Common Make-Up Myths – Fact-Checked By Two Experts

Primers and moisturisers do the same job. Pumping your mascara minimises clumps. Eyebrows should be darker than your natural hair tone. There are lots of make-up myths that continue to get bandied around. To separate fact from fiction, we asked two professionals to tackle each one…
By Rebecca Hull

All products on this page have been selected by our editorial team, however we may make commission on some products.


Lip Myth

Lip Plumpers Are The Best Way To Temporarily Increase The Size Of Your Lips

Truth: “Lip plumpers work by delivering ingredients that cause minor irritation to the lips. This can cause a temporary swelling, but it’s incredibly drying and irritating to your lips, and it can have some damaging effects. They’re not all created equal either – you’ll find some don’t do anything of the sort. If you want a full pout, you’re better off using a lip liner to enhance your natural fullness. I like to use two – one that has a sharp point to sculpt and shape and another softer, creamier pencil that helps to further build definition. Two of my favourites are M·A·C’s Pro Lip Pencil and Lisa Eldridge’s Soft Creamy Pencils.” – Jessica Kell, make-up artist 


Primer Myth

Primers & Moisturisers Do The Same Job 

Truth: “It’s easy to see where this myth comes from, but the truth is, primers and moisturisers do very different things. Primers add an extra light layer to hold make-up in place. They can also be used to correct issues like redness, dullness and excess oiliness. As for moisturisers, these should be reserved for nourishing and hydrating your skin. If you are in a hurry, or looking for a one-step solution, some of the hybrids available – like Victoria Beckham’s Cell Rejuvenating Primer and Charlotte Tilbury’s Wonderglow – can be a good alternative, but when you’re looking for a flawless finish and to create make-up that lasts, I recommend using both separately.” – Jessica

“Primers work to boost the longevity of your make-up and to help the texture of your skin. They don’t provide the same moisture or nourishment as a hydrating cream. Often, some like to use a cream as a base for their make-up, but it doesn’t work the same way and can cause pilling of your foundation and concealer. Why? Because moisturisers are naturally thicker in consistency, so they don’t sit as well as primers do.” Celia Burton, Glossier’s European make-up artist


Colour Match Myth

You Can Use The Skin On Your Hands To Colour Match Foundation

Truth: “This is a common myth. You want to match the skin tone of your face – not your hands. Your hands may be different depending on sun exposure and other lifestyle factors. Along your jawline is the best and most discreet place for you to test a make-up shade.” – Celia 

“Your jawline is definitely the best place, but don’t forget to match your foundation to the colour of the skin on your neck, too. This will ensure you get the best and most natural-looking blend. The only benefit of using your hand as a tonal guide is that it is a good indicator of whether you have warm, cool or neutral undertones occurring in your skin.” – Jessica 


Expiration Myth

Make-Up Products Don’t Expire Quickly 

Truth: “I am constantly asked if products ever actually expire and the truth is they absolutely do. You should be keeping a regular eye on your products to see if there is anything well past it. The easy rule I stick to is one year for liquids and two for powders, but your judgement is key. The main indicators are that the consistency of the formula changes or they develop a smell – if either of these things have happened, discard it right away. Your mascara should be replaced at least every three months to prevent bacteria build-up.” – Jessica


Mascara Myth

Pumping Your Mascara Minimises Clumps 

Truth: “This myth has followed me from my teenage years. Even I used to pump my own tube to try and thicken the mascara for the fullest possible lash. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. Pumping the mascara simply pushes more air into the tube causing it to dry out quicker, so you’re more likely to have a mascara that is dry and crumbly with unnecessary clumps. To avoid this, make sure you never push air into the tube – try and do your application with one wand of product per eye. If you find your brush is particularly clumpy, wipe off excess onto a tissue and then move the wand through your lashes. I recommend carrying a couple of extra spoolies in your make-up bag to brush through and distribute all product seamlessly. I love the ones by WBCo.” – Jessica


Concealer Myth

Your Concealer Should Go On Before Foundation

Truth: “This is more about preference, but I would say this is also a myth. I think it’s far better to apply your foundation first and only use concealer where you need it afterwards. Otherwise, you’re continually applying unnecessary layers of make-up.” – Celia  

“It’s certainly a myth that can be debated, but I agree with Celia. You should start light with a sheer foundation before layering on any other make-up – you want to keep application to a minimum. The only exception is if you want to add a colour-correcting concealer under your base make-up – like Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Colour Correcting Treatment or NARS Radiant Creamy Colour Corrector. These can hide any skin imperfections before you layer on foundation but really, for the majority, it’s an unnecessary step.” – Jessica


Brow Myth

Eyebrows Should Be Darker Than Your Natural Hair Tone

Truth: “This isn’t true and can lead to your brows looking very heavy and too strong for the rest of your make-up. Always match your eyebrow product to the exact colour of your brow hair. This is where you might want to look at slightly green, grey or ash-toned products because often brows are slightly different shades, and its these varying tones that help to fake the illusion of extra hair. I really rate Suqqu’s Framing Eyebrow Liquid Pen and all of Charlotte Tilbury’s Brow products. Benefit has a great variety of shades, too.” – Jessica


Eyeshadow Myth

Dark Eyeshadow & Liner Can Make Your Eyes Appear Larger

Truth: “Using light and dark together will create the most open eye, but just adding in dark shades will close in a space, making things look smaller. You need a constant balance of light and dark, consciously applying the two to offset one another.” – Celia 

“Dark liner – especially in the waterline – can make your eyes appear much smaller. If in doubt, opt for a thin, precise line along your lashes instead. I love Tom Ford’s Eye Defining Pen for flawless flicks. This will add definition and sophistication no matter your eye shape, and it won’t shrink the space. Opt for colours too and ditch black, which doesn’t just shrink space but can also have a harsh, ageing impact.” – Jessica 


Breakout Myth

Foundation & Make-Up Causes Breakouts 

Truth: “If you’re removing your make-up correctly and giving your skin time to breathe, it shouldn’t. Lots of make-up actually has skincare benefits, so I see this as a myth. In my opinion, dirty brushes often cause more harm than any make-up itself.” – Celia 

“It’s never the make-up that’s causing the breakouts; it’s more the removal. Always double cleanse at night with both a balm or oil cleanser and a salicylic acid-based one. The right tools when you cleanse are key – I love a microfibre cloth for more stubborn make-up and an organic cotton flannel for lighter make-up days. Make sure you pull away every last bit of make-up and follow with calming skincare to alleviate any sensitivities. If you are suffering with breakouts, avoid piling on make-up to cover and hide it. This just suffocates the skin underneath and exacerbates – rather than causes – the issue. Try lightweight, skincare-based foundations, pairing them with pigmented concealers and light powders to set everything in place. I love Hourglass’s Airbrush Concealer and Charlotte Tilbury’s Light Powder. For a good cleanse, I recommend both SkinCeuticals LHA Cleanser and Super Facialist Vitamin C+ Skin Renew Cleansing Oil.” – Jessica


SPF Myth

If Your Make-Up Has SPF In, You Don’t Need An Extra Layer

Truth: “Having an SPF in your foundation is never a bad thing – it’s great to have an extra layer of protection. But it’s not enough to shield you fully from harmful UVA and UVB damage. Make sure you always have a dedicated SPF between your moisturiser and foundation. I also love a powder SPF for reapplication throughout the day. The two that get my vote are Supergoop! Resetting Mineral Powder SPF30 and SkinCeuticals Ultra Facial UV Defense SPF50.” – Jessica

Follow @JessicaKMakeup and @CeliaBurtonMakeup on Instagram.

DISCLAIMER: We endeavour to always credit the correct original source of every image we use. If you think a credit may be incorrect, please contact us at

Fashion. Beauty. Culture. Life. Home
Delivered to your inbox, daily