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What is the worst makeup advice you’ve been given?

I think the worst is when people tell you, without you asking, that something doesn’t look good on you – it’s one thing when I ask or if it’s coming from my BFF of all time (maybe), but sometimes I’ll like the way something looks on me, even when others don’t, and it always makes me feel a little less confident. I can surely overcome that feeling, but you just never know what lens someone sees themselves through 🙂 On the flip side, people will often say X looks good on them, Y doesn’t, but those who see them will say the opposite – ultimately, we have to wear what we love and feel good about wearing.

— Christine

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175 Comments

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When the staff at makeup counters ‘recommend’ a shade for ‘my skin’ but it’s about 5 shades darker than my skin tone

Except in my case, it’s two shades too light. I live in a heavily Hispanic area and SA’s often assume I’m ivory or ecru because I’m a green-eyed blonde but warmer shades are more flattering on me.

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Any kind of advice that insists on following a trend, regardless of whether or not it works for me. I’m sure we all have embarrassing makeup looks from our past, but there are a few in mine that were brought on by following along with some teen magazine, even though it went against what looks right for me. (My eyebrows took an especially brutal hit in middle school, but I also wore way too many frosty pastels that clashed with my tan skintone.) If I like a trend, try it, and can’t make it work in a way I feel good about, I move on!

The worst advice I see is for older women to tone things down, go more muted , etc. I think that is crazy! I know my lips need red lipstick because the natural color is not there anymore. My eyes need eyeliner more than ever because older eyes tend to just fade away and lack definition. I realized my eyebrows were thinning out so I got some brow re grower. Super! You don’t want to ever tone things down. Live!

I agree! At 50 I do need to go lightly with foundation and powder, but the more color I wear, the better I look!

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You are so right, Teija! As we get older we lose some pigment and features become less well-defined. I’ve got no intention of just fading away because someone else would prefer that I become invisible!

You are so right! I agree 100%. Why would any woman want to look faded out – dull? When I put on my make up and add the blush, lipstick and eyeliner at the end, I look alive! Fresh, healthy and happy. As long as women don’t go overboard, color is beautiful : )

I absolutely agree! I hate it when people say when you are a certain age you cannot wear this or that makeup, or clothes. I will wear makeup that makes me feel good about my self,not what people deem is age appropriate.

OMGGGG I feel the same way too. I never knew makeup comes with a certain age. People often say the older you get, the less makeup you should use because it shows all your wrinkles. Bull I say. If you use a good moisturiser, primer, foundation, cover up,etc, the wrinkles will blend in. I see so many older women follow this advise, and I feel they look 10x older then their age. I rest my case. LOL

I totally agree Teija!! The older I get, the more important color is. A little bit of blush and a bright lip can brighten up the face and knock years off. So can filling in my brows with powder. And eyeliner and shadows can give a nice definition and lift to eyes. I swear the more muted colors (matte taupe shadows, nude lips) make me look 10 years older and sick, too!

I’m onboard this train too. Ya know I just read one too many vlogs or listened to one too many youtubers and started thinking I should be wearing only matte eyeshadows at my age…I’m 46. After about a month I was feeling down on myself. I couldn’t put my finger on why, I just lost my inner confidence. Strut? Swag? Mojo? Lol Whatever you call it, I lost mine. I started to realize I had bought in to this line of total BS about after “45”. I call BS on that or any other “rule” that says my age should dictate my dang eyeshadow. If rocking a sparkly lid makes me feel fabulous then the product worked!

I agree. I am 61 (albeit with great skin) and love colorful eyeshadow and lipstick. I think the key is finding colors that flatter you and applying them well. Good formulations are even more important for more mature women because eyelid skin, for example, does sag a bit so we need shadows and liner that glide on beautifully and stay put all day.

Over-plucking my brows during the ’90s because all the celebs and magazines were touting that look –it took decades to grow some of the hairs back, and some didn’t grow back at all

You are not alone. Fortunately, my Pamela Anderson, “rainbow shaped” brows are gone but like you said. It NEVER grows back. (conversely, the unibrow I inherited from my Italian side is still popping up now and then)

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That for mature lids, you should only wear matte shadows. That may be for some but not for these maturing lids! It actually shows more texture and makes it look more . . .stark, I guess, overall. At least for right now, I can still get away with using all the finishes (even some ‘adult’ glitter) and it’s a much more seamless, blended look for me.

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This rule is a strange one. I’m not that old and even in my early 20’s certain matte shadows and Matte primers (the old Eden formula from Urban Decay, not the new one.) made my lids 100% more textured than anything else.

Your primer sometimes has the most impact on how the texture of your lids look and shimmery shadows can help hide it, but not the smoother pearl finish one.
WARPAINTandUnicorns Recently Posted: Kat Von D Shade & Light Eye Contour Palette and Brush : Swatches & Review

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Hmmmm – I didn’t think of that, about the primers. I was looking at my eye makeup yesterday and noticing how textured my lid looked and now that I think about it, I do notice it the most whenever I ve used Urban decay’s regular primer potion. I don’t have this issue with other primers. Interesting – thanks for the tip!

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Pearl, I noticed this problem, I used to use MAC Paint Pot in Painterly (I’ve got really oily and hooded lids), and it started making everything look so dry. So I switched to NARS Eye Paint in Porto Venere because it’s shimmery (and the shimmery Paint Pots all crease on me). Sephora doesn’t carry it so I get it at Blue Mercury or order it from Nordstrom (it looks great on its own, with just tightlining and mascara, when I don’t have time for a full eye look).

I work in cosmetics (my moonlight job) and it is so hard to convince older women to wear satin eyeshadow. I wish the matte eyeshadow advice had never been put out there; most older women (myself included) look better in satins because matte shadows emphasize wrinkles in the eyelid. And yes, I still love and rock the straight up sparkle and glitter shadows–not because I refuse to act my age but because they actually looke GOOD on me.

Just my opinion but I think mattes are so blah – dull. I prefer a bit of a shine too! Satins are lovely on most everyone I think.

I totally agree! I’m 45 and even though my lids are still pretty smooth, I can’t seem to do an all-matte shadow look, it ages me like 10 years! I look so much better in satin/metallics/glitters or at least a mix of matte and shimmer shadows. Something about the shimmer helps blur fine lines and adds a nice sparkle to the eye. They tell more mature women not to wear matte foundation because it can emphasize wrinkles/fine lines, but all matte shadows can do the same.

You’re so right! Mature doesn’t have to be boring. But, I’ve seen younger women with textured skin that don’t look good in sparkle. Also, yellow undertone foundation doesn’t look good on everyone-or make you look younger. Especially if you are very pale/with pink undertones.

I’ve had people (including some legit makeup artists) given me weird tips for applying eye makeup to my hooded eyes. They don’t seem to understand me when I say that when you don’t have visible lids, and when your eyes are already on the bigger side, it doesn’t take a lot of product to make things look heavy. Your eyeballs already take up so much space on your face. Of course, this is a quirk of facial structure that a lot of women enjoy playing with, but it’s weird when actual makeup artists don’t get it.

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I totally understand this! Even though we probably don’t have the same type of hooded eyes, I do have hooded but very round eyes, and my eyes and brow bones are more flat if looking from the side (like most East Asians do). Most of the times, the MUAs at makeup counters always bring eyeshadow colors all the way up to my eyebrows, which makes me look like a crown. They also tend to draw eyeliners so thick so that it’ll be visible when I open my eyes, or likely blend very dark colors from my lashline to my crease. But don’t they see that my crease is different from those Caucasion eyes who have a lot of lid space when they open their eyes! This type of makeup is really not natural or classy at all.

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Wow….yeah, without ever intending to hurt anyone, I have been guilty of a few instances of doing what you said above. Last night, a friend of over 35 years sent me a YT video on a “simple smokey eye”, asked me to let her know what I thought. The video was terrible, and I told her so. But unbeknownst to me, she HAD followed it, and liked it!!! 😳

For me, it would either be: “Don’t wear green or turquoise eye shadow, because it shouldn’t match your eyes. It takes away from them” Not true when balanced with shades strategically placed that do emphasize the eye color!
Another piece of bad advice was getting talked into getting acrylic nails….beautiful, BUT what that did to my nails from then on hasn’t been worth it! They never thoroughly recovered. First set was 16 years ago.😕

I absolutely love acrylic nails! The first set was when I was in college – yes they do go back that far. The entire nail had to be constructed instead of the nail tips they use now. I completely remove mine about once a year or more for a couple of months and then back on they go.
I can’t bear to look at my hands without nails and polish. I have not had a single problem with my nails being harmed because of acrylic.
I am sorry you did. 🙁

I bite my nails, and acrylics were the best thing to ever happen to me. They are in the best shape they’ve ever been in.

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Yeah, there’s no need to undermine someone’s confidence. I can see that someone might feel that they’re doing the right thing by letting you know but you’ve got to be tactful about these things! Flat out saying that something doesn’t suit you is not the way to go about it, if they really feel that they need to say something. Unless it’s major then you’re best to leave well alone. If someone is happy enough to leave the house wearing something then they must like it so there’s no need to hurt someone’s feelings.

For me the worst advice I’ve ever been given was when I went to my local salon to get my brows waxed. I was a new to makeup back then and interested in BareMinerals so I asked the guy who was working there if I could try it. So he colour matched me by picking what he thought worked on me and applying it all over- he didn’t show me a swatch or anything. He matched me to the shade Light. Now, bare in mind that Fair/Golden Fair doesn’t even match me, it’s too dark! He showed me my face and it was REALLY orange! His words were “it looks fine, the lighter colours are only for redheads and you’re not a redhead!” Well spotted there, you’re right, I don’t have red hair, but that doesn’t change the fact that this foundation is far too dark! You don’t need to have red hair to be pale. Argh, I was so mad. He also refused to take it off me l, saying that he was the one in charge of the makeup there and that he knew he was right in what he was saying. So I had to make my way home looking silly, with an orange face and white neck although I tried to cover it up! I was just so angry at him for acting like a jerk when I told him I wasn’t happy with the match. And for saying something so stupid. It was like I’d touched a nerve, he obviously didn’t know what he was doing. I never went back there even though I used to go all the time for my brow waxing!

This isn’t the only time I’ve been colour matched wrongly but at least the people matching me had the decency remove the foundation when I said that I want happy with it. And most of the time they were fine with it, although the odd one would try to convince me that I was wrong or that I needed a darker colour to warm my face up (what???). Nowadays I match myself because I know what works for me and what doesn’t. I seem to be a hard one to match for some MUAs, maybe due to my undertones being so neutral and a bit weird (non-existent/translucent), plus the lighting can sometimes deceive you into thinking it’s a match when it’s not.

Sorry for the long post. It’s something I’ve had lot of problems with but someone telling me that can’t be pale because I’m not a redhead was a first! And I’m not keen on looking orange/yellow/whatever because I supposedly should go for a foundation that adds colour to my skin. I like it to match thank you very much! I do buy foundations that don’t match only if love the formula and am willing to mix the foundation to lighten it. Thank goodness for white foundation and I’ve also had a lot of success with my lavender primer for neutralizing incorrect undertones!

I’ll shut up now, I could write a novel on this subject! 😜

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omg that is sooo bad! That he made huge mistake is one thing, but that he refused to take it off is even worse. I mean, even if the color DID match but you were not just happy about the finish or you just didn’t want to go home with a face full of foundation, or anything at all, he should have taken it off…

I hear you! I went to Mac to buy some new foundation and get colour matched, but the sales associate took one look at me and decided I was white as snow and caked me in the palest foundation and topped it off with their whitest powder. I am very fair, but I have pink undertones and look alive. He literally made me look like a ghost, I had no colour in my face whatsoever. He even made some comment like “oh honey, you’re like a vampire!” as if being fair-skinned was a disease. I don’t like confrontation so I said nothing, but I definitely did not buy a single thing that day. He was so unbelievably rude!

So true – that’s why they make so many products, textures, colors, etc. because we don’t all like the same things 🙂

I love this statement. I’m all about exotic lip colors, colorful eye make ups and something like that. But most women do not wear as much make up in their everyday lives. So you get a lot of weird looks when you go out shopping in the city with blue lips. But I love it and I don’t care when people don’t like these things on me. I’m not supposed to look pretty for other people – I have to look pretty for myself

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I hate when a youtuber says “This would be amazing on ANY skin tone” just because it is flattering on her! I have cool undertones and even if I love corals, oranges and browns on other people, they look terribly unflattering on me (I only wear true orange because it creates a true contrast with my skin and I find it cool). Please, think about undertones before giving advice!

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Yes, exactly. “Everyone needs this!” Really? And it’s brown and warm? What I need are cool toned eye colors.

The other thing was a MUA who sold me on all these very vibrant lip shades, but a number of them were not really right for my skin tone which he could not actually see in the yellow department store lights. So big mistake there, hardly ever wear them. Then there was my husband wanting me in wash-me-out nudes because they are subtler. But as luck would have it, I got sent a Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche sample of a color I would never have bought. And it turns out to be the best lip color on me ever. I got the full size and wear it constantly.

“You look more beautiful without make-up”
WHAT? EXCUSE ME? There is so many wrong things about that sentence I can’t even. I don’t want to be beautiful, I want to be a glowing star with killing eyebrows.

yes! I hate it when people say that to me. What is so hard to understand about a woman loving makeup and wanting to wear it? I don’t wear makeup for anyone else, just for me. 🙂

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That you have to consider what other people think when considering what to wear/how you wear it! Or really, that there are rules at all, other than things like “don’t appropriate other people’s culture”, perhaps.

Life is too short to not do things you want to do because you fear other people’s side-eyes (it goes double if said people are strangers). Just don’t be a jerk and you’ll be fine.

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To smile while placing blush on your cheeks. Apart from that most of the bad advice I’ve been exposed to has been about skincare in various groups where people recommend salt and sugar scrubs and lemons for the face (yikes)

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Not technically advice, but as an Asian living in Europe, I’ve encountered way too many BAs who automatically grab very yellow foundation shades for me. Or those who tell me because I’m warm toned I’d look good in….. It took me years to realize although my Asian skin definitely has yellow undertones, I’m not really warm, but definitely not cool-toned either. So I’m a neutral Asian! My skin actually looks better with foundations that a bit pink-toned even! Walaa! How difficult was that? 😛 I wish all of those BAs would’ve been educated about differences among colors a little bit more so they don’t give out generalized advices like that anymore.

Purple eyeshadow is for brown eyes. No matter what shade of purple, I look bruised and cannot pull off this color!

Try Fig 1 from MAC it makes my brown eyes look so good (I can’t exactly point out what it does). I tried other purples but they are black eye territory.

I have brown eyes and recently a Lancôme artist did my eyes with “Color Design 5 Shadow & Liner Palette” in Lavender Grace. Having recently purchased a large Nars palette and a large UD one as well, I didn’t really need any shadows but they looked SO GOOD, I am getting them ($50 for a small little set – worth it)

I hate this as well, and I experience this with my hair. I used to dye it black and I loved it (so did my boyfriend). I stopped dyeing it nearly 3 years ago and now that my natural hair colour has grown out everyone keeps saying “don’t ever dye it black again.” or “you’re never going to dye it dark again, are you?” as if they’re begging me not to. The worst was my dad’s mother, “it was too dark! A chestnut brown would be nicer.” Did I ask for your opinions? No, I definitely did not.
How about ya’ll just let me colour my hair the way I want to? ‘Cause I happened to have loved it dark! I’m not planning to return to the dark side anytime soon, but I don’t appreciate all the littler remarks either.

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Asche, I went through all that nonsense with family, especially my Mom, whenever I would catch my “Blondes have so much fun, so I’m bleaching this!” Fever!!! My Mom told me that I looked washed out and ill as a blonde, that olive and blonde looked hideous! She liked it if it was only hi-lights. But I caught it from others , too. I only stopped trying to be a blonde once I PERSONALLY realized it didn’t do me any favors.

Family, or not, if the person giving hair advice does not have absolutely awesome hair themselves, and in addition – share my personal style genre, their opinion is irrelevant.

My natural hair color is very dark brown, almost black, and one time I was at a makeup counter and the lady said “most people can’t pull that color off”, and at first I thought she was talking about the lipstick I was looking at, but she was staring at my hair, and then I realized she thought I dyed it that color. I just said well I’m sure glad I can pull it off since it’s my natural hair color! LOL! Anyway, I love it too much to lighten it like they say you should as you get older…and when it finally goes gray, I’m going to dye it all of the fun colors I want!

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I am pleased to say that it’s never been directed at me as an individual, but a lot of the written makeup advice directed at ‘older’ women (who may be only 30, not 90) is wrong on so many levels. The whole focus often seems to be that you should try to make yourself look younger than you are. And if you’re so old that you’re past that (you know, like 50 or so), and can’t afford procedures and surgery, then you should try to make yourself invisible. ‘No bright colors or shiny eyeshadow, please! lest I should have to notice your wrinkles and be reminded of my own mortality’ seems to be the general idea. And not only is it insulting, it’s designed to make me look uglier! It’s actually super-matte eyeshadows that emphasize the textured skin on my eyelids, now that I’ve actually got a lot of texture there. And muted lipstick colors just make me look tired and sick — if you look at photos of lots of women in their 70s and older, you can see that bright lipstick works well for many, if not most. The same people who don’t want any color on my face want lots of it in my hair — again, having to look at gray hair reminds us that we all prefer aging to its alternative. Look young or be invisible seems to be the mandate. Well, I refuse to conform! We should all aspire to be old someday.

Makeup that doesn’t look good on older women is makeup that doesn’t look good on anyone — blush that isn’t blended out properly, for example. But it can be more difficult to get it right when your near vision isn’t what it used to be and you can’t get the makeup on while wearing your eyeglasses. So I’m not going to criticize — I’m happy when someone feels good enough about themselves to make the effort!

Bravo, Fran! Our makeup should be determined by the size, shape, and condition of our features regardless of our physical age. And the real kicker is that many of these so-called rules for older women aren’t even particularly flattering. What you said about lipstick is an excellent example. I sometimes think that the people who come up with the silly edicts are simply out of touch.

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AMEN to that , Fran!!! I refuse to give up color, sparkle, whatever, to please others who may think a woman approaching 60 needs to “tone it down, wear matte eyeshadows, be conservative”! Oh h3ll to the NO!!!

Or older means you need really emolient skincare products. Apparently older women all have dried out skin. Um no. I had oily acne prone skin at 14, I do at 37 and I will at 65. There is never one universal for most things. Be skeptical of anything that tries to act like there is and never let anyone make you question your gut instinct. Do you. Wear what makes you happy and read ingredients not marketing promises so you get what works for YOU!

Love your comment! I have never used skincare – and not everyone’s skin is dried out when they get older – I agree with you! I just wash my face, blot it dry and it feels great!

Amen to you Fran and bravo. I’m having the time of my life with all the new makeup coming out. I love experimenting with it all. So people may think I’m too old for certain makeup or clothes. I say I’m gonna live life to the fullest and go down fighting and kicking.

I agree Fran! I’m 45, and I’m wearing more colors and shimmers on my lids/cheeks/lips than I ever did when I was younger , and I’m loving it. When I was younger, I didn’t have the confidence to pull off some of these looks, but now I do, and I’m rockin’ it 🙂 I refuse to become muted, toned down, and invisible!

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This! This x 10! The only way I’ve ever understood the advice to go matte and colorless is as an insulting suggestion that older women should fade into the woodwork and quietly wait to die! Seriously! Allow me to paraphrase: “Okay, now, the young women are what’s important here, and you don’t want anyone thinking you’re competing — that would be pathetic since you’re clearly way past your prime and useless for breeding purposes, so why bother looking good or attracting attention?” Gah!

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Oh, I know, Alecto, I know! You wouldn’t know that the people dishing out the advice ever planned on getting old themselves, would you? I wonder what, exactly, they plan to do instead?

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“Women over 40 shouldn’t wear shimmery eyeshadow”. What a load of nonsense. An all matte eye – just like an all matte face – looks dry and aging. Some shimmer is both brightening and youthful looking no matter what one’s age.

Amen to that! Good skin care and even better genes means my eyelids are in better shape at 71 than many women decades younger than me. Why should they be able to wear shimmer but I can’t just because I’m over 40? That’s completely illogical! Any advice that is so arbitrary and dictatorial is bad advice in my opinion.

I agree…I have been trying to get into the liquid matte lipstick craze…most of them make your lips so dry and old!

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