of pores, even out your skin tone, and keep the makeup looking fresh throughout the day. Moisturizer is good for your skin because it hydrates it and often contains vitamins and SPF to protect it from sun damage. Eye creams and lip balms prep the skin by hydrating these areas and making them a smooth canvas. Here are some products that might work for you.

Products To Try: Benefit Pore Minimizing Primer, $32 | IT Cosmetics Anti-Aging Peptide Eye Cream, $40 | Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, $33 | Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm, $8

2. The Lighting Isn’t Natural Where We Apply Our Makeup

A big mistake people tend to make is simply where they decide to do their makeup. If you do your makeup in an area with dark or unnatural lighting, when you go into natural lighting, your makeup might look caked on or like the wrong shade was used. The best option for an easy place with natural lighting is to find a window and do your makeup there. Bring a little mirror and go to work. 

Product To Try: Reflections Double-Sided Lighted Round Mirror, $30

3. Foundation Isn’t Applied the Right Way

First, it's important to find a foundation that matches your skin. You can always use blush, bronzer, and highlighter to add dimension to your face, but choosing the wrong foundation shade will just be noticeable…and not in a good way. 

When applying foundation, dab it on your skin and then use a damp beauty blender sponge to blend it. Or you could use a foundation brush. When you use concealer, use it mainly in areas with hyperpigmentation or dark spots. Then dab a small amount of powder on a sponge in the areas with the concealer and buff it around your face with a brush. 

Products To Try: Tarte Face Tape Full Coverage Vegan Foundation, $40 | Shape Tape Full Coverage Concealer, $30 | CC+ Nude Glow Lightweight Foundation + Glow Serum with SPF 40, $44

4. Eyebrows Don’t Look Natural

Years ago, we were obsessed with super thin, drawn on eyebrows. But now we are embracing thick and full eyebrows. This can be taken too far, though. Boxy, unnatural-looking eyebrows are often too aggressive. To get a more natural and full eyebrow look, draw the eyebrows with hair-like strokes, mainly in sparse areas. Avoid drawing too much on the eyebrow edges close to your nose, as it looks better when it’s more natural in that spot. Clean under your brows with a small amount of concealer and blend it out. 

Here’s a good example of what a brow fill should look like:

5. Eyeshadow and Liner Are Used Too Heavily and in the Wrong Places

Eyeshadow and eyeliner can give you a completely different look depending on how it’s applied. Don’t forget to prime your lids before doing your shadow so it stays better and makes the shadow more pigmented. Softly apply your eyeshadow and buff it out after. You'll want the darker color on the outside and lighter on the inside. You can also highlight the inner corners of the lids to brighten your eyes. 

When applying eyeliner, sometimes less is more. Don't go too thick or long with your wing, because it can create a droopy eye appearance. A thinner, more precise wing will help to lift the eye. Then, when using mascara, start at the base of your lashes and lift them. 

Products To Try: Naked3 Eyeshadow Palette, $54 | Morphe 35O Supernatural Glow Artistry Palette, $27 | Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner, $23 | Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eyeliner Pencil, $23 | Better Than Sex Mascara, $28

6. Contour Is on All the Wrong Parts of Your Face

Contour can be used to enhance your natural features, but it can also be abused. Depending on what parts of your face you're contouring, you can create a blotchy, dark complexion rather than using it to enhance and lift your features. When applying contour, find the hollows of your cheeks and apply it there, then buff it out to blend with your other makeup. Use it slightly above your bronzer. Your bronzer will go on your cheekbones, and blush will go on the apples of your cheeks. 

Products To Try: Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit, $40 | bareMineral All-Over Face Color Loose Bronzer, $23 | NARS Blush, $32

7. The Same Brush Is Used for Multiple Products

A common mistake when doing makeup is using one brush for multiple tasks. Certain brushes are structured for different parts of your face and for certain products. It can also give you a completely different look depending on the brush. 

Products To Try: Everyday Essentials Makeup Brush & Sponge Set, $20 | Morphe X Ariel Signature Look 12-Piece Face & Eye Brush Set, $98

8. Beauty Blender Is Used Dry

A simple trick to upgrade your makeup application is to wet the beauty blender before use. It helps for a more seamless application and wastes less of the product. It’s also potentially more hygienic than using your fingers.

Product To Try: Original Beautyblender, $20

9. Too Much Product Causes Your Face To Look Cakey and Enhances Pores

If I could stress one thing, it would be this! So often, people put way too much product on. They might be using the best product, but if there is way too much being used, it can have the opposite effect. Too much makeup causes a cakey, unnatural appearance and enhances your pores. Sometimes, less is more. So when you’re applying a product to your face, start with a small amount, and build on top of it as needed. 

Closing Thoughts

Makeup usually looks best when it’s simply bringing out the features that you already have. But depending on how you do your makeup, it can either help you or hurt you. We all have our own unique canvas, so something that looks great on one person might not be the best fit for you. Luckily, we have the entire internet to give us tutorials and tips. Just remember, it’s not the makeup that makes you beautiful, the makeup just enhances your natural beauty. 

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