Author: Danielle Cauchi, Jasmine Cottan
You're not going to perfect that cat-eye and liquid eyeliner technique in seconds. Contrary to popular belief, makeup application takes practice and days, months and even years to master.
You want to know how to stop your makeup from looking cakey, or how to apply concealer correctly, aggravating on how to prevent eyeshadow fallout or confused why your contour looks atrocious. Well, not to worry!
Here are all the answers to your most mind-boggling makeup questions!
Makeup products and terms can be confusing for a beginner. But don't worry! We've put together this guide to help you understand all the different face products and their uses. Read: Makeup essentials for beginners
If your skin can handle it, choose waterproof formulas where you can. Otherwise, primers and setting sprays are your best friend!
Not really! You should apply makeup in an order that works for you.
Some people like to do their eyes before their face so that they can easily clean up any fallout, whereas others feel more comfortable doing their face before their eyes so that they are able to judge the balance. It’s completely up to you.
There is not much of a physical difference between standard and mineral makeup, but mineral makeup is generally a safer option for those with sensitive or acne-prone skin as it does not contain the same irritants that regular makeup might possess. It also usually contains more natural ingredients which may appeal to health-conscious consumers.
Of course you can! You shouldn’t solely rely on foundations and powders with SPF protection as makeup can be applied unevenly. Apply a thin layer of sunscreen to the face and allow it to dry completely before applying foundation. Reapply every few hours by lightly dabbing sunscreen on-top of your makeup.
I know a lot of us have accidentally slept in our makeup once or twice, but sleeping in your makeup is a big no-no. It’s terrible for the skin, it can cause eye irritation and it’ll dirty your pillows. #NotWorthIt
Whilst makeup wipes are a convenient option every now and then, nothing beats a makeup removing solution and cotton pads. Keep your hair back with a headband and be sure to remove makeup from your hair line as well as the rest of the face. Some makeup removers can contain drying ingredients to make sure you follow up with moisturiser.
There are a few reasons why your makeup could be breaking you out. It’s good to do a process of elimination to figure out what may be the culprit.
- Have you cleaned your makeup brushes lately?
- Could one of your makeup products be expired?
- Are you removing your makeup properly?
- Are you using a new product?
You can read more about what steps to take to avoid your makeup causing acne here.
Avoid products with any comedogenic or irritating ingredients. Ingredients that may cause breakouts include alcohols, acrylics, parabens, silicones, fragrances and dyes.
And remember, when you can, give your skin a chance to breath and spend a day or two makeup-free. Your skin will thank you for it.
Aside from the ethical reasons why one would choose to use synthetic bristles over natural hair, there are a few differences between the two.
Natural makeup brushes are durable and move freely which may help you achieve a better blend. They work best with powder products as they have a tendency to absorb creams and liquids.
Synthetic brushes work best with liquid/cream products as they won’t trap makeup as much as natural-haired brushes. They shed less than natural makeup brushes and are easier to clean but their blend may not be as flawless.
As a rule of thumb, it’s best not to use natural-haired makeup brushes if you have a known allergy to animal hair.
Either the glue that keeps your brushes intact is wearing away or the dried-out damaged hairs are falling out. Regardless, it may be time to replace it. Unfortunately, there’s no guaranteed way to save your brushes from shedding but you can slow down the process by cleaning them often and not getting any water near the ferrule of the brush.
Of course not! That would be way too expensive. While each makeup brush is designed for a specific purpose, you can definitely get away with just a few essentials. Read: Do a full face with five brushes
Some people think that blending sponges provide a better blend, whilst others feel that brushes offer more precision. Brushes and blending sponges perform differently depending on the product you’re using so it all comes down to personal preference. You might even choose to use a brush for application and a blending sponge for blending. It’s good to give both a try and see what you prefer.
There a few ways you can clean your blending sponges, but the simplest way is to run them under lukewarm water, apply a gentle shampoo or antibacterial soap and squeeze them until the water runs clear and your sponges appear to be clean. After cleaning, squeeze out any excess water and allow to airdry.
There are benefits to using your blending sponge both wet and dry.
A wet blending sponge will absorb less product, easily blend out streaks and is great for those with dry, flaky skin as it will create a dewy appearance.
A dry sponge provides a fuller coverage as the product has not been diluted and may be better for those with oily skin as it will provide a more flawless, matte finish.
Liquids and creams are the best option for those looking for full coverage results. However, if you have oily skin, prefer a lighter finish and are time-conscious, a powder foundation may be a better choice for you.
You can mix two foundations together to create a custom blend for your skin tone.
If a foundation is too dark for you, you can lighten your complexion with concealer. If a foundation is too light for you, bronzing and contouring may help even things out.
Alternatively, you could mix a foundation lightening pigment with your foundation to take it up a shade.
Ensure that you are applying foundation in thin layers and allowing it to dry a little before setting with powder.
The condition of your skin will also determine how your foundation will apply. Your foundation will cake up if your skin is too dry just as it will if your skin is oiling up so be sure to give your skin a moisturise or an exfoliation depending on what it needs.
Make sure your pre-makeup products (sunscreen/moisturiser/primer etc.) have fully absorbed into the skin before jumping into foundation.
If you are using a foundation brush, blend foundation into the skin in circular motions rather than dragging it across the skin. You may also use a blending sponge to blend out any brush streaks.
Oxidation is a chemical reaction between the ingredients of your foundation and the natural oils and acidic levels of your skin. You can prevent oxidation or at least lessen the effects by using a primer and setting your makeup.
Foundation separation is usually caused by oily skin. The T-zone is a problem oil-zone for most people, so it makes sense that foundation separation mainly occurs in that region. Try an oil-controlling primer or even applying powder underneath your foundation to absorb any excess oils. Set your makeup in place with a good quality setting spray.
Keep your skin moisturised and prime your skin with a smoothing primer to help blur out any pores or fine lines.
Applying foundation with a damp blending sponge will provide the best results if you have dry or flaky skin. Ensure that your skin is getting enough nourishment by using a moisturiser and a hydrating primer.
It may also be worthwhile integrating weekly exfoliation into your skincare routine to rid your skin of any stubborn dead skin cells. Just make sure to follow up with moisturiser.
If foundation is not for you, you can always opt for a BB Cream, a tinted moisturiser or a dusting of powder. Cream-to-powder foundation formulas are also an option.
Yes! To mix a stick foundation with a liquid foundation mixer, take a little bit of the cream stick and the liquid pigment and mix it on a separate clean palette with a clean makeup brush to create the ideal shade.
Read: Which concealer should I buy? in Concealers 101: What to buy and how to apply
Colour correcting neutralises any unwanted tones and hues on the face. It works on the concept of the colour wheel where one colour cancels out another (Green cancels out red, yellow cancels out purple, etc.).
If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation where you’ve applied a thick layer of foundation and redness or dark circles still manage to peek through, colour correcting will solve this problem without you having to rock the cakey ‘100 layers of foundation’ look.
Colour correcting is not essential, but it will help you achieve that flawless blank canvas. It is especially good for those who deal with rosacea or dark pigmentation.
Loose powder and pressed powder both do the same thing, but if you’re going for a full glam look, loose powder is more finely milled than pressed powder making it much easier to build. Layering pressed powder might result in a cakey finish.
Both applicators are useful depending on the finish you want. Powder puffs are great for mattifying your complexion and setting heavy makeup looks. Powder brushes are great for sweeping powder onto the skin and creating a glowing yet shine-free complexion.
Translucent powder sets makeup in place and absorbs excess oils just like a regular powder, however it is clear and uncoloured. It won’t provide any coverage on its own, but it will set the base you have created with foundation and concealer and help it keep its colour.
'Baking' is a makeup technique where you apply loose powder to certain areas of the face to really set your foundation and concealer in place for that flawless, crease-free finish. Baking is usually done underneath the eyes, along the T-zone and underneath the contour to sharpen it up. Powder is usually left on the face for the duration of your makeup application and swept away at the very end.
Not entirely, but it’s a useful technique for full-glam looks, especially if you’re applying a lot of concealer or want a razor-sharp contour.
Powders are great for absorbing excess oil and providing light coverage. You might also like to consider cream-to-powder formulations for higher coverage.
Cream eyeshadow will provide a stronger pigment than eyeshadow powders, but they are more prone to creasing, especially if you have oily eyelids.
The best way to avoid eyeshadow fallout is to make sure you aren’t loading up your brushes with product. You might also choose to rest a tissue or eyeshadow shield underneath the eye to catch any fallout as you go.
An eyeshadow primer or base is key for preventing your shadows from creasing throughout the day.
Not necessarily, but priming will make your eyeshadow last longer, prevent them from creasing or fading and promote stronger pigmentation.
A coloured eyeshadow primer will also even out the colour of your lid space which is especially good if you have any darkness or visible veins on your eyelids.
Depends on the level of pigmentation you want. Wetting your eyeshadow brushes will result in stronger pigmentation whereas dry brushes will give you that softer colour wash.
Eyeshadow application can be very daunting at first, but once you become familiar with the different sections of the eye area and watch a few makeup tutorials, you’ll start to get the hang of it!
Nevertheless, we have written a very general guide to achieving a basic eye look with a convenient hand-drawn diagram for reference. Read: Revealed! How to do any eye look
This depends on what look you’re going for and how comfortable you are with your makeup application.
Pencil liner creates a softer and more natural-effect and can be blended out for a smokey finish. Liquid liner creates a stronger, sharper and more precise line but it requires a very steady hand. Gel liner is somewhere in the middle and typically lasts the longest due to its thicker consistency, but application requires more time and effort.
Ensure that you are using a good quality liquid liner and you are not applying your it directly on-top of wet eye products. Allow any primers or shadows to dry fully before lining your eyes.
A great way to keep your liquid eyeliner intact is to layer it and carefully set it with a matching eyeshadow and an angled liner brush.
Make sure that any liquid or cream products have dried before applying eyeliner. Powder your skin to absorb any excess oils that could cause your liner to smudge. You may even set your liner with a matching eyeshadow to help keep it in place.
Waterproof formulas are less likely smudge so if this is a real struggle for you, switching to a waterproof eyeliner might be worthwhile.
Your eyes may be too sensitive for the products you are using. Avoid makeup products that contain any allergens, fragrances or glitters. You may even want to try natural or organic makeup products.
Keep in mind that makeup products do expire so be sure to check out the PAO (Period After Opening) symbol on the back of your makeup products. It looks like a small opened cream jar. The number on the jar indicates the number of months a product is deemed safe for use after it has been unsealed. Any cosmetic product shelf life of less than 30 months needs to state the minimum shelf life or best before date on its label.
Read: Pencils, Powders and Gels – What’s the difference? in How to get perfect brows
Scrape off any excess product from the mascara wand before applying. Ensure that you aren’t applying too many coats and that you leave enough time in for your lashes to dry in between coats.
If you really struggle with clumpy lashes, stick to thinner mascara wands and lengthening mascara formulas as opposed to volumizing or thickening mascaras.
An eyelash comb or spoolie is a great tool to have on hand to remove any clumps that may occur.
A great tip for avoiding any mascara mishaps is to rest an old card underneath/above your lashes. That way, mascara will get on the card rather than on your skin/eyeshadow.
Rather than just curling your lashes at the root, curl at the root, middle and end of the lashes and gently pump your eyelash curler. Opt for a waterproof mascara formula and keep to thin coats to stop it from weighing down your lashes. You may also consider using an eyelash primer to hold your curl.
Whatever you do, resist the urge to pull your false lashes off. This can result in damage to your actual lashes and shorten the lifespan of your fake lashes. Apply some makeup remover to the lash band to dissolve the lash glue. Push lashes down to release them from the eye and gently pull off. Remove any excess glue from the lash band before storing.
Not necessarily. If you want your lipstick to stay true to colour it’s good to use a lip liner that is at least in the same shade family as your lipstick (i.e. a peach lip liner with a coral lipstick).
If you don’t want to splurge on lip liners but still want to use one to help with precision and definition, just purchase a lip liner that matches the natural colour of your lips.
Your ‘perfect red’ depends on your skin tone and undertones. If you have cool undertones, look for blue-based reds. If you’re more on the warmer side, opt for orange-based reds.
Keeping your lips moisturised and lining your lips with a lip liner will prevent lipsticks from feathering or bleeding. Blotting your lips will also help to stop feathering/bleeding.
Make sure you line and fill in your lips with a lip liner that matches the liquid lipstick you choose to use. Apply your liquid lipstick in thin layers and allow to dry before going in for a second layer if you choose.
It comes down to personal preference. Liquids and creams require more effort when it comes to blending but if done right, they can offer a more natural appearance than powders. They also won’t adhere to peach fuzz as much as powders do. However, if you have oily skin or don’t have the time for excessive blending, powders are definitely a better option.
Highlight goes hand-in-hand with contour for a sculpted appearance. Strobing on the other hand, stands alone in favour of dewy-looking skin.
You may have chosen a shade that is too dark for you. Ensure that you are using a contouring shade that complements your skin tone for an easy, natural-looking blend.
Good question! Blush is used to bring colour back to the skin if your foundation is washing you out.
Blush is also useful to control the amount, the shade and the consistency of the colour on your cheeks. Our skin’s natural redness can be harsh and/or blotchy.
Primer prepares your skin for makeup application by smoothing out your complexion and creating a slightly tacky base for makeup products to hold onto, ultimately helping them last longer.
Primer is essential for any occasion where you will be wearing makeup all day long, particularly if you’re going to be rocking a full-face.
Primer is applied after moisturiser, before foundation. You should wait at least five minutes before applying foundation to allow your moisturiser and primer to sink into the skin.
A small amount of primer goes a long way. Opt for a pea-sized amount of product and pat it into the skin with clean fingers.
Whilst you could get away with just using face primer as your eyeshadow primer (just like some beauty guru’s use concealer), the surface of the eye lid is quite different to the that of the skin and requires a slightly different formula for best results.
Face primers are designed to smooth over pores and fine lines to create a blurred effect for flawless foundation application.
Eye primer is designed to lighten the lids and make eyeshadows appear more vibrant. It also acts as an adhesive for long-lasting creaseless shadow application. Some eyeshadow primers even have glittery or metallic finishes to change the appearance of eyeshadows.