Makeup is a genuine art form, but with all things in life, practice makes perfect, and there’s usually a makeup fail or two on the way to perfecting your makeup skills. Sometimes your brows will be like distant cousins instead of sisters, or your face looks like it’s had a week on vacay when the rest of your body is five shades fairer – it happens to all of us! So, to set you on your way to Pat McGrath-like makeup skills, we’re exposing the top makeup fails that we’ve all experienced, and of course, how you can avoid them in the future.
1. Wearing the wrong shade of foundation
Choosing the perfect shade of foundation can be so tricky, and we’ve all got it wrong at some point. The lighting in the store may have made your foundation look flawless, but out in the sun, it’s a whole new shade of mismatch. To avoid this, always ask for a tester or try it and go back and buy it later, once you’ve experienced the foundation in natural daylight. Some foundation can also oxidize, which makes the shade appear darker when it mixes with the air – to check if it does, swatch a shade on the back of your hand, and 30 seconds later, swatch the same shade next to it. If they both look the same, the foundation hasn’t oxidized, but if the old swatch looks darker, it means you may want to try a shade lighter to compensate for the oxidization. Choosing the right undertone for your skin tone is also so important, check out our how-to guide here.
Tip While testing out foundations at the store, it’s a common misconception that the back of your hand is a good place to test the product. However, your hand is not necessarily the same color as your face. Instead, draw a line from just above your jawline to your neck and blend the product out slightly. Leave it on for a few minutes and if you can, check it out in the sunlight. If you can hardly see it – it’s the one for you! Remember, your foundation is not just for your face, this can look mask-like – apply it to your neck and your ears for even coverage!
2. Over-doing the brows
We love a dramatic brow, but there is such a thing as ‘too’ much. Your eyebrows should be two shades darker than your hair color, which is what they would be naturally (there are exceptions of course). And, although we love an arch, our brows aren’t supposed to be ruler-straight. Also, bear in mind certain looks complement a stronger brow while others don’t, for example, a strong, smokey eye can look great with darker, more defined brows but they are a little overwhelming during the day. Although brunettes can generally get away with going slightly darker, if you’re blonde, jet-black eyebrows can look a little harsh and unnatural.
Tip: Try to keep it light-handed. Opt for a powder, gel or pencil that looks slightly darker than your natural brows and take the time to fill them in slowly. Start in the middle of your brow to define your arch and work towards your inner eye to give a natural effect. As your eyebrow hairs are usually more space towards your nose, don’t overdo the lines making them look too rectangular. A light hand is a right hand! For more brow grooming and makeup tips, check out this post, and to find the right brow shape to suit your face shape, read our guide here.
3. Failing to prep – is prepping to fail
Prepping your skin is the key to gorgeous makeup. You have to make sure that your skin is makeup ready or all your hard work won’t do your makeup any justice! Dry skin can make your foundation flaky, and oily lids can cause your eye makeup to smudge, which, after all that blending, is such a shame!
Tip: Prep! Make sure you’ve got clean skin to start with: Cleanse, exfoliate, tone, and moisturize so that your products have something flawless already to work with. Use a primer that’s right for your skin type (check out our guide here). Not only does the right primer create a smooth canvas for your makeup to grip on to, but they also protect your skin so after a long summer night, your face won’t suffer in the morning!
4. Harsh eyeshadow
When it comes to eyeshadow, the key is to BLEND! Even when you think you’re done blending, you’re not! Blend more. There’s a fine line between blending and making your hard work look muddy, but don’t worry because blending is a lot easier than you’d think.
Tip: Blend! Okay, we’ve probably said blend enough but here’s how you can maintain pigment without having sharp lines on those lids. Generally, your eyeshadow should be gradiented, with the most shadow on your lid (not always, because this depends on your look.) Press eyeshadow onto your eyelid just up until your crease, then take a clean, tapered fluffy brush and, in windscreen wiper motions (side-to-side), swipe along your crease. This will begin moving the product towards your eyebrow. Remember, you can always add more but taking away can be messy, so take your time.
5. Contouring in the wrong places
Perfecting your contour often takes practice as we all have differently shaped faces, so you need to figure out what works for you – less is often more with contouring, so take it easy! The idea of contouring is to enhance your bone structure without drawing a fully fledged skull onto your face.
Tip: Take some time to really get to know your face. It sounds crazy, but a lot of us don’t! Notice where your cheekbones are, the bridge of your nose, the shape of your jawline and don’t be afraid to give yourself a poke to figure out your bone structure. If you’re not sure what your face shape is, or where to contour, check out our guide to contouring for your face shape here. Everyone has a different face and there’s no one set of rules as to how you should contour, so it’s important that you embrace your uniqueness! Make sure you’ve got the right contour shade for your face; stay in the range of your foundation color – one or two shades darker for the most believable contour. And, (yep, we’re telling you again) blending is your best friend!
6. Lining your waterline with black liner
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with lining your waterline, however, if you want brighter, bigger-looking eyes – this is counterproductive. Lining your waterline can cut your eye shape, making it look narrower, so if you want to make your eyes look bigger, you should actually use a white pencil eyeliner here.
Tip: Try smudging underneath your lash line with a little bit of brown eyeshadow so that the line extends slightly down to your lower lashes, which makes the line less harsh and opens up your eye. Or, line your lower lash line from the outer corner to the beginning of your iris rather than the whole way across to make your eyes appear wider. If you’re looking for a more subtle, smoked out eye, opt for a dark brown or greyish eyeliner for that effortless rock-chick vibe. And, we’re saying it again – blend!
7. Over over-lining
Overlining our lips is like our secret weapon for getting a plumper pout in seconds, but we have definitely made the mistake of overdrawing the line. Once that line is drawn, it’s already messed with our perfectly laid foundation, so it’s pretty much game over, and we realize we have to spend the rest of the day looking waaaaay more ‘sultry’ than we planned!
Tip: Find a color that is the closest match to your natural lip color. Then, when it comes to overlining, do not think big – building the size gradually is the key to creating a fuller looking pout that isn’t too OTT. So, start by lining your actual lip shape and then overline them just a millimeter over. Finish with some highlighter on your Cupid’s bow and the middle of your lower lip for a sexy AF pout. Check out our beginner’s guide to lip contouring for more tips here.
Make sure you’re not messing up with your moisturizer either, check out guide to getting it right here.