With makeup getting smarter by the day, it’s no surprise that the tips and tricks for the best ways to apply it are, too. We asked Chicago makeup artist Krystyn Johnson what mistakes she sees women making and exactly how to remedy them. Whether it involves bronzer, brows, or brushes, no need to worry—we’ve got your back.
Mistake: Using a Warm-Toned Bronzer to Contour
When it comes to bronzer, you may think it’s all about the golden glow—but that warm glow actually looks unnatural. Shadows, even those on the face, are naturally cool in tone, says Johnson. She says that for contouring, it’s key to use a matte bronzer in a cool undertone for believable definition. Johnson likes the Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Bronzer ($28, sephora.com).
Mistake: Applying Foundation with a Flat Brush
Just image search the words “foundation brush,” and you’ll see that people have no clue what it is. Typically, the brushes marketed for foundation are flat—but Johnson says that using a flat brush causes streaks in your foundation. Instead, use a large duo fibre brush, such as M.A.C. 187 Duo Fibre Face Brush ($42, maccosmetics.com). Use it to gently tap your foundation into the skin in circular motions for a flawless, airbrushed finish.
Mistake: Blending Your Shadow with the Same Brush
It’s common knowledge that blend-blend-blending is the key to a flawless smoky eye, but if you’re blending with a dirty brush, you’re not going to like the end result. The purpose of blending is to achieve a gradient effect with soft, sexy edges—but using a brush with residual shadow on it will only add more color in places you don’t want it. Johnson recommends using a clean, fluffy brush and blending in a windshield wiping motion. With the same brush, swirl in small motions until all harsh edges are gone.
Mistake: Matching Eyebrows to Your Hair Color
Johnson says this is a surefire way to look like a mannequin. Naturally, eyebrows are a completely different shade than your hair (they’re generally one or two shades lighter or darker). Follow this rule of thumb when picking out your brow pencil: If you have light hair, choose a color one or two shades darker; and if you have dark hair, choose a color one or two shades lighter.
Mistake: Applying Mascara in One Upward Stroke
When it comes to lashes, a little bit of added effort goes a long way—literally. Johnson says one of the biggest mistakes clients make is applying a coat of mascara in one upward stroke, which doesn’t maximize the lengthening and volumizing capabilities of the product. Instead, she recommends applying two to three coats, wiggling the wand back and forth from the base of the lashes to the tips as you go.
Mistake: Piling on Powder to Set Makeup
Not only does this make your skin look dry, unnatural, and cakey, but it also clogs your pores, says Johnson. While this is a traditional way to make makeup last, there is another, better way: setting spray. Johnson swears by Skindinavia Oil Control Makeup Finishing Spray ($29, skindinavia.com), which controls shine by absorbing excess oil and keeps your makeup in place all day.
Mistake: Using White Liner to Make Eyes Look Bigger
A few years back, white liner was big in the beauty community because it supposedly made eyes look larger by extending the whites of your eyes. Johnson warns that the starkness of the white now looks dated and unnatural. Brands from Make Up For Ever to Rimmel are formulating light, peachy pencils that look much more natural and make your eyes look just as wide awake. Sub in your white liner for one in this color, like Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes Inner Rim Liner ($19, sephora.com).
*This story was originally published on WomensHealth.com.