We all make mistakes—and occasionally, we make the same mistakes over and over again without registering that they’re mistakes in the first place. We’re the first to admit when we’ve made a beauty blunder, which is why we’ve rounded up the 101 most common beauty mistakes to spare you from having the same slip-up time and time again. We’ve learned from experience.
1. You’re holding the brush wrong when you blow-dry. If you hold the hairdryer with your dominant hand and work the brush with the weaker, you’re not alone—but you are wrong. While it feels more natural to hold the larger, heavier item with your stronger hand, you need the better dexterity of your dominant hand to better control the brush and get the job done in less time and with less exertion. Retrain yourself to do it the right way, and you’ll see better, smoother results with less dry time overall.
2. You’re only conditioning the ends of your hair. It’s a widely-held belief that we should only be conditioning the lower half of our hair from the midlengths down, especially if it’s fine and tends to fall limp, to avoid hair becoming weighed down by conditioner. In reality, however, fine hair is very fragile and needs the extra support of a daily conditioner. “Hair is weakest when it’s wet, and can stretch up to 30% more, which makes it prone to breakage,” explains Pantene Principal Scientist Emily Overton. The solution is to use a light conditioner from roots to tips that moisturizes and strengthens hair without weighing it down.
3. You’re rubbing hair with a towel to dry. Using a bath towel is considered the standard way to dry off the hair after washing, but if done incorrectly, it’s basically the fastest route to breakage and frizz. Instead of hopping out of the shower and twisting hair to release excess moisture, then rubbing dry with a towel—both things you should not do—use your hands to gently squeeze out extra water in large sections, then do the same with a towel, blotting and squeezing the hair rather than rubbing or wringing.
4. You’re blow-drying hair with the wrong temperature. A blow-dryer that’s not nearly hot enough has its own set of issues, sure, but we’re especially concerned with a dryer that’s too hot. In an effort to dry your hair faster, you could be totally frying your strands without even knowing it, plus triggering frizz and split ends. You should begin blow-drying your hair on the lowest heat setting possible—nine times out of ten, you won’t end up needing anything hotter than that, so don’t get ahead of yourself by jumping straight to the max.
5. You’re using too much dry shampoo. Go too long without a wash, and “the product will mix with the oils on your scalp, and will create a paste-like substance which doesn’t look or feel good,” says Davines Master Session Ambassador Joseph DiMaggio. The biggest danger of overdosing on dry shampoo? Clogged pores. That’s right: it’s not just something you need to worry about on your face. The pasty dry shampoo/oil mix will prevent the hair follicle from breathing, and once clogged, the pores on your scalp will go into overdrive to flush out the product with more oil. Remember: dry shampoo can only absorb so much oil, so please, don’t count on it to do the work of a proper shampoo—eventually you’re just layering more and more product on top of your grease. Pass.
6. You brush your hair when it’s wet. Your hair is at its most fragile when wet, which is why brushing or combing just after the shower is a major no-no—it can compromise even healthy hair to the point that it snaps from tension. To avoid breakage but still get the knots out before styling, use your fingers (and a leave-in spray, if necessary) to detangle and part your hair after towel-drying.
8. You’re shampooing too frequently. Rodney Cutler, owner and creative director of Cutler Salon, recommends only washing hair a maximum of three times a week to avoid stripping the hair of natural oils, which can lead to dryness, damage, and breakage. For those who exercise frequently, or just “miss the feeling of washing it,” he assures us that we can still rinse well with water and condition the ends between shampoos.
9. You’re skipping heat protectant. Even if you don’t consider yourself to have damaged, vulnerable hair in need of protecting, a heat styling product is an absolute must. Not only do they protect the hair from incurring damage as a result of heat exposure, but they also help to optimize the performance of hot tools, which means you get safer, healthier hair and a better style overall. It’s a win-win, so don’t even think about skipping this step.
10. You’re using the wrong brush to blow-dry. Here’s the thing about using a metal brush when you blow-dry your hair: metal overheats. This can not only cause worsening damage, but it can actually burn the hair, too. Always opt for a brush that’s made to be used in conjunction with heat tools, like those with boar bristles, which provide great grip without overheating.
11. You’re not being gentle enough. Though healthy hair can feel like it’s practically indestructible—braid it, curl it, flip it around, whatever—being rough with your strands can be exactly what’s causing breakage. If you’re a hair twirler, surprise! That twisting and tugging motion puts stress on the roots of the hair, yanking them out from the scalp. Overall treatment factors into this, too; roughly brushing dry hair or tossing and turning on rough cotton pillowcases are similar recipes for breakage.
12. You aren’t using product after you wash. Part of the allure of air drying your hair, aside from avoiding the potential damage from heat styling, is the effortlessness of a natural, “I woke up like this” texture, but that doesn’t mean you should skip product. All hair types should follow up towel drying with a detangling leave-in conditioner and use a wide-tooth comb to break up knots and smooth out the hair before adding product. You know best what your hair needs, whether it’s volumizer, curl-enhancing cream, or a texturizing spray, but we recommend starting with a frizz-fighting serum and a light-hold styling cream.
13. You’re blow-drying without sectioning your hair. Why properly section your hair when you can just flip your head upside down and blast it all with the blow-dryer? Because unless you dry section by section, you’re going to end up with frizzy, inconsistent texture and a seriously sore neck. Use claw or duckbill clips to secure several medium-sized sections horizontally around the head and dry one at a time before releasing and moving onto the next.
14. You’re skipping weekly deep conditioning treatments. “Women aren’t using a daily conditioner properly, so it’s important to use a weekly deep treatment to help compensate for that and maintain healthy, shiny hair,” says Overton. The surface of a hair strand is made up of overlapping hair cuticles, similar to how tiles are layered on a roof. When hair is damaged, these tiny cuticles get lifted up or broken off, which causes frizz, breakage and dullness. A deep conditioning treatment will help fill in any holes and repair roughed up patches so hair is soft, shiny and manageable.
15. You’re pulling your hair downward when you blow-dry. Blowing and brushing hair downward sort of seems like it would enable better smoothing of the hair, but pulling the hair down actually zaps any and all volume for a flat, lackluster results. Instead, extend your arm up and out when you’re drying at the root for body and bounce, then let your arm fall once you’ve reached the ends of the hair with your brush. This technique will give hair both movement and sleekness, no sacrifices necessary.
16. You’re using silicone-based products. Silicone creates the illusion of healthy, shiny hair while actually further drying out the hair from the inside, which is exactly as sinister as it sounds. “Silicone coats the hair shaft for a sleek, shiny finish, but it prevents the real nutrients from conditioners to penetrate the hair shaft,” says Nunzio Saviano, owner of Nunzio Saviano Salon in NYC.
17. You’re using a hair tie when your hair is still wet. Hair is at its most fragile when it’s wet, so pulling it back into a ponytail or bun as it’s drying is a huge cause of breakage. Using hair ties will also result in strange kinks and texture once hair has dried… and furthermore, sleeping on wet hair that’s also in a bun to get waves is a recipe for disaster. If waves are what you want, try using a balm or styling cream and twisting hair in sections as it dries so that you don’t put stress on your strands.
19. You’re not getting enough trims. We know now that we don’t necessarily need to get our hair cut as frequently as previously thought, but Cutler advises, “When you first decide to grow out your hair, make sure you cut off all damage and split ends. A split end can end up splitting all the way up the length of the hair, leaving it weak.” Says Edgar Parra of Sally Hershberger Downtown, “It’s not about cutting a lot every time, it’s about cutting a little bit every time. Think of it as hairstyle maintenance.” So, as a general rule, cut what needs to be cut, when it needs to be cut, and go from there.
20. You aren’t allowing each section of hair to set post-blow-dry. If you want lots of body and movement, you have to let your hair cool in formation to retain that shape. When you twirl the hair around your round brush and immediately release it, you’re not giving the hair a chance to set in place to better hold the style. As you finish off a section, let the hair cool into its desired shape, either by letting it sit on the brush or holding it in place with your hand.
21. You’re tearing through knots with a brush. Patience is a virtue, and when it comes to knots, it’s also a true hair savior. While we all want to rush through brushing our hair, if it is prone to knots, you need to take the extra time to gently coax them smooth, otherwise you risk snapping your strands. The trick is to brush your hair from the ends up. This way you’ll gently undo all of your knots before you gain the full momentum of running the brush down your hair from roots to tips. If you have a real nasty knot, use a wide-tooth comb to gently undo it from bottom to top.
22. You aren’t drying your hair completely. If your hair seems to get frizzy and fall flat just minutes after blow-drying, then it’s very likely that you simply aren’t drying your hair fully. If your hair looks dry, but feels cold to the touch, it’s a dead giveaway that there’s still leftover moisture, so be sure that every section has been dried to room temperature post-blow-dry. It’s the only way to protect yourself from unsightly frizz.
23. You like heat tools a little too much. Heat is the natural enemy of hair—it causes dryness, damage, surface burns, and more when the heat penetrates the hair shaft. If you don’t leave home with perfectly blow-dried, flat-ironed, or curled hair, then you probably find yourself dealing with a bit more breakage than you’d like. To avoid as much heat damage as possible, always use a protectant before styling… and try lowering the temperature on your appliances, too.
24. You’re coloring your hair too frequently. “Clients thinking they need color every four to six weeks is a dated mentality. It’s not good for their hair or wallet,” says colorist Leslie Shore of Chicago’s Maxine Salon. I never tell clients to prebook or give them a time frame to come in. I tell them to wait as long as they possibly can in between visits. That way we can avoid overlapping, over processing, wasting their time and their money.”
25. You’re styling it too tightly. Putting tension on the scalp is a great way to cause breakage, especially when it comes to tight braids, ponytails, and hair accessories. Stress at the hairline results in hairs being pulled out at the root, and wearing the same hairstyle consistently can exacerbate damage as you repeatedly put stress on the same areas. Avoid hair accessories that tug on the hair or pinch the scalp—and please, let your hair down and give it all a rest once in a while.
26. You’re teasing too much. Teasing for volume is one of the oldest tricks in the beauty book, and it’s pretty much fine for the occasional boost—but back-combing hair too frequently will rough up and damage the hair’s cuticle and cause breakage, not to mention a frizzy, frazzled look.
27. You’re using too much product. This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get carried away with product. There’s a correct amount for everything, and you may be using way more of that volumizing mousse or smoothing cream than you need to, resulting in sad, weighed down hair that accumulates grease and grime way faster than it should. It’s always a good rule to apply less than you think you’ll need—you can always add more if necessary, but once you’ve slathered on far too much of that serum, there’s no going back.
28. You’re applying the wrong products in the wrong places. Some styling products are meant for your roots, while others are meant to be applied to your lengths and ends. The general rule is that anything meant for volumizing goes closer to the scalp, while oils, serums, and smoothing creams should only be applied to the ends of the hair. Putting oily smoothing products close to your roots is your one-way ticket to greasy, dull hair that won’t muster any volume whatsoever, and applying volumizing to dry parts of your hair will lead to, well, dryness, so avoid, avoid, avoid.
29. Your hair color isn’t as flattering as it could be. Unless you’re a professional stylist, there’s a decent chance that the box of hair color you’re pulling from the shelf just isn’t doing you justice. Hair color is a tenuous thing—just going a shade or two in the wrong direction, or using the wrong tone, can mean the difference between gorgeous, flattering color and something that just doesn’t work with your complexion. Always consult a stylist if possible, and if you must take the DIY approach, educate yourself on undertones first.
30. You’re using heat tools on damp hair. We don’t know why you’d ever do this, but we’re not here to judge. Wet hair and hot tools have no business together: the moisture in your hair will get heated up into steam when exposed to the extreme heat and form a “bubble” trapped in the strand, resulting in a burnt, brittle, severely compromised state that will turn into serious breakage-inducing damage.
31. You’re not clarifying your hair. Dry, damaged hair types often believe that deep-cleansing clarifying shampoos will only result in additional damage, but the occasional clarifying treatment is all but necessary for every hair type. Your scalp produces natural oils that combines with environmental debris and product to build up over time, especially if you go nuts with the dry shampoo. Dull hair that seems to get greasy faster and feels as if it has a “film” even after washing is the telltale sign that you could really use a good clarifier.
32. You’re using cheap or old hot tools. We’re not dissing inexpensive beauty—quite the contrary!—but it’s true that you need to be very, very careful with the hot tools that you use lest you risk damaging your hair over time, or worse, frying it all off in a single pass of the flat iron. Not all hot tools are made alike, so read up on reviews before you make your selection, and toss the damn things when it’s time for them to go.
33. You’re blow-drying upside down. We’ve all been there—you’re in a rush, and for one reason or another it seems like flipping your head upside down and blasting air at it is the right thing to do. Drying the hair this way rather than in sections is actually putting you in the fast lane to dryness and damage, so take the extra few minutes to separate your hair so you can approach the process piece by piece.
34. You’re picking at split ends. The best way to make split ends worse is by picking at them. We know it’s tempting, especially if you’re bored, but splitting the ends up the entire strand destroys the whole strand of hair. Stop picking and go get a trim, stat.
35. You’re not changing up your shampoo. There’s no basis to the idea that you need to switch up shampoos lest your hair get too “used to” them and they stop working, but it is important to address your hair’s needs depending on the season. A volumizing shampoo may give your hair the perfect body and bounce in the summer, when hair is less prone to dryness, but you may need to switch to a hydrating formula when winter weather starts to zap the moisture out.
36. You’re not protecting your hair from the sun. If you value the health of your hair—and of course you do—protecting your strands with SPF is an absolute must. Without it, your hair is susceptible to color fade, serious dryness and dehydration, and even premature thinning. All beauty fanatics who once squeezed lemons on their hair to lift the color in the sun know that the heat and brightness from its rays actually bleach hair. Even if you don’t apply lemon or, god forbid, Sun-In to accelerate the process, the sun is still inflicting damage.
37. You’re holding your hot tools in place for too long. We’re calling it: you should only use a curling iron on the same section for ten seconds at the most, and you should be making quick, moving passes with flat irons and blow-dryers rather than focusing on the same area. Limiting the amount of time your hair is exposed to heat really helps to mitigate the damage.
38. You’re using the wrong cleanser. Does your skin have a squeaky-clean feeling after you splash away your face wash? You may be overdrying your complexion by stripping away its natural moisture. Only the oiliest skin types should use foaming cleansers or washes with scrubbing beads. If your skin is dry (and most of us get drier as we age), choose a moisturizing cream cleanser. Combination skin can handle a little bit of lather, but opt for a gentle formula that won’t irritate dry patches.
39. You’re sleeping on your side or stomach. Just like making the same facial expression over and over can lead to lines, squashing your face against a pillow night after night can cause what dermatologists call “sleep wrinkles.” If you can’t retrain your body, try minimizing the damage with a satin pillowcase or a wrinkle-preventing pillow such as the Juverest, which has a design that reduces the contact your face makes with the pillow.
40. You’re forgetting to apply sunscreen under your eyes. Applying too close to the eyes can be painful, especially when sweat causes sunscreen to travel, but the skin around the eye is actually the thinnest on the body. “It also happens to be a common site for non-melanoma, sun-induced skin cancers, like basal cell carcinomas,” says dermatologist Dr. Fayne L. Frey, MD. Since many formulas contain fragrances that irritate the eyes, Dr. Frey suggests applying a fragrance-free sunscreen stick or balm around the eyes that are formulated with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
41. You’re over-exfoliating. Exfoliation helps skin layers turn over faster, which can make your complexion look younger and more glowing, but too much exfoliation messes with the skin’s barrier, causing it to lose moisture and even be more susceptible to redness and acne. It’s easy to overdo it when you’re using a mechanical exfoliant, such as a scrub or washcloth. Instead, opt for a weekly gentle-strength chemical exfoliant or peel, which loosens dead skin cells using an acid (glycolic, salicylic, lactic) or enzyme. Always moisturize and use sunscreen after exfoliating, and avoid scrubs made with particles such as seeds or crushed shells; these exfoliants have jagged edges that create microscopic tears in the skin.
42. You’re neglecting your neck. Our necks are exposed to the same aging effects as our faces—the skin there is similarly sensitive and sees sunlight almost year-round (turtlenecks notwithstanding). When applying your moisturizer and SPF, don’t stop at the jawline.
43. You’re washing your face wrong. “Many people are confused about the correct way to cleanse their skin,” says celebrity dermatologist Dr. Nicholas Perricone, MD. “Whether you are in your teens, 20s or have mature skin, the basics are the same: To avoid irritation, stay away from scrubbing grains, abrasive pads/washcloths, alcohol-based toners and astringents. These can disturb the normal skin pH and produce inflammation and dryness that will age and damage the skin.”
44. You’re relying on the SPF in your makeup. Unless you’re really caking on the coverage, the sunscreen in your makeup isn’t enough to protect your skin from the sun. “It would require seven times the normal amount of foundation to provide enough coverage, so it’s important to wear a separate moisturizer that offers SPF protection,” says Dr. Howard Sobel, dermatologist and founder of DDF Skincare. Layer a lightweight liquid sunscreen under your makeup and double up on protection with an SPF foundation or BB cream.
45. You’re washing with hot water. Whether you’re showering in it, splashing it on your face, or rinsing your hands with it, hot water strips your skin of its natural oils and leaves it parched. Rinse with warm or cool water instead.
47. You’re using expired sunscreen. Sunscreen’s shelf life is three years. After that time, ingredients start to separate and become less effective. Not sure if the tube in the back of your drawer makes the cut? Look for the new Drug Facts label, which has been required since late 2011 and means your SPF is less than two years old.
48. You’re falling asleep with your makeup on. “The more you sleep while wearing your makeup, the greater the damage there is to your skin,” says dermatologist Jeannette Graf, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, NY. “Our skin, like the rest of our body, functions on the circadian rhythm. At night the skin’s most important function is to renew itself. Wearing makeup and foundation at night prevents the renewal process, causing damage to the skin.”
49. You’re not tending to your skin type. Don’t just settle for any old cleansing, toning, and moisturizing routine—addressing your specific skin type and concerns is a must, because using the wrong products for your skin can exacerbate the problems you already have. Pay close attention to what you’re buying, and really choose your products carefully rather than sticking to that same so-so cleanser you’ve been snagging at the CVS checkout counter for years.
50. You’re washing your face too frequently. Once in the morning, once at night may even be too much for some people, and forget about any more than that. Unless you’re working out, there’s no reason to wash your face with the full-on cleanser and water routine more than once a day, in the evening. It’s super important to get rid of makeup and the day’s grime each night, but in the morning, your skin is fresh from a night of sleep, not dirty. Splash with water and follow with moisturizer instead, or use a micellar water for an extra clean feeling.
51. You’re not getting enough sleep. Your quality of life—and whether or not you’re taking good care of yourself—really shows on your face, which is why dull, dry skin is often the result of bad sleeping habits. Your skin needs beauty sleep (!) to rejuvenate itself, and getting an inadequate number of hours can wreak havoc on your complexion.
52. You’re drying out your skin with too many acne treatments. Over-treating is very real, and bringing out the big guns on breakouts isn’t always the best thing for your skin. Acne-fighting ingredients are intended to dry out blemishes, but using too much or using them too frequently can cause the opposite reaction and dry skin out to the point that it begins to overproduce oil. Limit yourself to one application in the morning beneath makeup and one at night, and stick to one treatment rather than layering or experimenting.
54. You’re using dirty makeup brushes. Dirty makeup tools are the perfect breeding ground for potentially detrimental bacteria that can lead to acne, irritation, and even more serious conditions like eye infections. We’re the first to admit that cleaning your brushes is a hassle, but it’s maybe the most important thing you can do to keep your skin from succumbing to problem-causing bacteria in Breakout City.
55. You’re not eating right. What goes into your body shows on your skin, and subsisting off a diet of junk food and Diet Coke isn’t going to give you the radiant, glowing, fresh as a daisy complexion you so desire. We’re not saying you shouldn’t treat yourself once in a while, but maintaining a relatively clean diet that focuses on healthy fruits and vegetables is key for keeping skin flawless.
56. You don’t really know what you’re putting on your skin. The ingredients list is there for a reason—check it! The truth is that brands can put anything they want into their products, and some are less cautious than others. Unfortunately, there’s a wealth of ingredients out there that will do way more harm than good, so educate yourself on what works for your skin and what doesn’t.
57. You’re trying to scrub away pimples. It can be tempting to try and buff away raised breakouts, but you’ll only wear away the top layer of the skin, resulting in more breakouts. It’s a vicious cycle, so treat your skin gently.
58. You’re only wearing SPF in the summer. Word to the wise: get into the habit of applying sunscreen each and every day. Sun protection isn’t just important for preserving the quality of your skin and preventing premature aging, but there are real health concerns that go hand in hand with sun damage. Cloudy, rainy, cold, snowy, what have you—you’re not safe from the sun in any weather, so sunscreen is a non-negotiable.
59. You’re not moisturizing properly. Too much moisturizer, too little moisturizer, not moisturizing at all—each of these variables can affect your skin for the worse. Skin can only absorb so much moisture, so slathering on tons of cream will cause clogged pores since the product is just sitting on top of your skin. Even if you have oily skin, moisturizer is a must: drying out your skin only results in more oil production, so it’s important to replace the moisture you’ve lost from washing no matter your skin type.
61. You’re working out with makeup on. No judgement—we all like to present a united front, even at the gym—but working out with a full face of foundation is a good way to accumulate clogged pores and irritation. There’s also the fact that using your hand to wipe away sweat from your face mixes perspiration and makeup, which certainly won’t do your skin any favors. If you must wear makeup to the gym, opt for a non-comedogenic tinted moisturizer and a dab of concealer where necessary.
62. You’re washing your face before your hair in the shower. Many ingredients in conditioner can cause clogged pores if it touches your face, so if you’re noticing breakouts around the hairline, sides of your face, or neck, your conditioner could very well be the culprit. Instead, switch up your showering routine and wash your face after you’ve rinsed out your conditioner to ensure it won’t linger on your skin.
63. You’re not exfoliating enough. There’s a delicate balance between exfoliating too much, exfoliating too little, and exfoliating just right. Your skin type should indicate how frequently you exfoliate—super sensitive types can get away with a scrubdown once a week, while oily complexions can stand to do it every other day. The buildup of dead skin cells can result in dull, sad-looking skin, so if you start to notice your skin becoming a little lackluster, it may be high time for some exfoliation.
64. You’re not putting on enough sunscreen. Sunscreen should not be used sparingly, regardless of where you’re applying it. A thin layer isn’t enough to sufficiently protect the skin from the sun, so be sure you’re generous with your application.
65. You’re using alcohol-based toners. Using alcohol topically can wreak havoc on your skin: in toner, it’s responsible for that tight feeling that’s often mistaken for just being really, really clean. Not so! Alcohol is so drying, so even if you have oily skin, avoid it at all costs—zapping your skin of moisture will only result in more oil.
66. You’re touching your face. Your hands accumulate an alarming amount of grime each day, and touching your face transfers that dirt and bacteria to your skin, clogging pores and causing breakouts. It’s a good general rule to keep your hands off, whether you’re picking at something (don’t!) or just leaning your face on your hands.
67. You’re not washing your sheets and pillowcases often enough. Bedding that’s been slept on one too many times is a guaranteed way to cause breakouts and clogged pores, due in part to the fact that the oils from your skin and hair are lingering on the fabric night after night. You’re then exposing that grime to your face for hours, where it has the opportunity to work its way into your pores.
68. You think you’re too young for anti-aging products. While there’s no need to bring out the big anti-aging guns at 25, using anti-aging skin care can never hurt. Prevention is key.
69. You’re skipping primer. Ever find your foundation to change color throughout the day, turning a light shade of orange? This happens when too much of the pH in the oil of the skin mixes with the pigment in the foundation. To avoid this oxidation, a primer should be applied to act as a barrier.
70. You’re applying eyeshadow after concealer. Always apply your eyeshadow before your under eye concealer. If not, the shadow will fall all over the eye area and undo all your hard work. When dabbing concealer on the under eyes, place it just below the lower lash line.
71. Your bronzer shade is too warm. A shade of bronzer that’s too warm for your skin tone is the direct cause of the dreaded Oompa Loompa look that we see all too frequently. While skin tones that skew warm can make warm shades of bronzer work, it’s always safest to opt for a neutral shade that doesn’t lean red or orange. The idea is to look sunkissed and, well, bronzed, not orange. Look for true beiges and browns rather than warm and ruddy—after all, nobody tans orange naturally.
72. You’re applying mascara to your lower lashes. Coating the lower lashes in mascara makes eyes look smaller and darker, and it’s a guaranteed way to accumulate smudges under your eyes. We hate to say it, but letting your lower lashes do their own thing is the best approach—don’t curl ’em, don’t put mascara on ’em.
74. You’re going too dark with your eyebrow pencil. The contrast of blonde hair and dark brows looks great on Cara Delevingne, but going too dark can actually age you. To soften your features and enhance your eye color (especially brown eyes), choose an eyebrow pencil one to two shades lighter than your hair color.
75. You’re applying blush in the wrong area. Place the brush on the apples of your cheeks and sweep outward, blending as you go. Too much blush on the cheeks can create that unflattering clown-like effect, so it’s important to apply it in the same area you actually blush.
76. You’re applying foundation over concealer. When you apply foundation over concealer, you’re thinning out the concealer you strategically placed over a blemish or other trouble area. Instead, you want to dab the concealer over foundation where a trouble spot hasn’t been completely covered.
77. Your bronzer has too much shimmer. Shimmer overload is the enemy of a believable glow by way of bronzer, so skip anything that looks even remotely disco ball-esque. You don’t have to go fully matte if that’s not your thing, but look for finely milled, subtle illumination instead of outright sparkle for a more natural finish. Save the shimmer for highlighting your cheekbones, rather than dusting it over your entire face.
78. You’re applying too many coats of mascara. The more coats you apply, the more likely your mascara will dry during application, causing clumping and that unnatural spidery look. If a single swipe of mascara isn’t giving you the volume boost you need, consider switching to a thicker formula.
79. You’re not blending your foundation into your neck. It seems like a rookie mistake, but it’s one that happens all too frequently, and results in, well, a neck that doesn’t match your face, even if your foundation suits your skin tone. It’s easy to remedy—just run your hands down from where your neck meets your face after you’ve applied your foundation to seal the deal.
80. Your lipstick is just too dark. We’re all for dark, sultry lipstick shades, but a lip color that’s too dark can make your lips look smaller and your face look older. Unless you’re going for a real statement look that’s anchored by a super dark lip, choose flattering colors that suit you instead.
82. You’re letting your pencil liner smudge. Too creamy or too slick and the pencil liner is going to smudge. A surefire way to keep the product in place is by applying a small amount of eyeshadow over the liner. The powder also works like a primer, giving the liner a longer life-span.
83. You’re applying too much bronzer. Yes, you can have too much of a good thing, and bronzer certainly falls under that category. There’s a fine line between too much and not enough, but you can always add more. If you’re fair-skinned, overdoing it on bronzer won’t get you any closer to looking like you just hopped off the beach. You should be using it to accent your face and add natural definition, not change your skin color. A little goes a long way.
84. You’re using the applicators that came with your eyeshadow. Most eyeshadows come with handy mini applicators, making it easy to apply on the go. However, for a truly blended finish, you should use a makeup brush. A sponge tip applicator provides a lot of pigment at once while a brush allows you to gradually add product and blend as you go.
85. You’re applying liner in your tear duct. Not only does this promote bacteria, but it also makes the liner more prone to smudging—this inner corner can get moist throughout the day. When painting the upper and bottom lines, finish just before this inner corner.
86. You’re using the wrong brush to apply bronzer. Don’t underestimate the importance of brushes in makeup application, especially when it comes to applying color. Our bronzer method of choice is to use a large, fluffy brush to swirl a powder formula lightly over the entire face—it’s basically foolproof, which makes it a winner all-around. Avoid brushes that are too small, and unless you’re using a cream bronzer with a skilled hand, always choose a soft natural brush for the most flawless finish.
87. You’re not grooming your brows. Seriously: everyone should be making the most of their brows. A good set can completely change the look of your face for the better. We recommend seeing a brow professional at first and having them teach you how to maintain your brows yourself.
88. You’re putting on mascara before eyeliner. Always swipe on mascara last. This allows a more precise eyeliner application—it’s easier to see the lash line when the eyelashes are bare. Plus, with the eyeliner in place, you’ll know just how much mascara is needed to finish the look.
89. You’re choosing the wrong shade of foundation. “Don’t test on the back of your hand,” says Pixi makeup artist Amanda Bell. When shopping for foundation, Amanda prefers to do a test swatch on the cheek and the neck, which will give you a much more realistic idea of whether the foundation matches or not.
90. You aren’t blending your bronzer well enough. Blending is the key to any good makeup application, and that commandment has never been more true than in the case of bronzer, which is all about blending. Keep in mind that what looks fine and well-blended in your bathroom mirror can totally change gears once you get outside in natural light, so do your makeup in a well-lit room as often as possible.
91. You’re using too much brightening concealer in the undereye area. The idea of a brightening concealer makes sense—you’re brightening the under eye circles to hide the darkness—but these light reflecting particles can actually draw attention to the dark circles when the whole purpose of concealer is to camouflage trouble areas.
93. You’ve got the wrong idea about lip liner. “Look for a lip pencil in a shade that mimics your natural lip tone and simply sketch around the lip line, adding shape and contour,” says Stila makeup artist Sarah Lucero. “If you shade and shape the lips rather than line them, this will keep lip liner looking modern and beautiful, regardless of the lipstick or lip gloss shade you choose to wear.”
94. Your makeup has expired. We know how hard it can be to part with that favorite foundation that’s lasted forever, or a mascara that’s not quite finished, but makeup comes with an expiration date for a reason. Don’t risk it—toss things when you’re supposed to, and remember that giving that years-old blush in the bottom of your drawer another chance may not be the best idea.
95. You’re applying makeup to parched skin. Smoothing foundation over dry spots won’t necessarily harm your skin, but it will enhance their appearance and make flakiness more apparent. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize, especially before you apply makeup, and if you’re feeling like things are looking a little dry, opt for the tinted moisturizer instead.
96. You’re not switching your makeup up with the seasons. We all have our makeup stalwarts that we turn to year-round, and there’s nothing wrong with a dark red lip in summer when worn correctly, but it’s important to pay close attention to what’s working and what isn’t. Furthermore, your skin changes with the seasons, so the foundation with the glowy finish that you use in winter may translate to undesirable shininess in the summer.
97. You’re using too much powder in the wrong places. We advocate for powder as a great way to mattify skin and lock in your look, but you don’t need to use it all over the face—it’ll give your skin a flat, one-dimensional look that squelches any radiance and can even make you look older (no, thank you). Instead, try dusting just a tiny bit of a translucent powder under your eyes and over your T-zone to reduce shine without going too matte.
98. You’re not focusing on your individual features. Every face is different, and just because you mastered that smoky eye tutorial you found on YouTube doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. Do your homework on how to flatter your face and enhance your best features while drawing attention away from the ones you’re not as fond of.
99. Your foundation formula is too “dewy,” and it’s making you shiny. We all want to look radiant, but there’s a fine line between healthy glowing skin and a face that more resembles an oil spill. If you just can’t part with your favorite dewy formula, dust a thin layer of a finely milled powder over your entire face. It’ll minimize shine without totally flattening the face.
100. You aren’t prepping your lips properly for lipstick. Take the extra few minutes to exfoliate chapped lips and allow lip balm to sink in before applying your lip color. Dryness under lipstick is flattering on no one.
101. You’re putting on too many eyeshadow colors at once. We’ve all seen crazy multitonal eyeshadow looks on Pinterest, but the at-home versions rarely turn out the same way. Unless you’re really skilled, don’t feel the need to layer on the entire shadow palette—stick to one or two shades in the same color family instead rather than mixing and matching.