1. Apply your foundation before concealer
Hot tip: The easiest way to level up your makeup routine is to try applying your foundation before concealer. Think about it: Starting with a layer of foundation will help minimize any redness or discoloration—almost like you’re creating a smooth base for the rest of your products. You can then go in with your concealer to spot treat any zits or remaining redness, and you’ll end up using way less product in the process. Another plus? Foundation before concealer is a genius fix for preventing caking and creasing.
2. Maintain your eyebrows with a spoolie brush
On busy days when I don’t have time to fill in my eyebrows, I like to do the next best thing: quickly comb up my arches with a spoolie brush (aka those little mascara wands). And even when I do have time for powders, gels, and pencils, I still like to prep my brows with my spoolie—it takes 10 seconds max, and it’s an easy way to make sure each of my brow hairs are in the right spot before I go in with my products. Pro makeup tip: You can buy spoolie brushes in bulk for v cheap (I like the Cuttte Disposable Mascara Brushes) or go for something reusable (I’m a fan of Uoma Beauty’s Brow-Fro Baby Hair, which also has a precision pencil on one end).
3. Exfoliate your lips before applying lipstick
Okay, you know when you apply lipstick and it doesn’t go on smooth? Try prepping your lips with a gentle lip scrub (I like the Beauty Bakerie Sugar Lip Scrub or the KNC Beauty Lip Scrub) —the physical exfoliation will help buff away any dry skin sitting on top of your lips, leaving you with a smoother, softer canvas for your products. One thing to keep in mind: Lip scrubs should only be used once a week max—anything more and you’ll risk irritation (aka the opposite vibe you’re going for).
4. Don’t sleep on blush
It might seem like an obvious step in your makeup routine, but IMO, blush is the most underrated product. A couple sweeps of cream or powder blush along the high points of your cheeks will give your entire look a brighter, warmer finish with pure ease. “I use blush on all my clients—it gives the skin that fresh and rejuvenated look and it adds the perfect amount of depth to the face,” makeup artist Lakeisha Dale has told Cosmo. And, no, that doesn’t mean you need to pick a bright-pink blush or anything like that—try going for something soft and glowy, like one of the picks below.
5. Melt your pencil liner to help it glide
Fact: Creamy makeup products blend better when they’re warmed up. So if your kohl eyeliner pencil skips or tugs on your eyelid or takes multiple coats for a decent color payoff, melt it down slightly before you start lining. To do so, hold the tip of your kohl liner under the flame of a lighter for a second or until it gets tacky, let it cool slightly (swatch it on your hand to make sure it’s not too hot or melted), then watch the consistency change right before your eyes.
6. Make your eyeshadow pop with white eyeliner
To make a sheer or less pigmented eyeshadow appear more vibrant on your eyelid, blend a white eyeliner pencil over your entire eyelid first. Then, put your eyeshadow right on top. The opaque coverage of the white liner will intensify any eyeshadow shade and make it pop.
7. Outline your cat eye
If you’re struggling with nailing your winged eyeliner look (also, hi, same, I feel you), try drawing the outline of the shape first and then filling it in. Extend a line beyond your lower lash line to create the bottom of your cat eye first. Then, decide on the thickness you want for your wing, and trace the top line from the end point of your flick to your upper lash line. Once you have the shape mapped out on both sides and everything looks symmetrical, fill in the open space.
8. Use a spoon as a stencil for winged liner
If freehand drawing your cat eye just isn’t gonna happen for you, grab a spoon and use it as a stencil. Holding the stem of a spoon against the outer corner of your eye, use a liquid eyeliner to draw a straight line as the first step for your cat eye. Then, flip the spoon so it’s hugging your eyelid, and use the rounded outer edge to create a perfectly curved winged effect.
9. Hack a smoky eye with a hashtag
A smoky eye can go from sultry to sloppy real fast if you don’t know what you’re doing. To keep it simple, use a creamy eyeliner to draw a slanted hashtag symbol on the outer third of your eyelid, then blend it out with the sponge or a smudging brush. This will not only ensure that both eyes are symmetrical, but also prevent you from getting a little too crazy with the eyeliner.
10. Use a spoon as a mascara shield
Nothing is more annoying than making your eyeshadow look perfect, and then swiping on mascara and ruining the whole thing with smudges. The fix? Hold a spoon so it’s hugging your eyelid, then apply your mascara like you normally would. As you sweep the mascara wand against your lashes and the back of the spoon, the residue will coat the back of the utensil rather than your skin. Genius.