You know the type of woman we’re talking about—the one who never has a hair out of place, whose skin is always glowy, and whose mascara is never smudged. How does she do it? She definitely has a few tricks up her sleeve, and believe it or not, one of them may be dialing back on the makeup. “A great general rule of thumb that always looks elegant and timeless—and perhaps seen very little in today’s makeup-obsessed culture—is ‘less is more,’ especially if you want your makeup to last throughout the day,” says Los Angeles–based celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert Geoffrey Rodriguez. “The more makeup you apply, the greater the chance of smudges and smears.” That’s also one of the makeup mistakes that can seriously age your face.
And, of course, it’s important to remember that great makeup starts with a great canvas, so it’s essential to take proper care of your skin. “It’s no secret that makeup looks the best when our skin is cared for,” says celebrity aesthetician and dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar. “During the winter months, the biggest complaint I receive from clients is dry, flaky facial skin—no matter how much moisturizer they use. For a flawless, natural-looking makeup canvas, I recommend gently exfoliating. Exfoliating allows humectants to bypass dead keratin layers and hydrate the skin from within.” Aguilar suggests exfoliating before bed, then following with an intense, hydrating overnight mask and sleeping next to a warm-mist humidifier set between 40 and 60 percent.
Now that you know those basics, here are the 16 beauty secrets makeup artists say are essential to looking flawless. Once you’re up to speed, find out the makeup rules you should know by the time you’re 40.