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5 Application Mistakes Messing Up Your Eye Makeup

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The eyes are a delicate area for makeup application, where product can easily dot, crease, cake, glop, smudge and smear—so it's probably a safe bet that you've encountered one or two eye makeup problems over and over again in your beauty lifetime.

We regularly field complaints about certain problems—from raccoon eyes to gloppy mascara—without hearing any firm solutions for these woes. To settle the matter, we turned to three makeup geniuses for their absolute best eye makeup fixes. Turns out, you might be making simple mistakes that's throwing off your whole eye makeup game. Here, we let the experts explain.

Problem: Shadow Creasing
Mistake: You're Skipping a Base
Hate those pesky creases that come with extra-hours shadow wear? NARS lead makeup artist Jenny Smith says those happen when you skip an eyeshadow base. "Before applying shadow, always smooth on a primer like NARS Pro-Prime Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base ($25; narscosmetics.com) to give the shadow something to adhere to," she explains. "That way, it won't get creased." (See: 4 Makeup Tips for Perfectly Primed Eyes.)

The alternative is using a concealer as your base, says celebrity makeup artist Marni Burton. "My go-to is NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in 'Custard' ($29; narscosmetics.com)," says Burton. "It makes the shadow color pop more. Then I'd try a matte shadow—HOURGLASS Modernist Palettes ($58; sephora.com) are beautiful. Overlap a sparkle or shimmer directly in the center of the lid if desired."


Problem: Cakey Shadow
Solution: You're Not Hydrating the Lid
If the delicate skin on your eyelids is dry, your shadow will immediately cake. "Be sure to hydrate your eye area using andeye cream, like NARS Total Replenishing Eye Cream ($55; narscosmetics.com)," says Smith. "When the skin is hydrated, the shadow will go on smoothly."

You also need to use the right products. Although they glide on smooth, cream shadows tend to cake up after a little wear time. "A liquid eye shadow is far more mistake-proof!" says Burton. "ARMANI is the only company to make this so far, and I love it." Try Giorgio Armani Eye Tint ($38; nordstom.com) for the look.

Problem: Receding Eyes
Mistake: Your Eyeliner Doesn't Have Staying Power
Your eyes may seem to recede when you use a darker liner that wears off easily. "It looks great when you apply, then an hour later when you check, it's faded," says Burton. "I love Bobbi Brown's Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner ($25; bobbibrowncosmetics.com). It stays perfect for hours on end."

Another trick is in the application. "Women need to think 'connect the dots,'" says celebrity makeup artist Julie Morgan. "Do this by connecting your lashes with dashes of liner." This method really gets down in there between those lashes, so the line won't fade fast. "I like Chantecaille Le Stylo Ultra Slim in brown ($34; chantecaille.com), because it has a very fine tip, it's long-wearing, and it's easy to control."


Problem: Raccoon Eyes
Mistake: You're Not Setting Makeup or You're Using the Wrong Pencil
You can solve liner and shadow raccoon eye with the right tricks. For shadow, you need the base, says Burton. "Many people don't realize that little flakes fall while applying their shadow," she says. "To prevent this, powder under the eyes beforehand with a product like Laura Mercier Brightening Powder ($24; lauramercier.com), and then again when you are finishing applying your eye-makeup. At the very end, remember to dust the powder away from mascara with a fan brush like MAC's 205 Fan Brush ($20; maccosmetics.com)."

If your liners run, Morgan says you're probably reaching for the wrong product. "My trick is using my Dior Brow Styler in universal brown ($29; sephora.com) or Kevyn Aucoin brow pencil ($26; nordstrom.com) as liner in my lower lashes, because the consistency doesn't budge and the tip is so fine," says Morgan. "After applying, I sweep or smudge over with a clean brush to take away the extra pigment that will create raccoon eye." (Want more eye makeup tips? Learn How to Apply Makeup, According to a Makeup Artist.)


Problem: Gloppy Mascara
Mistake: You're Wielding Your Wand Incorrectly
According to Burton, not all wands are created equally. "For example, the YSL Babydoll Mascara ($30; sephora.com) wand isn't meant to wiggle back and forth," Burton explains. "The mascara doesn't go on smoothly when you do. But MAC Haute and Naughty Too Black Lash ($22; maccosmetics.com) are meant to be wiggled back and forth on application." How do you tell 'em apart? Look at the length. Short bristles probably may do well wiggling, whereas longer bristles will.

When in doubt, though, you can do both. Smith says her application trick is to "always lean your head back and wiggle the wand through lashes, and then comb out at the end for any lashes that may be sticking together."

If that's still producing glops, use Morgan's trick: "I open new mascara and completely clean off the wand to help reduce glop going forward," she says "Then I pinch the lashes after application if I spot a globby spot."

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