The Best Order to Apply Makeup

by Valerie Bisharat

best order to apply makeup

Most of us have been applying makeup for years based on what what we read in a magazine, or what we learned from mom. But magazine beauty tips and trends tend change with every season. And what if mom had it wrong?

There’s actually a right order to apply your makeup to make the most of your products — and to amp up both your outer look and inner confidence.

For expert opinions, we turned to two veteran makeup artists who specialize in clean beauty: Misty Spinney (San Francisco Bay Area), and Talia Favale (Los Angeles). We asked them what they tell women who want an easy, quick daily makeup routine – a conversation that, as you can imagine, happens regularly in their makeup chairs.

While they each had their unique touches, their approaches were fundamentally the same. With only 10 minutes to do your makeup, here are the five steps it comes down to:

STEP ONE: Always prep your skin.

Both Misty and Talia emphasized that skin prep – getting your skin moisturized and evened out – is a necessity, calling serum the go-to product. “Prep helps all of your skin begin in the same state,” explains Misty. Talia also shared that skin prep makes your makeup look more fresh.

Serum up – no matter your skin type – before applying makeup. Intelligent Nutrients’ “Renewing Oil Serum” is a great place to start.

Bonus tips: Talia recommends a spray toner as a second go-to skin prep product (for all skin types) because it helps serum penetrate your skin.

If your skin has varying qualities (for example, dry patches, redness, or oiliness in different areas), consider a primer too. “Picture painting wood,” says Misty. “You need to prime it so that what you put on afterwards goes on easily.”

STEP TWO: Apply your base, whether it be a tinted moisturizer or foundation. Follow up with concealer if you want to cover discoloration, redness, or blemishes as well.

Give your skin an even base by using clean fingers to place dabs of tinted moisturizer or foundation evenly distributed across your face. Use fingertips to blend. If you prefer to use a brush, like Misty, that works too.

To apply concealer, dab the place you want to cover then lightly tap with your fingertip to blend. The warmth from your finger will help work the product into your skin.

Talia tells clients to think of blending their foundation as a special ritual. “Give yourself a little massage. Get to know your face,” she shares.

STEP THREE: Add depth with highlighter and blush.

When you put on foundation, it's like having a blank canvas – so let's add some depth! 

Talia starts by putting highlighter on the cheekbones to create glow, then applies blush.

Misty layers on a third cheek product, bronzer, to make it look like she’s gotten sun. But both artists agree that blush is the most important product. “Blush helps you look more alive,” Misty explains.

STEP FOUR: Put on some mascara, but after any eyeliner or eyeshadow.

“If you only apply one eye product, it should be mascara,” says Talia. You could also add eyeliner, eyeshadow, or highlighter, but put those on first so that doing so doesn’t smudge your mascara.

Talia points out that brows bring structure to your face. If you want to make yours more prominent, she likes using an angled brush plus either eyeshadow or a pot of wax.

STEP FIVE (optional): Add your lip products.

Talia likes to start with a lip balm, saying that "everything is about moisture for me." Then, apply any lipstick, tint, or gloss.

In the past, artists have typically recommended choosing either a bold eye (smudged eyeliner, for example) or a bold lip. But Talia explains that while those still work, trends have evolved – and a bold eye and lip are more common these days.

LAST STEP (optional): Apply your setting powder.

Misty likes brushing setting powder onto any areas that could use better blending. She also never skips the t-zone (meaning the forehead, nose, and chin), which is typically the oiliest area of the face. “Setting powder is your own Instagram filter,” she explains. “It’s a diffuser and will soak up any oil plus remove areas that could’ve been blended better.”

Have any comments or questions? Leave a comment below so we can get you answers.

Enjoy your morning beauty ritual!

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