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All of Your Trickiest Makeup Questions—Finally Answered!

Still feeling like a beauty novice after years of applying makeup? Then it's time to take note of these pro tips for avoiding common makeup blunders.

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01-the-answers-to-your-trickiest-makeup-questionsMatthew Cohen/

Foundation or concealer first?

Although many amateur makeup tutorials will instruct you to conceal your under-eye circles, acne spots, and redness first thing, the pros take a different approach. “I apply foundation first, then go back and touch up areas that need extra coverage with concealer,” says Rebecca Restrepo, Elizabeth Arden global makeup artist. That includes under-eye concealer after all your makeup is on. “That way, you can clean up any eye shadow dust and not to have build-up product on the thinnest skin of your face.”

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02-the-answers-to-your-trickiest-makeup-questionsMatthew Cohen/

How do I not get lipstick on my teeth?

Is anything as embarrassing as realizing you’ve been making conversation with your favorite bright red lipstick smudged onto your front teeth? We think not. To prevent this normal makeup blunder, you’ll have to make sure none of your lipstick has transferred onto you inner lips when you rubbed them together. “The best way to prevent this from happening is to blot the inner part of the lips with tissue,” says Sally Malanga, founder of Ecco Bella. After applying, Malanga says you should also stick a clean finger into your mouth, wrapping your lips around it, then pull the finger out. “This will remove lipstick that has migrated to the inner lip area,” she instructs. You might also want to consider using a long-wear matte liquid lipstick, which will dry like cement.

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How do I keep my mascara from smudging?

Every makeup-wearing woman knows the horror of looking in the mirror halfway through the day, only to find that your mascara has smudged, leaving you with panda bear eyes. “The best way to prevent mascara from running is to wear a waterproof version,” says Restrepo. If you don’t like wearing waterproof, then try her trick: After all your eye makeup is done, dust the area with the smallest veil of powder or blot lightly with a blotting paper.

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03-the-answers-to-your-trickiest-makeup-questionsMatthew Cohen/

What is the key to applying bronzer without looking ‘dirty?’

As much as we all want to fake glowing, tan skin, correctly applying bronzer is tricky territory. Not only can it look highly unnatural (think orange undertones and unnecessary sparkle), it’s difficult to know exactly where to apply it and in what quantities. For example, if you have a heavy hand, your cheekbones will look unnaturally brown. “It’s essential that you choose a color that is not too dark or muddy for your complexion,” says Lori Leib, creative director of Bodyography. To prevent looking dirty, Leib says, “apply just a light dusting over your cheeks and to the high points of the face where sun naturally hits (like your cheekbones, nose, and forehead).” You also need to use the correct bronzing brush, which is fluffy enough to evenly distribute the product, but flat on the top so that you can properly blend it out.

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How do I prevent my face from looking like an oil slick at the end of the day?

If you have an oily T-zone, chances are you’re no stranger to that unflattering makeup sheen that increases throughout the day. Not only does it make your face look unwashed, the oil can also cause your foundation to run. Fortunately, there is a proven secret to keeping your complexion perfectly matte. “The best way to keep your face from getting shiny at the end of the day is to blot with blotting papers and use a setting powder,” says Restrepo. “You never want to only powder—you need to remove the excess oil too.”

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04-the-answers-to-your-trickiest-makeup-questionsMatthew Cohen/

What is the best way to make my lips look fuller naturally?

Bigger lips are currently all the rage, but if you’re not careful when outlining them, you could end up looking clown-like. “It’s best to line the lips just along the vermilion border (the slope down from your cupid’s bow) and completely avoid the outer corners,” Malanga says. “Fill in the lip with liner and lipstick that reflects light. It’s best to use lighter hues or bright mid-tone shades on thinner lips. Matte, dark, or brown lipsticks only makes lips look thinner,” Malanga warns.

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How do I avoid “foundation neck”?

One of the greatest makeup mistakes you can make is solely applying makeup to your face. If you do, you’ll no doubt end up with an unflattering and unnatural contrast between your face and neck. Instead, you need to spread your foundation under your jawline, down your neck, and even onto your ears for a seamless finish. “Foundation needs to be matched to all exposed skin—not just the face,” says Leib. “So match it to your neck and be sure to blend all the way down your neck to ensure your foundation isn’t noticeably a shade lighter or darker than the rest of your body.” Not sure if your foundation is right for you? Check out these tips for finding the right foundation formula.

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How do I prevent my eye shadow from creasing?

No matter what your eye shape—deep-set, hooded, almond shaped, or down turned—you need to beware of eye shadow creasing. Cream shadow or heavy smokey eyes can be especially problematic; not only can the color transfer to your upper eyelid, an eye shadow crease can also make your makeup look days old rather than freshly applied. To avoid this, “use an eye shadow primer like Bodyography’s Canvas Eye Mousse, which will prevent shadow from creasing,” Leib advises. “Before applying your shadow, you should also lightly powder the lid with a setting powder.”

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How can I keep my makeup from drying out throughout the day?

“The best way to prevent makeup from drying out and flaking throughout the day is by being proactive about your skin care,” says Malanga. Exfoliate your skin at least once a week (more if your skin is oily) and add a drop of serum into your foundation. The final step is to spritz your skin with a vitamin spray to set and hydrate your skin, Malanga says.