10 Common Beauty Mistakes and How To Avoid Them - Part 1
We're all guilty of commiting beauty mistakes. How many times have you looked back on and old photo and wondered 'what was I thinking?'
But faddy makeup trends and silly hairdos are nothing compared to the longstanding beauty mistakes so many of us make over and over again. Why do so many women wear the wrong shade of foundation? How do you apply eyeliner so it doesn't look wonky? And what do you do when you've plucked your eyebrows more often than Christina Aguilera?
Over two blog posts, I'll be looking at the common beauty mistakes we all make, and providing some tips and product recommendations for avoiding them in future. From finding the right moisturiser to making sure your lippy doesn't bleed, here's part one...
1. Overplucking your eyebrows
We've all done it - you whip out the tweezers to 'tidy up' your brows, but soon enough your quest for the perfect arch results in plucking one too many hairs. Then you need to make sure the other brow matches, and before you know it, you've barely got any brows left.
The eyebrows frame the face and make all the difference to a finished look, and right now the trend is for quite full, dark brows (think Camilla Belle and Jessica Brown Findlay) so try to resist the urge to overpluck. Instead, visit a professional for an eyebrow shape, and then follow their line as the fine hairs grow back through, only plucking the bare minimum. Concentrate on the gap between the brows and stray hairs below - avoid plucking from above or taking too much away from the sides.
If you've overplucked a bit too much in the past, growing those babies back can be difficult - sometimes the hairs just stop growing. But there are products that can help - M2 Beaute Eyebrow Renewing serum will encourage growth in the sparsest of brows (see a review here), but it comes at a price - £133 for a tube (ouch). A good brow pencil, powder or wax might be easier on the pocket. Sleek's Brow Kit is amazing value at only £7.99 and comes with all the tools to get your brows looking fabulous. If you're unsure about shape, grab some stencils for £1.50 at e.l.f.
2. Not using a facial moisturiser
The curse of oily skin has led many a beauty fan to ditch moisturiser in fear that it'll cause breakouts and greasy patches. But all skin needs nourishment, especially in Winter when even the oiliest skin can flake a bit after being exposed to cold weather and central heating. A facial moisturiser - even a light one - will keep your skin soft, supple and hydrated, making it a better canvas for makeup (not to mention improving how it looks without it). It shouldn't cause or worsen spots - in fact keeping the area around a spot moisturised will stop flaky, dry patches that cause concealer to cake.
If you're concerned about moisturising an oilier skin, look for something oil-free and mattifying like The Body Shop's Seaweed Mattifying Moisture Lotion, which hydrates without the greasiness.
Combination to normal skins can take something a bit richer, perhaps a trusted classic like Olay Complete Care Cream - all those fans can't be wrong! With a dryer skin (or if you work outdoors a lot) you need something really rich and soothing like Clarins Hydraquench, which protects while it nourishes.
Finally, if you like your moisturiser with anti-ageing ingredients, there's no treat like L'Occitane's Divine Cream. It definitely lives up to its name as far as scent is concerned, and it soaks in like a dream leaving skin peachy soft and smooth.
3. Choosing the wrong shade of foundation
Foundation should blend seamlessly with your skin and is used to even out the skintone and cover small blemishes only. Foundation is not used to 'give a bit of colour' (for that, use a light bronzer afterwards). If your face looks a different colour to your neck, you need to buy a new base.
The problem is often in the testing. How many of us have the exact same colour skin on our face as we do on the back of our hand? Very few, though I'd guess a huge number of us test out foundation on our hands rather than trying it on the face. The best place to try foundation is where you're going to wear it, so hunt down a mirror and try a streak on your jawline. Step back a few feet and if you can easily make out the foundation, it's the wrong shade. It should barely be visible, and should 'disappear' completely when blended a bit. If possible, take a look in natural light (ie. step outside the shop) to really test it out.
If you struggle to find shades to suit your skin, it may take a bit of shopping around. MAC, Illamasqua and Bobbi Brown have good ranges and an assistant will help you find your perfect match. The Kiss and Makeup team also really rate Clinique for their vast amount of formulas for all skin types.
The more affordable brands often offer fewer shades choices, especially for those with very fair or very dark skin, but there are a few gems to be found. Maybelline and Sleek both have decent offerings for black skin, while fair-skinned girls might get lucky with Une, Bourjois or L'Oreal's 'True Match' range.
You could also consider an 'adapting' foundation that claims to adjust itself to suit your skintone. I've tried three shades of Max Factor Colour Adapt and all of them worked once blended.
Or, go mineral - buffing a mineral powder gives a softer finish and brands like Bare Escentual and Lily Lolo have worked hard to create dozens of shades in both light, cool and neutral tones so everyone can find a match. The Bare Escentuals website even has a 'get matched' guide online.
4. Wonky, gappy or uneven eyeliner
Eyeliner is a makeup nightmare. So easy to get wrong, but so gorgeous when it's done properly. It took me a long time to master applying it neatly and I still struggle with some formulas, but I've tried all kinds of application techniques over the years, from 'draw dots and join them up' (looked rubbish) to 'squint and scribble into your eyelashes (surprisingly good, actually) to get to know the best way to apply.
For me, the key is not so much in application, but in the product itself. The days of chalky, scratchy pencil liners are, thankfully, behind us. Newer formulas, be they kohl, gel or liquid, glide onto the skin rather than dragging, and give you a much better chance of getting it right on your first attempt.
Pencils are probably best formula for newbies because you don't need to mess around with extra tool, but avoid the traditional pencils and go for a gel formula instead. These are buttery soft - you barely have to touch the skin to get the colour to show. Urban Decay's 24/7 Glide-on pencils are cult classics when it comes to liner pencils, and come in a myriad of colours. For a cheaper option, Avon's Supershock Gel Liner is almost identical, and is quite often on offer for only a few pounds. Keep your pencil sharp at all tines and draw gently as close to your eyelashes as you can possibly get, applying medium pressure only - don't press too hard or you'll end up dragging the skin. The key with pencil liner is to work slowly and build up colour - it's much easier to add than it is to remove so be gentle. And try to get right into the lashes - there's nothing worse than bare skin showing through below the liner. Apply your mascara after your liner, going right into the roots and then double check and fill in any gaps with your pencil for a neat finish.
If you prefer the look of a liquid liner, the most user-friendly and foolproof is L'Oreal Superliner, which comes with a flexible sponge-tipped applicator that's a dream to use and much easier to handle than the inkwell brushes in a lot of liquid liners. Just remember to shake the bottle before you use it or it can be a bit runny. Draw this on in one swift line, again as close in to the lashes as you can get.
Gel or cream liners in a pot with a separate brush are the final option, and my favourite type of liner. Bobbi Brown longwear gel liner and Mac Fluidline are the high end favourites, but I also really rate Stila Smudge Pots. On the bargain end of the scale, try Sleek and Maybelline. The ease of application with these is all down to the quality of the brush. I like to use an angled brush with relatively hard bristles so I can 'press' the colour into the lashline and then smooth it out before it sets - The Body Shop's slanted brush is my current choice - but you could also use a very thin liner brush like e.l.f's Studio angled liner brush. Wetting your brush a tiny bit before you dip it in the pot will give it a tiny bit more slip.
With all these formulas and application techniques there's still a chance you might mess up a bit, but luckily there is help at hand. Simple have released an eye makeup corrector pen that will tidy up smudges or smooth the edges of a 60s flick, and it's gentle enough for sensitive skin. I always keep one of these with my eyeliners in case of emergencies!
5. Lipstick feathering / lipstick on the teeth
Despite all these newfangled lipstick formulas, nobody has yet managed to find one that doesn't get on your teeth. And sadly, there's no real trick to avoiding it other than 'look in the mirror and check'.
There are a couple of tricks - the first involves putting your index finger in your mouth after you've applied lipstick and pulling it out slowly. What's left on your finger is the lippy that may otherwise have ended up on your teeth. Or rub a bit of vaseline over your teeth before you apply the lipstick. This is a beauty pageant trick that stops the lips sticking to the teeth and encourages smiling - but also helps keep lipstick at bay.
Feathering can be avoided two ways. The first is using a lip liner. Some say to choose one that matches your lipstick, but it's cheaper just to use one universal neutral liner that'll go under any lipstick you own. MAC Pro Longwear lip pencil is gorgeous. Draw neatly around your natural lipline, accentuating the cupids bow if you wish, and then fill in your lips with the pencil before going over with the lipstick. Using the liner all over the lips will make the lipstick on top of it last longer. However, liners can be a bit drying so remember to use lipbalm regularly too.
The alternative to a coloured liner is a colourless wax liner like DuWop Reverse Liner. This one you apply just outside the natural lip line. It acts like a waterproof barrier, stopping the lipstick from escaping beyond its edges.