16 Beauty Mistakes You Might Be Making and How to Fix Them

Oops, don't make these mistakes again. Look your best with a few tried-and-true tips.

Caroline Rogers
Makeup and Brushes
misuma/Getty Images

Sometimes makeup can be like a box of crayons—fun colors and combinations with unlimited possibilities. Most of the time, though, makeup is what happens when we’re running out the door, passing by a mirror between meetings, and applying lipstick at red lights. Everyone has their own makeup style, but everyone is also still trying to sidestep makeup mistakes and find tips and tricks to make each day a little easier and more polished. Let us help you blend out the makeup mistakes and look your best everyday with a few quick fixes and tried-and-true beauty products.

MISTAKE: Clumpy Mascara
Clumpy mascara can be a dramatic look, but if it’s looking more messy and less intentional, clean up your eyelashes a bit. Instead of wiggling the mascara wand back and forth, swipe it smoothly across lashes from root to tip. After applying mascara, use an eyebrow comb and run it through your lashes to separate and lengthen.

MISTAKE: Dirty Makeup Brushes
If it’s touching your face, it should be clean. That means you should be washing makeup brushes as often as you wash dishes. In a dream world, you'd clean them every day—but since we’re all busy people, aim for a brush deep clean every week. Buildup of product and oils on the brushes can cause skin issues, so think of this as an essential step in your beauty routine.

MISTAKE: Disappearing Concealer
Did you perfect your face just to find that your concealer disappeared a few hours later? Invest in a long-wear option, and also set it with a pressed powder. After blending your concealer, tap a bit of pressed power—either translucent or with some coverage—on top to ensure that it lasts and lasts.

MISTAKE: Eye Shadow Remnants
If your eye shadow comes in a powdery, destined-to-fall-down formula, application can mean that you’re left with a messy under-eye area. Roll a cotton bud across the under-eye area to pick up any bits of eye shadow, eyeliner, or mascara that have fallen down or smudged during application. Clean up with a touch of under-eye concealer, and you’ll be good to go.

MISTAKE: Heavy Foundation
Tired of full coverage? Sometimes a heavy foundation is great—it evens and smoothes and hides pesky blemishes—but if it feels too heavy on your skin, make a change. Especially in summer, a full, matte foundation can look and feel suffocating. To lighten things up and let your skin breathe, trade foundation for a tinted moisturizer. Or mix your foundation with just a touch of liquid highlighter for a sheer wash of color and a lively, healthy glow.

MISTAKE: Lines of Demarcation
If base ends at your jawline and is too far from your natural skin color, you may have a visible foundation line. To solve this and make foundation look as natural as possible, be sure to blend, blend, blend. Pay attention to those lines of demarcation, and buff foundation across the jaw, down the neck, and close to the hairline. Buffing brushes with edges and points can help smooth your base and blend those hard-to-reach places around the eyes and nose.

MISTAKE: Lip Liner Edges
Does your lipstick wear off, leaving a telltale lip liner edge? Mask the liner and add staying power to your lipstick at the same time: Fill in your whole lip with liner and then top with lipstick. The lipstick will last longer since it adheres to the waxiness of the liner—and once it does wear off, the liner layer will still look polished.

MISTAKE: Missing Moisturizer
Dry skin? Use a moisturizer and drink more water. Skincare aisles can be daunting, but incorporating a moisturizer can transform your skin. Each formula has different properties, so take stock of your skin’s current state. Need serious hydration? Choose a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid. Want a cream that will do double duty? Try a one with anti-aging properties. Commit to skincare, and you’ll have a routine in no time: daily moisturizer, night cream, and serum, for starters.

MISTAKE: Neglecting Brows
Eyebrows have power. They’re the quickest shortcut to a framed face, but it’s easy to go to heavy or too light on this feature. Neglected, sparse eyebrows are a major missed opportunity, but sometimes eyebrow pencils can make brows look drawn on. For natural, foolproof definition, use a brow gel. It adds color and sets your brows in place. If you want more color, use a matte eye shadow (close to your brow color) and draw short, hair-like lines with an angled brush to achieve the illusion of volume, then set with a brow gel.

MISTAKE: No Seasonal Swaps
Skin goes through a lot during the year. When winter weather sets in, beauty routines require slight changes in products and formulas to ensure that skin is getting the hydration it needs. Swap light summer moisturizers for heavier winter creams. In the beauty department, you can go super matte in cold weather or glow all year round: Break out the highlighter in winter and channel a clean, effortless sheen. And for fun, try new colors each season while also embracing spring pastels, summer corals, autumn golds, and winter navies. When the chill sets in, it’s the perfect time for deep berry-tinted lips, bold liner, and bronze eyes.

MISTAKE: One-Dimensional Makeup
Your face has contours and edges, but if you cover it in foundation, it can seem one-dimensional. Add color and life with well-blended colors and textures. A swipe of bronzer, a pop of blush on your cheeks, and a smudge of highlight on your cheekbones add back the dimension and interest that foundation can mask.

MISTAKE: Preserving Old Products
Makeup comes with expiration dates. It can be tempting to hold on to products that you’ve had for years, especially if they came with a premium price tag, but it can do damage to your skin. A helpful reminder on shelf life: blush, powder, and eye shadow should be thrown out after 2 years. Mascara has a short shelf life of 3 months, while most lip products last for 1 year. Foundation, concealer, and eyeliner should be retired after 6 months of use.

MISTAKE: Sans Sunscreen
There’s no excuse for this one. There are so many great sunscreens on the market, and using SPF is essential to protect your skin from harsh, damaging UV rays. The ultimate beauty mistake is skipping the all-important layer of sunscreen on your face, neck, and décolletage before you leave for the day. Double up on sunscreen and check the makeup aisle; foundations and tinted moisturizers sometimes incorporate SPF in their formulas.

MISTAKE: Sleeping In Your Makeup
It’s a chore, we know, but is so important to take your makeup off before you go to sleep. If you don’t want to stand by the sink every night, alternate deep cleans with quick-removal cloths or micellar water. Even if you are already in bed and moments from slumber, you can still grab a makeup-removing wipe and say goodbye to the day’s blush and foundation. You’ll also sleep a little easier knowing that your face can breathe.

MISTAKE: Tired Eyes
Not getting enough sleep? The answer to that is, well, more sleep, but who has the time? If you’re running on caffeine and deadlines, your eyes might give you away. Try a few beauty tricks to wake up: Refrigerate a metal spoon and press its cold curve underneath your eyes to de-puff, use a brightening under-eye concealer, add a pop of shimmery shadow in a light hue to the inner corners of your eyes, and apply a beige-toned liner to your waterline. No one will know you only got a few hours of sleep (and we promise not to tell).

MISTAKE: Wrong Foundation Color
Is your foundation too light for your skin tone? Is the shade too dark now that you’ve lost your summer tan? If you don’t have time to run to the store for a new shade, use the products that you already have to make your foundation work for you. If you’re looking ghostly, bronze it up. Buff your favorite matte bronzer across your cheeks and around your hairline. If you need a lighter foundation color, mix a pump of foundation with a bit of your moisturizer and sheer it out. The color won’t be as intense, and you’ll add moisture, which is always a bonus.

Check out our favorite lipstick colors, drugstore beauty buys, and the products our grandmothers swear by for more tried-and-true beauty tips.