40 Hair & Makeup Mistakes You Don't Realize You're Making, According To Experts

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I’ll be honest: Sometimes I question my entire morning beauty routine. Between exfoliating properly, styling my hair, and finding the right shade of concealer, there are so many steps and techniques to mess up. (I have to be making at least a few mistakes, right?) You might be, too — even if you don’t realize it. That’s exactly why Bustle reached out to the experts, and they let us in on all the hair-and-makeup mess-ups that are totally avoidable.

What kind of mistakes did these experts point out? To start, moisturizing. Melissa Urban, a licensed esthetician and skincare expert of the beauty app Skinforyou, says you could be applying your moisturizer at the wrong time (and probably not quickly enough). With that being said, grab the extra-large bottle of the everyday moisturizer on this list and be sure to apply it no more than five minutes after your shower.

Plus, there’s a shower water filter included here that was hand-picked by Ghanima Abdullah, a hair expert and cosmetologist for The Right Hairstyles. Why? Abdullah says, “If you live in a hard water area, washing your hair with it could actually damage your hair.” It’s a good thing the filter on this list has 15 filtering levels — along with activated carbon — to help prevent all of that damage.

Basically, these experts know about the common mistakes you might be making with every step, product, and technique. The best part about this list is that I don’t have to question every single part of my routine anymore.


Mistake: Not Using The Right Shampoo For Thinning Hair

Solution: Washing With This Caffeine-Infused Shampoo

Thinning hair is nothing to be ashamed of — but sometimes, using the right shampoo can help thicken your ‘do. Ghanima Abdullah, a hair expert and cosmetologist for The Right Hairstyles, recommends using this caffeinated shampoo if you’re experiencing thinning hair.

She tells Bustle, “Hair growth shampoos that have peppermint, DHT blockers, or caffeine — like Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo — can help thicken your hair.” This one’s made with zinc, niacin, caffeine, and even castor oil to help stimulate hair growth (but it also cleanses your hair, so you can still use it each day). It has so many other perks, such as cooling menthol and nourishing wheat protein.


Mistake: Using Hairbrushes With Seams That Tug On Your Strands

Solution: Brushing With Seamless Hair Tools

Abdullah also suggests using seamless hairbrush. Why? “Cheap combs and brushes have plastic seams from the molds that are used to create them,” she says. Abdullah continues, “These seams snag the hair and can damage the exterior of the hair shaft and also cause split ends.”

With that being said, grab this seamless boar bristle brush set that’ll help prevent you from snagging your hair while you brush. Each brush has natural boar bristles, a vented design, and of course, zero seams. Plus, the curved design and the mix of bristles and soft nylon pins help distribute natural oils.


Mistake: Washing With Sulfates In Your Shampoo

Solution: Using A Sulfate-Free Shampoo With Essential Oils To Increase Blood Circulation

Abdullah says, “A lot of shampoos contain sulfates, which strip away natural oils from your scalp.” A shampoo and conditioner set like this one is a perfect because it gives you a clean and balanced scalp without sulfates or parabens. It’s complete with essential oils, like 100% pure peppermint oil plus tea tree, argan, and coconut oils. The peppermint oil adds the perfect light scent — and, as Abdullah says, it can help “increase blood circulation to the scalp for more hair growth.”


Mistake: Not Using A Moisturizing Shampoo Set

Solution: Making Sure Aloe Vera Is An Ingredient In Your Wash

For normal or dry hair, Abdullah suggests grabbing this shampoo and conditioner set by DermaChange because it’s formulated with moisturizing aloe vera. Why? Abdullah says aloe vera “is hydrating and is usually the first or second ingredient in a good shampoo.” This duo is definitely a good one because it also has manuka honey, tea tree oil, biotin, and more. It’s also free of sulfates, parabens, mineral oils, and fragrances. Plus, it’s even pH balanced.


Mistake: Applying Hair Oils Incorrectly

Solution: Using Nourishing Hair Oils At Night

According to Abdullah, hair oils don’t actually have to make your hair oily. This bottle of 100% cold-pressed argan oil — which was specifically recommended by Abdullah — is under $15, and it’s the perfect way to start using nightly hair oil. It’s organic and super nourishing, thanks to the added vitamin E that’ll help protect and strengthen your hair. Plus, there's no messy dropper on this 4-ounce, pump-top bottle. For application, Abdulla says, “The key is to use a few drops at night, from the mid-length to the ends of the hair.”


Mistake: Forgetting About Coconut Oil, Because It’s Also Great For Your Hair

Solution: Adding Coconut Oil To Your Hair If You're Out Of Argan

If you run out of argan oil, Abdullah suggests trying “a few drops of coconut oil.” This 100% pure coconut oil comes in a huge 16-ounce bottle, so you don’t have to scoop it out of a messy jar. It’s fragrance-free, 100% vegan, and under $15. Plus, since you only need a few drops for your hair, you’ll have enough to add it into your moisturizing skincare routine.


Mistake: Tying Your Hair In Tight Ponytails With Harsh Elastic Hair Ties

Solution: Using Spiral Hair Ties That Won't Tug Too Hard

Abdullah recommends this eight-pack of plastic spiral hair ties, which can help avoid breakage. They’re non-absorbent (which is super helpful if you’re showering with your hair up), and they’re smooth all the way around so that they never tug on your strands. They also come in six colors — and Abdulla says, “You can get a sleek style without them wrapping around the hair too tightly, too.”


Mistake: Not Getting A Haircut Because You Want To Grow It Out (& Then Getting Split Ends)

Solution: Using A Hair Treatment To Help Repair Those Split Ends

Abdullah says, “The longer you hold onto damaged hair, the harder it becomes to grow healthy hair. This is because damage keeps spreading, just like split ends keep climbing up.” But if you’re holding out on that haircut a little longer, this sulfate-, paraben-, and phthalate-free hair treatment recommended by Abdullah a great way to keep your strands strong.

It’ll help fix various types of damage, including thermal, chemical, and mechanical. Plus, this sleek bottle of strengthening treatment is pH-balanced and helps cure split ends on a molecular level. According to Abdullah, “Olaplex Hair Perfector really works to repair your hair bonds from the inside and create healthier hair almost instantly.”


Mistake: Drying Your Hair With Terry Cloth Or Cotton Towels

Solution: Using Soft Microfiber Towels Instead

Instead of tugging your hair with a terry cloth or cotton towel, Abdullah recommends these breathable and absorbent microfiber hair towels by Hicober. They come in a colorful three-pack, and they’ll keep their shape even after 1,000 washes. Plus, the design lets you twist up your hair and hook it with a super secure elastic and button at the back. Abdulla says this three-pack is also “great for keeping curly hair moisturized.”


Mistake: Washing Your Hair With Hard Water

Solution: This Shower Attachment That'll Filter The Water For You

Abdullah suggests adding this shower filter by AquaBliss to your shower to avoid hair damage from hard water. It has 15 filtering levels and even includes activated carbon. You won't have to get rid of your favorite showerhead to attach it — it even works with rain showerheads. It filters your water, of course, but it also infuses helpful vitamins and minerals into your shower water.


Mistake: Using Dirty Brushes To Comb Your Hair

Solution: This Mini Brush Rake That'll Clean The Bristles

Makeup artist Mary Winkenwerder suggests using this metal brush rake by Luwigs to clean your hair brushes. She tells Bustle, “Using unclean hair brushes and combs makes hair dirty immediately after washing.” This 4.5-inch wood-and-metal rake is complete with a ton of gentle metal teeth that scrape out any hair that’s stuck in your brush. One Amazon customer even wrote, “This handy tool really digs out all of the hair, fuzz, and lint from my hairbrushes!”


Mistake: Deep Conditioning At The Wrong Time (& With The Wrong Technique)

Solution: Using A Deep Conditioner The Same Day You Wash

Gabrielle Richens, a skin therapist who’s also the founder of The Rich Skin Club, recommends this avocado hair mask and deep conditioning treatment by MAJESTIC PURE — but she recommends only deep conditioning the same day you wash your hair. Richens says, “If you use a deep conditioner regularly you may be applying it incorrectly. [...] This is because the product doesn’t have to fight a water barrier to penetrate the hair cuticle.” This mask is sulfate-free and color-safe — and it’s even infused with biotin. Plus, it includes different nourishing oils including avocado oil, coconut oil, and shea butter.


Mistake: Not Moisturizing With Body Lotion At The Right Time

Solution: Applying Moisturizer "Within 5 Minutes Of Showering"

Melissa Urban, a licensed esthetician and skincare expert of the Skinforyou beauty app, suggests putting on moisturizer right after you wash your face or take a shower. She tells Bustle, “Most skincare users are not aware it is best to apply your face and body moisturizer within five minutes of showering or washing your face to help retain hydration levels.”

This extra-large bottle of fragrance-free daily moisturizing lotion includes 19 ounces of a non-greasy and fast-absorbing lotion — so you’ll always be ready to quickly moisturize. It's enriched with hyaluronic acid and ceramides to hydrate and lock in that moisture.


Mistake: Not Applying Face Moisturizer After Showering (Because That’s Also Important)

Solution: Moisturizing Your Complexion After The Shower

This sensitive, skin-friendly, and oil-free facial lotion is an easy go-to now that you have Urban’s suggested five-minute rule down. It’s complete with hyaluronic acid, and it helps hydrate and balance your skin for 24 hours. It’s also hypoallergenic and doesn’t use any fragrance — and it’s even dermatologist tested.


Mistake: Exfoliating Too Much (Because, Yes, It’s Possible)

Solution: Exfoliating A Few Times Per Week

Believe it or not, over-exfoliating is possible. Urban tells Bustle, “Is your skin showing signs of distress? You may be exfoliating too much.” She continues, “Opt for a more gentle form of exfoliation, try cutting back to only exfoliating one to two times per week.”


Mistake: Not Moisturizing After Exfoliating Too Often

Solution: Wearing A Super Hydrating Face Mask Overnight

If it turns out that you’ve been exfoliating too much, Urban tells Bustle the perks of “incorporating a hydrating mask into your PM skincare routine” so it works while you’re sleeping. This moisturizing gel mask is perfect because it's designed to wear overnight, and you don't have to peel off the absorbing gel formula in the morning. It has vitamin B3, mulberry extract, and humectants. Plus, it also comes in options with vitamin A, C, and E, so you can do all of your favorite skincare overnight.


Mistake: Forgetting About Sunscreen In The Winter

Solution: Applying Sunscreen Regularly (Regardless Of The Season)

Urban says, “SPF is a must 365 days a year,” and this SPF 46 facial sunscreen with hyaluronic acid is perfect (even if it's snowing). Urban suggests using about “three fingers worth" of SPF in the morning. It sounds like a lot, but this mineral-based zinc oxide sunscreen is transparent and super quick to apply. Plus, it’s suitable for acne-prone skin — and there’s an option to add on a bottle of body sunscreen.


Mistake: Brushing Your Hair When It's Wet (& Accidentally Breaking The Strands)

Solution: Brush Your Hair When It’s Totally Dry Instead

Rebekkah O'Neill, the master stylist and founder of The Orchard Hair, tells Bustle that you shouldn’t brush your hair when it’s wet. She says, “Your hair is so delicate when it’s wet, and by brushing it when it’s wet, you are stretching the hair and snapping it, causing damage and breakage.” Instead, wait until your hair is dry before brushing it.


Mistake: Using Hot Tools On Dyed Hair & Altering The Color By Accident

Solution: Washing With A Shampoo That Protects Your Color (Even If You Love Heat Styling)

Linh Phan, a hairstylist and the founder of BESCENE STUDIOS, tells Bustle that “hot tools on too high of a setting can actually lift color out causing fading and brassy-ness.” Phan recommends this sulfate-free, color-hold conditioner by Alterna with caviar extract as an “easy solution” to combat those heat tools. Why caviar extract? It has omega-3 fatty acids to help hydrate and protect your hair.


Mistake: Setting Your Styling Tools To A Temp That's Way Too Hot

Solution: Making Sure They Don’t Surpass 350 Degrees Fahrenheit

According to Phan, it’s possible to set your styling tools to a temperature that’s simply too hot. He tells Bustle the importance of “keeping your hot tools set below 350 [degrees Fahrenheit],” along with conditioning with a K18 hair mask.


Mistake: Not Repairing Your Hair After Heat Damage

Solution: Using This Nourishing K18 Hair Mask To Rebuild Your Strands

Speaking of K18 hair masks, Phan recommends using this leave-in treatment that helps repair hair strands by re-building peptide chains that might’ve been damaged while stying. In just four minutes of use, the mask aims to revive your hair and bring back its strength as well as shine.


Mistake: Letting Your Hair Get Caught In Cold-Weather Gear

Solution: Keeping Your Hair In A Bun To Avoid Breakage

Samanatha Denis, a licensed stylist, founder of Allyoos hair care line, and former bumble and bumble product development manager, tells Bustle how important it is to wear your hair out of the way so it doesn’t get tangled in your winter gear (such as a scarf). She says, “To avoid friction, knotting, and matting which can cause breakage, tie your hair up before heading out.”


Mistake: Forgetting To Strengthen Your Hair With Nourishing Treatments

Solution: Using A Hair Treatment Once Every Week

Denis recommends “using a weekly hair treatment will help reboot shine, softness, and hydration” — regardless of the season. This collagen protein hair treatment with ceramide 3, soy protein extract, and more is a perfect once-a-week option. This rinse-out treatment with adorable packaging works for all hair types. Plus, it only takes five minutes to coat your hair with collagen and help out with sun or heat damage (but you can leave it in for up to 20 minutes). One customer wrote, “I have long, thick, curly hair and use this maybe once a week. I get a ton of compliments every time and I absolutely love the way my hair feels afterwards.”


Mistake: Using Ponytails That Are Too Tight On Your Scalp

Solution: Putting Your Hair Up In A Soft Scrunchie With This Trendy Neutral Pack

Denis also suggests being gentler on your scalp by wearing soft scrunchies while putting your hair up. She says, “It's super important to use a gentle ponytail (fabric or a big scrunchie is best) and don't make a habit of wearing hair super tight in the same spot every day.” These matte scrunchies come in 11 colorful packs with multiple fabrics, including waffle-knit and an adorable fuzzy sweater-like material. Thanks to the fabric covering the elastic, they’re super gentle on your hair — and you can even sleep in them. Plus, the lightweight fabric shell prevents tangles.


Mistake: Wearing Your Hair In The Same Tight Ponytail Each Day

Solution: Trying New Styles That Aren’t As Harsh On Your Scalp

Denis suggests that wearing the same tight ponytail regularly might be doing your scalp more harm than good, saying “ponytails that are tied super tight into the same spot can cause a fragile scalp area at the base of the ponytail.” She suggests changing the ponytail up or wearing your bun in a different spot. “Braids are also a gentler way to pull hair back and wear your hair ‘up’ without a tight ponytail on your scalp,” she says.


Mistake: Ignoring The Importance Of Scalp Health

Solution: Treat Yourself With A Scalp-Massaging Brush

Autumn Grant, a licensed cosmetologist and the owner and founder of The Kind Poppy, says scalp massaging brushes are one of her favorite products. She recommends this biodegradable silicone scalp brush by Sndyi that comes with a silky hair scrunchy. It’s complete with extra-long silicone bristles, and it has an ergonomic handle that’s built to fit your palm. Plus, it only weighs 4 ounces, so it’s super lightweight. Grant says, “Not only does this treatment feel amazing, it increases blood circulation, clarification, and moisture back into the scalp. This treatment is great for all hair types!”


Mistake: Coloring Your Hair With Damaging Box Dye

Solution: Strengthening & Balancing Your Hair With This Pre-Conditioner Treatment

If you choose to use box dye, Jamila Powell — the owner of Maggie Rose Salon and Naturally Drenched — suggests grabbing this Rebalance pre-conditioner treatment. She tells Bustle, “Box dye often has high amounts of ammonia, and is not formulated to take into consideration the actual health of the person's hair.” Powell says this pre-conditioner can revive your strands, stating that it “helps restore the hair's pH, provides protein to strengthen the hair, while providing much needed moisture.”

You simply use it after your shampoo to restore your hair and your scalp’s pH. It’s also made with almond oil, bamboo extract, papaya, and calendula — and it has a rosemary scent. Plus, it’s vegan, extra helpful for curly hair, and it even helps out with detangling.


Mistake: Not Removing Your Makeup Thoroughly Before Washing Your Face

Solution: Using An Oil-Based Cleanser To Remove The Makeup Before Washing

Michaeline, an LA-based celebrity makeup artist, tells Bustle the importance of cleaning your makeup off pre-face wash. She says, “To ensure that your makeup is removed and your skin is thoroughly cleaned, I recommend double-cleansing.” She recommends using this oil-based cleanser by Heimish, which melts onto your skin with shea butter and coconut extract while effectively removing your makeup while you rinse. Thanks to citrus herb oil and a white flower complex, it even has a soft herb scent. Plus, it’s not messy at all with a flip-top lid and an included small spatula.


Mistake: Not Moisturizing Because Your Skin Is Naturally Oily

Solution: This Lightweight, Hyaluronic Acid-Infused Moisturizer That'll Hydrate Your Skin

Merry Thornton, a skincare expert, certified physician assistant, and founder of Element Medical Aesthetics, suggests using this water-gel facial moisturizer — even if your complexion is naturally oily. She says, “Everyone needs hydration. Hydrators bind water to the skin and will not make the skin more oily.” This product comes in a little jar to hold the gel formula that's thicker than a classic moisturizer — but it’s still lightweight. It’s made with purified hyaluronic acid, and it aims to keep your skin hydrated for 48 hours. However, you can still apply it every day. It's even 100% alcohol- and oil-free.


Mistake: Going To Bed With Makeup On

Solution: Removing Your Makeup Before Bed With A Gentle Solution

Thornton also recommends using a formula with micelles for removing makeup before bed (like this one). She tells Bustle that they’re “very effective at removing dirt and oil.” Thornton continues, “Mascara has oil and waxes, so you want something that will effectively work without having to pull or tug at the skin.”


Mistake: Using A Foundation That Doesn’t Totally Match Your Skin Tone

Solution: Testing Shades In The Sunlight

Victoria Stiles, a celebrity makeup artist and creative director at ShikSona Beauty and Glam Set Go, tells Bustle how important it is to find a foundation that matches your skin tone while applying makeup. She says you can test a foundation by “swatching samples along your jawline and checking in natural daylight to see which blends best with your skin tone.” With this full-coverage matte liquid foundation, you can choose from over 40 colors to find the right one. It’s oil-free, and there’s a squeezable pouch option that’s way easier to use than a bottle.

  • Available shades: Espresso — Fair Porcelain (40 total)


Mistake: Not Protecting Your Hair Before Using Hot Tools

Solution: This Heat-Protectant Spray That'll Strengthen Your Strands

Stiles also suggests using a heat protectant spray before styling your hair — and this conditioning option is complete with argan oil and vitamins. It also has a super lightweight formula, so it shouldn’t interfere with your other products. It even protects up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit — and because it’s infused with high-quality hair oil, it helps increase hydration and shine. Stiles says, “Applying a heat protector spray to damp or dry hair prior to hot tool styling is necessary to prevent breakage and irreversible damage to tresses.”


Mistake: Not Using Toners On Your Complexion

Solution: This Toner That'll Help Brighten Your Skin

Bella Schneider — a paramedical esthetician and the CEO-founder of LaBelle Day Spas & Salons as well as Bella Schneider Beauty — recommends adding this brightening toner to your skincare routine, which she says can be used “for gentle balancing that removes residue, restores the pH to the correct level, allowing for enhanced absorption of serums and treatments.” The paraben-free toner is formulated with ingredients to help brighten your skin (such as licorice root and vitamin B3), as well as aloe vera, salicylic acid, and more.


Mistake: Contouring With Shimmery Bronzer

Solution: Using A Color That Looks Shadowy, Instead

Mandie Brice, a makeup artist, author of Best Face Forward: Basic Makeup Skills and Practical Looks From Your Makeup BFF, and creator of Mandie’s Makeup Mastery Academy, suggests using this non-shimmery sculpting powder to contour your complexion (instead of bronzer). Brice says, “The reason contouring with bronzer doesn’t make sense is because it is supposed to mimic shadows, which wouldn’t have brown tones or shimmer.”

Unlike a lot of bronzers, this sculpting compact looks like natural shadows when you contour with it. The matte finish powder comes in light, medium, and deep shades. Plus, you can dust it anywhere you want a little contour (even on your eyelids) — because it’s completely crease-proof.

  • Available shades: Deep, Light, Medium


Mistake: Not Drying Your Makeup Brushes Correctly After Washing Them

Solution: Setting The Brushes In The Sun To Dry

Amber Rose Johnson, a skincare expert, esthetician, and founder of the Facial Lounge, tells Bustle that there’s a correct way to dry your makeup brushes before packing them back into your makeup bag. She says, “Make sure to wash your makeup brushes weekly and lay them out on the windowsill to dry in the sun.” This, as a result, should help prevent bacteria growth before storing them in between uses.


Mistake: Picking Your Skin When You Have Unwanted Breakouts

Solution: Icing Blemishes With Cryo Globes Instead

Johnson recommends icing an unwanted breakout instead of picking at your skin. “Icing reduces swelling and redness, making the pimple or breakout much less noticeable,” she says. This two-pack of non-toxic 304 stainless steel ice globes comes with removable handles so your hands won’t get too cold. The handles also come in seven colors.


Mistake: Using Liquid Makeup Products For Too Long

Solution: Swapping Them Every 2 Years (At Least)

Johnson also suggests swapping your old liquid makeup products for new ones when needed. “Any makeup liquids like mascara and foundation spoil and get bacteria faster, so make sure nothing is over two years old,” she says. If your mascara is definitely older than two years (or getting close), grab this false lash-look mascara to replace it. This long-lasting mascara is only $5, and it won’t flake, clump, or fade under your eyes. Plus, the conic fiber brush keeps giving you a defined look — length and serious volume — even after multiple coats. Plus, it has over 150,000 five-star ratings on Amazon.


Mistake: Not Using The Right Conditioner For Fine Hair

Solution: Swapping Your Current Conditioner With This Lightweight Option

Andrea Claire, a Canadian-licensed hairstylist represented by Judy Inc, recommends using this 97% naturally derived conditioner by Aveda if you have fine hair, thanks to its seemingly weightless formula that’s paraben- and silicone-free. It has a uniquely energizing rosemary, peppermint, and spearmint scent. Plus, the addition of white vinegar will give you serious shine without the heaviness.

According to Claire, “Conditioner protects your hair from heat and environmental damage, without it, your hair will become dry, lackluster, and break. All this is caused by a lack of hydration and moisture, aka conditioner.”


Mistake: Not Using The Right Conditioner For Coarse Hair

Solution: This Highly Rated Conditioner That’s Formulated For Coarse Hair

Claire suggests this smoothing conditioner by KEVIN MURPHY for coarse hair. It comes in a unique bottle that’s super easy to store on your shower organizer (major plus). The formula is designed for daily use on thick and coarse hair. Plus, you get over 8 ounces of this softening conditioner for under $35, so you can use it every day without running out too quickly.


Mistake: Forgetting To Comb Conditioner Through Your Strands

Solution: This Wide-Tooth Comb That Distributes The Conditioner Evenly

Claire suggests this sleek detangling comb specifically for combing conditioner through your hair (and yes, it’s totally okay to use on wet hair). “All conditioners need to be combed through prior to rinsing out, regardless of hair length,” she says.

This one has soft teeth that bend, flex, and even help out with parting your hair. It also has a sleek gray and pink design that helps minimize friction. Plus, it's durable enough to use with your hairdryer after your conditioning comb-through. Claire especially loves that “each tooth has a taper and flexibility to gently push through any tangles while evenly distributing your creams.”

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