Remember that night you took a break from late-night snacking and Netflix binging to put on an incredibly meticulous face of makeup, contour, lashes, and all, and actually went out? And after a night of posing in eight-billion photos with your friends (we mean, you needed evidence of the rare occasion, after all), you noticed a bit of a problem with the pics: You looked like a straight-up ghost, with insanely obvious traces of white powder across your entire face? Don’t worry, your friends aren’t assholes who let you go out in public with unblended finishing powder—you just experienced good ol’ white-powder flashback, which basically every single celebrity has been victim of (lookin’ at you Angelina Jolie).
Powder flashback is an extremely common and incredibly easy mistake to make, even for the actual makeup pros who regularly work with celebrities. And it’s no fault of poor blending techniques—it’s the fault of the makeup itself, namely high-definition (HD) formulas. Unlike with most setting powders, HD powders are formulated with silica, an ingredient that reflects the flash of a camera. In videos, HD powders can give the skin a totally flawless, Photoshop-looking finish, but in photos, it’ll appear as bright white powder, which is why makeup artists rarely use silica-based powders for red-carpet events.
But before you raid your cabinet and toss your silica powders, there’s a faster fix: Don’t use them where flash photography will be present. Whoa; easy, right? Instead, try dusting your T-zone with a silica-free finishing powder, like Essence All About Matt! Powder, using a large, fluffy brush (make sure to tap off the excess, first), and maybe try taking a selfie in a dark room before heading out, just to make sure you’re safe.
Still, lucky for you, any evidence of your makeup flashback was probably deleted on the spot, unlike with the zillions of celebrities whose powder-coated faces will haunt their Googles search forever. And because we love a good throwback, we combed through every flashback episode from red carpets past and found the 12 biggest fails of all time, including looks from Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato. See all 12, ahead, and don’t forget that a little powder goes a long way.