Makeup mistakes happen every day, even to the most seasoned beauty veterans. Smudges, smears, or smashed products are cold, hard facts of the cosmetics life. But you don’t actually need to grab your micellar water or a makeup remover wipe to take it all off and start over every time you experience a product application fail.

In fact, with a little creativity, imagination, and ingenuity, as well as some additional tools, like cotton swabs, your makeup flubs may not actually be mistakes after all! Here are some creative tips from the experts on how you can turn your beauty and makeup “mistakes” into total wins.

Buying the wrong color

Celebrity makeup artist Nikki Allure, who has worked with superstar Cardi B, has a great fix for those times when you have purchased the wrong shade of contour, foundation, or concealer. If you shop online and pick a hue that ends up being too dark, too light, or not bright enough, don’t go through the hassle of sending it back or worse — letting it sit at the bottom of your makeup drawer, untouched, unused, and a waste of cash. She tells me, “I use [those] for different things, such as an eyeshadow base.”

That’s a brilliant reversal of function. A contour cream or concealer can act as an eyelid primer or a base, helping your powder shadow last all night. It can also turn up or tone down the shadow color placed over top.

Smudged mascara

Have you ever applied mascara to your lower lashes in order to darken and thicken them, only to end up with smudges on the delicate skin right beneath your eye? Don’t fret or wipe it away, which could amplify the mess. Instead, makeup artist Mindy Green recommends that you “grab a cotton swab to blend it and call it liner.” That way, you don’t waste product and enjoy the added benefit of a sultry eye look. A little under-eye smudge is totally mysterious and unexpected, giving you that good-girl-gone-bad vibe.

Samantha Agostino, lead makeup artist at ECRU New York Beauty, has a similar solution for lower lash smudges, telling me, “Mascara can be a dupe for a wet liner to create a smoky effect on the bottom lashline; just use an angled brush to load up product from the wand.”

Broken powder products

So you dropped a powder eyeshadow or a highlighter compact and the product itself is cracked, yet most of the powder still remains in the pan — we’ve all been there. Don’t allow that compact to sink to the bottom of the abyss that is your makeup bag or purse, but also don’t cut your losses and toss it! It is salvageable. Green says, “Add broken eyeshadow [dust] to a clear lip gloss to create your own heavily pigmented gloss.”

But wait, there’s an even better suggestion. Green notes, “If you’ve lost [or broken] a few, you can blend shades to make a custom color.” There is no such thing as wasted makeup with this hack.

Using too much translucent powder

If you think you’ve used too much translucent powder on your face, think again. The product exists to add luminescence and it’s really hard to overdo it. Plus, your fluffy brush is your BFF, since it can further diffuse the product if it’s not giving you the end result you want. Stylist and makeup artist Liz Everett tells me, “I don’t know if you can actually use too much, because you are solidifying the finish. As long as you do a great job of sweeping it gently with your brush after, you are all good.”

Hillary Kline, a freelance makeup artist in Minneapolis, has another tip for when you may need to neutralize the face powder. “Use a setting spray that has a dewy finish to it and won’t make your face look dry,” she tells me.

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