Applying makeup is a skill and like any skill it takes practice to master. Seeing women with flawless makeup that accentuates their features without any of the faults of cakey foundation or spidery mascara is a thing to be envied, but they had to start somewhere too. Everyone has tried (and lost) the battle with the wrong eye shadow or over plucked brows, but there are a few surefire ways to avoid some of the usual errors people make when applying (and buying) makeup. Here are 5 make-up tips to perfect your look.

5Find a great primer

When primers first hit the mainstream market, many people dismissed them as a gimmick but professional makeup artists knew that this was no gimmick. Long before L’Oreal and Maybelline were carrying $10 primers, Urban Decay and Smashbox were experimenting with the best formulas for cosmetic primers.

Used under your makeup, primers can do a multitude of things from smooth fine lines, fill acne scars, prevent oily T-zones and extend the life of your makeup. While your specific requirements for your skin may differ, primers will help your makeup look the absolute best for the longest amount of time. Even without makeup, primer can diminish oiliness and sheen and diminish imperfections.

Most primers are silicon or water based and will offer different benefits. Find one that works for you and use it religiously.

4Match your foundation

Gone are the days when foundation came in a handful of unflattering shades. Now there are hundreds of shades and finishes for foundation. Semi-sheer to full-coverage and from the palest skin to the darkest, companies have caught on that foundation is never one-size-fit-all.

Unfortunately, this can make finding your perfect shade of foundation a doozy. Unmatched foundation can be glaringly obvious to the onlooker: that telltale pale (or tanned) face above a neck and décolletage of a distinctly different shade is nothing to aspire to. When choosing a foundation make sure you’re not wearing any makeup on your face that changes the natural color of your skin and swipe the foundation on your jawline. Try multiple colors at once and try to see it in natural light for the best results. Bring a friend or enlist the help of a store associate to get an unbiased opinion as well.

3Use blackest black mascara

Mascara formulas have changed very little since their inception 50 years ago, but one recent addition has made them extra great: an FDA approved carbon-black pigment, which offers the blackest black mascara you can buy. Now, don’t think you have to go out and drop the big bucks on this, every makeup company worth their weight in salt is using this pigment, but you do need to own one mascara in this color.

Blackest black mascara is a color that looks beautiful on all eye shapes and colors. Its deep color gives the illusion of bigger eyes and makes lashes appear thicker and longer. Even if you don’t wear a lot of makeup, blackest black mascara can wake you up or tie your look together.

2Build for coverage

When you’ve finally chosen a foundation and had it perfectly color-matched, the last thing you want to do is go home and put it on with a spackling knife. While it may be tempting to gob on your foundation in an attempt to conceal your imperfections, doing this may not actually cover your blemishes and it will make your foundation appear thick and cakey. Building for coverage is the name of the game. Several light layers are the best way to conceal blemishes and this allows you to keep a light hand over areas that don’t need a lot of coverage. Remember, makeup is about accentuating what you already have, not wearing a mask.

1Don’t forget your eyebrows

Eyebrows frame the eyes and anchor the face. They are expressive features that shouldn’t be neglected or abused. Over plucking your eyebrows is a crime that should be avoided at all costs. If you’ve already gone too far with the tweezers one too many times, try castor oil to encourage the hair to regrow and if your eyebrows are still natural, pay for an eyebrow shaping from a reputable salon with experience in shaping. If your eyebrows are pale or a bit patchy, invest in eyebrow fillers in a color slightly paler than you’d think you need and a good eyebrow brush.

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