We may have given up on the quest for eternal youth at the same time we stopped believing in Disney movies, but our quest for looking eternally young is a different story. Namely, if it will (naturally, gracefully) delay aging in any way, give it to us—sooner rather than later, thanks. (Speaking of which: the evil queen in Snow White? We’ve all done crazy things in the name of wrinkle-free skin. We feel for her.)
Unfortunately, while we spend our paychecks on cutting-edge hydrating serums and rejuvenating masks, it turns out that there are certain things in our beauty routine that cancel them out. In other words, your makeup and hair routines may be secretly ruining your efforts to stay as youthful-looking as possible. But don’t freak out just yet. We’re here for you. Keep scrolling for eight common beauty mistakes that might be making you look older than you are.
Mistake #1: Neglecting Your Brows
Unless you were born with naturally full brows à la Lily Collins or Cara Delevingne, chances are your brows could benefit from a brow pencil. Why? Most makeup artists would tell you that thin, arched brows are actually a dead giveaway of age, while full, bushy brows à la Delevingne signify youth. Not sure which pencil is for you? We suggest this brow pencil. The waxy tip is perfect for blending, and the spoolie on the other end will soften any harsh lines.
Mistake #2: You're Not Using Primer
If fine lines are the bane of your existence, allow us to introduce you to your new best friend: primer. Most primers are made with plumping ingredients like hyaluronic acid and silicone that fill in your wrinkles and provide a smooth, airbrushed canvas for your foundation.
If you’re plagued by dark circles and under-eye bags, don’t just pile on the concealer with abandon; overapplying can cause it to cake under your eyes and draw more attention to problem spots. Instead, try using a primer with brightening, smoothing ingredients first, like this Marc Jacobs primer, and then applying a thin layer of concealer with a brush. Then, follow with concealer.
Mistake #3: Your Hair Color Is Flat
Time for a wake-up call: Your lazy attitude toward maintaining your hair color is aging you. Dull, flat, one-dimensional hair color can make you look older, and according to this study, healthy (as in shiny, bouncy, glossy) hair signifies health and youth. To keep your strands vibrant between salon visits, try an at-home gloss, like Rita Hazan Ultimate Shine Gloss ($26), or go to the salon for a gloss (we like Joico Lumishine Treatment ($9). Your strands will shine like new, without the price tag of a new dye job.
Mistake #4: You're Using the Wrong Foundation
The two biggest foundation mistakes? Not choosing the right color and not blending correctly. For the former, here’s a foolproof guide to always ensuring you’re buying the perfect foundation for your skin tone. For the latter, we suggest using a beauty sponge, like Wander Beauty's. Just wet, squeeze out the excess water, dip the sponge into your foundation, and bounce and tap it around your face for a flawless canvas.
Mistake #5: Your Eyeliner Technique
A makeup artist once told us that harsh, thick eyeliner will age you like no other, especially if you only apply it to your bottom lash line. Think about it this way: Why would you want to add more shadow to that already-annoying area? Instead, choose a creamy, silky pencil, like Jillian Dempsey Khôl Eyeliner ($20), and then blend into your lash line softly. Or just line your waterline to define your eyes in a subtle way.
Mistake #6: You Skip Blush
Blush is supposed to look like a natural, youthful flush, so don’t overdo things by choosing a too-bright color or powdery (or worse: glittery) finish. A buildable cream blush, like Rituel de Filles's is the easiest way to add a touch of color and dewiness. Apply with your fingers or with a brush—either way, the color will look completely natural.
Mistake #7: You're Too Blunt (Well, Your Hair Is)
According to hairstylists, stick-straight strands and blunt ends can make your face appear “heavy” and actually sag your features. Instead, ask your stylist for long layers, soft volume, and lots of movement to help frame your face and soften harsh lines.
Mistake #8: Your Hair Is Too Cool (Tone-Wise)
Heads-up: Dark, cool hair tones can actually bring out gray, ashy tones in your skin. Instead, opt for warm tones (think caramels instead of taupes) and face-framing highlights to brighten your skin and make you look more awake. Here’s some L.A.-inspired hair color inspiration, along with eight other things your colorist wishes you’d stop doing.
Mistake #9: You're Using Too Many Powder Products
While oily skin when we're younger may be the norm, as we age, our skin produces much less sebum, so using powder products tends to translate as too matte, and consequentially, flat. According to Stephanie Koutikas, makeup artist and creative director at Mehron Makeup, cream formulas will render your skin much dewier and more luminous. "Most face powders tend to magnify lines in the skin, aging us," she says. "If you can't give up powder, try switching to a sheer translucent powder or a mineral-based one."
Mistake #10: Your Concealer Is Too Heavy
Actually, this applies to every makeup product. The key is to use more lightweight formulas and apply sparingly to avoid creasing and caking. This especially applies to under-eye concealer. Says Koutikas, "Too much coverage can bring an aging appearance to the skin and can highlight wrinkles and lines in this delicate area. Prep the skin with a moisturizing eye cream, and keep the touch light."
Calvo Peretti M, Caballero Uribe N, Régnier A, Trüeb RM. Look at your hair the way you look at your face: concept of total facial skin and hair care. Skin Appendage Disord. 2020;6(2):67–76. doi:10.1159/000504306