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Achieve your best makeup yet with these expert-suggested New Year's resolutions

Master a new look in 2022.

A variety of makeup tools including makeup brushes, lipsticks, eyeshadow palettes, and more. Credit: Reviewed / Getty

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‘Tis the season to think about the upcoming year. Before the clock strikes midnight, you may be brainstorming New Year’s resolutions for yourself. And while many set lofty fitness goals or swear off their negative habits, there’s nothing wrong with setting a fun intention, like livening up your makeup game.

To get you inspired, we spoke with makeup artists about the most common mistakes people make in their getting-ready routine. They’ve suggested resolutions you can set to improve your technique and results and even boost your confidence, too.

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1. Prioritize your skincare

A person holds up a jar of moisturizer to their eye and smiles.
Credit: Getty Images / Layla Bird

Apply moisturizer to hydrate the skin pre-makeup.

When you think "makeup skills," your mind likely goes straight to a smooth foundation, dazzling eyeshadow, and a bold lip. And while that may be the finished product, it all starts with the basics. But the first and most important resolution you can make is to take care of your skin, says makeup artist Tia Hixon-Schrock, not only as the date changes from December 31 to January 1, but all 365 days of the year. Before she applies makeup to any client, she cleanses and moisturizes the skin for a clean, hydrated base.

That might make your first resolution to commit to cleansing and moisturizing twice daily a part of your routine. You can cater to your skin type by selecting products that are ideal for dry, normal, combination, or oily types. If you're not sure where to start, two tried-and-true options that can work for anyone are the Cerave Hydrating Facial Cleanser and Cerave Daily Moisturizing Lotion, which gently cleanse and lightly hydrate, respectively. For a recommendation catered to your specific skin needs, consider speaking with a dermatologist.

It’s also worth examining your daily habits, like how much water you drink and how well you sleep. “Hydration from the inside is really important—maybe the most important—piece to your healthiest, makeup-ready skin,” Hixon-Schrock says. “And don’t forget to grab a silk pillowcase or two! These really help to combat pulling or wrinkling the skin while we sleep.” After testing several popular silk pillowcases at Reviewed, our beauty editor recommends the Alaska Bear Silk Pillowcase, as it offers the silky feel of a more expensive option but for a fraction of the price. Plus, it has a zipper closure that keeps the pillowcase from sliding out.

2. Don't skip makeup primer

A person looks into a mirror and touches their cheek while smiling.
Credit: Getty Images / Marcos Calvo

Prime the skin for a smoother makeup application.

Once you’ve figured out your skincare set-up, you’re ready to apply concealer and foundation, right? Think again, says makeup artist Alexandra Weinstein. To make for a smoother appearance, she recommends always prepping the skin with a primer before applying any foundations or concealers. “Think about it like painting: You need a primer before you put the paint on the wall. Same goes with your skin,” Weinstein says. “You will need to give your skin a coat of hydration before applying. If your skin is too dry, the foundation will look cakey instead of flawless.”

For skin that leans dry, consider the Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer that claims to hydrate the skin with coconut water while also giving it a smoother, dewy appearance. If your skin doesn't need the extra layer of moisture, try the fan-favorite Smashbox Photo Finish Pore Minimizing Primer. This is ideal for oily or combination skin types, as it claims to reduce oil to keep the face looking matte all day and reduce the appearance of pores.

And priming doesn’t stop there: Applying eye cream before concealer can prevent the under-eyes from looking dry and crepey. “Your skin will always call out when it’s needing some TLC,” says Weinstein. “It will automatically think the concealer is the eye cream and try to absorb the makeup. Put the eye cream on to give your skin the ingredients it needs, then go on top with the concealer.”

A solid option is the Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream, as it not only will leave your delicate eye-area hydrated, but it also claims to brighten using vitamin C, niacinamide, caffeine, and Panax ginseng.

3. Learn new techniques

A person sitting and looking at a makeup palette they're holding.
Credit: Getty Images / Aleksander Nakic

Try out new products and techniques.

Many hesitate to try new makeup products and tricks because they feel unsure about their skills. And that’s OK—not everyone can be a professional makeup artist, but incorporating new products or techniques over time can build your confidence. “Whether you’re a makeup minimalist or maximalist, it truly only takes finding a handful of products that work for you to have the tools you need to show up every day and for every occasion,” says Tonya Mann, a makeup artist and holistic health and beauty coach.

To learn about what products and techniques will work best for you, consider booking a consultation at your favorite store or cosmetics counter. “You’ll be able to work with a professional makeup artist to help you find the perfect products for you,” Mann says. “And if you don’t feel comfortable going to a store, find a local artist or ask your friend that always looks flawless to help you. Investing in yourself and knowing you have the right products to look pulled together in a matter of minutes is truly priceless.”

Sephora offers a Virtual PRO Beauty Consultation (60 minutes) for $60 that's one-on-one and a Virtual Private Group Class (90 minutes) for $180—both of which offer personalized makeup, skincare, hair, and fragrance advice from a Sephora PRO Artist. You can also book an in-store, 20-minute consultation at Sephora for personalized advice from a Beauty Advisor, which is complimentary with a $50 minimum same-day purchase.

4. Take a new lip color for a spin

A person looks into a mirror and applies lipstick.
Credit: Getty Images / SeventyFour

Change your lip color for a simple but noticeable difference.

Swapping out your usual lip color for a new one may seem simple, but it can make a big difference in changing up your overall look. Considering that the color options are endless, try a color-changing lip product that reacts with the pH level of your lips to transform into a shade that flatters your skin tone, suggests makeup artist Jules Annen.

One popular item that fills the bill is the Dior Addict Lip Glow, which comes in 12 shades that all promise to use your body’s “unique chemistry” to subtly adjust to a custom hue for your lips.

5. Perfect the art of blending

A person blends black eyeshadow on their eyelid.
Credit: Getty Images / coja1108

Regardless of the product type, take your time to blend.

Blending can take time and patience, but improving your skills and upgrading your tools is worth the results. “From blush to eyeshadow to foundation, blending is an integral step to making sure you’re getting an even application and that the product appears to blend into your skin seamlessly,” Hixon-Schrock says.

First thing's first: Grab the tools you need for proper blending. We tested the best makeup brushes at Reviewed and can’t say a bad thing about the Sephora’s Deluxe Brush Set, which is versatile, durable, and even comes with a storage solution. Inside you’ll find every type of brush you need to buff out powders and creams for a flawless finish. If wielding a brush for cream products is intimidating, we recommend trying a sponge, like the cult-favorite BeautyBlender, as it absorbs excess product while creating a smooth base.

Regardless of whether you're blending liquids, creams, or powders, you'll want to gently tap each product into the skin, as opposed to swiping or rubbing the formula in. Continue to apply thin layers of your foundation, blush, or eyeshadow onto the areas you want more coverage or color and tap it into place until you're satisfied with the coverage, color, and texture.

6. Take care of your tools

A person standing over a sink washing a makeup brush with more brushes laying on the sink.
Credit: Getty Images / Ju Fagundes

Don't forget to take care of your tools.

If you don’t remember the last time you gave your makeup brushes a thorough scrub, it’s time to make it a part of your routine. Brushes are a breeding ground for bacteria that can lead to acne, inflammation, and even skin infections, says Annen. Commit to washing your makeup brushes once a week for cleanliness and an easier makeup application.

For a brush cleanser, use a pea-sized amount of Dawn Dish Soap, as it gently breaks through built-up makeup and oils without running your bristles. If you use a sponge, you should try to disinfect these daily using your go-to facial cleanser because they accumulate dead skin cells, dirt, oil, and bacteria.

After rinsing each brush in soap and water, wring out excess water from the bristles. Then, hang them upside down or lay them with the handles propped up to allow moisture to drip out through the brush.

7. Ditch cakey setting powder

A person applies powder to their face using a brush.
Credit: Getty Images / YacoubChuk

Set down your makeup without adding a cakey texture.

You’ll often see artists or professionals use a lot of setting powder, Hixon-Schrock says. And while this may work well for those in a studio with tons of unnatural light blaring on their faces, it won't look as flawless in real life. This doesn’t mean you resolve to ditch setting powder altogether, as it can be beneficial to help makeup stay put. The key is learning to use it sparingly. “It takes just a small amount of powder to set makeup well, and should be kept to areas that get oily or are prone to creases, such as around the eyes, nose, and forehead,” Hixon-Schrock says. She recommends using a small, tapered brush that will allow you to control where the powder ends up and avoid packing it too densely into one area of the skin.

For a powder that reviewers love, go with the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder. It claims to reduce shine and oil without adding unwanted texture to the skin.

8. Have more fun with makeup

Two people smiling and looking into a mirror while applying makeup.
Credit: Getty Images / Ivanko Brnjakovi

Don't forget to have fun with your makeup.

The best makeup resolution? Give yourself some grace and have fun! Mann puts it best: “Consider this your permission slip to stop taking makeup so seriously and just have fun! The truth is, if you’ve ever used a pencil, pen, paintbrush, crayon, or even your fingers, you can apply makeup. It’s basically the same thing. It’s like coloring for grown-ups, and it can help to think of it that way. [...] Let go of any expectations and just have a great time trying on different looks. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to do too much; just pick one trend you like and try it.”

For inspiration, scroll Instagram or search YouTube to find something you love and then try it on yourself with the supplies you have at home. “Remember how much fun makeup can be and how great it can make you look and feel," says Mann.

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