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Makeup mishaps: the hilarious highs and lows of beauty

Ah, makeup. The great equaliser and confidence booster. An exquisite art form some mornings, an existential crisis on others. Let's be honest, even the most seasoned beauty buffs have stumbled into makeup mishaps once or twice. If you think you’ve screwed up more than most, here’s some errors that will make your stomach churn.

Fellow wielders of mascara wands and eyebrow pencils, sit tight! This is, after all, a safe space to confess collective makeup crimes - against humanity (and good taste). You just might discover your mishaps are minor in comparison. 

woman removing a clow's mask to highlight makeup mishaps

Biggest makeup mishaps? The foundation faux pas

We've all been there: the foundation shade that makes you resemble an Oompa Loompa or a fake tan that’s gone hideously wrong. Or, perhaps, you went a touch too heavy with full coverage, creating a face that looks like a mask - one akin to those used during a bank heist. 

Here's the thing, foundation isn't meant to be your secret identity; it's supposed to enhance your natural beauty, not erase it entirely. 

But, still… There’s the beauty therapist who can’t spot her own tide marks, the teens with blotches of dried product around spots and, for practically anyone, tiny damp clumps wedged in brows. 

Then there’s the dewy finish that manages to highlight every pore like a dog hater who revels in drawing circles with chalk around poop on pavements. The matte that dries down to a crumbly powder not unlike the arsenic-laced concoctions of Victorian times, showing off every flake of uneven skin.

What else could possibly go wrong with this makeup staple? Plenty! There’s the crisp white shirt (or, God forbid, wedding dress) that is forever stained around the collar, the spills on furniture and, we mustn’t forget, the pumps that never seem to deliver the exact amount of product (or any product at all). It has a habit of leaving a greasy residue on mobile phone screens, comes off every time we blow our nose and tends to evaporate into thin air at the exact moment we really need to look our best.

Poorly applied foundation on a woman's face
Worst case scenerio here - orange and patchy!

Tip: Apply foundation from the centre of the face and work outwards. Build the product to avoid heaviness. Blend under the chin well to avoid a harsh line. Always use a magnifying mirror when applying foundation or to check immediately after. Set with a very light dusting of powder and set again with a spray. To minimise a powdery finish, use a setting spray at least twice and quick-dry with a fan. 

The eyebrow debacle

Eyebrows: the lead singer in a band of facial expressions. But, oh, how easy it is to turn them from graceful arches into angry caterpillars. Ever succumb to the allure of the ultra-thin brow trend popular in the distant past (ahem, the ’90s)? Not quite moved on? Or, maybe, you have been ultra keen to boast the full and fluffy look. That’s cool right now, but it’s oh-so-easy to fall into the trap of being over-enthusiastic with a brow pencil. Creating an expression of perpetual surprise that would rival Jim Carrey truly isn’t in vogue.

Filling in, teasing, waxing, setting… Blimey, housework can be less of a chore! Here’s to long fringes trending again very soon. Think of all the time we will save - hiding brows behind a cloak of silky glossiness. 

In the meantime, don’t be tempted to shave them off to go in freehand. Avoid home lamination kits, don’t dye them and keep scissors well away from your eyes.

Remember, brows are siblings, not twins. Embrace their individuality, even if it means one is slightly higher than the other. Go in with light, individual pencil strokes and don’t be afraid to utilise a spoolie to tidy everything up.

Thin drawn on eyebrows
Drawn-on eyebrows are never a good look - especially if they are thin like these

The eyeshadow escapade

Oh, eyeshadow; my favourite! A universe of colours and textures that promise to make our eyes pop, but often leave us looking like pantomime dames. Ever had a ‘pop’ turn into a full-blown explosion? Me too! 

We've all seen the dreaded zebra eye effect, a testament to the perils of overzealous blending (or lack of). Then there's the Disco Ball Diva, whose loaded swipes of glitter takes her from runway-ready to rave casualty in a single blink. 

Remember, subtlety is your friend. Apply with a light touch, build and then blend, blend, blend!

Go for gradient styles on mature skin and avoid taking pigments right up to the brows. Keep transition shades where they should be - in and just above the crease. Only use shimmers and glitters in the corner or centre of the lid. 

Mascara madness

Mascara, the magic wand that promises luscious lashes that flutter with every blink. But the road to fluttery fabulousness is paved with clumpy disasters. Ever find yourself resembling a startled Black Widow spider after a mascara malfunction? Or perhaps you went a bit overboard with the layers, creating a look more suited for a gothic novel than a grocery run.  

Here's a tip: less is more. A gentle wiggle and a couple of coats are all you need to achieve flutter-worthy lashes, not spidery nightmares.

For those accidental blobs and streaks, either gently remove with a cotton bud or allow to dry and dust away with a clean brush. Invest in a waterproof product to avoid the Alice Cooper look.

Woman whose mascara has run
Oops! Should've gone for a waterproof mascara

Travel size mascaras are a great way to try premium brands, but… If you are used to using a full-sized product, a sampler is more likely to end up poking you in the eye. Be aware of the hazard if, like me, you regularly switch between the two. When it comes to makeup mishaps, this is one of the most painful. 

Highlighter hysteria

Highlighter is heralded as the key to a radiant, dewy complexion, but a heavy hand can quickly turn that illuminating glow into a full-blown oil slick. Don’t want to resemble a disco ball sweating under hot stage lights?  Remember, highlighter is meant to accentuate your cheekbones and cupid's bow, not replace your moisturiser. A light touch goes a long way, my friend.

The problem with highlighter is that it doesn’t take much to be too much, if you know what I mean. And it isn’t suitable for all complexions at all application points. You should tailor your use of illuminators to spotlight your best features. Used incorrectly, a highlighter can do more than make you look sweaty. This is a product that can be unforgivingly ageing. Avoid using it near fine lines and wrinkles, and invest in a very thin, fanned highlighter brush to ensure the lightest application. 

Blush blunders

Blush is the BFF that adds a touch of youthful flush to your cheeks. Except, sometimes that flush turns into a flare of sunburn - or worse. We've all seen the ‘clown blush’ phenomenon, where a heavy hand has transformed a sweet look into a character straight out of The House on Sorority Row

Blush is meant to mimic a natural flush, not go head-to-head with a ripe tomato. A gentle sweep of the brush is all it takes to add a touch of healthy colour. Then, blend! Diffuse that rouge until it looks completely natural with no harsh lines and only a hint of a tint.

Us beauty suckers are being charged at from all angles when it comes to blush. Not content with just acknowledging that sales are up (because blusher is ‘in’), brands are hurling creams and liquids in our direction as well as duo products. Who on earth needs to apply two blushers? Not me! 

woman wearing a large amount of blusher
Yep, that's far, far too much blush

The lipstick fiasco

Lipstick is often seen as the ultimate symbol of confidence and glamour. But even the most ardent lipstick wearer has encountered a mishap or two. If your lipstick has ever bled outside the lip lines, you will recognise the look more suited to Halloween than a date night. Or, perhaps, you chanced a shade and it clashed so spectacularly with your outfit that you feared it could be seen from outter space? Or, at least, across a crowded room.

Yes, makeup mishaps with lipstick can be blinding. Remember, lipstick is an accessory, not war paint. Choose a shade that complements your look and, for Pete's sake, apply within the lines!

bright red lipstick on woman wearing black and red dress
Only in Hollywood - at least 40 years ago!

Makeup mishaps and learning to laugh at ourselves

Let's face it (pun intended), makeup mishaps are inevitable. The important thing is to remember that they're also hilarious. So, the next time you find yourself looking like a disco ball with spider lashes, take a deep breath, laugh it off and grab your makeup remover. 

After all, a good makeup mistake is a story waiting to be told and, who knows, it might just become the source of one of your most memorable moments.

Got a makeup mishap story to share? Don’t be shy! Tell us all about it in the comments section below.


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