Answers to 15 of the Most Common Makeup Questions

by Ivy Boyd

Answers to 15 of the Most Common Makeup Questions

As a makeup artist and beauty blogger, I’ve heard it all. The world of makeup and skincare is vast and confusing, so I’m here to break it all down and answer the questions I get the most. If you want a crash course in makeup, read on!




Why does my foundation look orange?





This makeup question goes back to color theory and primary colors. Most undertones are either pink or yellow. If your foundation looks peachy or orange, it’s probably the wrong undertone. If you have very yellow skin and choose a foundation with too much pink in it, you’ll look orange. If you’re more on the neutral or pink side and use a foundation that is too golden, you’ll have the same effect. Red + yellow = orange. Pink + yellow = peach/orange.


Another possible reason, though not as common, is oxidation, which has to do with your skin’s oil levels and PH. Some people’s skin reacts with foundation to cause it to change color, darkening throughout the day. To prevent this, use a primer to create a barrier between the oils in your skin and the foundation. (Related: Finding the One: How to Find the Right Foundation)




Why doesn’t my makeup last?



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This has a lot to do with your skin’s moisture levels. If your skin is dry, for example, it’s going to attempt to draw moisture from anything it can, this includes makeup. If your skin is well hydrated, it will not seek out moisture elsewhere. (See: Face It: The Moisturizer Round-Up)


If you fall on the other end of the spectrum and you have combination/oily skin, you have another issue. Oil breaks down makeup, hence why many eye makeup removers contain oil and the whole oil cleansing movement was born. When the oils of your skin interact with your makeup, they begin breaking them down. That doesn’t mean to skip moisturizer though! Your skin can produce more oil when it’s not properly hydrated so try using a lightweight gel moisturizer for a non-sticky feel. Also, mattifying primers can help to create a barrier between your skin’s oils and the makeup.




Why doesn’t my blush last?



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The order of your makeup application makes all the difference with face product longevity. If you apply blush after foundation without setting the foundation, you are allowing the oils in your skin to easily reach the blush and begin breaking it down. By setting your foundation with a setting powder, you create a barrier between it and your blush. Plus, your blush will apply smoother and more evenly, no dragging or skipping on the skin due to the “cushion” of powder you’ve created.




Why does my eyeliner smudge?



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When using pencil, cream or gel liners, any emollient products like under eye concealer or excess eye cream can break down your liner causing a slip and slide situation. The best way to prevent this is to set under eye concealer with powder right away.


Also, make sure your eye cream is completely absorbed before applying makeup. Another thing to try is setting your liner with a shadow of the same color. This will reduce any stickiness or transferring. (Related: 5 Eyeliner Rules Most Women Break)




Why do I get breakouts on the sides of my face?



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If you’re a side sleeper, when is the last time you washed your pillow case? Dead skin cells can build up on your pillowcase and clog pores. Keep a stack of fresh cases in your nightstand and switch them weekly. Also, if you spend a lot of time on the phone, swipe a cotton pad with alcohol over your phone at least once a week. (Related: 13 Skincare Tips: How to Get Clear Skin Fast)




Why do I have to wash my makeup off?



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Your pores can become enlarged if you habitually sleep in your makeup. At night is when your skin repairs and rebuilds and you need to give it a fighting chance with a clean slate. Skin cell mitosis is at it’s peak between 11 p.m. and 12 a.m. so make sure it’s not inhibited by layers of foundation and powder.



How do I find the right foundation shade?



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The best way to ensure your foundation shade is a hit is to head to your local Sephora or counter and try them on. Sephora’s ColorIQ device is very accurate, but you’ll still want to swatch on the skin to double check. The best place to do this is on the jaw line or for deep skin tones, try from the center of the cheek towards the jaw line. Undertone is everything, so make sure if you’re on the yellow side, you go for foundations in the same family and same for pink or neutral.




Why do someone lipsticks make my teeth look yellow?



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Lipsticks that are more warm in tone with a yellow base will cast this warmth onto the teeth. Blue based lipsticks will lend a cooler cast to teeth, hence making them brighter in appearance. (See: How to Rock Red Lipstick)




Why does my makeup look so different once I step outside?





Lighting is everything! If you get ready in your bathroom, as many do, you likely have warmer overhead lighting in a small space that sometimes doesn’t have a window. This can cause your skin to look more golden and once you step outside into more even, cooler lighting, those shades will be too intense. If possible, apply makeup in front of a window with natural daylight. If not, there are lighted makeup mirrors that have lighting similar to the outdoors or office environments.




Why is my face lighter than my body?





This is normal and to be expected, especially if you have a good skincare routine. If you regularly exfoliate your face and/or use retinol and AHA or BHA products, you are encouraging the skin cells on your face to turn over at a much higher rate than the skin on your neck and chest. This will cause your skin to look lighter as it’s newer and fresher.


Also, your neck will be lighter than your face sometimes because your face essentially shields it from the sun. Make sure your face and chest match and blend makeup down the neck to bridge the gap.




Why do I have dark circles all the time?



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We have genetics, allergies and/or lack of sleep to thank for the darkness. Your best defense against under eye circles are allergy medication if you need it, more shut eye and a color corrector under your concealer to neutralize the darkness and allow you to use less concealer in the end. If your under eye circles are red or purple, choose a yellow corrector, if more blue/brown, go for peach or apricot ones. (See: Six Natural Tips for Removing Dark Circles Under Your Eyes)




Why do I need more than one eyeshadow brush?



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If you try to use one brush for all shadow colors, your results are likely to look muddy, sloppy and you’ll find the shadow quickly overwhelms your eye.


Use smaller brushes to place colors precisely, like at the inner corner of the eye, the brow bone and the outer corner. Use larger, fluffier brushes to diffuse and soften colors and to blend areas together. By dedicating certain brushes to certain colors and areas of the eyes, you keep things looking clean and intentional. (Related: Your Ultimate Guide to Makeup Brushes)




How often should I wash my makeup brushes?



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Ideally, once every week but more realistically, once every 2 weeks. You can use a quick-dry sanitizing cleaner and a color switch sponge in between the more serious bathing sessions.




How do I choose a red lipstick?



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You’ll want to pay attention to your undertone and it will lead the way for you. If you have warm or olive undertones, more orange reds will be flattering. For neutral to pink undertones, a more blue-based red will work for you. Orange reds lean more towards coral and watermelon shades. Blue reds are more berry-like and lean towards fuchsia almost.




Why doesn’t my lipstick stay on?



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If you don’t use a lip liner, start. A lip liner does a myriad things and one of them is increasing the longevity of your lip color. Because a lip liner is a dryer, more matte texture than lipstick you give your lipstick something to anchor to. By outlining and filling in the lips, you create barrier between wet tissue and the lipstick.


Also, when your lipstick does begin to fade, you’ll have the lipliner underneath as a backup. Unless you are wearing very matte liquid lipsticks however, plan to reapply. Lipsticks is an emollient, movable texture and it’s a bit unreasonable to think you shouldn’t have to reapply after eating or drinking. (See: The Secret to Long-Lasting Lipstick)