Sure, you can do whatever you want when it comes to makeup. In fact, coloring outside the lines is sure to get you noticed. But sometimes that attention won’t be positive, especially in environments where a buttoned-up impression is critical (like at work and school as well as when dating and networking). If you’re breaking any of the following seven rules, think twice and—at a minimum—know your audience.
1. Never apply a “mask” of foundation.
Yes, this is a no-brainer. Still, this rule is repeatedly broken by women who unintentionally focus on the face without realizing that even most well-matched foundations aren’t exactly the same shade as their skin. So, to ensure you never look like you’re wearing a flesh-colored mask, be sure to blend your foundation down onto the top of your neck and check the final results in a mirror under natural light before leaving the house.
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2. Don’t believe the cosmetics-counter hype.
Never forget, the makeup counter sales associates are trying to sell you stuff. They’re incentivized to tell you a shade looks great on you—and it actually might under the fluorescent lights in the store. However, fluorescent lighting and lack of natural light can cause problems when trying to decide what a product is going to look like out in the real world. If you sample a color in-store, take a brief walk outside with a mirror (most shops will allow you to borrow theirs for a few minutes) to see what the shade looks like free from artificial lighting.
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3. Don’t overdo your brows.
Finding the perfect product to fill in brows can be challenging. Pencils and powders can often look too harsh, making one look more like Mommie Dearest than is probably for the best. Master makeup artist Dick Page suggests women use a slanted brush and cream eyeshadow to fill brows. Not only does the cream shadow provide just the right amount of coverage, it “glistens like hairs do and gives the brows a healthy sheen,” according to Page.
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4. Don’t over-draw your lips.
While lining outside the natural lip line might work for celebs in photos and on the red carpet, in real life this will only make you look clownish. To create the appearance of fuller lips, instead create dimension by adding a shimmery gloss to the center of your lips. Also, the darker the shade, the more attention it will draw to the size and shape of your lips. To minimize the appearance of thin lips, opt for colors closer to your natural lip shade.
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5. Don’t look ghostly in photos.
Chances are you’ve seen a photo of a celeb (or even yourself) where her face looks significantly lighter than the rest of her body. The cause: Foundation with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, chemical-free sunscreens. While we’re definitely in favor of protecting your skin from the sun, if you want to look natural in photos, opt for something other than these active ingredients. Or, try using concealer alone and skipping foundation all together.
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6. Don’t become a cake face.
Those of us with oily skin know powder is definitely our friend, but applying powder to shiny, oily skin can lead to a cakey appearance. For a mid-day touch-up, give your face a once-over with blotting papers (Clean & Clear’s are only $5 at drugstore.com) before opening your compact. You may even find you can skip powder after all!
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7. Don’t overdo your eyes during the day.
Eyeliner is a great tool to accent and open up your eyes. However, there’s a difference between what’s appropriate for an evening out and what is right for a day at the office. Save the eye-rimming dark shades for nighttime and opt for a subtler look during the day. We love a smudged neutral like grey or brown on the upper lid for daytime