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Blunder: You lined around your entire eye with too heavy a hand.
Better: Concentrating on your upper lash line will give you the open-eyed look you want. Place the pencil on the inner corner of the upper lashes and sweep a stiff line across to the other corner. Use less pressure on the bottom lashes and soften any hard lines with a cotton swab or eyeliner brush.
Blunder: Your liner shade is too dark or your lipstick wears off long before your liner does, leaving you with an unflattering outline around your lips.
Better: Using the pencil shade that most resembles your natural lip color, start by lining from the corner of your upper lip and working toward the center; repeat on the other side and again on the bottom lip. Next, completely fill in your lips with the liner. Doing so helps ensure that once you top with lipstick it will wear away slowly -- and evenly.
Blunder: You're wearing the wrong shade of foundation.
Better: Consider visiting a department store makeup counter and testing a few different shades and formulas. The perfect shade will disappear into your skin when you blend it. At the drugstore, use the beauty companies' much-improved skin-tone guides to help you find your perfect match.
Blunder: Either you've applied too much mascara or the formula is dried out and can't go on evenly.
Better: A fresh tube makes for a cleaner application, so toss mascara three months after opening. Before applying, pull the wand out of the tube and wipe the brush against the rim to remove any excess mascara. Don't overdo it -- one or two carefully applied coats is sufficient. Clear away tiny clumps with a lash comb.
Blunder: You're placing too much color in the wrong place or you're using the wrong brush.
Better: Ditch the tiny brushes that come with most blushes. Instead, dip a fluffy blush brush into the compact and tap off the excess. Say "cheese" and apply it directly to the apples of the cheek, where your skin naturally flushes, and blend to your hairline.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, September 2006.