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12 Makeup Mistakes That Make You Look Sloppy

Avoid these common makeup moves for a more polished look.

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iStock/Catherine Yeulet

You apply makeup with your fingers

“No matter how clean your hands are, you’ll have natural oils on your fingers,” says Elena Creazzo, a San Diego-based makeup artist. When these oils get on your cheeks, your makeup could end up looking streaky. She recommends using a blush or sponge-like applicator to blend your primer and foundation.

iStock/Vladimir Surkov

You don’t wipe off your mascara brush

Your lower lashes could get unsightly clumps if you don’t wipe the brush before applying mascara, says Lindsay Gonzales, San Diego-based makeup artist. “If you do get clumps on your lower lashes, you can take your pointer finger and thumb, and pinch before they’re dry to take away the clump,” she says.


You slab on face products

“The prep is almost as important as the actual makeup,” Creazzo says. Overdoing moisturizer or serums you apply before your makeup could give your face a melty appearance after a couple hours, she says. Just a little bit of product is all you need, and your makeup will stay in place better. Try this skin care system by Proven Skincare to formulate products specifically for your skin.


You don’t exfoliate your lips

If your lips are dry, a coat of lipstick will just call attention to how flaky they are. Mix brown sugar with just enough honey or olive oil to make a paste, and use it to gently exfoliate your lips before putting on lip balm or lipstick, Gonzales says. Gently scraping your lips with a dry toothbrush can also get rid of flakes, Creazzo says. “It usually takes a lot of those dead skin cells off and circulates blood for a natural plumping effect,” she says.


You don’t blend to your neck

Many women blend their makeup only on their face. Pick a color that matches your skin tone, then blend it into your neck for a more natural looking result, Creazzo says. “It takes an extra 10 seconds, but it’s so worth it,” she says. These makeup mistakes make your face look older.

iStock/Sergey Anatolievich Pristyazhnyuk

You hold your mascara wrong

If you don’t use the right technique, your eyelashes could start to look spidery. “You want to apply mascara at the base of the lash and wiggle it on through,” Gonzales says. If clumps form at the tops of your lashes, you might have added too many coats or failed to wiggle the wand, she says. Act fast and brush through the clumps before they dry—waiting too long could result in flaky lashes, she says.


Your eyeliner is uneven

The best way to get symmetrical wings: practice, practice, practice, Creazzo says. She recommends swapping out liquid eyeliner for gel or cream because the angled brush used with it has a straight shape, making it more forgiving. Instead of jumping straight into Amy Winehouse-worthy wings, start with a more subdued look and build up to your desired length. “Start with a small wing on both sides to make sure you’re even,” Creazzo says. “You can always go bigger.”


Your smoky eye uses only one shade

Using a single shade for a smoky eye is hard to blend, especially if you’re using black as your base, Gonzales says. Adding at least two other colors sounds high-maintenance but will actually save you time. “It’s less work if you start with a transition shade,” she says. “If you go in first with a light brown, then medium brown, then black, it doesn’t take as much effort.”

iStock/Jacob Wackerhausen

Your lipstick bleeds

“When you eat, talk, drink—all those things—[your lipstick] is bound to come off,” Creazzo says. Lip liner is essential because the wax keeps lipstick from sliding around, she says. She also recommends using concealer around the lip to create a barrier and keep the lipstick from bleeding to the space around your mouth. For an even longer lasting color, lip stains and tints absorb into lips for a pigment that won’t fade as fast, she says.

iStock/Olga Ryabtsova

Your mascara is old

If your mascara is older than one to three months, it is past its prime, and you’ll probably end up with dried flakes on your cheeks. “After it’s even remotely dried out, you’ve got to toss it because it tends to make a spidery effect,” Creazzo say. Even if you have a fresh tube, start with a coat of primer, which hydrates lashes to keep flakes from forming, she says.


You have mascara meltdown

The skin around your eyes secretes oils, which melts your mascara and forms smudges on your eyelids or under your eyes, Gonzales says. Use a powder concealer around your eye to keep the pigment from transferring. “Powder acts as a dam and keeps oil at bay,” she says. She also recommends avoiding intense dark mascaras, which are prone to meltdown because their waxiness doesn’t set as well.


You leave your eyebrows bare

“Eyebrows make up a huge part of the face,” Gonzales says. “If you’re going in with strong eyes and a full face of makeup, you can’t neglect the brows.” To keep your makeup from looking incomplete, use a powder or colored wax on your eyebrows.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.