By definition, a habit is a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. In makeup, it is great to have habits, especially if they are ones like being on time, using hand sanitizer, and keeping a tidy station, but there are also habits we should work to avoid. These are the sneaky ones because often you may not even realize you do them. Below is a list of some common things that could use a fix.

1. Matchy-matchy makeup is a no-no.

If someone is wearing blue and your immediate choice is to grab the blue eyeshadow, stop yourself. The idea that makeup should match the clothes is an idea of the past, and it is often the sign of an inexperienced artist. I am not suggesting that the color of the clothes should not be used at all in the eye—instead I am challenging you to consider shades that more suit the person’s eye color and skin tone. Yes, sometimes you may use the shade of your client’s clothes as a primary or accent color in the look, but be sure it is by choice and not just a habitual reaction.

Turquoise outfit with matching makeup

2. Never blow on your brushes.

At some point, every makeup artist gets too much product on their brush. When this happens, there are several choices we can make and one of them is a disaster. If your immediate reaction is to blow the excess away, you need to apply makeup with tape over your mouth!

Makeup artist blowing loose powder off her brush

As innocent as this blow may seem, it is totally unsanitary and revolting to the client who sees it happen. Instead of blowing you can tap the excess away on the edge of the table, swipe it on a tissue or swipe it along the back of your arm. More than air comes out with breath and I can assure you no client wants your germs or spit on their face. Watch yourself, and if you catch yourself doing it, put the brush in the dirty pile and pick up a new one!

3. Treating trends like they are classic techniques.

There are no rules to makeup and all knowledge is valuable, but it is smart to know your sources and exactly what they are teaching you. YouTube is a favorite resource for many artists, but it is also a very dangerous playground. Many of the makeup gurus have no classical training and no actual understanding of technique. They may be good at applying make up to their own faces, but they have little understanding of professional techniques and how these skills might be applied to a variety of different people. I am not suggesting that everyone on YouTube is a hack, I am simply saying there is just as much bad (if not more) than there is good.

One of the reoccurring bad habits I see is young artists watching so many YouTube videos that they start thinking the trends they see are standard ways to apply makeup. For example, as great as heavy contouring, inner waterline lining, strobing, baking, and excessively smoked-out lower lash lines may be, they are trends and should be treated as such.

The danger in learning these techniques without understanding them as trends is that you may make them a part of every single makeup routine. When waterline lining starts appearing in your bridal makeup event though it was not requested by the bride, you know you have a problem. This can be a hard habit to break, because to you, these things may be part of your common application routine. The best way to break them is to get solid training and then reassess your work.

Contour makeup

4. Poor sanitation.

This is the biggest bad habit a makeup artist can have. Not keeping liquid and cream products or application tools clean is detrimental to both the product and the client. When you double dip in your products, you are putting bacteria from the client into the product. These germs can grow and spread to everyone else you work on. This can result in nasty break outs, skin infections or worse.

One way to break this habit is by training yourself to remove all products from their original containers with a clean palette knife when you use them. I would also be remiss to not speak on the cleanliness of brushes. Always sanitize your brushes between every client. Yes, we can be in a hurry if we are working on multiple people, but we have to be conscious of this every time.

Makeup artist applying eyeshadow straight from the palette

You can clean your brushes with a sanitizer between clients, but it is ideal to give them a bath at the very end of the day (there are a great number of sites that will teach you to properly do this). These habits will keep your brushes free of bacteria, save your clients’ skin, and improve the longevity of your expensive tools.

5. Not honoring expiration dates.

Yes, everyone wants to save money and there are lots of great ways to do that, but extending the life of expired product in your kit is not one of them. Expired product can harbor bacteria and no amount of saved money is worth the health of your clients’ skin or your reputation. Consider this article from Elle if you need to be reminded of the general guidelines. The best way to break this habit is by labeling your product. Using a sharpie, write the date by which you need to toss it in a discreet location. When that date comes, toss it!

The worst thing about habits is that they are hard for us to recognize in ourselves. The best advice I can offer is to just practice awareness. If you have read this, and you are guilty of one or more of these habits, you will most likely spot yourself doing it (or not doing it) in the upcoming weeks. Once you see it, you can correct it. Mindfulness is the key ingredient to making change! So, here’s to breaking habits and having an even better career.

Even after you’ve kicked these bad habits, mistakes can happen! Read Nathan’s last post on bouncing back.

Nathan Johnson

Author Nathan Johnson

More posts by Nathan Johnson

Leave a Reply