I have always loved to experiment with all things beauty & makeup, so when it comes to beauty blunders my list is quite long and extensive. I sometimes go through old photos of myself and think: “Goodness, Luz… What the hell were you thinking!?” Overplucked brows, wonky winged eyeliner, bright red & platinum blonde highlights (at the same time, on the same head), mismatched foundation, radioactive bronzer, and the panda smokey eye…been there, done that!
With time you learn that some trends are better left on the runway, and others work surprisingly well in real everyday life. At this moment in time, I like to think I went through all those terrible beauty blooper phases to be able to offer guidance on what to do and what NOT to do. I’ve learned from my mistakes, and hopefully these tips will help you to avoid making the same mistakes I did. The line separating good taste from bad on the beauty front can be dangerously thin. and at the end of the day we all want to improve our beauty game – here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way:
♥ First things first, don’t pile on the foundation without hydrating beforehand. A thick layer of foundation on dry skin will look caked on, uneven and unnatural. If your skin is oily / combo, apply a lightweight lotion; if you have dry skin, start with a deeply moisturising face cream. I have combination skin (oily T-zone and normal cheek area) & I have been loving the Dirty Works 8-in-1 Miracle Cream (super affordable) and the Optiphi Moisture Control Light.
♥ You need a primer in your life, trust me. One of the first mistakes you might be making happens before you even apply your makeup. Always start with a thin layer of primer on the skin – primers help your foundation glide on smoothly, usually fill in any fines lines or pores a foundation may settle into and they prolong the wear of your makeup too. My current favourite primers are: Smashbox Photo Finish Pore Minizing Primer, Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser (which will be coming to South Africa soon, by the way), Dermalogica UltraCalming Redness Relief Primer and the L’Oréal Nude Magique Blur Cream.
♥ Don’t be guilty of choosing the wrong foundation shade, mismatching your face & your body is a BIG no-no. If you test foundation colours on your wrist or hand, you’re doing it wrong. Your face and hands are often not the same colour as they don’t get the same amount of sun exposure. Test the foundation shade on your neck for a perfect match and make sure to look at it in natural light. I know most makeup artists tell you to match the foundation to your jawline, but if you are wearing self-tan on your body (and not your face), then you could end up with the dreaded ‘foundation mask’. Take a look at this blog post to read more about the L.A. Girl Pro BB Cream – it’s a winner!
♥ Eyeliner can transform both the shape and size of your eye, and if done incorrectly, can make your eyes look small and tired. Thick, black eyeliner on the lower waterline can weigh down the eyes, especially if you already have hooded lids and droopy eyes (I have a-symmetrical hooded lids, the worst of the worst!). If you have small eyes, replace your black pencil (on the lower waterline) with a nude one to make the eyes pop. Nude eye pencils in my collection include: Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eyeliner in Angelfish, Smashbox Eye Beam Double-Ended Brightener and the Rimmel ScandalEyes Waterproof Kohl Eyeliner in Nude (not available in SA).
♥ If you’re missing a sun-kissed glow, the last thing you want to do is load up on heavy, sparkly bronzers (a light, matte bronzer is your best option). Bronzer should make skin appear sun-warmed, not radioactive. Add just enough for a believable glow, and remember to use a fluffy brush to apply a sheer layer (you can build up the layers as you go along). I am STILL guilty of sometimes applying too much bronzer around my temples and forehead – eeek! My top 2 matte bronzers are The Body Shop Honey Bronzer in Fair Matte and the Smashbox Bronze Lights in Sunkissed Matte. The MAC Extra Dimension Bronzer in Aphrodite’s Shell is also a favourite, it contains a hint of subtle shimmers to add a natural glow (it was limited edition, though).
♥ Struggling with flat & lifeless hair? Most people apply conditioner as they do shampoo i.e. starting at the top of the head and working it through the lengths of the hair. Always remember: Only the ends need the intense moisture a conditioner provides as they are more likely to be damaged (the roots are usually healthy). Applying a conditioner to the roots can weigh your hair down & create oily roots. Start at the mid-length of the hair and work your way to the ends, this will ensure added volume and you won’t have to wash your hair as often. Conditioners that are currently rocking my world are: Pantene Pro-V Repair & Protect Conditioner, Moroccanoil Extra Volume Conditioner and the L’Oréal Elvive Extraordinary Oil Nourishing Conditioner.
♥ Before I knew what a base coat was, my manicures used to chip within a day. A base coat grips the lacquer, resulting in a more durable paint job. My favourite base coats are the Essie First Base Base Coat (rubber adhesives in this base coat bond polish to the nail surface to protect colour wear), the Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Base Coat and the Morgan Taylor Stick With It Base Coat (a long-wearing basecoat that adds strength and flexibility to the natural nail for maximum sticking and staying power).
♥ I am very guilty of tweezing the heck out of my brows (whilst in high school) and I now suffer the consequences. One of the main reasons why I overplucked is because I was standing too close to the mirror and focused on every tiny hair, as opposed to the overall look of the brow. I didn’t keep track of the shape of the entire eyebrow and this resulted in thin and ultimately uneven brows. Meh… My suggestion is to pluck the few hairs that really stand out to you, then step back to evaluate. Do this until you are happy with the overall shape & symmetry of the brows – but please, keep those brows nice & full.
♥ This may sound like a no-brainer but up until the ripe age of 29, I never used to even think of doing this. Don’t neglect your neck – your skin care routine shouldn’t stop at the chin. The skin on your neck is usually thinner and more sensitive than the skin on your face and just as prone to wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. Apply your serum, lotions, creams and sunscreen to your neck and even your chest. Our hands, neck and chest are often the first areas that show aging especially because we tend to neglect them.
♥ Don’t overload on the smokey eye… I know how it goes, it all starts off so innocent. Just me, the mirror and a small eyeshadow palette. Then things start to escalate, I add a bit more dark shadow because I want to match the one eye up to the other eye. Ack! Things are getting real ugly, real fast – now I look like I got punched in the one eye, so again, I try to even it out by adding more shadow. I just keep piling, and it just gets worse… This is the stuff nightmares are made of, ladies. You spend all that time creating a beautiful base for your smokey eye makeup look (foundation, bronzer, brows, blusher) only to have to remove everything & start all over again. Rather create a subtle smoky eye by smudging black eyeliner along the upper and lower lash lines (not waterlines) and blend a mid-tone brown eyeshadow into the crease. I’m thinking of filming a makeup tutorial for an ‘Easy & Wearable Smokey Eye’ soon – what do you think?
I really wish I had a ‘beauty person’ in my life back when I was in high school – someone to give me a proper slap upside the head on the days I applied black eyeliner to the top and bottom rim of my eyes (I’m sure I resembled a raccoon).
I sometimes look at photos of me at my matric dance (prom) and although my dress was quite magnificent (my date was a total loser, though), most of the time I think: “Those brows though, girl. And the pale face that mismatched the tanned body. You are definitely a sight for sore eyes.” Perhaps that’s why my date completely ignored me and refused to dance with me. What a douche…him, not me.
Makeup can make or break a look, trust me. If you are going to a special event (wedding or party), make sure you wear the right amount of makeup – don’t cake it on, but be sure to add just enough to enhance your features. Even the Fairy Godmother added blusher, lipstick and a pair of fluttery lashes to Cinderella’s look when she transformed her from drab to fab. I’m definitely not saying you HAVE TO wear makeup every single day of your life (I don’t) but sometimes it’s nice to play around and see what works best for you. I appreciate and embrace a natural, bare face (and to be honest, nothing feels better than freshly cleansed skin), but also love the look of a full face of makeup.
Who knows, maybe one of these tips will help you ‘up’ your beauty game. You guys seem to enjoy reading the makeup & beauty tips I include in some of my blog posts, so I will try to write a post like this one every now & again.