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I was 16 years old when I landed my first job, working at a small makeup boutique in Chicago. I remember being giddy with excitement during my orientation, which included a makeover session with the owner. When I looked in the mirror at the end of the session, my excitement quickly dissolved into disappointment. The owner had painstakingly "corrected" all my flaws-shading my nose to make it smaller, contouring my eyes to create the illusion of eyelids and drawing in fuller-looking lips. I looked nothing like myself and couldn't wait to wash my face off.

This experience stayed with me and many years later, helped shape my philosophy and work as a makeup artist. Rather than zeroing in on what's "wrong" and using makeup to cover it up, I believe in honing in on what's right and using makeup to enhance it. I can't tell you how many times women come to my makeup counter so fixated on their "bad" feature that they overlook everything else. To those of you who are reading this and nodding your head in recognition, I say: Ease off and stop being so hard on yourself. Pick your best feature (we all have at least one) and make the most of it. Here's how...

If your best feature is your eyes

DO line your eyes, it's the most effective way to draw attention to them. Be sure to apply liner-whether you're using shadow, pencil or liquid-as close to the base of lashes as possible. Start at the inner corner of the eye and work your way outwards to the outer corner. After lining your upper lashline, look straight into the mirror to check your work. The liner should be thick enough to be visible when your eyes are wide open.

DON'T apply liner to the inside rim of your eyes. It not only makes eyes look smaller, but is actually a health hazard. You risk infection and injury to the eye itself.

If your best feature is your cheeks

DO wear blush and be sure to smile when you apply it. Why? Smiling is the best way to find the apples of your cheeks, which is where we all naturally blush. Swirl a wide, rounded and fluffy brush in powder blush, then tap to remove the excess. Apply blush to the apple of the cheek then blend up and back toward the hairline. To make the color look like it belongs on the skin, blend it down, away from the cheekbone, as well.

DON'T try to contour your cheekbones. It looks fake and is an effect best left to fashion shoots, theater or film.

If your best feature is your lips

DO wear a shade of lipstick or gloss that complements your natural coloring. As a rule of thumb, the deeper your skin tone is, the deeper the shade of lipstick or gloss you can wear. If you are fair-skinned, choose shades of beige, pale pinks and light corals. Medium skin tones look best in brown-based shades of rose, mauve and berry. Go for deep plum, chocolate and red if you have dark skin.

DON'T wear a shade more than one tone lighter than your natural lip color. A too-pale shade will give your lips a grayish, ashy look.

If your best feature is your lashes

DO play them up with mascara. Before starting, blot the end of the mascara wand to get rid of excess product. Hold the wand at the base of your lashes and slowly pull it through to the lash tips. To avoid clumps, roll the wand as you go. Classic black mascara looks best on all complexions, but you can try brown if you want a more subtle look.

DON'T be heavy-handed when applying mascara on lower lashes. Too much mascara will actually cast a shadow under the eyes, making you look tired.

If your best feature is your brows

DO shape your brows. A properly shaped brow can lift and open your eyes, making you look alert and well-rested. Before lifting your tweezers (the best tool for this job), analyze the shape of your brow. Nature has already given you the best arch for your face and you are simply going to fine-tune, rather than re-create, it. Tweeze hairs between the brows and underneath the arch. Next, use a brow brush or old toothbrush to comb brow hairs upward. Finish with a coat of brow gel to set brows in place.

DON'T over-tweeze. Pencil-thin brows are old fashioned and unflattering. Plus, it's hard to grow back sparse brows.