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Top Ten Makeup Mistakes

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No one is innocent, not even Paris Hilton. Celebrity makeup artist Fiona Stiles tells which beauty crimes to avoid


Before you make up your next face, there are ten crucial no-no’s you need to know. (Chances are you’re guilty of at least one of them.) To ensure that your best efforts aren’t wasted, we asked celebrity makeup artist Fiona Stiles to explain why these common mistakes really are that bad … as if fear of looking like one of these celebrity offenders isn’t enough.


1. Overplucked Eyebrows
Problem: Too thin, unflattering brows. “When you get a clear look at yourself or have been reprimanded by a friend or professional that your brows are too thin, step away from the mirror, put down the tweezers and start from scratch,” says Stiles.

Solution: You need to let your eyebrows grow back in—all of them. “This is one of the most difficult beauty dilemmas to address because it is so tempting to clean up all of the new hairs growing in,” says Stiles. “But you have to let them all grow in to really see which brow shape will best compliment your face.”


To quell the urge to pluck, try masking new growth by filling brows in with cake or liquid eyeliner, which allows you to control the density of pigment and even paint on faux hairs if you need to. “For best results, use a very fine, thin, long brush (like Shu Uemura Natural Brush 2R, $14),” says Stiles.

If you are blonde or brunette, use a light/dark brown color. If you have dark brown or black hair, use a black cake liner, keeping it very diluted and building as you go. Also, if you can’t afford to see a brow professional regularly, just go a few times until you learn the best shape for your face and have mistakes corrected so you can better maintain them yourself.


2. Too Dark Lip Color
Problem: Dark lip shades (such as colors in brown, black, purple or maroon—think goth) can look aging.

Solution: Avoid lining lips with dark lip liner at all costs, especially if you’re not planning to fill them in. If dark lips are a look you’re deeply attached to, try a different version of it. Shift to a dark lip gloss if you must, or a sheer version of what you’re used to. Try Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, $14, which is a sheer but deep berry color. Another option is to try a sheer lip pencil if you want your look to last, since glosses and sheer lipsticks tend to wear off more quickly. Reapplying more often is a minimal trade-off for a more youthful and modern look.


3. Not Blending Well Enough
Problem: You may not be able to see that your foundation ends in a line at your jaw, but everyone else can. Blending is the key to a flawless face. If your blush sits unblended on your cheeks or the little eye shadow you do wear is just plopped on your lid, it’s going to look like you’re wearing more makeup than you really are.

Solution: Only wear foundation where you need it and only blend past your jawline if your face doesn’t match your neck. Other than that, the key is to get the right tools. “A few good brushes will make the difference between makeup and blended makeup,” says Stiles. (Try the MAC 190 Foundation Brush, $32, and Sonia Kashuk Tools Powder Brush, $19.99 at Target.) Latex wedges are also good for blending foundations and blushes as you can easily dilute color with a few swipes if you’ve applied too much.


4. Mismatched Foundation
Problem: This happens to every woman. Even if you’ve found the perfect color for your skin, the foundation you buy in August will not work for you in February. Also, watch out for foundation that oxidizes throughout the day and changes color.

Solution: Every woman should have at least two different colors of foundation, but three is better. That way you always have colors to mix to get the right color for your skin year-round. Focus on finding a good formula that works with your skin tone and doesn’t turn orange (from oxidation) as it interacts with the oils in your skin. (Keep in mind that your face should look like it matches your body. Sheer formulas are better if your face is paler than your chest. Tinted moisturizers are terrific if you don’t need much coverage.) The same holds true for concealers. (Tip: Use under-eye concealers that have a subtle light reflective quality and use matte concealers to hide spots.) Also, using a truly translucent powder (like Physicians Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Loose Powder, $13.95) when you set your foundation (and for touch-ups during the day) will help combat a shift in color.


5. Makeup Overload
Problem: A full-on eye with a full-on lip with a full-on face of foundation, blush, bronzer, and more is only going to make you look older.

Solution: You don’t need to focus equal attention on every feature at the same time. Whether you love experimenting with makeup or not, pick one feature and accentuate it. For example, pair a bright lip color like fire engine red or electric pink with a fresh, natural face—not too much foundation, blush, or eye makeup like Denise Richards, right. Focusing color on the eyes? Go easy on the mouth with a pale, sheer lip color. “It will make the strong eye look modern and more interesting,” says Stiles. “Anything thick or heavy will look aging.”


6. Flakey/Smudgy Mascara
Problem: Women tend to hang on to their makeup for much longer than they should. Flaking is a good sign that your mascara is either not a good formula or needs to be replaced—whether you’ve finished the tube or not.

Solution: If you find that your mascara runs and smudges under your eyes during the day, try a waterproof formula (like CoverGirl LashBlast Waterproof Mascara, $7.99) or one of those “tubing” mascaras (like Clinique Lash Power Mascara, $14). Tip: Waterproof mascara can be difficult to get off so one solution is to use your regular mascara and then just use a layer of a waterproof formula over it, or just use it on the bottom lashes.


7. Too Much Glitter
Problem: “The thing that bothers me the most about glitter in makeup, besides the fact that it shouldn’t be worn by anyone over the age of fourteen (fabulous club kids get an exception here) is that it travels on your face … leaving strange sparkly spots where they shouldn’t be,” says Stiles.

Solution: If you have a sparkly personality and must express it through your makeup, a more grown-up option would be to ditch shadows that contain large flecks of in-your-face glitter for those with very, very finely milled luminescence or shimmer (like L’Oreal HiP Shocking Shadow Pigments, $12). And always apply with a restrained hand. (See mistake No. 9 for how-to.)


8. Overbronzing
Problem: Too much bronzer can make your face look dirty or too orange, or too shimmery if you’re using a bronzer that isn’t matte.

Solution: “I do like a bronzer with a little sheen to it, just be careful where you apply it or you’ll be guilty of mistake No. 9,” says Stiles. “There are a few companies that make lovely matte bronzers that look completely realistic. Benefit Hoola, $28, is always in my kit. Physicians Formula is almost entirely made up of bronzers.” The color of your bronzer, like foundations, should change throughout the year as well. A little bronzer in the winter can add a touch of warmth without making you look too tan.
Tip: Guerlain Terracotta Spray Bronzing Powder Mist, $57, is a foundation in a spray that offers a very realistic tan color. Spray it in your hand then apply with a flat foundation brush to cover tan lines or add a touch of color on your forehead and cheekbones to warm up skin without it looking like makeup.


9. Too Much Illumination
Problem: “Luminous particles have been added to everything in the past few years, most notably foundations, powders and highlighting products,” says Stiles. “One or two [such] products can make a woman look fresh and glowing. Too many can make her look very, very strange.” You run the risk of your face texture not matching that of your body.

Solution: There are a few places where luminizing products work: the cheekbones, the inside corners of the eye, and if the products are subtle enough, under the eye. (Concealers like YSL Touche Eclat, $40, that have a hint of luminescence can really combat dark circles.) Avoid using a luminous foundation with a shimmer powder on your cheekbones and a very shimmery eye shadow. “What looks good in magazines doesn’t always translate well to real life, so approach with a restrained hand,” says Stiles.


10. Neglecting Your Skin
Problem: Good makeup starts with a good canvas, which is hard to achieve if you’re not taking care of your skin. “I cannot express the importance of a good skin care regime,” says Stiles, echoing many makeup artists who cite poor habits (i.e. smoking and staying up late) and lack of sun protection and moisture as main contributors to bad skin.

Solution: Don’t just use any product. See a facialist and do some research to find a good cleanser, moisturizer and targeted treatment products that are suited to your skin type. Also, consult our guide to finding The Right Skin Care for Your Age. And don’t forget to protect your skin daily with a high-SPF sunblock like Ocean Potion Face Potion, 3.99, which “isn’t greasy, doesn’t leave a white cast, and costs under $5,” says Stiles. “Remember, your face ends at your nipples,” says Stiles. “Don’t neglect your neck and chest; they need sunblock and moisturizer too.” (Your chest gets so much sun during driving and walking time, you may not even realize it.)

Read more beauty tips, check out TotalBeauty

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