By Sally Mitchell
As a makeup artist (or MUA, as we’re known to some), it can be painful to witness some of the makeup mistakes many women make. It’s a tough position – you really want to go up to the person and tell them how they could look better, but of course, you risk looking rude, hurting someone’s feelings, or worse!
The truth it, makeup application isn’t as easy as you’d think. There’s a lot to consider: the right product, the right colour, the right application, and that’s even without thinking about beauty trends.
Here, I’ve compiled 10 of the most common beauty mistakes I see on a daily basis, and added some of my tried and tested makeup tips in the hopes that I can (politely!) help some people look more gorgeous and polished.
1. Contour mishaps
It’s really scary to see bad contouring. It makes a beautiful face look a bit like a Picasso painting, and no wonder: contouring is a very difficult skill that takes artists hours of practise to perfect! You need to make sure that you have the right colours, learn where to put them for the right effect, and blend them correctly and make sure there are no lines on the face.
The ideal face shape you should be going for with contouring is a diamond. You need to hide those double chins and bring your jaw line forward.
The basics of contouring are that dark colours hide features, whereas the lighter colours bring a feature forward. But the most important rule when contouring is remembering to blend the colours to ensure no traces of your ‘makeup art’ are notable.
Remember: PRACTISE MAKES PERFECT!
2. Foundation struggles
As a makeup artist, I get really frustrated when I see people walking around the shops with this foundation mask on their face. It is as if the brush stops when it gets to the jaw line.
Foundation isn’t meant to be worn like a face cream; it’s there to act as an ‘eraser’, covering up flaws. If you do need to cover something near the jawline, ensure you blend the foundation into your neck. In fact, use a sponge, brush or your fingers to ensure all traces of the product are blended into your skin.
The key to the perfect foundation is getting the colour right. To do this, click here for advice, or try testing the colour on your jaw line. If it doesn’t look like a different colour to your neck, then you have the right foundation shade.
3. Orangey flesh
Most of us have tried a fake tan at least once – with nasty results. Your hands turn orange, your skin goes weird and overall you just look a bit tacky.
When using tanning lotions, fake tan creams or tanning spray there are a few things to keep in mind.
- The tan should not turn you orange.
- Wear gloves when you apply the cream to the skin.
- Make sure there are no streaks over your body.
- Make sure the colour is right for your skin. Test a small patch on your leg before you turn your whole body into a walking carrot.
- Follow the instructions on the bottle carefully.
We’ve tried and tested a few brands, and TanOrganic and Organic Tan are not only two of the most natural, but also the most natural looking.
4. Spider lashes
When it comes to mascara, make sure you don’t apply so much product that your lashes look like baby tarantulas hanging on your face.
Lashes are meant to be seen from up close – not from across the room. Adding a bit of volume to your lashes will give you more of a dramatic eye; however, you don’t want clumps of mascara. Too much product also makes your lashes heavy and your eyes will begin to droop.
For lashes that pop, curl them first with a good eyelash curler, then apply a coat of mascara, using the brush to break up clumps. If that doesn’t do the trick, I find the careful use of a pin to separate lashes does.
Note: nasty lashes can result from lash extensions or fake lashes, too. I’ve seen some that are so huge, so curly, the wearer looks like they should be in a Panto production. To ensure a natural look, get extensions that are around 2mm longer than your natural ones.
5. Lousy lip liner
I have never understood why people cannot see the difference between lip liner and lipstick shades. Lip liner is there to help your lipstick last longer. It also helps to blend the colour into your natural lip colour, and define your lip look more. But liner has got to either match your natural lip tone or lipstick shade well – if there’s any distinction between the two shades, people will notice!
6. Weird brows
Brow trends change more often than hair colours. It is important that you keep this in mind the next time you decide to shave off your brows and draw a thin line.
And speaking of lines, if you have sparse brows, fill them in with well blended, fine hair-like ticks with a sharp brow pencil. Thicker lines will look clownish, as you can see below.
For most people, a shade of taupe will work, and is the best starting point for color. Taupe gives dark brows some depth and it doesn’t overwhelm lighter hair, but this depends on your natural hair colour.
- Blondes should try light taupe or a pencil one or two shades darker than their natural hair
- Brunettes should choose a pencil that one to two shades lighter than their hair.
- Those with raven black hair should keep away from black brows to avoid looking too ‘Goth’ or angry. Instead, try dark brown.
- Redheads should try taupe and medium brown – not red.
- Grey-haired gals should go for light brown or taupe instead of another shade of grey.
Getting the right brow shape can be tricky. You may want to contact a brow threading professional for help. Keep in mind that anything you do that is semi-permanent, like eyebrow tattoos or even plucking, will last a long time. I’d suggest avoiding trends and just keep your brows as natural as possible, but always keep them trimmed, short and under control. There is nothing lovelier than a neat brow with a perfect eye application.
7. Makeup overload
Rule of thumb when it comes to a make-up application: you need ONE focal point on your face. This could be smoky, shadowed eyes, pop-out lips or strongly contoured cheekbones, for example.
Figure out which part of your face you want to highlight, and apply most of your strikingly coloured makeup there. If you have too many focal points on your face, you’re going to look a bit like a clown if the colours are bright, or like a vampire if they’re dark (as below).
8. Blush streaks and circles
This is a common makeup crime – either I see women with 70s disco streaks, or clowny circles. But what we’re going for is a fresh, healthy look – the way you look after a workout, for example.
Blush should be applied underneath the cheekbone to make it stand out. Apply it along the cheekbone and make sure that you blend it upwards towards the apple of your cheek and outwards towards the hairline so that you don’t have a pink line across your face.
The shade of blush you use should be close to the colour you get when you pinch your cheeks. Go to the makeup counter mirror, do a bit of pinching, then test a blusher shade beside that, to ensure you get a natural look. If you have oily skin, choose a powder blush; drier skins can go with a creamy formula.
9. Horror movie teeth
If you’re wearing a dark lipstick all day and are feeling a bit dehydrated, beware – the more you lick your lips or the drier they become, the more likely your lippy will transfer to your teeth! There’s nothing more distracting than having a conversation with someone with red all over their teeth: do you tell them, or just pretend you don’t see it? Avoid this by blotting lipstick once, then making an O with your lips after lipstick application, and sticking your middle finger in the O to wipe off any lippy that may be on the ‘inside’ of your lips.
10. Eyeliner overload
When you’re going for a catflick eyeliner look, the idea is, well, to have cat-shaped eyes. That is to say, to draw the viewer’s eye upward. So if you line the lower lid as well, you’re basically ruining the effect. To keep it clean, ensure you use a great liquid liner, starting in the inner corner. Use the brush’s point to create a thin line here, then swerve the brush onto its side to create a thicker line as you go outward. The line should NOT cover your whole lid at any point, however. The line should be the thickest at the outer corner of the eye. From there, draw a thin triangle up to the outer corner of the brow and fill in, to get the look on the right, below. Note: This takes practice!
A day make-up should take between 20-30 minutes to apply before work in the morning. This gives you a lot of time to make sure that you have blended everything to ensure there is not mask or lines and gives you enough time to spend on your stand out feature of your face. I tend to make either my eyes or lips my stand out feature.
Some people make their brows or contouring their standout feature. Makeup is an art so the more you practise, the better you will get at it. Don’t be afraid to play around with colours and try new trends – but if your application looks at all odd, take it off and try again. After all, you don’t want your makeup crime to be added to this list!
Sally Mitchell began her career as a make up artist, and after receiving a diploma in Clinical Dermatology decided to combine her passions for makeup artistry and skincare becoming a licensed beauty professional. Now she shares useful skin care tips with readers of the Lumeskin blog.