The sexiest makeup is the application no one notices. But is clumpy mascara, caked foundation or sloppy lip liner keeping you from looking your best?

Women apply cosmetics to look better, to enhance their beauty,not detract from it. ‘Your makeup should never enter the room before you do,’ says Rona Berg , author of Fast Beauty: 1,000 Quick Fixes (Workman Publishing).

Makeup Mistake #1: Dark lip liner and light lipstick

Along with spandex and big hair, Berg says, “this is one look that should have stayed in the 80s”.Choose lip liner in a shade close to your natural lip color, she says. Line and color in your pucker, then top with sheer gloss. If you use dark liner, like a red or berry shade, fill in your mouth completely, and then top with clear gloss, not a light lipstick.

Makeup Mistake #2: Lip liner extending beyond the lip line

What you learned in kindergarten still holds true: Coloring outside the lines is sloppy.

To fake a bigger pout:

1. Hug your lip line with the pencil.

2. Line just the border, but not beyond.

3. Color in your lips and apply a lip-plumping product.

4. Finish with a dab of clear or light gloss on the center of your lower lip; it will reflect the light and make your lips appear fuller.

Makeup Mistake #3: Drawn-in eyebrows

Women with lush, full brows should skip any added color; all they need are tweezers for stray hairs and?some brow gel.

To plump up sparse brows, dip an angled brush into brow powder, says Ashunta Sheriff, a makeup artist for Christian Dior, who has worked with Alicia Keys and Hilary Duff.

Move the brush along the natural line of the brow, extending it to the edge of the eye.

Do not apply too much product, and avoid using pencils, recommends Keyla Sanchez, a Venezuelan makeup artist who used to work with MAC Cosmetics.


Makeup Mistake #4: Eyeliner drawn way past the outer corner of the top eyelid

The ‘cat-eye’ (or Cleopatra) effect is sultry, but not if you go overboard.

Use a pencil if you are a beginner; liquid liner is more glamorous but requires skill and a steady hand.

Here’s how to create a perfect eye:

1. Draw a line along the root of the lashes from the inner to outer corner.

2. At the outer edge, subtly slant the line upward.

Extend the line no farther than a quarter inch past your eye (or just a tidy bit farther for a more dramatic look).

Use your eyebrow as a guide: Do not take the line past its edge.


Makeup Mistake #5: Clumpy mascara

For long, clump-free lashes, follow these tips from Berg:

  1. Before you apply, wipe the mascara wand against the opening of the tube to get rid of any excess mascara.
    Wiggling the wand from side to side, from the base of your lashes to the tips, is the way to avoid clumps.
  2. Before the mascara dries, comb through your lashes with an old toothbrush or an eyelash comb to separate them and get rid of the gunk.
  3. If you want, apply a second coat, then comb through again.


Makeup Mistake #6: Obvious line of blush

Toss out the dinky brush that came in the compact.

A bigger brush will distribute the color more evenly.

‘After you dip the brush into the blush, knock it gently on the back of your hand to get rid of excess powder,’ Sheriff says.

Smile and apply the blush in short, upward strokes on the apples of your cheeks, blending up to the hairline and ear.

‘It will give you a flushed, natural glow,’ Sheriff says.
If you apply too much, tone down the color with a light dusting of translucent powder.

Finding your best blush color may require some experimentation or a visit to a makeup counter.

But as a rule of thumb, bright colors are a do not. When in doubt, stick with a pinky/peach hue with a soft shimmer.


Makeup Mistake #7: Bright blue mascara

Teal or cerulean mascara is young, punkish and more suited for rebellious teens. Indigo and navy, on the other hand, are polished and chic for 20-somethings and beyond.

Dark blue mascara can brighten up the whites of your eyes, which is especially useful when you are tired or your eyes are bloodshot.

‘It is pretty on all eye colors and flattering to everyone,’ Berg says.

If blue still seems too outrageous, go for a more subtle look by applying regular black mascara and just tipping the edges of your lashes with blue, Berg suggests.


Makeup Mistake #8: Caked-on foundation

Suffocating your skin with a heavy cover-up will only draw attention to the problem you are trying to hide. Instead, try these tricks:

For fine lines:Mix in a little moisturizer with your foundation, which will prevent the formula from seeping into the lines.

For blemishes: ‘Mineral makeup can give great coverage for pockmarks and acne,’ Berg says.

Berg also recommends gel foundations, such as those offered by cosmetic company Chantecaille: ‘It is expensive, but it works. It looks like real skin.’


Makeup Mistake #9:Foundation line on jaw

To avoid a telltale foundation mask, the first step is to select the right shade.

Here are Berg’s tips:

1. Ask a salesperson at the makeup counter to pick out several shades, then test a few on your cheek.

2. Step outside into natural light and use a hand mirror to see which shade looks best on you.

Our necks are often a different color than our faces and chests, says Sheriff.

That is why it is important to blend foundation down into the neck for a uniform color. Use a makeup sponge to create a seamless edge.


Makeup Mistake #10: Lining eyes only halfway

A strong, hard line all the way around your eye can make your peepers look smaller and closer together, but lining them only halfway looks silly.

The solution?

‘A softer line can make your eyes look bigger,’ Berg says.

Here’s how to achieve a softer line:

1. Line your top and bottom lids at the inner edge of the iris and extend the liner to the outer corner of your eye.

2. Then, gently smudge the line toward the inner corner of your eye to create a softer look.