The Correct Order To Apply Makeup For A Flawless Look Every Time

Author: Liang

Feb. 04, 2024



Tags: Beauty & Personal Care

Blame it on the vast sea of products or the endless loop of internet tutorials, but figuring out the correct order to apply your makeup can be downright confusing. While the box your go-to concealer comes in might provide tips on how to use it to brighten your under eyes or cover up acne scars, it doesn’t tell you whether you should put it on before or after foundation. However, the reality is that the sequence in which you use your products really does make a difference — and not just for your final look. Resting on the face for hours, cosmetics can draw unwanted attention to common concerns such as breakouts and dryness especially when used out of order.

From the most natural look to a full face of glam, having the right products for your skin type is also important when developing a successful makeup routine. This will help you narrow down the product categories you’ll need daily and the ones you can do without. As celebrity and editorial makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes notes, “There are a few basics items, like a good moisturizer, a great concealer, and a handful of brushes in an assortment of sizes, that are necessary for any [makeup] style.” But, even with the best staples in your collection, you’ll still need to know when to use them to accomplish a swoon-worthy makeup look.

The quest for the perfect routine may never end, because let’s face it, trends and new products are fun to try. However, mastering the ideal order of makeup application has long-term value. Ahead, TZR chatted with four makeup artists to get the scoop.

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Why Does The Order You Apply Makeup Matter?

Applying your makeup in the correct order is paramount to getting each individual product to perform as they’re intended. Celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg tells TZR that though routines may vary, certain steps used in an order can determine how long your makeup lasts and how well it does its job. Plus, it will make your regime flow seamlessly.

The order is important with textures as it's difficult to go backward. “Cream products are meant to melt into the skin so they need to be applied before powder products in order to deliver the proper result,” says Hughes.

Looking at the big picture, the sequence of application also ensures they’ll lay properly on the skin. “When done correctly this will prevent makeup from breaking down throughout the course of the day as well as deter excess product build-up,” says Kristen Fortier, makeup artist and product development manager of Crunchi Cosmetics.

The Correct Order To Apply Makeup

Step 1: Skin Care

You’ve heard it time and time again, but a good skin care routine is the basis of any great makeup look. So whether it’s your day-to-day no-makeup makeup or a special occasion, having a consistent regimen of cleanser, toner, and moisturizer is going to be crucial. Not only will this decrease irritations and the occurrence of blemishes but it will guarantee that your skin stays hydrated underneath the makeup. “I always begin with moisturizer on the face, lips, and even an under-eye mask to keep the delicate area plump,” says Greenberg.

A broad spectrum SPF should also be applied as most foundations contain too small of an amount to provide adequate sun protection. Some hybrid options even include the added function of prepping the skin specifically for makeup use.

Step 2: Primer

With dozens of options on the market that boast an array of benefits like blurring fine lines and pores, makeup primers have solidified their place in daily routines. “After you’ve completed your skin care, the next step should always be primer for an even application,” states NYC-based celebrity makeup artist and face sculptor, Joseph Carrillo.

As an added bonus, it creates a much-needed barrier between your skin and the makeup, meaning it can also provide further hydration or be used to mollify oil production for a matte finish.

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Step 3: Foundation & Concealer

The purpose of the foundation is to create an even base or blank canvas for other cosmetic products to be applied. With that in mind, you’ll want to start by finding a shade that best matches your skin tone and desired finish. To find your shade match, Carrillo suggests selecting three hues that are similar to your skin tone and swiping each on your chest to see which best fits. “Typically the face runs lighter as we wash it all the time so matching there makes it perfect every time,” he says.

To blend in the product, Greenberg recommends using a Beautyblender for a natural look or a great foundation brush to buff into the skin for a smoother finish. Regardless of the tool you use, she ensures that the foundation should be blended before adding concealer.

With a thicker consistency, concealers are meant to be used sparingly to target specific areas of concern such as dark circles or blemish marks. Applying thin layers that are lightly patted into the skin will work best.

Step 4: Bronzer & Blush

Once your base has been applied, you can use bronzers and contouring products to shape and bring warmth back to the skin. But remember creams should be applied before powders. “If you like to use cream to contour, this is a good time to add it,” says Carrillo.

He continues, saying that, “for dry skin cream everything (contour, bronzer, and blush) followed by a hydrating powder is the way to go to avoid patchy application. Conversely, oily skin types should stick to powder products to prevent makeup from breaking down as the day goes on.

Step 5: Brows, Eyeshadow, & Mascara

This one is the most flexible of all the steps, as some people opt to do this before foundation. “For pigment-rich eye looks, it may be a good idea to do this first in order to avoid any eyeshadow fallout affecting the foundation,” says Fortier. Wherever you decide to place this step, all four MUAs agree that eye primer is a must for a statement-making look that stays put.

Brows are tricky, as the overall look and shape will determine the application. But according to Greenberg good tools will go far. “A great spoolie can be used to shape your brows or comb out clumpy mascara,” she says.

Sean Anthony Eddy/E+/Getty Images

Step 6: Lips

Lipstick or gloss, the addition of defined lips will bring your final makeup look together. For long-lasting color that won’t bleed, Fortier and Carrillo recommend using a lip liner as a base. You can get creative with different shades, but a good rule of thumb is to opt for a liner that is slightly darker than your lip color to add contrast. To finish, Carrillo likes to seal everything with liquid lip color for an extra punch.

Step 7: Setting Your Makeup

The final step entails setting your makeup to keep it put throughout the day. “If you’ve applied any cream products, a powder will ensure that they don’t melt or move,” says Fortier. A setting spray can also give this effect and can be applied after powder or simply on top of the makeup for a more natural finish.

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Have you ever wondered if you are applying your makeup products In the correct order? What is the correct order to apply makeup? Many do wonder, especially makeup beginners.   

This quick and informative guide on the best order of applying makeup will make your daily routine a whole lot easier. This is a general and basic order of makeup application as I see it. Some steps may be modified if that’s best for you.   

Step 1. Prep Your Skin

Before applying any makeup product, be sure to start with a clean face. Applying moisturizer will help provide a smooth base for your makeup. It’s best to apply your makeup just after your skincare routine.  

You can apply a face makeup primer after your face moisturizer. This is optional, but some find it helps makeup apply better and last longer. This is the time to do that.  The face primer can also keep any pesky dry patches from showing through.

Don’t forget your lips! This is the time to prep your lips by applying a thin layer or two of the Rallye Balm for well-moisturized lips.  

Step 2. Apply Foundation & Concealer


The first makeup step in the correct order to apply makeup is applying foundation. When choosing a foundation, make sure to pick one that suits your skin type.   

  • Dry Skin types– choose a hydrating and moisturizing foundation formula, like a cream or liquid foundation.  
  • Oily Skin types – avoid anything too dewy and shiny. Try a powder foundation.   

Make sure, also, that you go with a shade of foundation that matches your skin tone and undertone. You want your face to match the rest of your body, especially your neck.  


If you have areas that need more coverage (such as blemishes, dark spots, or dark circles), you may choose to use a concealer to cover those.  Choose a shade that matches your skin tone and closely matches your foundation shade. 

Applying concealer on trouble spot areas instead of more layers of foundation will keep your makeup application light and help prevent ending up with cakey-looking foundation.  

Setting Powder:

Depending on your preferences, you may want to set your foundation and concealer with a setting powder. These are meant to keep foundation in place, preventing it from rubbing off. 

They also help reduce shine and oil buildup, making them great for oily skin types. Lightly dust, using a fluffy powder makeup brush, on top of your foundation/concealer to set them. 

You can either use a translucent powder or a tinted one that works with the color of your skin tone. 

Now, if you are going for a more natural look or have a clear complexion or an even skin tone, you can skip step 1 altogether or just use a little bit of concealer where needed.  

Step 3. Bronze the Complexion

After applying your base products, you want to add back some color and definition to the complexion with powder bronzer. The Sundrop Bronzer does just that as it is a buildable, natural, warm matte color that all skin tones can use.  

Using the Vegan Blush Brush, or a similar brush, start applying lightly and build up to the desired color intensity. For more on how to apply bronzer, check out the How to Apply Bronzer–And Still Look Like Yourself and the How to Apply Blush & Bronzer for Your Face Shape articles.  

Step 4. Apply Blush

Complete your face makeup by adding a natural flush of color to the cheeks with RAL’s powder blush. Start by applying a small amount and build the color up until you reach the color intensity of your liking.  

For more in-depth details on how to properly apply blush, head on over to the How to Apply Blush- The Basics and How to Apply Blush & Bronzer for Your Face Shape articles.   

Step 5. Eye Shadow, Eye Liner, Mascara

Eyeshadow Primer:  

Always start your eye makeup by priming your eyelids with the Prime Time Eye Shadow Primer. An eye makeup primer will help your eyeshadow last longer without creasing while also helping the colors pop more.   Use just a small dab. A little is the prefect amount. If you use too much primer then you increase the risk of eye shadow creasing.


Once your primer has dried, apply your eyeshadow. To learn more on how to apply eyeshadows or how to choose eyeshadows colors, make sure to check out the 7 Different Ways to Apply Eyeshadow and How to Choose Eyeshadow Colors with Confidence articles.  


You do not always need to line the eyes, but applying eyeliner is a good way to add definition to the eye and make your lash line look fuller. If you are going to line the eyes, you want to do so after applying eyeshadow if using any.  

Pencil eyeliner is the easiest to work with, check out Red Apple Lipstick’s selection by clicking here. If you would like to learn how to do a winged liner, head on over to the How to Do a Winged Liner article.  


Finish your eye makeup with some coats of mascara.   

Some people prefer to start their makeup routine by doing their eye makeup first, I prefer to do so myself. A makeup artist will usually do their clients’ eye makeup first to prevent any eyeshadow fallout from messing up the face makeup.  If this works better for you, feel free to begin with eye makeup first and then proceed with the rest of the steps as mentioned.   

Kelli Bartlett of Glamsquad is all team eyes. She says “Work smarter, not harder”. She says that when creating heavy or smokey eyes, she will do them first in order to avoid the fallout on the foundation.

Step 6. Fill in the Brows

This step is completely optional as not everyone likes to do so nor is it always necessary. Some even like to fill in their brows before applying makeup to the eyes. You can always switch these 2 steps if you prefer.   

However, we do highly recommend filling in your brows after applying your base products to prevent foundation from messing them up. Not sure how to fill them in? No problem, check out Andrea’s tips here.  

Step 7. Apply Lip Color

Last but not least, you want to complete your makeup look with lip color. Before applying any lip products, apply a bit of lip balm to prep the lips if you haven’t already. Then go in with lip liner, lipstick or lip gloss, or all three.   

If you need help to perfect your lipstick application, we highly recommend checking out Andrea’s Lipstick Basics 101 series.  

Step 8. Set Your Makeup

Another completely optional step, but you may choose to set your makeup application using either a setting spray or finishing powder, or both. Doing so can help your makeup stay on longer throughout the day. 

And there you have your proper makeup application order for a flawless makeup look. Although some of the steps can be switched around a bit to suit your needs and preferences, in general, this is the correct order to apply makeup.

You May Also Be Interested In These Posts…

The Correct Order To Apply Makeup For A Flawless Look Every Time

The Correct Order To Apply Makeup, 8 Steps Used By Makeup Artists


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