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Master Guide to Correct Order of Makeup Application

Master Guide to Correct Order of Makeup Application

Just like how the type of makeup and the amount you apply matters, the order in which you apply your makeup also matters. When applied out of order or with even just some of the steps reversed, what might look nice at nine in the morning may have already melted away well before lunchtime. 

Let's dive in and discover the definitive order of makeup application step-by-step to ensure you enjoy a flawless face from dawn till dusk, regardless of your skin type and skill level.

Cream Comes Before Powder — No Exceptions!

Always, always, always start with liquid or cream products before reaching for powder. Applying powder on top of a cream or liquid will set the product in place and ensure a long-lasting finish throughout the day. In addition to setting the product in place, it can also help intensify the pigment.

Bronzer on top of cream contour will give your cheeks an ultra-chiseled look, Powder Blush over cream rouge will give you the rosiest of all cheeks, and applying eyeshadow on top of an eye primer (or our Cream Concealer if you don’t have any on hand,) will make your eyes shimmer with vivid color.

However, if you reach for matte powder and then try to add something wet on top of it, this can cause the bottom layer to shift around, move, and fade away.

Always Start With a Clean Canvas, No Matter What

The very first step to makeup application is starting with a clean canvas. You should never apply makeup on top of dirty skin, and you should especially avoid applying new makeup on top of yesterday’s face. 

Doing so is a great way to irritate dry skin and blemishes, emphasize the appearance of dark circles, and make your gorgeous skin tone look unnecessarily dull. It can also decrease the life of your makeup look and potentially increase signs of premature aging in the long run. Start with your skincare routine first, then move on to makeup.

If you already have makeup on your face, use a proper makeup remover first. This will especially be helpful in removing mascara, eyeliner, and other long-lasting makeup products that might otherwise smudge. Next, go in with your regular cleanser (if you have no makeup on, go ahead and start with this step.) 

From here, everyone’s routine will vary a little bit depending on their age and how their skin is feeling that day. Toner and serum are two wonderful ways to really remove any leftover debris and give your face a much-needed dose of nourishment. 

No matter what, always make sure you follow up with a hydrating moisturizer, an eye cream if you’re in your 20s or older (it’s never too early to start), and a good SPF. With those products properly absorbed into your skin, you can now move on to your actual makeup routine.

Start With Your Base

Once they have a clean and moisturized face, any budding makeup artist should start off with a liquid foundation, powder foundation, or tinted moisturizer first, to give themselves an even bottom layer. 

Cream Products Come Next

Then, you should move on to any other cream products you will use on your face, like concealer, cream contour, or cream blush. Then, you canl immediately move on to applying translucent setting powder to really lock that look in, without worrying about the product settling into fine lines. 

Set With Powder

A translucent powder can be pressed in on top of concealer with a powder puff or sponge but otherwise, you can also lightly dust it all over to achieve a smooth and flawless look. 

Then, move on to other powder steps. This is where you apply powder bronzer or contour, put powder blush on the apples of your cheeks (or a bit higher up, depending on the look you’re going for), and top it off with powder highlighter (which you can also apply to the tops of your brow bones, if you want a little extra glow). 

Move on to Eyes and Lips

Some people like to mist a little setting spray on after this step to immediately lock in their makeup before moving on to the eye area for eyebrows, eyeshadow, and mascara. Your last step should be the lip area, whether you’re applying just lip gloss or a lip liner and lipstick combo.

When applying your makeup, remember one rule: easy does it. Too many layers, or too heavy of a layer — both common beginner mistakes — can leave your face looking cakey and take away from the natural look. It’s all about how well you blend! 

Do the Face or Eyes Come First?

While the order listed above is most commonly followed, sometimes, you might want to do your eye makeup first. On special occasions where you might want to play up your eyes with darker, more dramatic colors, it only takes a little bit of fall out (the excess pigment which may drop down onto your cheeks) to ruin your perfect base and put you back at square one. 

Sometimes, you can fix your mistake by very gently sweeping extra color off of your face with a light fan brush, but if it has had time to settle into your skin and melt into place, you might be out of luck. Makeup remover or makeup wipes may not help either — they will remove every layer of your cosmetics and skincare and it’s not always possible to reapply and blend it back into place.

If you’re going for a dramatic eye look, layer on your eyeshadow first, and then move on to your face. If liquid eyeliner is a part of your finished product, wait to apply that and mascara or false lashes until after your face has been finished.

Touching Up Throughout the Day

Regardless of how much effort we put into our makeup, it often fades after a few house of wear. Luckily, that’s wehre touch-ups come in. 

Sometimes, a small oil absorbing sheet might be enough to take away excess shine which may have accumulated in your T-zone before lunchtime but it’s not the best idea for keeping oil at bay all day long. 

To keep your face looking natural, and to prevent all of your makeup from being absorbed away, try applying just the smallest amount of translucent powder with a fluffy brush

Avoid using too much pressure — excessive movement can cause the lower layers of your look to move and separate. Furthermore, applying too much product can also wash away any blush, bronzer, or other pigments you may have on.

Have Fun With It

Makeup application is kind of like skin care in the sense that there’s a certain order to things. When done right, everyone can enjoy a locked-in face that looks straight out of a magazine. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider one of our premade selections, like the Starter Stack, or take our quiz to see what other components may be right for you.



Double Cleansing Method Explained | Cleveland Clinic

How Does Sunscreen Slow Down Aging Skin? | Scripps Health

How to control oily skin | American Academy of Dermatology Association

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