15 Makeup Mistakes That Make You Look Older and How to Avoid Them

One of the key functions of makeup is to make us look younger. Want youthful, glowing skin? Desire eyes that look doe-like and awake? Makeup can do the trick. But even with a million makeup tutorials out there, it’s easy to make mistakes and actually make ourselves look older!

In fact, some of the biggest makeup trends out there can age our faces. (Page 11 is the perfect example of this.) Check out these 15 makeup mistakes that make you look older — and how to fix them.

Applying blush in circles

A woman applies blush on her cheeks.

This leads to uneven application. | Deniskomarov/iStock/Getty Images

For ages, ladies have been taught to apply blush to the apples of their cheeks to give them a youthful flush. But this is actually one of the biggest makeup mistakes they can commit! Reader’s Digest points out that this technique creates unnatural circles on your face and can accentuate wrinkles. Instead, sweep your blush gently along the top of your cheekbone to create a natural, streamlined flush.

Next: A big no-no involving your concealer

Using green concealer on dark circles

An illustration featuring color corrector.

Using the wrong color corrector can ruin your look. | Alena Rozova/Getty Images

Green concealer gained popularity for its ability to help camouflage dark spots and blemishes. Many people have gone so far as to use this mint-tinted cover-up on their entire under-eye area to disguise dark circle. But that’s actually a big faux pas. “If you apply concealer in the entire under eye area, it doesn’t hide dark circles — it can accentuate them,” StyleCaster explains. Instead, use less concealer in a more skin-appropriate shade. (More about that on Page 4.)

Next: While we’re on the subject of your eyes …

Applying eyeliner too thick

A woman applies eyeliner.

Too much eyeliner can make your eyes look smaller. | Sasiistock/iStock/Getty Images

Bold black eyeliner is a flattering ode to ’50s and ’60s glamour. But beware of having too heavy of a hand when applying. Reader’s Digest warns that, while eyeliner on your top lid can open up your peepers, too much of it will just make your eyes look heavy and weighed down. To keep eyes looking lively and awake, apply thinner lines in a dark grey or brown shade.

Next: A makeup mistake that plagues far too many people

Using the wrong concealer color and application

A woman looks into a mirror.

Pick out the right concealer. | Robertprzybysz/iStock/Getty Images

When it comes to under-eye concealer, the color you choose is the difference between disguising fine lines and wrinkles — or making them pop. “If the concealer is too thick or not the right color, you’re accentuating more than you are concealing,” one makeup artist tells The List. Opt for a light-weight concealer in a shade close to your skin tone — a shade too light can make it look like your have balloons under your eyes.

Next: Making up this part of your face has become a bit of a lost art

Forgetting about your eyebrows

A woman inspects her eyebrows.

Take time to focus on your eyebrows. | Deagreez/Getty Images

Reader’s Digest explains that our eyebrows become more sparse as we get older. (Especially for those with a past of over-plucking.) And loading on eyeshadow, but neglecting your brows, can make your face look older. But you don’t have to go overboard coloring them in — a brow pencil in a slightly lighter shade than your natural hair color will do the trick.

Next: Here’s a surefire way to add years to your face

Using shimmery products

A woman holds up makeup brushes.

Shimmery products can highlight wrinkles and dry skin. | Viktoria Ovcharenko/Getty Images

A little shimmer in your eyeshadow can be fun for a night out to a dimly-lit restaurant. But outside of that, shimmery makeup products will only draw attention to fine lines and wrinkles. Instead, “opt for tasteful matte shades that give the eye subtle definition without appearing too overpowering,” Daily Mail suggests.

Next: A trend for the younger set that can make anyone look much older

Wearing harsh lipstick shades

A woman applies lipstick in front of a mirror.

Stick to natural lipstick shades. | G-stockstudio/Getty Images

You may think a bold lip color will give you a fuller-looking pout, but the opposite is true. Lips thin out with age, and harsh lipstick shades make them look even thinner. This applies for dark goth-inspired shades as well as bright, vibrant reds and pinks. Opt for more neutral colors that pair well with your skin tone.

Next: While we’re on the subject of lipsticks …

Wearing a lipstick that dries your lips

A woman applies lipstick with a compact mirror.

Your pout should be moisturized. | Michaelpuche/Getty Images

There are many lipstick formulas out there. Unfortunately, some of them have the potential to dry out your pout — and dry lips make you look older, no matter what your actual age is. To avoid this makeup mistake without spending a fortune on a new tube of lip color, simply apply a sheer coat of lip balm first to keep your pucker hydrated.

Next: This faux pas is a sign your makeup itself is too old

Clumping on mascara

A woman applies mascara.

Replace your mascara every three months. | Gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Images

We know — getting your eyelashes evenly covered in mascara can be a major hassle. But it’s a process you’ll want to go through, since clumped mascara and lashes draws attention to line and wrinkles in the eye area. (And it can also be a sign that bacteria has grown in your old mascara tube.) Take a cue from WebMD and change out your mascara every three months.

Next: Here’s a makeup no-no for all ages

Caking on creamy products

A woman applies blush.

Don’t layer too much product. | Stephanie Zieber/Getty Images

Going overboard with cream-based blushes and eyeshadows will make you look like a clown, no matter what age you are. As you get older, however, these products will also age your face by putting your wrinkles on display. If you prefer creamy products to powdery ones, go the less-is-more route and apply about half as much as you think you should.

Next: Perhaps the biggest makeup mistake on our list

Too much contouring

A woman applies makeup in front of a beauty counter.

Don’t sculpt your features too much. | Nicoletaionescu/iStock/Getty Images

When done properly, this popular makeup trend can give you a younger-looking face. But if you contour improperly — which is very easy to do — you’ll end up looking older. “The art of contouring is that it enhances the structure of your face, so that it appears more defined,” The London School of Makeup’s Murat Evin tells The List. “However, too much definition can actually highlight aging lines that are better left concealed.” If you absolutely can’t ditch the contouring trend, be mindful of blending your lines extra well.

Next: While we’re talking about blending …

Setting everything with powder

Blotting sheets on a white background.

If you have dry skin, avoid setting powders. | PitchyPixi/iStock/Getty Images

Using a powder foundation works wonders in your early years for hiding oily skin. But as you age, your skin is less oily and doesn’t need that powder set as much. “Swap out powder for blotting tissues, which won’t highlight wrinkles in the same way makeup would,” Reader’s Digest recommends.

Next: This mistake makes you look older on top of being poor hygiene

Forgetting to wash your face

A woman washes her face at a sink.

Never go to bed without washing your face. | Ferlistockphoto/iStock/Getty Images

Let’s set the record straight — makeup residue from the day before isn’t sexy. It makes you look unkempt and unclean. And as you get older, that slept-in makeup will make your wrinkle pop. The best thing you can do here is make washing your face a top priority in your bed time routine.

Next: Surprisingly, this won’t make you look younger

Going overboard with ‘trendy’ makeup

Makeup laid out on top of a pink sheet and glitter.

Try to stick to what works best for you, not trends! | Nastassia_Bas/Getty Images

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to try the latest eyeshadow shade or eyeliner technique. But putting too may trendy things together makes you look older, and uncomfortable. “When we try too hard to look cool and it seems unnatural, it’s a clear indicator to others that you are just not that secure,” celebrity makeup artist Anthony Pazos tells The List. “Baby steps are always the best bet when trying something new or trendy.”

Next: Last, but certainly not least …

Rocking glitter nail polish

Red glitter nail polish on a white background.

Glitter nail polish should be a thing of your past. | Vicu9/Getty Images

In fact, glitter nail polish is a no-no for most people. On teenagers, it looks juvenile. And on adult hands, the glitter draws attention to wrinkled skin and swollen knuckles. The solution here is simple: Avoid glitter nail polish at all costs if you don’t want your hands to look significantly older.

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