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How to Apply Makeup for Beginners

Follow this guide to learn how to apply your makeup correctly and in the right order.
May 17, 2023
Makeup Application Order

When it comes to applying makeup like a pro, there isn’t one set way to do it, but there is a general order of application that will make things easier and more cohesive. As for what the right order is, you’ve come to the right place because we’re going to show you. To help you nail down a solid makeup routine and level up your application, we’ve created a step-by-step guide you can use to learn how to do makeup, including how to apply concealer, foundation and makeup products for the eyes and lips. Plus, we’re sharing our best application techniques and product recommendations for makeup primers, mascaras and more.
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What Makeup Do You Do First?

Generally, makeup primer and foundation should be applied first because it creates a base for the rest of your makeup. That said, if you are planning to wear a smoky eye or a dramatic eye look with dark shadows, it may be wise to do your eyes first so that eyeshadow fallout doesn’t disrupt your foundation and concealer. 

How to Apply Makeup Primer

Before applying makeup, it’s important to prep your skin to create an even base, so, be sure to complete your skin care routine before diving into makeup. That means you should always cleanse your skin and moisturize first (don’t forget your SPF). Once you’ve done that, then you want to apply a primer.

Face primers are great for creating an even base for your makeup and extending the wear time. If you have dry skin, go for a luminous primer, like the L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Makeup Blurring Face Primer Infused with Serum. To target specific skin concerns like redness, try the L’Oréal Paris Prime Lab Up to 24H Redness Eraser. Not only does this primer cancel out redness with counteracting green tones, but it also extends your makeup for up to 24 hours. If redness isn’t a concern, try the dullness reducer, pore minimizer or matte setter options from the Prime Lab line. 

How to Apply Face Makeup

Once your skin is cleansed, moisturized and primed, it’s time for the complexion products. Keep reading to see the best order of application. 

How to Apply Foundation

Foundation is among the few makeup essentials that you don’t want others to see, meaning it’s supposed to look like your skin but better. So be sure to choose a formula that suits your specific needs and be sure to choose a shade that matches your skin tone and undertones. If you’re buying online, make sure you examine the foundation swatches of your preferred pick or you use a virtual try-on tool to get the best shade match.  

If you have oily skin, you may want to consider using a matte foundation, like the L'Oréal Paris Infallible Up to 24H Fresh Wear in a Powder. Its breathable and weightless formula completely evens out your skin tone while staying put for up to 24 hours. Plus, it’s waterproof and sweatproof, so you won’t have to worry about touch-ups throughout the day. Use the sponge in the compact for full coverage or a blush brush for medium coverage and sweep the soft formula over your face until you have an even layer of foundation.

If you have dry skin, consider using a liquid foundation, like the L'Oréal Paris Infallible 24 Hour Fresh Wear Foundation, Lightweight. The thin liquid formula provides buildable, medium to full coverage and creates an even complexion that doesn’t look cakey. Use a damp makeup blender when applying liquid foundation to get even and natural-looking coverage. Wet the blender and squeeze it until it’s slightly damp, then bounce and roll it over your complexion to buff in the product.

How to Apply Concealer

Foundation does a great job of evening out the complexion, but concealer can target any stubborn imperfections. There are two types of concealer you may want to use when you’re figuring out how to do makeup but this can make the matter of where to apply concealer quite tricky. You can use an all-over concealer that helps to brighten and illuminate areas of your face, or you can use under-eye concealer to mask dark circles and fine lines. Of course, you can also opt to use both depending on your makeup needs.

If you have an all-over concealer, you can apply it under your eyes and over any blemishes or areas you want to brighten. For a full-coverage option, try the L'Oréal Paris Infallible Full Wear Concealer up to 24H Full Coverage, which has a long-wearing, matte formula. 

If you’re looking to cover up dark under-eye circles only and prefer a more lightweight option, try the L'Oréal Paris True Match Eye Cream in a Concealer, 0.5% hyaluronic acid. This multitasking product provides all-day hydration that works to keep the eye area looking fresh and bright, thanks to its dose of hyaluronic acid

Foundation and concealer are often used interchangeably but they have very different functions. Still, some wonder if you should apply foundation or concealer first. The standard rule of thumb says foundation should go on before concealer but viral, social media hacks like underpainting say otherwise. When you’re just starting out, stick to the basics and graduate to more complex methods of application as you become more skilled at applying your makeup.

How to Apply Bronzer

Now that you’ve created an even base, it’s time to add dimension by bronzing or contouring your skin. For a natural look, apply bronzer like the L'Oréal Paris Infallible Up to 24H Fresh Wear Soft Matte Bronzer just under your cheekbones and around the perimeter of your face with a large, fluffy brush. Sweep it on lightly and build up the coverage until you get your desired look. For a more sculpted visage, you can contour your cheekbones and nose with a cool-toned bronzing product that’s two to three shades deeper than your skin tone.

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How to Apply Blush 

Applying blush is a great way to add some color to your complexion and ensure your face doesn’t look one-dimensional. Using a fluffy cheek brush, apply your color of choice at the apples of your cheeks and swipe up gently towards your temples to create a lifted look. We love the L'Oréal Paris Age Perfect Radiant Satin Blush with Camellia Oil because the cream-to-powder formula is smooth, blendable and luminous without looking glittery.  

How to Apply Highlighter

Finish off your skin by adding some radiance to the high points of your cheeks with highlighter. The L'Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer is great because you can pat the liquid formula into your face with your fingertips for a more concentrated glow, or you can use it under foundation for an all-over, luminous glow. 

If you’re working with a powder highlighter, grab a fan brush and gently sweep it across your cheeks, the bridge of your nose and any other area you’d like to highlight. If cream highlighter is more your thing or you have dry skin and prefer hydrating products, you can gently pat it into your skin using your fingers — the ring finger has the gentlest touch.

How to Apply Eye Makeup

Now, it’s time to move on to the eyes — grab your eyebrow pencil, eyeshadow, mascara, and get ready to work.

How to Do Eyebrows

If you have sparse brows, sculpt and define your eyebrows using the L'Oréal Paris UnbelievaBrow Longwear Waterproof Brow Gel. It’s an easy way to thicken thin, barely-there brows. First, comb your natural brows with a clean spoolie so you can see what you’re working with. Then apply gel little by little, building it up as you need more until you get to the look you want. 

If your brows are in pretty good shape and you just need to fill them in a bit and give them hold, use the L'Oréal Paris Brow Stylist Waterproof Eyebrow Mechanical Pencil to create light strokes between your hair. Then set them in place with a strong hold clear gel, like the L'Oréal Paris UnbelievaBrow Longwear Brow Topcoat, Waterproof Universal Transparent, which keeps the hairs tame all day without feeling hard or crunchy. 

How to Apply Eyeshadow 

Before applying eyeshadow, add an eye primer to your lids to make sure your eyeshadow has some staying power. When opting for a simple look, first apply color onto your lids with your fingers or a flat eyeshadow brush. Then, apply a mid-tone shade to your crease with a fluffy brush and place a dab of highlighter along your brow bone. 

For a neutral eye makeup look, use the L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Pocket Palette Eyeshadow in Boudoir Charme 一 it contains four neutral shades in varying depths to create natural definition on the eyes.

How to Apply Eyeliner

It’s easiest to apply eyeliner before mascara and after eyeshadow. Trying to draw an even line in one stroke is difficult even with a pencil when you’re first starting out, so try creating a line in small strokes, going back over it to connect the broken lines and make your line as thick as you want. 

For a liner that you can smudge or keep looking sharp, reach for the L'Oréal Paris Infallible Grip Mechanical Gel Eyeliner 一 you can even use this eyeliner on your waterline (this technique is called tightlining) for added definition. If you prefer to use liquid eyeliner for an ultra-sharp look, try the L'Oréal Paris Infallible Grip Precision Felt Waterproof Eyeliner which has an ultra-fine felt tip for precise application. The type of liner you choose will likely be dictated by the look you’re going for so you may want to keep several formulas, finishes and colors in your arsenal.

How to Apply Mascara

Finally, define your lashes with mascara. Before you add any formula to your wispies, you may want to curl your lashes with an eyelash curler to enhance their length and curl. After you curl your lashes, sweep on a lengthening mascara that also lengthens, like the L’Oréal Paris Telescopic Instant Lift Washable Mascara.


Place the ultra-soft, wavy brush at the base of your lashes and comb through your lashes to the tip, sweeping up. Give two coats for extra drama and add some mascara to your bottom lashes by wiggling the wand through those lashes vertically. If you’re really ready to amp up the drama you can add some false lashes to your look.

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How to Apply Lip Makeup

After you’ve finished your face and eye makeup, show your pout some love by swiping on a lip color. 

How to Apply Lip Liner

Before you apply lipstick, use a lip liner to define your lip shape and to prevent color from bleeding, which happens when your lipstick runs or smudges outside of your lip lines. Use the L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Lip Liner in a shade that closely matches your lips or your lipstick color and line the outer edges of your lips following their natural curve. Then shade your lips with the color to give your lipstick a long-lasting base. 

How to Apply Lipstick

Next, swipe on your lipstick. You can place the bullet or applicator directly on your lips and apply, starting in the center, moving outward toward the corners of your mouth. Otherwise, use a lipstick brush to swipe the color on lightly, building it little by little.

With so many different colors and formulas available, the possibilities are seemingly endless. If you prefer a pigmented nude shade, go for the L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Les Nus Intense Nude Lipstick. For a budge-proof, matte formula, you’ll love the L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Intense Volume Matte Lipstick. If you prefer a natural look with a hint of shine, the L'Oréal Paris Glow Paradise Balm-in-Lipstick with Pomegranate Extract is perfect for you. 

Editor’s tip: If you’re going for a high-shine look you can always layer your lipstick with a nourishing lip gloss, like the L'Oréal Paris Glow Paradise Lip Balm-in-Gloss Pomegranate Extract. It comes in 12 buildable shades that provide a luminous look to the lips while moisturizing them with pomegranate extract. 

How to Apply Setting Spray

After all your work, it’s essential to set your makeup to ensure that it stays in place and lasts throughout the day. Grab your setting spray and shake it well. Then hold the bottle eight to ten inches away from your face and spray in an “X” and “T” motion. Keep your eyes closed to avoid irritation. We love the L'Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Spray and Set Make-Up Oil-Free Setting Spray for this because it’s formulated to lock your makeup in place and prevent it from settling into lines. 


How to Remove Makeup

Playing with makeup is fun, but waking up with a breakout because you slept in your beloved look is not amusing to anyone. So it’s important that you remove your makeup before bed, every time. We know it’s sad to see all that work go away but don’t worry, now that you have the basics down you’ll get to practice more and experiment with several different looks. 

To remove your makeup, use a facial cleanser or makeup remover that’ll tackle even waterproof mascara and other budge-proof formulas. The L’Oréal Paris Ideal All Skin Types Makeup Removing Towelettes is the perfect companion for this. Swipe the makeup wipe across your complexion to remove all traces of makeup, then follow up with a gentle cream cleanser for a double cleanse that ensures your face is thoroughly cleansed.

Next: 7 Simple Makeup Looks For Everyday Wear

Photographer: Nelson Huang, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Producer: Becca Solovay, Beauty Content Director: Shalwah Evans, Visual Designer: Sarah Duvivier, Wardrobe Stylist: Alexis Badiyi, Wardrobe Assistant: Jazmine Alzado, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Digi Tech: Jacky Jiang, Photo Assistant: Tyler Andrews, Model: Mecca Allah

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