Makeup is a total confidence booster, and it can be seriously therapeutic to swatch on. At times, however, it can also seem daunting to know exactly the order in which to apply a full face or in general how to apply it. “In reality, there are only so many products you can successfully put on—and they must be applied with a strategy that’s not ‘more is better’,” says Shawn Towne, makeup artist and global educator for Jane Iredale Cosmetics.
Before you begin applying your color cosmetics, allow your skin-care products (think moisturizer! sunscreen! serum!) to set for 30 minutes. And remember: When it comes to layering your makeup, you need to consider the texture first, says Towne. Creams, gels, and liquids should be applied before any powders to avoid pilling, so use this as a starting point and then build on it and tailor it, according to what works best for you.
Keep scrolling to learn exactly how to apply your makeup in the right order.
1. Foundation or BB cream
“Look for a liquid foundation or BB cream, depending on the desired level of coverage, with skin-care-like benefits,” says Towne. Many formulas even have built-in serums and other skin-boosting ingredients and can be used in place of a regular moisturizer, saving you a step in your getting-ready routine. If you prefer a mineral, powder-based foundation, remember that the cardinal rule of makeup application is to lay down liquids first, so apply any cream-based formulas such as concealer (or even cream blush, TBH) prior to.
While there are a variety of textures and finishes for concealers, look for one that offers buildable coverage—meaning that it’s sheer enough to even skin tone but also can be layered appropriately to cover up hormonal zits and such. Ideally, you should use a concealer that’s one shade lighter for the under-eye area to help brighten. Have even skin? Skip foundation entirely in lieu of just a few spots of concealer on trouble spots.
3. Blush, highlighter, or bronzer
To give your complexion a finishing touch, sweep on a blush, highlighter, or bronzer—or some combination of all three. Continue to layer creams under powders, if you prefer to use both.
4. Eye shadow
If you’re partial to using cream or gel formulas, make sure to layer those under pencils and powders, says Towne, giving cream shadow some time to set before applying any other eye-area products. When working with a palette, use a neutral hue all over lids first before dabbing your favorite color from lash line to crease. Use a darker hue in the crease to make your eyes look brighter and wider, blending thoroughly so that you can’t tell where one shade stops and the other starts.
Reach for an easy-to-use pencil or chubby stick on the upper lash line, and for an amped-up effect, in the waterlines as well. For a more natural-looking finish, dot a dark brown liner in between lashes on your upper lash line—which can help to make your fringe look way fuller without any mascara.
This desert-island product (for makeup artists and beauty lovers alike) requires just a few coats to help open your entire face—and make your eyes look way bigger and brighter. Simply wiggle the wand through lashes to avoid clumping from root to tip with a precise hand. If you have oily under eyes, you can skip the bottom lashes to avoid winding up with raccoon eyes.
7. Lip color
With the rise of the seemingly omnipresent lip kit, it can seem like there are a billion ways to fill in your pout. Because I’m a minimalist, I’ll usually just dab a tint or gloss on with my finger and run out the door. If you’re going for staying power or a more pigmented hue, use a lip liner first, tracing not only the edges, but filling in lips, as well. Just remember it’s gonna come off at some point, and then you’ll just have to layer it back on. Ahh, the circle of makeup.
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