35 Common Mistakes That Beauty Experts & Stylists Say Make People Look Messy

The experts offer a few quick beauty fixes that are pure genius.

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Looking put together 24/7 isn’t always possible, and that’s totally OK. But if you’re hoping to achieve a more polished look on the reg, this list can help. Beauty experts and stylists provided Bustle with feedback on common mistakes that, in their opinions, make people look “messy” — and they’re simple to avoid.

Don’t get me wrong: A “messy” look can mean something different to everyone. (Messy bun? Flaunt it.) This list focuses on beauty mistakes with solutions that’ll help you look and feel your best, such as forgetting to remove makeup before bed or not protecting your hair from heat prior to styling it.

Here are the most common mistakes experts say people make, and genius ways to fix them.


Mistake: Forgetting To Separate Your Lashes

Solution: An Eyelash Comb For Separation & Definition

“To finish, use an eyelash comb to separate and achieve fresh, natural, and lifted lashes,” adds Fassrainer. This one is a great choice; its fine teeth separate and define lashes, removing clumps and flakes along the way, and it's made of durable stainless steel. Thanks to its cap attachment, you can toss it in your bag and take it with you on the go.


Mistake: Having Clumpy Eyelashes

Solution: This Eyelash Curler That’s Gentle & Precise

According to Maria Fassrainer, a makeup artist and beauty influencer, “Clumpy lashes [are] the result of product overload and it can make your eyes look dirty.” That’s why this eyelash curler is such a great choice; it'll curl inner and outer-corner lashes with extra precision, and its narrow front plate curls all the way from the lash line. “Use a [lash curler] to push the hair up, [then] take off the excess of the mascara wand [and] apply in thin coats up to three times,” Fassrainer suggests.


Mistake: Not Removing Makeup Before Bed

Solution: This Makeup Remover Balm That Cleanses & Hydrates

Dr. Randa Jaafar, CEO of FILD Studio, tells Bustle what can happen when you forget to wipe off cosmetics before bed: “When you leave makeup on your face overnight, you are causing massive damage to your skin. [...] You have to allow your skin to breathe so it’s best to remove makeup and moisturize after.”

This makeup remover balm is a great option that’s easy on your wallet and your skin; it's made with hydrating ingredients like jojoba oil and ceramides, so it hydrates while it cleanses.


Mistake: Using A Powder With A Pigment

Solution: This Translucent Powder That Sets Makeup In Place

According to Janelle Thomason, CEO of Cosmakery Cosmetics and Emmy-winning makeup artist, “Use a translucent powder over using a powder with pigment that can dull all the beautiful work you've done applying your makeup. It can also alter your concealer and foundation shade.” This particular translucent powder is made with peptides, antioxidants, and hydrolyzed collagen to nourish and condition skin without disrupting your artistry. Simply brush it over your makeup look, and you’re ready to go.


Mistake: Using A Ton Of Products Just Because They’re Social-Media Famous

Solution: This Tried & True Black Soap For Face & Body

Ariana Jones, co-founder and CEO of myth/magick, warns against using too many products from TikTok and IG: “Piling product on top of product can cause seriously unhappy skin,” warns Jones. “Skin that is inflamed, itchy, and flaky.” When Jones dialed back her skincare routine, her “skin was able to heal on [its] own and my ‘maskne’ began to clear up almost immediately.”

She touts this tried-and-true black soap for its simplicity and effectiveness, and just one look at its phthalate- and petrolatum-free ingredient list helps prove that it might go easier on your skin than some of its heavier-duty competitors. Jones isn’t the only fan: It has over 11,000 five-star reviews on Amazon as well.


Mistake: Not Knowing The Benefits Of “Underpowdering”

Solution: A Setting Powder For Every Skin Type

Ever heard of “underpowdering?” Thomason says, “It’s lightly powdering before you apply any makeup.” She continues, “It’s also a quick and easy fix if you know you have a long hot day and you need your makeup to stay put!” If you’re looking to try it for yourself, reach for this setting powder; it's lightweight enough to work well with all skin types, and it's vegan and cruelty-free, so it’s just as kind to the animals as it is to your face.


Mistake: Dramatically Overlining Lips

Solution: This Slim Lip Pencil With The Perfect Amount Of Pigment

“Over-lining is totally fine, but you don’t want to go so far out of your natural lip line,” advises Kunijo. “Bump your liner just outside your natural lip border to create a larger lip.” If you’re looking for a lip liner that’ll help you get there, try this slim lip pencil. It goes on buttery soft, and its long-wearing formula means it'll stay put all day long, no matter what you eat or drink.


Mistake: Not Using Heat Protectant Spray On Hair

Solution: This Coconut & Argan Oil Spray That Protects While You Style

“Not using a heat protectant on hair can cause serious damage and make the hair appear more frizzy (even if it’s not), so even if you’re rushing to get ready, this is definitely not a step to skip,” advises Ehman. Her suggestion? “Use heat protection that covers up to 450 degrees before blowdrying and heat styling.” This coconut and argan oil spray protects and nourishes hair while you style, and it gives hair an added boost of shine, so you'll love your ‘do even more than you already did.


Mistake: Performing Your Beauty Routine Out Of Order

Solution: An Adjustable Cosmetics Stand That Helps You Organize Your Products

According to Dr. Jaafar, “It’s essential that you apply products in the correct order because your skin processes products differently based on the layering. By following the correct order, your skin will actually take in the product and absorb it properly.” That’s where this adjustable cosmetics stand comes in: It helps you organize your products and keep track of which is which, so you won’t confuse your serums, cleansers, and toners. Its sturdy base plate stays in place, and it rotates silently for easy access to your favorite products.


Mistake: Over-Exfoliating Your Skin

Solution: This Facial Scrub That’s Incredibly Gentle

Dr. Dusan Sajic, a board-certified dermatologist and anti-aging physician, knows the benefits of regularly exfoliating but cautions that “over-exfoliating can lead to skin irritation, dryness, and damage to the skin's natural protective barrier.”

Instead of harsher products, he recommends a facial scrub like this one from Cetaphil, which is effective enough for oily and combination skin but gentle enough for sensitive users. It's non-comedogenic, so it won't clog pores, and it's dermatologist-tested for safety and effectiveness.


Mistake: Using The Same Products Year-Round

Solution: This Gentle Moisturizer For Lightweight Hydration

"Your skin's needs can change with the seasons, and using the same products all year may not address these changes,” says Dr. Sajic. He recommends that you “Adjust your skincare routine and makeup products based on the season and your skin's current needs, such as using lighter moisturizers in summer and more hydrating formulas in winter.” This gentle moisturizer makes a great warm-weather option that’s super lightweight and nourishing, thanks to ingredients like vitamin B5, vitamin E, and borage seed oil.


Mistake: Not Using A Foundation That Suits Your Skin Tone

Solution: This Matte Liquid Foundation That’s Available In Over 35 Shades

“An incorrect foundation shade can make your makeup look unnatural,” according to Dr. Sajic. He recommends this matte liquid foundation by Maybelline for its wide range of shades and its smooth coverage, especially for skin types ranging from normal to oily. His tip to find the perfect hue? “Test foundation shades on your jawline, rather than the back of your hand, to find the perfect match,” Sajic advises.


Mistake: Ignoring Your Eyebrows

Solution: This Eyebrow Pencil With A Retractable Tip

It’s easy to ignore your brows when you’re applying a full face of makeup, but Dr. Sajic says that “Neglected eyebrows can make your overall appearance look messy and unkempt.” He recommends this eyebrow pencil to keep them looking like sisters, not twins (you know, cute and well-groomed sisters). Its precise pencil shades both thick and fine hairs alike for a gorgeous finish, and its retractable tip draws super-fine lines to blend beautifully with your brows.


Mistake: Applying Makeup To Unclean Skin

Solution: This Hydrating Cleanser That’s Incredibly Gentle

"Makeup applied to dirty skin can trap dirt and oil, leading to breakouts and an uneven makeup application,” cautions Dr. Sajic. If that doesn’t sound like fun to you, pick up this hydrating cleanser; it's gentle enough for sensitive skin, and it's made with nourishing niacinamide and ceramides to keep dry skin feeling hydrated. Wash your face with this and apply a moisturizer you love, and you’ll be more than ready to take on that makeup tutorial.


Issue: Not Cleaning Makeup Brushes Regularly

Solution: This Makeup Brush Cleanser For Weekly Use

Dr. Sajic emphasizes the importance of regularly cleaning your makeup brushes, since “dirty makeup brushes can harbor bacteria, leading to skin irritation and breakouts.” His recommendation? “Clean your brushes at least once a week using a gentle brush cleanser or mild shampoo, and let them air dry.” You can get started with this makeup brush cleanser; it’s fragrance-free and dermatologist tested, so it’s highly unlikely to irritate the skin, and it’s certified by PETA as a cruelty-free product.


Mistake: Tugging On The Eye Area When Applying Makeup

Solution: This Eye Primer For A Smooth Foundation

“The skin around the eyes is delicate,” says Dr. Sajic. “Use gentle motions when applying makeup, and opt for an eye primer to help eyeshadow and liner glide on smoothly without tugging."

This particular eye primer is a fantastic choice; all you have to do is apply a pea-sized amount to lids, wait for it to dry, and design the eye look of your dreams. It keeps eyeshadow and liner locked into place while it brightens the eye area and stops oily lids from messing with your makeup. Plus, it has over 24,000 five-star reviews on Amazon.


Mistake: Using Waterproof Mascara Daily

Solution: This Volumizing Mascara & Lash Serum That’s Not As Drying

Use a volumizing mascara and lash serum like this one instead of a waterproof mascara, which Dr. Sajic says “can be drying and difficult to remove, leading to potential lash damage.” This particular product boasts an innovative lash-wrapping brush that delivers definition and volume in the blink of an eye. As for your waterproof product? Save it for “special occasions or when you know you'll be exposed to water or excessive sweat,” suggests Sajic.


Mistake: Using Powder Foundation If You Have Dry Skin

Solution: A Skin Tint That's Hydrating

Sarah Egan knows a thing or two about cosmetics, since she’s the makeup department head for Late Night with Seth Meyers, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and The Amber Ruffin Show. “Powder foundation is tricky for people with mature skin,” she says, adding that “as we age, our skin naturally becomes less hydrated, so we need to use products on your face that will add hydration to the skin, not pick up on any dehydration.”

Her recommendation is to try a skin tint, instead. “Many formulas have skincare ingredients built-in to add hydration and boost the skin’s overall appearance — they are like 2-in-1 products!” she exclaims. This tinted hydrator from Wet n Wild has hyaluronic acid and squalane added in for extra moisture and suppleness. With a lightweight finish and subtle tint, reviewers give it high praise. “Better than foundation,” one reviewer wrote.


Mistake: Air-Drying Hair With No Product

Solution: This Curl Mousse For Definition Without The Heat

Kenna Ehman, co-owner of Kenna Kunijo salon, shares, “Air-dried hair can look professional if you style it correctly. When hair is left on its own without product, curl patterns are inconsistent and frizzy.” If you’ve shied away from product in the past, this curl mousse might just change your mind; with coconut and neem oil, it keeps frizz at bay while giving you curls with definition and shine. Take it from Ehman: “Many people don’t use product because ‘it makes it crunchy,’ but those days are over.”


Mistake: Depending On Dry Shampoo Too Much

Solution: This Nourishing Shampoo For Dry Or Damaged Hair

Ehman understands how annoying it is when grease and products build up in hair, but she still cautions against overdoing it on the dry shampoo: “Using too much dry shampoo without washing your scalp properly causes a build-up of product on the scalp. This prevents new hair growth and can cause healthy hair to look stringy or thin,” she says.

This nourishing shampoo ensures that your hair will be squeaky clean on wash days, and it gently hydrates to heal dryness and damage. You’ll be shocked by how silky and shiny your mane becomes.


Mistake: Skipping A Haircut Or Color Appointment

Solution: This Root Touch-Up Powder You Can Use Between Trips To The Salon

“Hair is the first thing people see when they look at you, and you want to make a good impression and look put together,” advises Ehman. That said, it can be hard to find the time or funds for frequent trips to the salon; “If you’re skipping a root touch-up, grab a root concealer spray to get you through.” Ehman loves this root touch-up powder from Style Edit, likely because it's rain and sweat-resistant but washes out easily with shampoo.


Mistake: Doing Your Nails Too Frequently

Solution: This Almond Cuticle Oil For Moisture & Strength

Whether you DIY or schlep to the salon, a manicure can be a relaxing and glamorous experience; you just want to give your nails a break in between polishes. “I gave up getting my nails done a long time ago because of how bad they looked after two weeks. Instead, I use cuticle oil at night and a medium to coarse file,” shares Ehman. This almond cuticle oil moisturizes and strengthens nails to keep them healthy, thanks to ingredients like safflower, sunflower oil, and vitamin E.


Mistake: Overteasing The Crown Of Your Head

Solution: This Boar Bristle Brush For Serious Volume

Lauren Kunijo, co-owner of Kenna Kunijo salon, says, “A little tease to hide the split on the crown of your head and add some volume is totally fine! Use a brush versus a comb. It creates a tease that lays softer and is less abrasive to the natural hair.”

This boar bristle brush is a fantastic option, as it reduces frizz while you brush by lubricating each strand of hair. Boar bristle brushes are uniquely equipped to distribute oil evenly from roots to ends to help achieve a teased look that keeps hair healthier.


Mistake: Putting A Triangle Of Concealer Under The Eye

Solution: These Mini Makeup Sponges That Blend Evenly Every Time

For a concealer application that keeps eyes looking bright, follow Kunijo’s lead: “Dot under the center part of the eye, then make another dot as you make your way to the outer corner of the eye. Then you can create a thin line of concealer that is parallel to and near the liner line. Take a small beauty blender and blend out and up!” These mini makeup sponges are just right for the job; they’re latex-free, and if you like, you can use them damp for an extra-dewy glow.


Mistake: Using eyeliner that smudges easily

Solution: This Hypoallergenic Eyeliner Pencil That's Water-Resistant

“You might have spent a good 20 minutes to get your eyeliner perfect, only to destroy it because it makes your eyes tear and you had to wipe,” shares Abdullah. Her solution? A hypoallergenic eyeliner pencil like this one, that’s long-wearing and water-resistant. Its built-in sharpener keeps it on point and ready to draw the designs of your dreams. And, you can’t beat the affordable price.


Mistake: Forgetting To Line Your Lips

Solution: This Lip Liner For A Sculpted, Full Pout

Eve Dawes recommends this lip liner for a pout that stays put. As the founder of/stylist at Dawes Cosmetics and professional fashion blogger at Glamour and Gains told Bustle, you should “line your lips before applying lipstick or gloss by following your natural lip line — no major overdrawing, a little is fine — with a matching lip pencil for a more polished look.”

The pencil's triangle shape keeps lips looking sculpted, defined, and three-dimensional with barely any effort on your part, and its semi-matte finish is stylish and colorful.


Mistake: Not Using A Primer

Solution: This Mattifying Primer That’s So Lightweight

Ferial Youakim, founder of ByFERIAL and master image coach, talked chemistry while explaining why primer is so important: “The foundation on your skin will naturally oxidize as it mixes with the oils on your face throughout the day... Primer grips the foundation and creates a smooth canvas,” says Youakim. This mattifying primer is a lightweight choice that absorbs oil and grease while controlling shine for up to eight hours.


Mistake: Applying Matte Lipstick To Dry Lips

Solution: A Lip Moisturizer Made With Hyaluronic Acid

“If you’re a fan of matte lipsticks, dry lips must be specifically prepared to achieve a smooth and appealing look,” shares Valerie Aparovich, certified cosmetologist/aesthetician and science team lead at OnSkin. “Matte lipsticks are shown to absorb moisture; thus, they will contribute to lip dehydration.” A lip moisturizer like this one will absolutely do the job since it's made with hydrating and nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid.


Mistake: Over-Using Setting Powder In An Attempt To Achieve An Oil-Free Look

Solution: These Blotting Sheets That Absorb Excess Oil Without Clogging Pores

Aparovich’s tip for matte skin without the hassle? “Use oil-blotting paper sheets instead (or at least before) applying setting powder. They will help absorb excess sebum, so the powder will layer better, and the pores will be less compromised,” Aparovich shares. These blotting sheets are uniquely makeup-friendly since they won't smudge foundation or eyeshadow, and they won't over-dry skin, so you won't have to make up for lost moisture later.


Mistake: Incorrectly Removing Gel & Acrylic Nail Enhancements

Solution: This Gel Polish Remover That’s Kind To Nails

Phylicia Henry cautions against incorrect gel and acrylic nail removal since you’re liable to damage nails that way. According to the licensed nail technician/instructor, and examiner for the Nails State Board Exam, "This product makes removing gels and acrylics a breeze!" The gel polish remover is super easy to use with a cotton swab or a metal pusher, and it'll keep nails free from damage (and save you an extra trip to the salon).


Mistake: Letting Skin Get Too Dry

Solution: This Organic Jojoba Oil For Major Hydration

Dr. Jen, a skin scientist, skin wellness coach, and face yoga instructor, advises that “dry skin lacks sebum which lubricates and protects the skin.” Her recommendation? “Noncomedogenic oils such as organic jojoba oil and organic grapeseed oil.” This organic jojoba oil is a great choice; it's formulated with all the ingredients you want, like Vitamins A, D, and E, and none of the ones you don't. As a bonus, it makes an excellent makeup remover.


Mistake: Not Drinking Enough Water

Solution: This Triple-Insulated Water Bottle Made Of Stainless Steel

“Dehydrated skin lacks water which keeps skin cells healthy and helps maintain your skin’s firmness, brightness and elasticity,” shares Dr. Jen; that said, “Drinking water is a quick, easy and effective way to hydrate the skin.” It’s so much easier to remember to drink water when you feel chic doing it; that’s why this triple-insulated water bottle, which features a fun ombre design, might be a big help along your hydration journey. Plus, it’s made of durable stainless steel, so you can be sure it’s built to last.


Mistake: Choosing A Blush Shade That Doesn’t Match Your Natural Lip

Solution: A Mineral Blush Palette With 8 Shades To Choose From

According to Monina Wright, licensed esthetician/professional makeup artist and founder and CEO of Moderne Beauty and Esthetics, “A quick tip is to choose a cheek color that harmonizes with your natural lip color. If it looks good next to your natural lip, then you know it will look good on your cheeks.” A mineral blush palette like this one includes eight gorgeous hues, so you can find the shade that’s perfect for you. Reviewers also note that these blush colors stay on all day long.


Mistake: Not Changing Out Your Watch Band

Solution: A Stainless Steel Watch Band Available In So Many Colors

Fashion and garment expert/Perkies founder Rosie Mangiarotti knows how to dress up her wearable tech: “I love my Apple watch, however, it often brings a more athletic style to my outfit, even if I am going out for a night on the town.” She recommends this stainless steel watch band for its glamorous vibe; it’s also a well-made, durable choice you can wear over and over again. Whether you prefer a timeless metallic or a pop of color, you’re sure to find a hue that’s right for you and your occasion.


Mistake: Not Trying Eyeliner Stamps

Solution: A Fool-Proof Eyeliner Stamp For An Easy Cat Eye Every Time

Nina Vargas, a celebrity business strategist, stylist, and creator, knows how annoying it is to redo your winged eyeliner over and over again; that’s why she recommends an eyeliner stamp for an easy cat eye that looks great every time. According to Vargas, “This tool offers a stamp tool on one side and a felt tip on the other, making your liner even thanks to the simple guide.” Each box comes with two pens — one for each eye — that are water-resistant and smudge-proof, making them great for beginners.

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