Why does mascara clump, lipstick land on your teeth and your blush head south shortly after you apply it? We have the answers to these great mysteries and other cosmetic conundrums. Read on for the solutions.

Q: How come my bronzer never looks natural?

A: With so many faux glow products to choose from, you probably have the wrong one for your skin tone or texture. “You can have the wrong color— like too orange, too brown, too grey or too shimmery; or the wrong formula—too drying, too chalky, too powdery or too creamy,” Strand says. For a natural-looking, sun-kissed glow, choose a bronzer that’s the color you tan naturally in a matte, no-shimmer powder. “For example, if you have yellow-toned skin, look for a bronzer that has a hint of yellow in the base color.  If you have ruddy skin, find one that has a more neutral beige undertone. If you are darker skinned, look for one that has some redness in it and no grey, as this will just look chalky,” Strand says.  To apply, swirl a large, soft, fluffy face-brush into bronzer, tap off excess and buff into skin where the sun would shine like your cheeks, bridge of your nose, forehead and décolletage.

Q: How come my under-eye concealer looks so obvious (and doesn’t seem to conceal anything)?

A: “You’re probably choosing a color that is too light for your skin tone,” explains Emily Kate Warren, a makeup artist who works in film and television and at fashion shows. “Choose a concealer that’s one shade darker than you think you are.” Next, mix your concealer with your foundation to make sure the color is correct and then lightly tap it onto the dark areas under your eyes.

Q: How can I keep my lipstick off of my teeth?  

A: Apply a primer to keep lip color from migrating. Then, apply lipstick. Next, stick your finger in the center of your mouth and pull it out. “This way the lipstick that would be near your teeth comes right off on your finger instead,” explains Petra Strand, makeup artist and creator of Pixi makeup.

Q: Why does my blush fade so fast?

A: “Color can fade when the skin is dehydrated because the skin literally drinks up any moisture on the surface,” explains Strand. Look for a gel or a tint blush with sodium PCA or sodium hyaluronate acid. “These are humectants which glue moisture to the skin’s surface and stop the skin from dehydrating,” Strand explains. For best results, moisturize skin first with a lotion or cream and wait a few minutes until it’s absorbed. Then, apply a cheek stain or cheek gel followed by a powder blush. Buff a translucent powder on top and your rosy glow will last…and last.

Q: Why does my eye shadow slip into the crease so soon after I apply it?

A: Your shadow heads south because there’s nothing on your eyelids to help it stay put. “To keep shadow in place you need what I call a ‘shadow dropper stopper’ like an eye primer,” Warren explains. An eye primer is a lightweight product that you apply to lids before putting on your shadow. This base coat gives the color pigments in your eye shadow something to adhere to so it stays where it’s supposed to.

Q: What makes mascara clump?

A: “Mascara is a wax, oil and pigment based product that can solidify a little with age and literally dries out, which results in clumps,” Strand says. This can happen to all mascaras, which is why you should replace yours every three to six months. That said, the thicker formulations will clump faster. “It’s better to have a thinner mascara that you can build up on the lashes,” Strand explains. Other clump-busting tips: don’t pump air into the mascara and clean the wand with a tissue after each use. Apply mascara on clean lashes – putting it on top of old mascara can cause clumps. Lastly, “keep an extra, clean mascara wand to pull through the lashes after you have applied your mascara,” Strand says.