Common Makeup Mistakes That Leave You Looking Older

When most of us first learned how to apply makeup, we were in our teens or early 20s, and our skin was youthful and wrinkle-free. We taught ourselves how to cover up acne, create the perfect daytime smoky eye, and make our lips appear bigger. And for many, the makeup routine that helped us look our best when we were younger stuck — and we continued doing it no matter how old we were.


However, with age, our face changes, and so should our makeup products and the way we apply them. "As we get older, our go-to makeup routines and favorite beauty products may not be performing as well as they used to, and there's good reason for that," aesthetician and TikTok beauty expert Elena Duque tells Reader's Digest. "Our skin tone, texture, and elasticity are different than when we were in our 20s and 30s, which means our beauty products and how we apply them need a little tweaking."

Luckily, there are plenty of easy tips and tricks that can help your makeup look its best, no matter what your age is. Say goodbye to makeup that enhances wrinkles and hello to makeup that will give you a dewy, youthful appearance with these tips!


You don't prep your skin

Regardless of how old you are, preparing your skin properly before you apply makeup will make the biggest difference. Not only will cleansing the face rid your skin of any lingering dirt and oil, but the moisturizer will give your skin a smooth appearance.


"A gentle exfoliating wash to remove any dead skin is a good start for having smooth skin before adding moisture and makeup," celebrity makeup artist Denika Bedrossian tells Byrdie. "I love to add moisture all over the face and neck." Once you finish your skincare, give yourself a couple of minutes before you begin doing your makeup. "Allowing the product to sink in will allow your skin to bind beautifully with your makeup products," Bedrossian adds.

Of course, what your skincare should and shouldn't include is very individual. However, using a hydrating serum with hyaluronic acid will help your skin look plumper, and it can help minimize the appearance of wrinkles. And needless to say, using SPF is a must, whether you add it to your skincare or makeup products.


You skip the primer (or you use the wrong one)

With primer, for a lot of people, it seems to be a love or hate relationship. However, if you hate using primer, you most likely just haven't found one that works for your skin specifically. "Makeup primer is a great way to naturally photoshop your face," beauty pro and aesthetician Michele Spellos tells Reader's Digest. "It creates a smoothing effect that will enhance coverage and keep your foundation in place all day."


It is, in particular, those areas where you have wrinkles or fine lines that will benefit from a primer. A good primer will smooth the skin's surface by filling in those tiny lines; that way, when you apply makeup over it, it will be super smooth. While there are silicone and water-based primers, if you're looking to fill in lines and prevent creasing, a silicone one is the better choice.

You use a heavy foundation

A heavy, full-coverage foundation is great for significant events or occasions when you expect to be photographed a lot, but on an everyday basis, it can make you look older than you are. In fact, if you go overboard with any foundation, it will look cakey and set in your lines.


"Don't use too much foundation; just make sure it's applied evenly (and cover the sunspots, if you have them)," celebrity makeup artist Mari Shten reveals to NewBeauty. "Instead, make sure your skin is well-moisturized, and add some glow with a slightly pink undertone to create a more youthful appearance."

Of course, a primer can help your foundation look much more flawless, but even with that, keep in mind that a foundation is supposed to even out your skin tone and not cover every single imperfection on it. After all, you can always go in with concealer afterward and cover up any spots you're not happy with. And as far as application goes, you can use a sponge, brush, or your hands — just ensure that you are applying a very thin layer.


You use too much concealer

Instead of going overboard with a heavy foundation, apply your concealer strategically. Most of us tend to use concealer under our eyes, and with age, the fine lines around them become more prominent. The best tip we can give is to only apply concealer in spots you really need it — which means that you should under no circumstances draw that trendy huge bright triangle under them.


Instead, apply a couple of small dots, mainly focusing on any darker areas. "You can minimize creasing, but since that we are moving, breathing beings, it is not always possible to prevent it altogether," makeup artist Suzy Gerstein tells Byrdie. "Remember to go easy on yourself. As much as a crease annoys you, it's usually nothing a couple of swipes of a damp Beautyblender or a fingertip can't fix."

If your dark circles are very prominent, consider switching to a concealer with pink undertones, as it will help cancel out the darkness even more — and you won't have to use tons of it.

You bake your face makeup

Baking your makeup is a technique that became popular thanks to the drag community and was "used as a way of really setting the foundation into the skin, so it lasts longer, without the need to reapply powder constantly while performing," makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic tells Refinery29. And in the past decade, baking has become a staple for many beauty lovers. While you can bake all over your face, people most commonly bake their under eyes to brighten them up and provide a full-coverage look.


However, even though baking is an excellent method to set your makeup, the amount of powder that ends up on your face is much higher, which is why it will end up creasing after a while. "Baking can look good if you're 16 and have no wrinkles because there's nothing to crease on you, right? But if you're 35 and older, I believe that it's just unnecessary," beauty influencer Andreea Ali shares in a YouTube video. Instead of baking, apply a tiny amount of setting powder under your eyes and in your T-zone, if necessary.

You contour too much

Contouring your face has become such a crucial part of makeup. However, since the face tends to lose fat as we age, contouring can make the face appear even more hollow — aging you in the process. Instead, you'll want to use less product and be strategic with the placement.


"You want to contour your face in a way that gives you a lift. You can do this by placing your contour a little higher and just slightly under your cheekbone," makeup artist Theresa Novicky suggests to SHEfinds. "This will lift your face. Also, slightly above the jawline to lift that area as well. Less is more with mature skin. So start off really light and add more if you need to."

And since a lot of people tend to mix contour with bronzer, let's clarify that the two are separate makeup items. Contour is cool-toned, and it's supposed to mimic the natural shadows of your face, while bronzer is warm-toned, can contain glitter, and is meant to warm up your face by giving you a sun-kissed appearance.


You don't use blush

If there's one makeup item that can immediately help you look more youthful, it's definitely blush. Having rosy pink cheeks instantly makes you look more alive; however, knowing the proper blush placement is crucial.


"Use a cream blush — in pink and peachy tones — on top of the apples of the cheeks, and use a makeup brush to swipe it across your forehead," Mari Shten reveals to NewBeauty. "This will bring more color to your face, keeping your makeup looking bright and fresh." Apart from using blush on your cheeks and forehead, you can also dab some onto the bridge of your nose as well as your eyelids. This will instantly make you look like you spent the whole day outdoors.

While you can still use any blush color you like, shades with a pink undertone for fair skin and a purple undertone for darker skin will make you look like you are actually blushing. This will instantly give your face some fullness in the cheek area — something that often gets lost with age.


You have a heavy hand with highlighter

Luckily, the days when we used to cover our faces in highlighter are over, as we nowadays know much better. However, sometimes we can still go a bit overboard with highlighter, especially if it's one that we adore. Placing a little here and there — and next thing you know, your face is glowing like a disco ball, and your fine lines are more visible than ever.


To ensure your highlighter isn't aging you, pick a cream one without glitter chunks in it. You want your skin to look like satin and not have any visible glitter chunks on it. "If you have more textured areas, do not add highlighter to that area, as it can exaggerate and give you the opposite effect of what you want," makeup artist Jessica Sanner tells NewBeauty.

Instead of using an actual highlighter, you can also use your skincare to create a beautiful sheen on your skin. Dab a drop of an oil serum to the high points of your cheeks, and avoid adding any powder products to that area.

Your eye makeup is too dark

Here's the thing — just because you have some fine lines around your eyes doesn't mean you can't pull off a rocker chic messy smoky eye. However, you might want to change a few steps to ensure the dark eye makeup doesn't age you. First, use an eye primer to prevent the dark eyeshadows from creasing in any fine lines. Avoid going for black or gray shadows; instead, reach for a deep brown, as it will warm up your face. And instead of going for a thick eyeliner look, grab a pair of wispy false lashes that will lift your eyes and also hide any potential creasing.


However, opting for a lighter-colored eye look will instantly make you look younger, so giving that a chance is what we recommend. "Highlighting the corners makes eyes look brighter and fresh," makeup artist Kimara Ahnert tells InStyle. "Use a light color shadow in matte or shimmer to the inner corner, lower lash line in the outer corner, and the inner lid." However, be aware that glitter can enhance fine lines, so only stick to applying glittery eyeshadow in the inner half of your eyes.

You use powder and glitter eyeshadows

When it comes to eyeshadows, using cream ones over powders will help enhance your eyes without accentuating your fine lines. However, do keep in mind that it's best to opt for a long-wearing formula and always use a primer underneath. Apart from switching from powder shadows to cream ones, you should also stick to matte or glowy formulas and avoid glittery ones. "Glittery shadows can be very aging," makeup artist Pati Dubroff tells Good Housekeeping. "Glimmer exaggerates wrinkles and minimizes contours."


If you're having a hard time saying no to glitter, be mindful of its placement. Instead of putting glittery eyeshadow all over your eyelid, put it just in your inner corner for some extra sparkle. For a similar effect, you can also use face jewels, which, if placed alongside your eyeliner or in your inner corner, can make your eyes sparkle and give you a youthful appearance. After all, that is a trend recently popularized by Gen-Z, so why not try it?

You overdo your eyebrows

"Naturally, as you age, your brows generally get a little patchier," brow expert Joey Healy tells Coveteur. "Also, the tail tends to drop, which can pull down the eye and make it look droopy. Unfortunately, this also happens in an asymmetrical way. Some people think it's because of the side you sleep on, but the tail does drop. The quality of the hair also changes, and it suffers as time goes on."


To ensure your eyebrows look as youthful as possible, it's best not to overpluck them — a couple of stray hairs are fine, but don't make them thinner like we used to in the '90s. Also, opt for an eyebrow pen or pomade in a shade lighter than your hair, as too dark eyebrows can make you look older. If you have noticed that your brows have become lighter in color or you even spot some grays, an eyebrow tint is an easy way to get a more permanent result.

You prefer powder products to creams

One of our best tips that can change how your makeup looks is to swap out your powder products for cream ones. Not only do creams look much more natural, making it seem like you're barely wearing any makeup, but they will also give you a dewy, youthful sheen. "I avoid powders in general and gravitate toward cream blushes, really wanting the skin to look natural, fresh, and hydrated with a healthy glow," makeup artist Beth Follert tells Ipsy.


Of course, this doesn't mean you can't use powder products. Just be aware of how they tend to settle into lines, making you appear older. So, it's best to use them only in areas where you absolutely need them (or in areas you don't have any wrinkles). Luckily, every powder product is available in cream form nowadays, which is why you can find a creamy substitute for your favorite blushes and contour products.

You apply lipstick without lip liner

Lip liner should be a crucial part of everyone's makeup routine as it prevents any of the lipstick from bleeding into the lines around your mouth throughout the day. With age, these lines tend to get more prominent, which is why it's super important not to skip this step.


"A lot of times when you wear lipstick, especially as you age and get a little bit of the fine lines around your lips, it's very common for lipsticks to gradually blur the edges of your lip and go outside of your lip line," celebrity makeup artist Christin Cook Zito explains to Today. "That's what I would call the bleed of a lip [product]. That is specifically what lip liner prevents."

Apart from preventing your lipstick from bleeding, lip liner is also great for making your lips more symmetrical, which can become a problem with age. Evening the lips out is something you can do with liner, and when you apply lipstick over it, you can rest assured knowing that the lip liner will help the lipstick stay put for longer.


You wear matte lipsticks

Here's the thing: Pulling off matte lips gets harder with age. Not only does the matte appearance make your lips look dryer and thereby ages you, but the matte finish also enhances all the lines on your lips — and well, with age, there's just more of them. "Heavy, opaque coverage with a strong line makes your lips look thin and age you by 15 years," makeup artist Fiona Stiles explains to Good Housekeeping. "I like sheerer formulas, patted on with your ring finger."


If you want to avoid the dreaded crusty-lipped look, you can use a lip scrub to ensure you remove any dead flakes from them. After that, go in with a thin layer of concealer, after which you should put on a generous amount of lip balm. Once that sets in a bit, go in with your lip liner and lipstick, preferably in a lighter color.

You don't use a setting spray

Setting spray is the one makeup item besides primer that will help your makeup stay put — and with age, that's the most important thing you can look for. "Setting sprays absolutely make a difference in the wear of your makeup," celebrity makeup artist Gloria Elias-Foeillet reveals to Byrdie. "They prolong the life of your makeup application."


While the traditional way to use setting spay is at the end of your makeup routine, spray a thin layer after each step if you want to ensure your makeup is even more set into place. That last spray of it will ensure your makeup doesn't look too powdery and give some of that skin-like appearance back to your face. Setting spray is also great for reviving makeup that's been on your face for a while, and if you ever find that your cream products aren't blending nicely, a spritz of setting spray should do the trick.

You don't fix your makeup throughout the day

Perhaps the easiest makeup mistake you're making that you can fix is adjusting your makeup throughout the day. "So many women don't maintain their makeup during the day, and runny mascara or liner ends up settling in wrinkles," celebrity makeup artist Stephen Sollitto tells Good Housekeeping. "Toss a few Q-Tips in your bag, and use it to clean up throughout the day. You'll look fresher and, in turn, younger."


After all, it would be crazy to expect your makeup to stay perfectly put all day, no matter what primer or setting powder you use. Luckily, with a small makeup bag of essentials, you can always do a couple of touch-ups every time you go to a bathroom. And keep in mind — the less makeup you wear, the less there is to fix, so if you're having a busy day, keep your makeup as natural as possible.