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You’ve Probably Been Using These 9 Beauty Products All Wrong

You may have your makeup routine down pat, but correcting these small errors could kick up the glam factor and save you some cash in the process

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Foundation: You think you must apply with a sponge or brush

Makeup blenders and foundation brushes have gotten more popular in recent years, but you can save time and money and use your digits instead. “I find being able to warm up the foundation in your hands and gently press and massage it into the face saves you from using too much and gives you a more naturally flawless look,” says Seattle area-based makeup artist Bethany Stout.

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Mascara primer: You don’t let it dry

That is, if you’re even using a mascara primer at all. If your lashes aren’t quite as long and lush as you’d like, and you’ve tried several mascara brands, pick up a mascara primer. Primer is way more cost effective than lash growth serums and way less time-consuming than eyelash extensions, but can still provide dramatic results. Rather than quickly layering (as you would with mascara alone), let the primer dry completely before applying mascara. Apply primer, do your eyebrows or hair, and come back to your lashes. For a casual look, primer alone might suffice if it’s a brown or black tint. (We love Benefit’s They’re Real Tinted Lash Primer.) Check out these makeup tips for bringing out your eyes.

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Mascara: You pump the wand

This one is less about application and more about saving money. You probably watched your mom pump the wand of her Maybelline Great Lash about 20 times before she swiped it on so, naturally, you started to do the same with your first tube of mascara, and old habits die hard. But pumping mascara just introduces excess air in the tube and dries it out. To get more product on the wand, turn instead of pump, and if you find that you’re frequently tossing out dried mascara, try buying trial sizes instead. They fit more easily in your makeup bag and you won’t waste a drop. When you do travel, here is how to pack your makeup for the journey.

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Contouring products: You overdo it

About a decade ago, the Kardashians started a contour revolution that requires a subtle application in order to be flattering. “I think too much contouring can look really silly on the everyday, average woman,” says Stout. “It’s been a hot part of makeup for a long time, but I think it has gotten to a point where its making people look artificial, instead of doing what it is intended to do, which is highlight the beautiful bone structure of the face.” Here’s a pictorial how-to on using makeup tricks to appear thinner with simple, subtle contouring.

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Foundation primer: You’re not using it

If you’ve ever wondered why you look like completely different in the morning versus the evening, it’s because makeup fades over time. To keep a fresh face all day, use a foundation primer (we’re loving Cover Fx Mattifying Primer with Anti-Acne Treatment) and set your makeup with a translucent powder or spray (try Coola Makeup Setting Spray with SPF 30). For oily skin, a powder or oil-free setting spray works best (try Laura Mercier Smooth Focus Pressed Setting Powder—Shine Control). For dry skin, avoid excess powders or choose a luminous formula. Don’t fall for these common dry-skin makeup mistakes.

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Concealer: You apply to too early in the process

Are you covering over your raccoon eyes before adding foundation? Concealer should blur imperfections rather than mask them completely, so it’s better to apply concealer later in your routine for a more natural look. “I always like to add my concealer after my foundation so they blend together better,” says Stout. “Your foundation will cover any darkness anyway, so you tend to use less concealer that way!” Our go-to under-eye concealers are IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Illumination Full Coverage Anti-Aging Waterproof Concealer and Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circle Concealer and Treatment. Here are more tips to get rid of puffy eyes and dark circles.

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Crease blending brush: You’re not using it

While your fingers can work wonders for certain makeup applications, there is a time and place for tools. You don’t need an arsenal of applicators but pick up a few basics, especially for eye makeup, where hands can be a little harsh. Just think what years of pulling on your eyelid can do! “A good crease blending brush is a must,” says Stout. “You can use it to build up makeup or gently sweep the eyes with color!” (Look no further than the blending brushes from Sonia Kashuk at Target.)

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“Going out” makeup: You let it expire

If you go for a more natural look on the regular and save the smoky eye just for parties and events, you might reach for the same exact pot of eyeshadow year after year. Guess what? It probably expired after last year’s New Year’s party—or even earlier. Outside of Europe, most makeup and beauty products don’t print an actual expiration date, as they do with most packaged foods, but they do include a symbol that lists how long they stay fresh after opening—it’s called a “period-after-opening” symbol. Check this list of other things you should probably toss pronto.

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Your whole makeup collection: You’re not using it to multitask

Or, rather, you’re not expecting your makeup to do double duty. Save some time and money with products that can serve more than one purpose. “One of my favorite things is to use my lipstick as a blush, especially after a long plane ride, when the recycled air tends to eat away your makeup!,” says Stout. “I take my pointer and middle fingers and dab them gently with a little lipstick, and pat the color on the apples of my cheeks for an instant youthfulness and pick-me-up to the face!” There are also products marketed for multitasking, like the cult favorite NARS The Multiple in Orgasm, for a flush of color on the cheeks and lips. Use these pro makeup tricks to truly transform your features.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

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