What mistakes did you make when you first started wearing makeup?

I definitely didn’t blend as much as I could have (or should have). I often wore tons of eye makeup but didn’t pay attention to the rest of my face (like at all) as well.

— Christine


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Ana Maria Avatar

Same… I was just simply slapping things on my face. 😆
Blending foundation and concealer? Never!
Blending eyeshadow in the crease? What’s that? heck, I think I used for years those sponge applicators that come in eyeshadow palettes.

But I made that mistake later on as well. When I started filling my brows (some might not be able to imagine a time when people wore full face of make-up but no eyebrows 😀 ), I never blended the product in. Now I always blend with a spoolie.

Nikki Avatar

Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t completely depend on those sponge applicators anymore, but they can be useful-for example, if I need to layer several shadows and don’t want to clean as many brushes, I can lay down the main shadow with a brush and use sponge applicators to do some of the other parts.

Celesta Avatar

I wouldn’t call them mistakes necessarily… just lack of knowledge. I didn’t wear a lot of eyeshadow when I first started to wear make up, so I had no idea how to blend. I didn’t really wear bronzer, so I didn’t know what shade matched my skintone best. It was all just a learning curve and I’m still learning!

Sandra Avatar

1. GIRL, SAME. I was so focused on getting my eye looks to look good — WITHOUT ANY MATTES to speak of — that I didn’t care much about the rest of my face.

2. I didn’t wear blush until I was about 20, and back then there was no such thing as YouTube or even blog reviews. So I went with overhyped products like NARS Orgasm and wondered why it looked so very pink on me.

3. Man, the sperm brows. ?

Linda Avatar

I made the same mistake with the lack of proper blending. I also didn’t use the correct tools; I only had one or two different eye brushes; I would always use that foam-tipped applicator that was included with eyeshadows (ugh).
It’s only been within the last few years that I really renewed my interest in makeup, and this time using better techniques and better tools. (also being able to afford better quality cosmetics is a huge help!)

Ana Maria Avatar

Oh… the mysteries of skintone and shade matching… living back in Europe I would just grab the second lightest shade (I mean, in my home country 10-15 years ago having 4-5 shades was the norm). Never minded if it’s too yellow or pink. Flashback? What’s that. I cringe when I look at old photos of myself with make-up on.

Rachel R. Avatar

I started wearing a full face in the mid-80s. There were no primers back then, and I had no idea how to deal with my super-oily skin. My foundations oxidized too dark and too orange. I didn’t keep looking for new ones, because the shades matched when I first put them on, and the brands were what my friends wore.

I had no idea how to properly conceal zits. I was dumb and used drug store concealer sticks. Just awful.

I had no idea how to keep eyeshadows from creasing on my deep-set, somewhat hooded eyes. Ditto for keeping pencil liner on the top lid from transferring (I switched to liquid liner after awhile). Again, no primers. No setting sprays back then, either. (MUAs used hairspray!)

bridget Avatar

1. I still don’t wear much eye makeup, mostly because I feel I don’t know how to blend eyeshadows together. everytime I attempt a look, it seems messier than on other people.

2. not paying attention to my face as you said. When wearing certain lipsticks, I never cared about applying foundation to my face, getting rid of darker or redder spots in my skin. I thought the lipstick color just didn’t suit me. After watching some Lisa Eldridge tutorials on youtube, I realized that if you wanted to rock red lipstick, you’d better conceal red spots all over your face. Same with rocking a nude or a mauve. that sometimes when the lipstick doesn’t suit you, you can elevate it using the correct blush/foundation/concealer and eye makeup.
many great lipsticks were donated because of my naive “apply lipstick and voila!” approach

Sabrina Luce Avatar

I couldn’t conceive the concept of a little goes a long way. Thick, single shade, frosted eyeshadow (it was the early 80’s) all the way up to my brow bone, black mascara doubling as eyebrow filler and so much blush I would hit pan within a month. There’s no wonder why my painted face never made it past my bedroom door before my mother made me wash it off. To this day I may play with but never go out in over-the-top glam feeling my mother’s disappointment.

AJ Avatar

So, so many mistakes… Here’s a few favorites.
1. Just buying whatever the sales person at Ulta told me I needed.
2. The less said about the first time I tried black eyeliner, the better.
3. It was a long, long time before I learned that brows were a thing I could and should do (my brows are naturally light so they almost disappeared, and I favor heavy, bold eye makeup).
4. I learned that I needed to wash my brushes, but not how to wash them, so of course I submerged them completely in soapy water.
5. Over-lining my already full lips. I ended up looking like a clown.

Anne Avatar

I was a little older than most when I started wearing makeup. After about 3 years or so of experimenting and practicing, I thought (ha!) I had become fairly decent at buying and applying it. That’s when I met (through an acquaintance) a highly respected professional in LA who did quite a bit of studio work (television and movies) on various ‘famous’ people. I only spoke with her once and it was fairly brief. (She was a busy lady. I was a nobody.) Summing up the criticism (just leave your ego at the door with this woman!), she basically told me 3 things that I’ve never forgotten: First, I was wearing too much. Second, I was wearing the wrong colors (everything as it turned out!!!). Third, my brows were a mess. It was a humbling experience, but she was right, of course. It was tough love (rattled off like a machine gun — ouch), but I learned a lot from her honesty. Steep learning curve thereafter — and best makeup advice ever. So, to answer today’s question: I made so many mistakes that I didn’t realize how many mistakes I was making!

xamyx Avatar

Following the “advice” in magazines in regard to what shades would be flattering for my “coloring”. The problem with this was that ones overall coloring was never taken into account… Being fair, I opted for lighter shades; however, having such dark eyes just didn’t work. Also, having naturally deep auburn hair meant cooler tones made me look washed-out, although the “advice” given was having a neutral undertone & brown eyes meant I could wear “anything”… There was alot of trial & error, but I did finally figure things out, and dying my hair black or dark brown made things easier (and work best with my overall aesthetic).

Brows were more of an “afterthought” back then, and really only of concern to “older” women, so aside from a bit of clear mascara, I did nothing, until the mid-90s… Around 1994 came the “skinny brow”, and since I had absolutely no clue how to make my brows look presentable, I jumped onto that bandwagon. Unfortunately, 25 years later, my brows still haven’t recovered…

Not exactly makeup, but still related, was using skincare popular amongst my oily-skinned peers, and being inundated with advertising directed to teens. The problem with this was I’ve always had normal-dry skin, and I couldn’t figure out why I was constantly breaking out, although I was diligent with skincare. It wasn’t until I started using “prestige” brands skincare lines, meant for “adult” skin, that my skin cleared up. Back then, I just thought it was due to being “better products”, but the reality was it had to do with incompatibility.

Not so much a “mistake”, just a matter of the times, using foam-tipped applicators… Simply put, we just didn’t have widespread access to brushes, and used what was available. When the ones that came with product wore out, we’d just buy packs of new ones, or use Q-tips.

Finally, using those little red Maybelline pencils on the waterline, after taking the tip to a lighter…

Seraphine Avatar

Yes, the 1990s skinny brow! I tried it one time and wound up looking like an alien! I let them grow back and only plucked strays, using Maybelline clear mascara to keep them in place. I had such beautiful brows until chemo killed them. And those little red Maybelline brow pencils…yes, I remember using them as eyeliner!

Nancy T Avatar

Every mistake you could think of! ?
1.) Not bringing my eyeshadow up far enough for my heavily hooded, almond shaped eyes.
2.) Not using a lip liner or blotting a red or burgundy lipstick. Yikes.
3.) Not using eyeshadow primer. Not my fault, because it didn’t exist!
4.) Not having a proper foundation match…oh dear! Again, not my fault.

xamyx Avatar

I don’t think any of us had a decent foundation match back in the day, LOL! Unfortunately, a “diverse” shade range consisted of 10-12 shades, and were pink on the fair end, and yellow on the “deep” end… On the plus side, at least we were all walking around like that!

Ana Maria Avatar

Except everything else mentioned (and then some more), I think that a big mistake I did at the beginning was purchasing specific shades, just because influencers / media recommended them.
I later learned that the subtle variances in skintone make every shade differently on me; that I don’t need the ABC red lipstick shade everyone raves about; maybe the same formula is great for me, but I shade XYZ looks better (and no one recommends).
That even if everyone recommend MAC Woodwinked (wild example), maybe Antiqued is a copper than looks more flattering on me than that.

Deborah S. Avatar

I have mentioned this experience on the blog in the past but my first experiences with makeup were from a friend’s mom who was an MUA and then another friend who was a model so luckily I had good instruction from the beginning. My biggest issue was in foundation matching and that is my big issue today. Like many people, I have a huge difference between my face and my neck/chest area. I have come to believe that even my undertones are different. I believe my face leans pretty pink and my neck and chest pretty yellow. Some warm toned foundations that match my body, just don’t look right over my pink toned face and vice versa. I am trying to stick pretty neutral these days but since brands don’t know what the difference between cool, neutral and warm is, they make it pretty difficult. Add to that the fact that sometimes there lightest shade is numbered higher than their lowest shade and it becomes a real crap shoot.

Helene Avatar

I think I also have different undertones on face and chest, but if I go with the warmer tone, the chest one, I look completely horrid. I did however really believe I had warm almost medium skin on my face. Most matches at counters matched me with too warm and too dark foundations.
Then one day when I was about to just give up I was told at the Bobbie Brown counter that I had light skin with neutral undertones.

Deborah S. Avatar

Frustrating isn’t it!!! There are just so many variables, undertone, depth of shade, formula, finish, price etc. I have to do a lot of shopping on-line and with foundations it is practically impossible.

Helene Avatar

I thought I’d try Pat McGraths new foundation, I gave up, it’s just too expensive to buy unseen. I do wish they’d offer samples in the online stores. They do in physical stores, When I bought a foundation from Charlotte Tilbury they sent three samples, the one you had ordered, and the ones next to it, darker and lighter. I thought that was a really good idea.
Foundations are probably the thing hardest to find the right one of of all makeup related things.

Deborah S. Avatar

I completely agree and I think all brands should do what Jouer use to do, not sure if they still do, but you could order a sample set for something like $4 and they would send you blister packs of 6 shades so you could pick the one you wanted before you even buy it.

Caroline Avatar

For me, it was HUUGE rings of thick, thick black eyeliner all over the lower rim, a la Alice Cooper. I was 16 at the time and thought I looked really great!!

Mary Avatar

Oh everything! Wrong colors, poor application , non existent blending, didn’t stop me though! Lol…( much to my poor Catholic conservative Moms dismay:)
I persisted! ,!

Mariella Avatar

Oh gosh….I’ve been wearing makeup for close on 50 years and styles have changed considerably over the years so some of my “mistakes” were really just following the fads of the 60’s, which were pretty extreme – white eyeshadow with heavy black liner, concealer (Max Factor’s Erase) as lipstick, painting lashes under my own lower lashes with cake eyeliner, a la Twiggy – stuff like that. I suppose my genuine “mistakes” would be applying concealer BEFORE foundation and also wearing things like coral or apricot lipsticks and blushes – shades which really clash with my cool colouring. I imagine that when I read through others’ replies, I’ll be muttering “Oh, yeah, I did THAT too!” a whole lot.

Anna Avatar

Biggest mistake? Buying every new release instead of checking Temptalia.com to see if I had dupes of the shade in my stash, or check the review to see if it was even any good!

Seriously, Christine, you’re a godsend–I stopped and thought today what the hell I’d do without this website. WOW. Probably buy tons of bad makeup and regret it. Thank you for everything that you do and how hard you’ve worked all these years!

Nikki Avatar

I’d call colored mascara more of a personal choice than a mistake or a trend. I myself really like matching or coordinating my mascara to one of the eyeshadows in my look, and when I wear a neutral mascara I prefer burgundy over black or brown.

Liz Avatar

I had really bad, scarring acne when I was a teenager and didn’t realize the skin care products and makeup I was using made it worse. So sometimes I would just give up and not wear any makeup ( most of college while I was a cross country and track athlete). I later learned to use skin care products that are gentle and could then use make up that enhanced my features. I think not having good quality foundation or the right shade of foundation was my next mistake. I feel like I am finally on track with my go-to products.

Jackie Avatar

I think I made every mistake one could possibly make! Not blending, not using brushes…just whatever applicator came in the package, using blue eyeshadow, thick eyeliner…I looked like a clown!

Gamze Avatar

The first makeup items I bought were a black liner and a mascara. I would frame my eyes with that eyeliner, including the waterline, but it looked horrible on me because of my eye shape (very large and somewhat protruding dark eyes). I did it a couple of times, thankfully at night, was criticized by my friends and never wore eyeliner on my waterline again to this day. Also, I had severe transferring issues due to my very hooded lids, the eyeliner wouldn’t last an hour on my upper lashline. Since I’m a cool winter type, I discovered the power of lipstick and gave up eye makeup entirely except for some mascara on my upper lashes. In recent years, I re-discovered eye makeup, this time with gel eyeliners and cream shadows.

Alison Avatar

I had no clue about skin tones and undertones. Being fair olive– in other words cool yellow undertones– was so frigging confusing. I wore rose gold and peach, which made me look green. I basically based my looks on what SA’s sold me — and it was always totally different. I remember one was an all burgundy look. Then there was the ochre yellow look. A TF SA at Bergdorf’s told me that I should only wear gold, silver, and platinum on my eyes. And more and more I realize he was more right than I realized at the time. And I had no thought of wearing concealer, which I really need. Liner was too thick. And all my lipsticks were brownish reds– which is go-to, but it was a revelation that I could wear pink, magenta, or red-oranges on my lips. Because the strange upside of my coloring is that apart from coral, I can wear most any lipstick shade.

Pearl Avatar

I’m sure all of them, including:
1. Stripes on the eyes instead of blended and diffused
2. Nothing but eyes and lips, I never really wore any cheek products
3. Everything hardpanned in about a month because I never used brushes and re-used my grimy powder puffs or sponges. Thank God for brushes, or rather my learning about them and using them instead.
4. Packing everything on with equal measure – cake face, extreme crease, extreme eyeliner.

Viva la learning curve!

Norma Lewis Avatar

Let’s see if I can list the most important, there are so many:
1. Not understanding the importance of primer and foundation type for my oily skin
2. Too heavy on the blush
3. Not understanding the important of placement of products for face shape and eye shape
4. Not understanding that UD Naked isn’t nude for many, over the years I’ve built my own nude palette from single eyeshadows. It closely resembles Mented Cosmetics’ Nude eyeshadow palette

Helene Avatar

I have read all the answers to this question and I agree, I did all of the things mentioned, but back then it wasn’t mistakes. The few times I got any tips was at the counters and in the magazines. And then it was the 80s 🙂 I just looked at a photo of me from the early 80s (I am that old) and I think I looked really good on it, the makeup is very natural, but it is there. So at least sometime I managed to get it to look really good. Other times, not so much 🙂
The one thing I had a hard time with when I started using makeup was mascara, it was often quite clumpy, then I learned to take a needle and separate the lashes so that’s two huge mistakes. I never pricked my eyes though.
I think after buying my first Kevyn Aucoin book the worst of my mistakes, or ignorance was cured.
Thank you Kevyn, my first makeup guru, you left us way too soon!

Karen Johnston Avatar

I did not pay attention to the tones of color cosmetics. I went to quite a bit of trouble to be sure that the shades and undertones were correct in my foundations and base makeup but was oblivious when it came to eyeshadow, blush and lip color.

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