Your Makeup Would Look So Much Better If You Tried Any Of These 35 Tricks, According To Experts

Small tips, big results.

I’ve been wearing makeup since middle school, and yet I’m still constantly hearing about new tricks and techniques to try (and being reminded how much there is to learn). Not only are new products, new formulas, and new brands constantly changing things in the beauty industry, but it often feels like new advice is frequently circulating, too. With this in mind, I reached out to a number of beauty experts to get through the noise and hone in on some specific tips that will help your makeup look so much better.

Whether you like a no-makeup look, prefer to go full glam, or you’re somewhere in between depending on the day, you’ll find plenty of suggestions here (and heads up, keeping your skin as healthy and hydrated as possible is a very consistent suggestion). You’ll also notice that there’s a balance of trendy tips and age-old advice because, as makeup artist, beauty expert, and founder of Hellooo Gorgeous, Shiedha Williams Burbage explains, “Makeup is a deeply personal expression of style for your face. Do what works for your features, skin type, and skin tone. Experiment but don't get too caught up in what's popular, good makeup is what makes you feel confident and beautiful!”

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Exfoliate Lips To Ensure They’re In The Best Shape For Color

When it comes to getting the most out of your makeup routine, makeup artist, beauty influencer, and founder of Just B Cosmetics, Bina Khan, reminds us not to overlook lip care. She says, “Prep those lips! As with the rest of the face, preparation is the key to having a beautiful application of lipstick.” An exfoliating lip scrub can help ready your lips for your favorite products, and leave a lovely scent behind, too. Khan also suggests that you don’t add lip products until “the makeup around the lips is set and dry so that the lipstick doesn't bleed.”


Try Using A Face Cloth For Quick & Easy Exfoliating

If lip scrubs aren’t your cup of tea, another item that can do the trick is an exfoliating washcloth. According to Khan, effective lip prep can be as simple as “[r]ubbing with warm, damp cotton or even your towel to make sure there is no dead skin and good blood flow.”


Add A Little Warm Water (Yep!) And Moisturizing Cream To Lips

Lip care doesn’t have to stop with just good exfoliation. Khan says, "After exfoliating, tap a drop or two of warm water on to your lips. Trap in the hydration by applying a layer of hydrating moisturizer.” Khan is a fan of Nivea Soft as an affordable and effective hydrator.


Use An Emollient Balm As The Final Step For Lip Conditioning

After exfoliating and moisturizing lips, an emollient like Burt’s Bees Natural Lip Balm will seal the deal for a fully pampered pucker. This formula is loaded with shea and cocoa butters, without petrolatum or parabens, to provide an extra burst of hydration that keeps lips feeling smooth and soft.


Consider A Lip Brush To Apply Color With Precision

After finishing with exfoliating and moisturizing, Khan advises, “carry on with foundation and eye makeup. Once you return to your lips, they will have absorbed their treatment and will be ready for lipstick.” She recommends using a lip brush since it allows you to apply product with accuracy and greater smoothness. With this particular set, the two-headed design works well for both lips and eyes, saving space in your purse or makeup bag.


Keep Your Face Looking Fresh With A Gentle Exfoliator

Professional makeup artist and The Melanin Therapist Marsha Page emphasizes the importance of effective facial exfoliation. She says, “I recommend Touch Microdermabrasion Facial Scrub for gentle exfoliation on all skin types, particularly deeper skin tones.” She also cautions against exfoliating too much or too aggressively, nothing that, “overexfoliation of Black skin can release too much melanin, which causes dark spots instead of clearing them.”


Shape Brows To Help Frame Your Face

Suzy Gerstein, NYC celebrity makeup artist, feels strongly about brows. She says, “As cliche as it sounds, eyebrows really do frame and give structure to the face. Too little definition and your eyes are not as defined as they could be. We all love a bold brow, but too much definition and they can look severe and unnatural. Enter: Babelash Volumizing Eyebrow Filler. It gives just the right amount of polish and finish to your face without ever feeling stiff or looking overdone.” The tinted gel comes in two colors, and even better, the formula contains peptides to nourish brows.


Use A Slightly Damp Blender Sponge For Smoother Application

Have you been using your blender sponge dry? Gerstein says you may be missing out on greatness. “Nine times out of ten, when giving clients makeup lessons, I find out that they do not know to dampen their Beautyblender sponge for best results. You want it damp, not wet so I like to dampen it under warm water, then wring about 80% of the water out in a paper towel. Only when it’s damp is it really able to do its magic work of blending out your foundation, highlight, contour, and softening the edges of your eyeshadow [and] blush.” In addition to better blending, using a damp Beautyblender can also save you product.


Experiment With Damp-Sponge Blending Using A Budget-Friendly Option

Gerstein’s advice can work with budget sponges, too. Maybe you want to experiment before getting the pricier version, maybe you know you’re not going to be able to clean as regularly as you like, maybe you want to have a few back-ups. Whatever your reason, you can play to your heart’s desire with this best-selling makeup blender set that comes with five colorful, reusable sponges.


Utilize A Blush & Bronzer Combo For A Glowy, Sun-Kissed Look

If you’re not sure about blush, highlighter, and bronzer, Gerstein also has valuable info. “I find that people tend to wear their bronzer almost as contour when really it looks most believable straight across the cheeks (and nose) where the sun would naturally hit,” she explains.

When it comes to to the color and type of product you wear, she has recommendations for that, too. “I adore this formulation by Jamie Makeup because it is super user friendly and gives the prettiest, most flattering glow to the skin. The Penny One is a great shade that can work as bronzer and The Pink One ... can be taken right up to the tops of cheekbones for a lifting, enlivening pop of color. What’s more, the pearlescent, glowy finish negates the need for a separate highlighter.”


Try This Budget-Friendly Shimmery Blush (& Proper Application)

If you don’t want to spring for a pricier combo blush, an inexpensive version like Milani baked blush fits the bill. It’s available in 14 rich, gorgeous colors, with either a shimmery or matte finish, and comes with a mini brush for application. Choose your preferred version and when you try it, consider Gerstein’s advice: “[With] blush, people tend to apply that where they’ve been taught: on the apples, when really (particularly after 40), it looks so much more lifting and flattering when it’s brought higher up along the tops of the cheekbones.”


Apply Makeup In Light Layers & Build Coverage As You Go (A Good Brush Helps)

When it comes time to build your look, Lindsay Kastuk, a commercial and editorial makeup artist based in New York City says, “Apply makeup in thin layers. Building up the coverage and color gives the most natural and flattering makeup look.” Foundation is the starting point for most of us, which Kastuk recommends applying with a setting brush. “I love using this Real Techniques brush for applying my foundation. I use a small circular buffing motion with a very light hand ... I have at least 10 of these brushes in my kit, it is my absolute favorite!"


Don’t Wait For Special Occasions For A Classic Red Lip

A bright, timeless red lip is always in style. According to Briana Williams, beauty expert and founder of LipLoveLine, “A bold red lip can make any face pop, makeup or no makeup. That’s why I love it so much.” For any occasion (and to complement any look) she likes the soft, matte finish of this red liquid lipstick. The color is rich and bold, and the formula contains moisturizers like jojoba seed oil and pomegranate flower extract.


Prep Skin For Makeup With A Peel + Scrub Formula

“We know the key to beautiful make-up is healthy prepped skin,” says clinical esthetician and co-founder of PRIORI Skincare, Dawn Turner. As a first step for healthy, prepped skin, Turner heartily recommends Priori 2xfoliant Peel + Scrub. She describes it as “The perfect physical exfoliation with a touch of lactic acid [to remove] built up dry skin, while creating a luminous canvas.” And reviewers agree, with comments describing the formula as “effective,” “very good,” and “excellent all around.”


Consider Stepping Into Facial Scrubs With A Budget-Friendly Buy

An inexpensive exfoliator can still provide excellent results — just ask the 34,000 five-star reviewers of Aveeno’s popular facial scrub. Unlike stronger formulas that are often recommended for use 1-2 times a week, you can use this exfoliator daily and it’s safe for all skin types, even sensitive.


Follow Exfoliation With A Hydrating Moisturizer

Turner reminds us, “After exfoliating the next steps are to apply a hydrator and an eye cream to balance the skin surface before applying makeup.” A tried and true choice like this moisturizing gel from Neutrogena can be a great option, especially if you want the benefits of skincare MVP hyaluronic acid. Plus, it’s non-comedogenic, and promises to be free of oils, dyes, and fragrance.


Take Care Of The Delicate Skin Around Your Eye Area

The skin around our eyes requires some special upkeep. When it comes to hydrating and prepping it for makeup, a product made especially for this sensitive area is often a good idea. Cetaphil’s eye gel-cream is a best-selling option that’s worth your consideration — it’s suitable for all skin types, deeply hydrates the eye area, and helps leaves skin feeling refreshed and soothed.


Get In The Habit Of Moisturizing Twice Daily With A Serum

Taking regular, ongoing care of your skin might not necessarily feel like a makeup trick, but healthy, hydrated skin is a key starting point for any look. Keka Heron, makeup artist and hairstylist, breaks it down. “Moisturize and use a hydrating serum (hyaluronic acid serum) on your skin two times a day. If you do this on a consistent basis your skin will be hydrated and the makeup application and look will be flawless.” A simple hyaluronic acid serum like this one from Asterwood helps penetrate deeper skin layers to draw in moisture, and is suitable for sensitive skin, too.


Swap Out Primer For A Double-Duty Moisturizer

There’s a theme starting to emerge. “All great makeovers begin with skincare,” Shiedha Williams Burbage, makeup artist and beauty expert, founder and owner of Hellooo Gorgeous, says. “Your makeup would look so much better if you ditched the makeup primer and opted for something that will nourish and protect the skin. For normal to dry skin types, I love to begin with a great moisturizer like Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base. This creamy moisturizer gets the job done and is a great base for both liquid and powder foundation.”


Choose A Moisturizer That Suits Your Needs

For another gentle (and budget-friendlier) moisturizer to consider, this daily face cream from Burt’s Bees has a nearly cult following. It’s specifically made for sensitive skin, and contains aloe vera and rice milk, among other botanical ingredients. Plus, it’s climate-pledge friendly so you’ll feel good in more ways than one when using it.


Prevent Makeup From Slipping With A Liquid Barrier Product

Whether you live somewhere humid, work a high-stress job, or just sweat because you’re human, rest assured that you can make the work you put into a makeup look last all day. Williams Burbage says, “For beauties who tend to perspire on the face or tend to have oil build up, using a liquid moisture barrier will save how your makeup looks throughout the day. I recommend Skin Prep Pro by Mehron Makeup. There's a good reason this product is beloved by stage and event makeup artists all over the globe.” Even better, it promises to work with all skin types.


Shape Brows With Small, Gentle Strokes Instead Of Bold Lines

Less is more when it comes to defining your brows. Williams Burbage shares, “When filling in your brows, your makeup is going to look outstanding if you draw smaller brow hair strokes versus harsh long lines to fill in and shape the brow. Let's also skip drawing a square in the front of the brow and replace that with smaller strokes of the pen.” Not sure where to start? She says “A great brow pencil like L'Oreal Paris Makeup Brow Stylist Definer Waterproof Eyebrow Pencil in a shade that complements both your skin tone and hair color is going to refine your look.”


Add An Essence To Your Skincare Routine Between Cleanser & Serum

If you’re not already using an essence, you may want to reconsider. Nichelle Temple, NYC-based esthetician and owner of Inderma Studio explains, “Essences originate from geisha’s ‘beauty water’ which was water infused with botanicals. I think of essence as a pre-serum, pre-moisturizer. They’re more liquid form so they’re going to seep into the skin quickly. Keep in mind that the skin has a low permeability, so slightly damp skin has better absorbency ... I either swipe a cotton round with toner or press in an essence, before a serum or gel, then apply moisturizer and seal it all in with an oil SPF before makeup.” Temple recommends H2O+’s Hydration Oasis Priming Water Essence, which is moisturizing, cruelty-free, and can be used during both your morning and evening routines.


Try A Budget-Friendly Essence To See If Your Skin Likes It

If you love the idea of adding an essence to your routine but prefer to start more inexpensively, this soothing K beauty essence from JIN JUNG SUNG is a great choice. It’s ultra-hydrating and packed with luscious ingredients like meadowfoam seed oil, apricot kernel oil, botanical squalane, and sodium hyaluronate (a derivative of hyaluronic acid that more easily penetrates pores.) There’s also aloe vera extract and organic lavender water to help calm and soothe.


Apply Concealer In A V-Shape For Optimal Coverage

Have you been dotting your concealer, or rubbing it underneath your eyes? Gargi Patel, makeup artist from Bollywood to Hollywood, and founder of South Asian-focused line Vasanti, has another idea. “Apply your liquid concealer in a V-shape (from inner corner of eye to edge of eye ... [it] helps cover the entire area that has discoloration by neutralizing it and it helps blend into the rest of the face for a seamless finish.” Patel recommends Vasanti’s Liquid VO 2, noting that the orange base color works well to “correct the appearance of not only dark circles but also the blue/purple discoloration that can appear underneath the eyes.”


Try Out The “V Method” With An Inexpensive Concealer

Reviewers are big fans of this budget-friendly concealer from NYX (peep the 20,000+ five-star ratings). It comes in 23 different colors and offers natural to medium coverage. Among the choices are a range of natural skin tones, plus color-correcting yellow, lavender, and green. When it comes to applying any concealer, take Patel’s advice: “Start with a light application and build as needed.”


Brighten Up Your Eye Area With A Brightening Powder

If your eye routine stops after concealer or foundation, you may want to consider adding the illuminating wonder that is brightening powder. Patel’s go-to is Vasanti Cosmetics Lotus Brightening Powder, which comes in four shades. To get the most out of it, she says, “Apply a thick layer underneath the eyes and let it ‘bake’ for a few minutes. Use a foundation brush to buff the area and blend into the rest of your skin.” Your concealer will stay in place, and it helps eyes to look brighter and more refreshed.


Get A Luminous Look With A Budget-Friendly Finishing Powder

If you want to dip your toes into the “baking” method of powdering, you can try your hand with Makeup Revolution’s Loose Baking Powder. It comes in six different shades and the brand dubs it a “miracle multi-tasker,” highlighting its ability to brighten, control oil, and lock contours and highlighters in place for hours, preventing the need for touchups.


Choose A Setting Spray That Holds Makeup In Place While Hydrating

Let’s say you’ve applied your makeup perfectly and want to ensure it stays put. Brittany Lo, Professional Makeup Artist and Founder of Beautini and Beia, has a tip for that. “To give your makeup a nice dewy finish and keep your makeup and skin hydrated and in place all day, I recommend Beia's Daily Hydrating & Setting Mist. It's filled with hyaluronic acid, green tea, and caffeine so it will also depuff and soothe your skin.”


Or Start Your Setting Spray Journey With A Basic Version

If your primary concern is locking in your look, this lightweight setting spray from NYX may float your boat. Infused with niacinamide, the formula is sweat- and waterproof, and has options for matte or radiant finishes. It’s currently a best-seller with a 4.5-star average from more than 70,000 ratings.


Utilize AHAs & BHAs For Amped-Up Skin Care

Founders of Fleur De Lis Beauty & Esthetics, Wendy Jules (RN, BSN) and Carla Nelson (RN, LE), agree with the other experts who’ve emphasized skincare as a key component of any beauty routine. “Ensuring your skin is in a healthy state will provide the best results for makeup application. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) assist with acne and congestion of the skin.” These acids are often found in cleansers, exfoliators, and more, and a clarifying toner is one option Jules and Nelson suggest for trying them out.


Try Resurfacing Products In The Evening, So Skin Glows In The Morning

These glycolic resurfacing pads promise to exfoliate and brighten skin in a single step — and provide an opportunity to try out those AHAs that Jules and Nelson recommend. They’re meant to be used at night (no rinsing required!) and release glycolic acid (a sugar-derived type of AHA) to help skin feel more toned and brighter the following morning. Even better, the brand promises that their products are clean and planet friendly.


Try A Primer That Gives Makeup A Dewy Finish

Speaking of products that are easy to use and offer more than one benefit, Jules and Nelson say, “Using hydrating moisturizer and/or mattifying primer helps give the skin a dewy appearance when makeup is applied.” This Marsh Mellow Smoothing Primer from NYX does the trick. In fact, it promises 10 benefits in one product, including hydrating skin, evening tone, and extending makeup wear for 16 hours.


Invite A Pop Of Shimmer Even On No- Or Low-Makeup Days

Sometimes products that give the most sparkle are ones that go on under other products. Makeup artist and beauty blogger Mary Winkenwerder highlights (pun intended) this Golden Sheen Makeup Primer from LAURA GELLER. Winkenwerder says, “Here's your zhush ... Apply a very small amount to the apples of the cheeks, bridge of the nose, under the brows, and on the forehead just above the natural brow line, and blend well. Apply makeup as usual. Works well for video conference makeup or IRL moments.” This formula is lightweight and can be worn as a long-lasting makeup base, or on its own for sheen.


Try A Dedicated Highlighter To Enhance Your Favorite Features

When it comes to glow-enhancing illuminators, you can opt for L’Oreal’s Lumi Glotion as a budget-friendly buy. It promises hydration by way of glycerin and shea butter, and offers all-over illumination that enhances your skin’s natural glow. It can be worn under foundation, on its own, or to highlight your favorite features.