14 Professional Makeup Hacks That Cost Next to Nothing

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Stuck in a makeup-routine rut? Wish you could improve your technique or expand your skills?

If you wear makeup on a regular basis, the answer to both questions probably is “yes,” at least from time to time.

Fortunately, help is here. Many professional makeup artists are eager to share their best tips and tricks on the Internet for free.

Not only are the following hacks free, but implementing them also costs little or nothing. No expensive professional tools or high-end products are necessary.

1. Learn your eye and face shapes

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For better results, base your makeup application on your eye and face shape. How you apply eyeliner, for example, can determine whether your eyes appear bigger.

An Internet search for different face and eye shapes will lead you to plenty of articles and videos from pros. Once you figure out your shapes, find makeup tips tailored to them.

2. Reduce redness with Visine

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No, we’re not talking about eyes — we’re talking about pimples. Bryan Barron, who heads the research team at cosmetics company Paula’s Choice, explains:

“Some people get more inflamed pimples because their skin’s immune system has a stronger response to what is going on underneath the skin. So, it is worth a try. You want to use something that says it gets the red out like Visine. It won’t work if you just use artificial tears or something that is designed for dry eyes.”

Barron says this trick won’t work for everyone — and won’t zap zits — but it is harmless to try. He recommends putting a few drops on a cotton swab and dabbing on the tetrahydrozoline ophthalmic — that’s the generic name for Visine’s main ingredient.

3. Diminish dark circles with Visine

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New York dermatologist Dr. David Bank tells Allure magazine that patting one or two drops of Visine on the skin under your eyes can help make dark circles less noticeable:

“Broken or dilated blood vessels under your eyes often cause or contribute to dark circles, especially if your skin is very fair. Visine constricts blood vessels, so it’ll make that less obvious.”

This trick only works on dark circles caused by such blood vessels, though, not those caused by genetics or skin discoloration known as hyperpigmentation.

4. Make your own tinted moisturizer

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Combining your makeup foundation or concealer with your moisturizer can be a lot cheaper than buying a separate product that’s marketed as a tinted moisturizer, beauty balm (aka BB cream) or color/correct product (aka CC cream).

And unlike preformulated products, you can customize the degree of tint.

5. Try Milk of Magnesia as a primer

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This swap can save you a small fortune in makeup primer. And it might work even better than products designed to be primers.

Professional makeup artist and popular YouTube vlogger Wayne Goss explains:

“What if there was a product, a product so good that it could make your makeup last two, three, four times longer than it currently does in terms of the oiliness that comes through? What is there was a product that could fill in all your pores or at least really greatly minimize them?

Well there is — and it costs $1.”

Goss cautions against swapping in Milk of Magnesia (the brand name of a product with the active ingredient magnesium hydroxide) more than a few times per week, however. Using it too often could cause inflammation.

6. Try applying powder before foundation

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The crux of this technique is applying powder before applying a makeup foundation rather than vice versa, as is traditionally done.

As a result, foundation wears better. The technique also offers other benefits, as Goss explains:

“This foundation tip can definitely, definitely make your foundation stay on longer, a lot longer, throughout the day.

For those of you with dry skin, you may not need to powder at all after you’ve applied your foundation. … For those of you with large pores and fine lines and wrinkles … it can go a [long] way in concealing those.”

7. Blot your foundation

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Blotting your face with a one-ply layer of tissue after applying foundation helps remove excess oil in the foundation before you apply powder to set it.

To get a one-ply piece of tissue, simply separate the two layers of a regular piece of facial tissue.

8. Exfoliate your lips

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Regular exfoliation ensures smoother application of lipstick or other lip color.

Instead of shelling out for a product designed for this purpose, though, the Paula’s Choice research team suggests creating your own lip scrub by mixing table sugar and petroleum jelly (the generic name for Vaseline’s main ingredient).

Gently buffing your lips with a wet washcloth in the shower can also help.

Exfoliation should be immediately followed by application of an emollient lip balm to moisturize lips, however. So it helps to exfoliate before bed if you wear lip color during the day.

9. Blot lips with blotting paper instead of tissue

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Blotting paper is designed to be dabbed against your face to remove excess oil generated by your skin throughout the day, thereby helping keep your makeup in place longer.

That’s why blotting paper can also make lipstick and lip liner last longer, Chanel celebrity makeup artist Kate Lee tells Real Simple magazine:

“Unlike a tissue, it’s designed to absorb oil, leaving behind only a stain of pigment.”

10. Make your own gel eyeliner

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An eyeliner in pencil form can temporarily be converted into a gel liner by poking the pencil tip into the flame of a lighter for just one second.

Just remember to then give the liner 10 to 20 seconds to cool before using.

11. Warm up mascara before use

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Many people swear by this trick to improve mascara application or wear, although methods of warming the product vary.

Some women take a hairdryer to their mascara tube or put the capped tube in warm water for a moment. Others let their body heat do the work, rolling the tube back and forth in their palms or placing it inside their bras.

12. ‘Set’ eyebrows with hairspray

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Add a spritz of hairspray to a spoolie brush or toothbrush, and run it through your brows. If you’re wearing brow makeup, this should be the last step.

Reddit user hannypoppie cited this as one of her favorite makeup hacks on Reddit’s “Makeup Addiction” forum:

“I spray a bit of hairspray on my spoolie and run it through my brows when I’m done filling in my brows and I want them to stay on all day. It’s amazing … and I can’t feel the hairspray.”

13. Always remove your makeup before bed

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You might be tired tonight, but take a few minutes to cleanse before you hit the pillow. Your skin will thank you — and you’ll thank yourself — in the morning.

Bryan Barron of Paula’s Choice writes at Refinery29:

“Blotchy skin, breakouts, puffy eyes, and even red, irritated eyes often result from skipping that all-important bedtime ritual. … Traces of eye makeup left on overnight will build up over time, leading to irritated eyes and a less than flawless complexion.”

14. Let eye makeup ‘soak’ before removal

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The skin around our eyes — where we often wear heavy or waterproof makeup — tends to be thin, sensitive and wrinkle-prone.

Instead of rubbing and tugging at the area every time she removes eye makeup, celebrity makeup artist Lisa Eldridge wets a cotton round with makeup remover and holds it over her closed eyes for a minute.

Combined with a little patting motion, this helps loosen the makeup enough to ease off the bulk of it — even glued-on false eyelashes.

Alternatively, some people swear by cheap staples like baby oil or petroleum jelly as stubborn-makeup removers.

For more tips and tricks to trim the cost of your beauty routine, check out “8 Ways to Never Pay Full Price for Makeup” and “6 Retailers That Take the Sting Out of Cosmetics Shopping.”

What’s your favorite makeup hack? Share your ideas with us and other readers by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page.

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