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How To Apply Your Makeup In the Correct Order

How to Apply Your Makeup in the Correct Order - Makeup Flatlay on Pink Faux Fur

Have you ever wondered if you are applying your makeup in the correct order? Maybe you question whether you are layering your makeup products correctly and want to make sure that you are using makeup in a way that makes you look (and feel) your best. Over the years I’ve wondered if everyone else was applying makeup the same way I was, so I researched and learned a few tips on the order of makeup application which I will share in this post.

It turns out that not everyone, including the experts, agrees on the correct order of makeup application. The good news is that there is more than one way to apply your makeup that will make your skin and face look beautiful and polished.

Regardless of the order that you choose and whether you are a beginner or expert, hopefully, this post will give you some tips and ideas on enhancing your look with color cosmetics because that’s one of the most important reasons why we even bother with makeup in the first place: to look and feel our best!

NOTE: Makeup application is a highly personal routine so if the order of makeup application that you use is different from what is suggested here, don’t sweat it. If you are happy with your makeup routine, then there’s no need to switch things up. The order of makeup application suggested in this post is the order that makes the most sense to me…let’s take a look!

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Prior to Makeup Application

Prior to applying your makeup, be sure to wash your face and apply your skincare. If you are applying your makeup in the morning, be sure to apply a sunscreen as the last step of your skincare routine.

For all the details on applying your skincare in the correct order, see this post which details all the steps in your skincare routine from start to finish.

Makeup Application – Step by Step

Makeup Primer

If you choose to use a makeup primer prior to color cosmetics, this is when to apply it. Primer is the bridge between skincare and makeup that creates a canvas, so to speak, on your skin. It preps and primes your skin for makeup application.

Using a primer allows makeup to adhere better to your skin. Your makeup will not only last longer but also look smoother and more even. Depending on the primer that you choose, it can also brighten the skin, improve the look of dark spots and hyperpigmentation, reduce the appearance of pores and fine lines, and it can even blur imperfections.

There are many primers that are formulated to add moisture, radiance, or a matte finish to the skin. While not a requirement, primers really help extend makeup wear.

Try It: Tatcha The Liquid Silk Canvas Makeup Primer

Related Post: Tatcha The Liquid Silk Canvas Makeup Primer Review

Color Corrector

If you have very dark circles, dark spots, hyperpigmentation, or uneven skin tone that cannot be corrected by foundation and concealer, you may want to consider using a color corrector. Color correctors are colorful pastel-shaded concealers that should be applied to areas of concern PRIOR to foundation and your regular concealer.

They should be applied before your base makeup shade to balance and correct your skin tone on the desired area of your face. As a result, foundation and concealer will look more even and natural.

Try it: NYX Color Correcting Concealer


Apply foundation next. Your foundation is the base for the rest of the makeup that you apply to your face. The type and amount of foundation that you apply will set the tone for your entire makeup look.

Whether you choose a powder, stick, cream, or liquid foundation, you can apply it with your fingers, a brush, or a sponge. You should apply foundation prior to concealer to create an even base for the color cosmetics that will be applied next.

By applying foundation first, you may find that you need less concealer under your eyes to cover acne or blemishes, or to camouflage hyperpigmentation and dark spots.

Try It: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

Related Post: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation Review and A Drugstore Dupe


By following your foundation with concealer, you may find that foundation does a pretty good job of covering imperfections, and you only need a light layer of concealer. On the other hand, you may need a high coverage concealer for dark spots, discoloration, blemishes, or dark circles.

For very dark circles under the eyes, consider applying a neutralizer prior to concealer to attack darkness and shadows. When applying concealer, tap gently with your ring finger, a sponge or brush, and layer lightly so as to avoid it getting cakey or creasing.

Try It: Tarte Shape Tape Contour Concealer

Related Post: The 10 Best Drugstore Concealers for Dark Circles Under Your Eyes 2020


If you choose to apply a powder bronzer, apply it after the foundation/concealer/powder steps of your makeup routine. Bronzer can be a secret weapon that provides a beautiful glow and warmth to your skin tone.

Bronzer or contour applied to your forehead, cheeks, jaws, nose, and neck will give you a sun-kissed look and will provide healthy color to your complexion. Check out this YouTube video where Sephora Pro Makeup Artist Jeffrey discusses bronzer tips and tricks and the difference between bronzing and contouring products:

Try It: Physicians Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer


Apply blush in this step of your makeup routine if you are using a powder blush. If you are using a liquid cheek stain or cream, be sure to apply it under your face powder.

Check out these blush tips for applying blush the correct way based on your face shape. You should take your bone structure into consideration prior to applying your blush!

Try It: Almay Powder Blush


L'Oreal True Match Lumi Glotion Highlighter & Beauty Pie Shimmerbar Highlighter

If you choose to use a highlighter, apply it now after your base makeup look has been applied. Highlighters come in a variety of formats, such as creams, powders, liquids, or sticks. If you are in a rush, you can mix a liquid highlighter with your foundation. Choose your desired formula and intensity and apply it to the high points of your face.

Try It: L’Oreal True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer, Beauty Pie Shimmerbar Highlighter


Now we move onto the eyes. Please note that some people like to start their entire makeup routine with the eyes. In case there is any transfer to other parts of your face during application, you can clean up the makeup transfer without compromising the makeup underneath. Feel free to do what works best for your makeup look!

When it comes to eyeshadow, the order of application depends on your desired look. If you want a smokey eye, you should apply eyeliner first and then follow with eyeshadow to smudge the liner. If you want a cat-eye, apply eyeshadow first and then follow with liner so that your line is crisp and clean.

Try It: Urban Decay Naked3 Palette


When it comes to eyeliner, as I previously mentioned under eyeshadow, order of application depends on the look that is desired. For a cat-eye, apply after eyeshadow so the line is defined. If you want a smokey blended look, apply before eyeshadow and blend once the shadow is applied.

If you are not wearing eyeshadow, apply eyeliner before other eye products.

Try It: NYX Epic Ink Liner


Regardless of which order you apply eyeshadow or eyeliner, be sure to apply mascara last. You don’t want to get eyeshadow into the mascara on your lashes, and likewise, you don’t want to get mascara on your lids.

Since mascara can pull together your eye look, having eyeshadow and liner already applied will help you decide how many layers of mascara to apply and how dramatic you want your lashes.

Try It: Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara


Once eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara are in place, shift your focus to your brows. The intensity of your eye makeup as well as the rest of your color cosmetic products already applied to your face will help you determine how much definition to apply to your brows. Fill in the arches and any sparse areas with a brow product of choice, be it a gel, wax, pomade, powder, pencil, or pen.

Try It: NYX Micro Brow Pencil

Lip Liner

Onto the lips! If you are like me, you’ll grab a quick swipe of lip gloss and be on your way, but if you need your lip color to last and want a complete lip look, start with lip liner.

If your lips are dry, chapped, or cracked, be sure to treat them prior to applying lip color with a scrub or lip treatment. To minimize your lip color bleeding or feathering, line your lips with a shade that is no lighter than your own lips to emphasize the size of your lips. You can outline your lips only or you can apply lip liner to all of your lips for longer-lasting color.

Try It: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil


If you choose lipstick instead of or in addition to lip gloss, now is the time to apply it. If you’ve lined your lips, carefully apply lipstick straight from the bullet or with a lip brush. Stay inside the lines created by the lip liner and then blend to create an even application. If you want to keep your lipstick from transferring be sure to blot your lips to remove any excess product.

Try It: Kylie Cosmetics Matte Lip Kit

Lip Gloss

Lip gloss should follow other lip products, because gloss not only needs to be the last step to retain the desired pigment, shine and/or glitter, but as we all know, lip gloss can get kind of messy.

Many lip glosses are sheer enough to enhance the shade underneath, whether its your own lips or a lip liner, lipstick or cream. I like using a deeper shade of lipstick or lip cream underneath a gloss for lasting color, and lightening up the lipstick shade with a lighter shade of lip gloss.

Try It: NYX Butter Gloss

Setting Powder/Setting Spray

Try It: It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Translucent Setting Powder

If you choose, you can use a translucent powder or a powder that matches your skin tone to set your makeup. A powder that is the shade of your skin tone will provide additional coverage and can also help even skin tone, reduce the appearance of pores, and control shine. A translucent powder is an ideal product to set concealer under your eyes to blur and provide an airbrushed look.

Using a setting spray will keep makeup in place for longer wear and is especially helpful when you want a crisp and vibrant makeup look. Setting sprays also keep makeup from melting in warmer climates.

Setting sprays are often formulated to be multi-taskers, as they can add moisture to your skin if your skin is dry or dehydrated, or can create a matte finish if you have oily or combination skin. Some setting sprays even contain SPF to not only keep your makeup in place but also protect your skin from UV rays. Setting sprays with SPF are ideal for when you need to re-apply sunscreen throughout the day, but already are wearing a full face of makeup.

Try It: NYX Matte Finish Makeup Setting Spray

Final Thoughts on the Correct Order of Makeup Application

Makeup application is so personal, and if the order that you are applying your makeup is different from this list, by all means, continue doing what you are doing. Hopefully, this post gave you a few ideas and tips on how to improve or extend your makeup wear and achieve your best makeup look!

What order do you apply your makeup? Drop me a line in the comments… I’d love to know!

Thanks for reading!