The Ultimate Makeup DOs and DON'Ts!


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Makeup tips fill the pages of fashion magazines, beauty blogs, and YouTube videos galore. Although well-intentioned, most of this so-called "advice" is confusing, contradictory, completely impractical, or unnecessarily complicated. What's worse, following some of the recommendations can even harm your skin, and that's never pretty!
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Rather than leaving you to sort through all of those tips on your own, we've compiled a list of the ultimate makeup DOs and DON'Ts. Follow these tips and no matter what your skill level, you can achieve a gorgeous look without wasting your money or harming your skin! Now that's what we call beautiful!

Makeup DOs

  • DO use a foundation that matches your skin tone exactly. Your best bet is to try on a foundation in the department store before you buy it. Drugstore options are often brilliant, but you can't try them on, and trying to make do with the wrong color will lead to nothing but problems. Apply the foundation from your cheek down past your jaw. You're not going to wear foundation on your neck, but you want to make sure it looks natural from your face to your neck.
  • DO apply foundation on your eyelids up to the brow. Applying foundation on your eyelids will help eyeshadows go on smoothly and cover any redness, giving your entire face an even and smooth appearance.
  • DO use complementary makeup colors. Think of your blush and lipstick as an outfit you're going to wear on your face. For example, if you are wearing a pink lip color, make sure your blush is in a similar color family. You wouldn't wear a pink skirt and an orange top, would you? DON'T wear that on your face either.
  • DO apply eyeliner as close to the lash line as possible. A soft black, grey, or charcoal brown shade can beautifully enhance your lashes and frame your eye. Be sure to get the liner between the lashes; it's helpful to use a magnifying mirror to be sure you place it exactly. If the outer corners of your eyelids have begun to droop, make sure the eyeliner turns up ever-so-slightly, so you DON'T emphasize the drooping.

    For the lower lash line, for daytime, it's best to use a softer color than you do for the upper lash line. Lining all the way around your eye in black is an extreme look that's best saved for nighttime, if ever.

    Helpful hint: Powder eyeshadow can also be worn as eyeliner. Apply it wet or dry with a fine-tip brush.
  • DO shade and define your eyes. Eyeshadow is all about enhancing your eye area, not coloring it. It's best not to use eyeshadow colors that match your eye-blue eyeshadow does not make blue eyes look better, it just looks out of date and overdone, which is why you rarely see examples of this in fashion magazines. Shades of brown (there are dozens and dozens) all the way to black allow for an amazing range of sophisticated, glamorous, elegant, and classic looks.

    Helpful hint: Learn more eyeshadow tips.
  • DO consider the intensity of your blush with your skin tone. If you have fair to light skin, then pale pink, rose, or peach blush shades are more flattering than deep berry or plum shades, which can make your cheek area look bruised. In contrast, women with medium to tan skin tones can look gorgeous with berry or plum-hued blush, and also can opt for russet, or even mahogany shades.
  • DO use professional makeup brushes. You'll be surprised at how beautiful your makeup looks when you apply it with full-size, high-quality brushes rather than with the tiny, cheap applicators that often come packaged with makeup. Investing in a set of good brushes is one of the wisest beauty moves you can make!
  • DO check your makeup in a magnifying mirror. What you can't see, you can't fix; for example, makeup settling into the fine lines around your eye or perhaps into the folds around your mouth. Applying a little powder directly over the line, and then blending upwards and out can keep everything in place, but you have to see it up close to do it right. Any mirror of 4X magnification or greater (depending on your eyesight, of course) will do the trick, and these mirrors are widely available, at most drugstores, Bed Bath & Beyond, and beauty supply stores.

Makeup DON'Ts

  • DON'T wear full makeup every day. It isn't necessary to wear a full eye design every day … consider a simpler look for your daily life. Foundation, concealer, lipstick, blush, eyebrow shapers, if needed, a little powder, and mascara is plenty. Eyeshadow is great, but it's also time consuming, and it'll look bad if you try to slap it on in the few minutes you have in the morning.
  • DON'T use emollient/greasy concealers on blemishes or the undereye area. Emollient products will either clog pores or slip into lines … all day long.
  • DON'T use a concealer that is too light or too dark. Using the wrong color concealer will make your eye area look strange. Use a flesh-tone concealer (that means no yellow, orange, or lavender tones) that is just a shade or two lighter than your foundation.
  • DON'T skip lip color. Adding a pop of color to your lips can brighten up a washed out face and polish your overall look. Experiment to see what colors and intensities look best for your skin tone, and DON'T be afraid to be bold or step out of your comfort zone. Keep in mind that small, thin lips look best with brighter, vivid colors, and larger lips do better with softer shades. Avoid dark colors because they make lips look ominous and Gothic.

    Helpful hint: Red lips can make a beautiful, dramatic statement; just keep it on the brighter side, as opposed to magenta, purple, or brown. The best way to tell you are wearing a beautiful lip color for your skin tone is the number of compliments you get from your friends and family.
  • DON'T overdo mascara. Clumped mascara is distracting and messy looking. Learn absolute essential mascara application tips.
  • DON'T stripe on blush. Use a great blush brush, a soft color, and apply it using light, sweeping strokes. You should see no lines where the blush stops and starts. Blending a little powder on over your blush can soften any lines.
  • DON'T overdo your eyebrows. Brows that are drawn-on, pencil-thin, overly sparse, strongly arched, or too heavy or thick can make you look older than you really are; plus they can look harsh and dated. If you're at a loss as to what to do for your brows, make an appointment with a brow specialist, who can guide you to the right brow shape and show you effective grooming techniques. Many salons and spas offer this service, or ask around at your favorite cosmetics department.
  • DON'T glob on lip gloss. Too much gloss can make it look like you're drooling instead of adding a beautiful shine to your lips. If you have lines around your mouth, avoid glossy, slick, or creamy lipsticks because they'll quickly bleed into the fine lines, and they won't last past mid-morning before you need a touch-up.
  • DON'T get carried away with glitter and shine. A little extra shine or glitter can spice up an evening look, but during the day it's just distracting, kind of like wearing a sequined gown to the office. However, there are many "radiance-boosting" makeup products that forgo that obvious, distracting shine in favor of a subtle luminosity. Beautypedia to discover which products are best for achieving this look.
  • DON'T over-moisturize around your eyes. Too much moisturizer encourages concealers and foundations to travel right into the very lines you're trying to hide. If you feel you need an extra-emollient moisturizer around your eyes, apply it at night after you've removed your makeup, and use lighter-weight products during the day.

Now that you know the ultimate makeup dos and don'ts, with a little practice and a dash of finesse, you'll be on your way to looking gorgeous, healthy, and vibrant in no time!

The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here: The same type of in-depth research used to create this article is also used to formulate Paula’s Choice Skincare products. You’ll find products for all skin types and a range of concerns, from acne and sensitive skin to wrinkles, pores, and sun damage. With Paula’s Choice Skincare, you can get (and keep) the best skin of your life! See Paula's Choice Makeup.

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and helping you solve your skincare frustrations with research-supported expert advice—so you'll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.

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