How to Clean Up the Most Common Makeup Mistakes Without Creating a Bigger Mess

POPSUGAR Photography | Maria del Rio
POPSUGAR Photography | Maria del Rio

As a makeup artist, I have so many clients that simply stop wearing eye makeup because they make too many mistakes. They spend one too many mornings frantically wiping mascara off of their under-eye area, and they find themselves throwing their makeup in the garbage and vowing to give it all up.

It is very common to make mistakes during your makeup application. I have been a professional makeup artist for 15 years, and I still make mistakes on my own face that I should be doing perfectly by now. Sometimes it's the wrong product, sometimes it's the wrong tool, sometimes you had to much coffee that morning and you're shaky. Whatever the reason, mistakes are inevitable. It's how you choose to clean them up that will determine how smoothly your morning routine goes.

Many times, women's first instinct is to grab the eye makeup remover to clean up mascara, eyeliner, and shadow smudges. This is a very bad move. Makeup removers are made of emollient ingredients that dissolve pigments. They might remove your mistake, but they will leave an oily mess in their wake that will further dissolve and melt your remaining makeup for the rest of the day. Another problem with this method is that it likely involves cotton swabs and pads that can leave behind tiny strings and fuzzies that just add fuel to the fire.

When I am doing a client's makeup and I make a mistake, I have to be pretty darn sure that I can fix it without wreaking havoc on their perfect face. I have to be swift and erase the mistake completely, leaving skin prepped and ready for makeup that will last all day with no sign of trouble. Here, I am sharing my secrets for doing that. Keep reading to learn five easy and effective ways to clean up your mistakes that will not ruin your face for the day:

Prep and Swipe Away Powder

This is a version of "baking," so to speak. After you put on your under-eye concealer, apply a generous amount of powder to set. If you pile up a good bit of translucent powder under the eye area previous to applying your eye shadows, any "fallout" or dust that settles in the under-eye area can be swept away with a fan or powder brush. My favorite is Secret Brightening Powder From Laura Mercier ($26). This powder acts as a protectant layer that can be dusted away while leaving your under-eye concealer set with perfection.

Clean With Primer

I am not a scientist so I am not sure why this works, but it's the best invention since sliced bread! No matter what you have smeared on your face — black eyeliner, waterproof mascara, lipstick — it can be wiped away with a little bit of primer; any formula, any brand will work. A light swipe of primer on a sponge or tissue will wipe it all away and leave your skin primed and ready for more makeup to go over the area that has been wiped. It's like magic.

Use a Smudge Brush

This is quite possibly the best tool you can ever invest in. It is an eye shadow brush that is short and stubby, meant to "smudge" liners and shadows. If you draw your eyeliner and it's not a perfect line or you use a liquid liner and it looks like you used a Sharpie on your eyelid, do not lose hope. Simply pull out your trusty "smudge brush." Dip this magic wand into any dark shadow and smudge it over your flawed liner and it will turn into a beautiful smoky line. My favorite is Charlotte Tilbury's Eye Smudger Brush ($34).

Use Mascara Wands to Unclump

Sometimes we get overzealous with our mascara application. Too much product or one too many swipes can suddenly result in a Tammy Faye Bakker look. The first instinct is to grab the eye makeup remover and start over. This will set you back 20 minutes and result in black smears all over your eye area. Ask for two disposable mascara wands from your nearby makeup counter or invest in two spoolie tools at your beauty supply store. Take the two wands and wiggle them together through your lashes and it will brush out any unwanted clumps. The more you do this move, the more natural your lashes will look.

Fix Your Foundation

Sometimes you apply your foundation to your face and you realize that the shade which matched perfectly in February now seems a bit light on a sunny Summer day (or vice versa). Either way, we are not always ready for the seasonal changes which result in our foundation suddenly not matching. You look in the mirror and see the dreaded jaw foundation line, and you don't know what to do. Do not scrub your makeup off. Two things can be done to make this faux pas melt away. Blend your jawline with a sponge or a foundation brush a little bit down your neck so that there is not such a noticeable line. After that, use a fluffy bronzer brush to apply bronzer on your jawline and a little bit down your neck to blend. This is a temporary fix until you can get to the store to buy the next shade up or down, but it will buy you some time.

If you make makeup mistakes, don't despair; it just means you are a normal woman. But these mistakes don't have to shape your morning or your day or your life. You are now armed with five fixes that will bring you up to makeup artist status and speed up your morning routine.