After the holiday season, I usually get the annual flurry of “hey, I just got (insert makeup/skincare item here) as a present and I have no idea how to use it, help” texts.
I get how overwhelming it can be when you go from 0 to 60 with your makeup stash. A pile of new foundation, concealer, contouring palettes, and highlighters can be as intimidating as it is exciting. In my experience and opinion, skincare can get a little bit more all over the place when it comes to how you’re “supposed” to use it. However, makeup has much more of a methodology to it: There are things that objectively just don’t work very well or make things more difficult. We avoid making things more difficult whenever we can around here.
It’s impossible to cover every “makeup mistake” I’ve seen out there, so here are a few I see way more than I’d like.
In makeup, there are things that, objectively, just don’t work very well or make things more difficult.
1. An Unstable Foundation
Foundation is, ironically, one of the first things people try to figure out when they want to level up their makeup game. I’m still making tweaks to my foundation routine even after years in the beauty industry, and I am nowhere near finished. New formulations are always coming out, and shade ranges are slowly expanding, which I’m very happy about and grateful for. The caveat, though, is that every new foundation needs to be tested with a variety of prep products, finishing products, tools for application, etc. So there’s a ton of variables.
However, no matter what the product, I promise you that you don’t need five pumps of foundation. I involuntarily “ahhhh” at my friends when I see them rapidly pumping foundation out of a bottle. Social media has a lot of us fooled into thinking we absolutely need full coverage and you must achieve this by using a ton of product. Of course there are times you may want to build up coverage in certain areas, but I truly believe you only need to use a pump or two of foundation. Using more than that definitely falls into the makeup mistake category. Use something with more coverage, like a concealer, if your current foundation isn’t covering what you want it to.
Overusing foundation really does not help your foundation last longer. In a lot of cases, it will make it break down faster than normal. What it does do is increase the chances of product oxidizing or drying down weirdly on your skin. This will just make your skin look more textured and potentially lead to a weird mosaic effect because of excess product gathering on your face. This sort of defeats the purpose of foundation to begin with. Plus, you will waste money using so much product. You should not be running through a bottle of foundation in a few months. If that’s you, I’d say try dialing back your product usage a bit. Addressing this makeup mistake is something your face (and wallet) will thank you for.
Overusing foundation really does not help your foundation last longer. What it does do is increase the chances of product oxidizing or drying down weirdly on your skin.
2. Baking Is For the Kitchen
I would wave a magic wand and eliminate the obsession with baking in the makeup world if I could. Sadly I can’t, so the next best thing is to firmly put it in the makeup mistake box. I don’t mean the kind of baking where your kitchen smells like bread or cookies or pie. I’m talking about loading up intense amounts of powder all around your face with a sponge. You let this powder “bake” or “cook,” and after dusting off the (massive amount) of excess product, you’re supposed to have an Instagram filter finish on your skin.
This isn’t necessarily false. The thing is, baking was never really meant for people living life in the normal world. It’s an old-school stage makeup technique that is heavily used by drag queens and pop stars nowadays. It helps your makeup hold up through extreme conditions like hair flipping and dancing under intense stage lights for hours. I don’t know about you, but that is not what I’m doing at the grocery store. However, baking has become so commonplace online that people are using this as an everyday technique. I hate to say it, but I think it’s way too intense for most of us.
The amount of super-filtered and edited images and videos we see is not helping the situation either. I understand we want to achieve even, smooth skin. Baking, especially on top of large amounts of foundation and concealer like I mentioned above, is not the way to get that look in real life. It imparts a very strange, flat appearance to the skin. Sure, it may look gorgeous on camera or under bright stage lighting, but in person, it easily starts looking cakey and crepe-y after a few hours. That’s because it was created to look perfect for very specific conditions, not a full day at work or school.
Just a light dusting (and I mean light y’all—don’t try to fool me loading up your brush like a sponge) of powder in the areas you tend to get shiny, usually the nose, forehead, and sometimes chin, is enough to set your base. If you’re on the drier side, you could actually get away with not using any powder in the morning at all. A little midday touch up is easier to manage and way more flattering overall. You can live a powder-free life if you’re particularly dry. It’s not the 1920s anymore; a lot of foundations nowadays are formulated to last on the skin regardless of whether you use powder or not.
If you’re on the oilier side like me, the real makeup mistake is trying to make your foundation look perfect all day. You can’t powder and blot it into place forever because it’s meant to be temporary. Your foundation will break down at some point. It’s inevitable and it’s also okay. I will gladly use less powder and get less weartime from my foundation if the alternative is looking like a dusty mannequin in the corner of Forever 21.
3. Good Things Don’t Always Come In Threes
If you’re old enough to join me in taking a step back in time to the era before social media, I’m sure you remember when your only guidance in applying eyeshadow was the tiny little diagram on the back of the eyeshadow compact. I swear they were all the same: one color all over your lid, a darker color on the outer corner, and a lighter color underneath your brow. As if we don’t all have different eye shapes. Never again, y’all.
I don’t know why, but this 3-step eyeshadow method has burned its way into our collective consciousness. It’s shown up many, many times in my conversations with friends and family members, and particularly with clients during demos and makeovers. Any deviation from this 3-step method makes people really nervous. I’m here to tell you that it’s not a cardinal makeup mistake to not follow this method—y’all, I promise it will be okay. Deep breaths and a blending brush will take you a very long way.
My personal method tends to lead me to five shades when doing a more “glam” type of look, but I find people are totally fine with two or even just one color on a day-to-day basis. If three happens to be your magic number, then that’s perfect. Just don’t force yourself to adhere to a certain number of eyeshadows every time you do your eye makeup. I assure you that no eyeshadow goddess is going to rise out of your vanity and smite you.
This is definitely not an exhaustive list of the makeup mistakes that have caught my attention over the years, but if anyone out there feels like one or more of these points hit a little too close to home, please know that I truly do mean well. I am the absolute last person to try and make someone feel poorly about themselves or their appearance. Society does that to us plenty, especially women, and I have no intention of adding to that. Let your creativity run wild and have fun with your makeup. I just want to provide some tidbits of legitimate, proven techniques through my ramblings to help you get the look you’re after. We’re here to have fun and achieve makeup zen, not to be stressed and look nothing like what we intended. Have a great week everyone!