How often should I reapply my makeup?

Woman applying mascara.
Makeup TIps Image Gallery The key to long-lasting makeup begins with your original makeup application. See more pictures of makeup tips.
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If you are among the countless women who wear makeup, chances are you have at least a basic beauty routine. Admit it -- before you leave your home in the morning, you spend a certain amount of time in front of the mirror so that you leave looking fresh-faced and flawless (no matter how much or how little you actually slept last night). But by lunchtime, a glance in the mirror is often disappointing -- your eyeliner has smeared, your eye shadow has creased, and your lipstick has stowed away on the edge of your coffee mug. In an ideal world, makeup would stay perfectly in place all day; in a great world, you would have plenty of time at lunch to wash your face and start your beauty routine from scratch. But in the real world, your touch-ups are limited to three minutes under horrid lighting in the office bathroom. So how can you maximize your makeup's longevity and minimize your number of trips to the ladies' room for a touch-up?

Obviously, there is no "right" -- or even consistent -- answer to the question of how many times in a day you should reapply your makeup. And, unfortunately, there's really no guaranteed way to avoid reapplying some (or all) of it, either. But with these tips, maybe you'll only need to freshen up once throughout the day, and perhaps that one time will be a quick and easy retouch rather than a complex process involving every tool in your makeup bag.


There are a few pretty easy ways you can keep your makeup looking fresher, longer -- from how you handle that first makeup application to touch-up methods to carefully monitoring the "freshness" of your cosmetics.

The original application of your cosmetics is crucial to making your look last all day (or, at least, until you have a few minutes mid-day for a quick touch-up). Read on to find out how to get the most out of your original morning makeup application.





Initial Makeup Application

The key to long-lasting makeup begins with your original makeup application. Though it may take a few extra minutes and a few more products, layering makeup is essential for making it through the day. Start with a clean, moisturized face. Then apply a primer -- this step is often skipped, but it can be great for extending your makeup's wear. Next, using an appropriate formula for your skin color and type -- apply your foundation. You'll use a cream or liquid for drier skin and an oil-free formula or powder for oilier skin. When it comes to foundation, remember that less is more. Not only will this give you a more natural look, it will make reapplication easier. Then finish your face with powder and blush if you use it.

For eyes, the key to long-lasting color is a good eye shadow base. In a pinch, you can use a thin layer of foundation [source: Reader's Digest Canada]. Then apply your color -- powders and creams are both good, but stick with neutral colors since darker colors are more noticeable when they smear or crease. If you use eyeliner, make sure it's waterproof -- otherwise, your liner will run as the day progresses. The same is true for mascara: Apply a waterproof formula and use only one coat -- at most two -- and make sure it's not clumpy the first time, or it'll only flake and smudge throughout the day.


For lips, start by filling them in with a neutral lip liner. Then set it with a translucent powder. By doing this after you line your lips, your lip color will stay in place longer. Top it off with a coat of long-lasting lipstick or lip-gloss, and you're good to go.

No matter how well you apply the first time, it's inevitable that your makeup will need some kind of touch-up as the day goes on. Read on to find out how to touch up your face just once a day without toting your entire makeup collection to the office.


Makeup Touch-Ups

If you apply your original makeup with care, there's no reason you should need to reapply more than once a day (excluding lipstick or gloss, of course). Applying more often will just clog your pores and give you that "makeup mask" look.

Before you even think of adding foundation or powder, your first step should be face-blotting papers. By using these sheets, you'll remove any excess oil from your skin without removing your foundation. Once you've blotted, if you need to, you can smooth out foundation using a sponge. You can add foundation, but only to areas that really need it; you don't want to look cakey or dirty. The same rule applies for blush -- only reapply if absolutely necessary or it will end up looking clownish instead of natural. Then dust your entire face with a light layer of translucent powder to re-set your makeup and remove excess oil. But don't overdo it -- a little shine looks natural.


If you're in a hurry, skip the powders and move straight to the eyes, since they're one of the more noticeable areas of your face. Use a cotton swab or tissue to wipe away any creased shadow or smudged eyeliner, especially on the lower lids, where smearing is more likely. If you want to retouch eyeliner, apply a powder shadow using a damp angled brush instead of a pencil. Only apply more eye shadow as needed to even out the color. You shouldn't need to reapply mascara since it will likely clump and flake off, but if necessary, stop at one coat.

Next step: the lips -- another crucial area for retouches. This is the one area that, no matter what tricks you use, will have to be touched up at least once. Keep lips hydrated with lip balm, and reapply lipstick or gloss as needed, especially after meals. If you use a lipstick made for all-day wear, in essence you should only have to reapply gloss.

These reapplication tips will work great if you your cosmetics have been properly cared for, but if your makeup has gone bad, there's no telling if or how long it might stay put. Read on to find out how to tell when it's time to toss your products.


Makeup Expiration Dates

So you typically go for the good stuff, hoping it will last longer and wear longer. But what happens when good products go bad? Unlike food, which is clearly marked with an expiration date -- and clearly offensive to the senses once it has expired -- makeup doesn't really have a definite date by which it absolutely expires. Although many products come with an "expiration date" somewhere on the package, this is typically just a benchmark rather than a hard-and-fast date. This is because many outside factors affect a cosmetic's shelf life. If you keep your makeup in tightly closed containers in a cool environment, and if you use a clean brush instead of your fingers to apply the product, your makeup may last long past the suggested date. However, if you expose your makeup to heat (by, say, leaving your makeup bag in a hot car) and dip your fingers into it, the product could go bad long before the date printed on the container [source: WebMD].

Storage and care are crucial to preserving your makeup. After all, if you're spending money on these products, you don't want to waste it by letting your makeup spoil. So how can you get the most out of your makeup? The number-one rule: Don't share makeup products. The more people there are that touch/use a product, the greater the likelihood that bacteria will grow in it. Keep containers closed tightly in cool, dry places away from direct sunlight or extreme temperature, since this can spoil the preservatives. Also, never add liquids like mineral oil or water to products unless instructed to do so by the manufacturer [source: Gelfrand]. Generally, if a product changes consistency (for instance, if foundation separates significantly or if mascara starts to harden or become clumpy), or if it changes odor, it's time to toss it.


If you take care of your makeup products, take care of your skin, and take your time in your makeup application, you won't have to worry about your makeup staying put. To read more about makeup and health- and beauty-related topics, browse the links on the next page.

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  • Begoun, Paula. "Touching Up." Paula's Choice. (Aug. 24, 2009)
  • Clark, Susan P. "Sunscreen and Your Makeup Routine." WebMD. (Aug. 21, 2009)
  • Elle. "Carmindy's Beauty Sins." June 05, 2008 (Aug. 21, 2009)
  • FDA. "Tattoos & Permanent Makeup." June 23, 2008. (Sept. 2, 2009)
  • Gelfrand, Jonathan L., ed. "Tips to Protect Yourself from Cosmetic and Make-up Dangers." WebMD. September 10, 2008 (August 24, 2009)
  • Haines, Cynthia Dennison, ed. "Permanent Makeup: Cosmetic Tattooing." WebMD. July 01, 2005 (August 26, 2009)
  • Marie Claire. "Has Your Makeup Expired?" (Aug. 24, 2009)
  • Marie Claire. "Make Your Makeup Last." (Aug. 21, 2009)
  • Marie Claire. "Quick Fix Makeup Tips." (Aug. 21, 2009)
  • Mason, Linda. "Makeup Tips for Facing the Holidays: A Live Chat with Linda Mason, author of Makeup: The Art of Beauty." WebMD. (Aug. 21, 2009)
  • Reader's Digest Canada. "Complete Guide to Makeup Essentials." (Aug. 24, 2009)
  • WebMD. "How to Read a Label." (Aug. 24, 2009)